UF recruiting roundup: Commits, de-commits and more

The final weekend before the NCAA-mandated dead period, which begins Monday and runs through Jan. 11, was an eventful one for the Gators.

Florida expected six official visitors on campus, but ultimately the list changed drastically by Friday. Five-star IMG Academy defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles opted to take an official visit to Florida State rather than make the trip to Gainesville, and all indications are quarterback Matt Corral’s de-commitment led Radley-Hiles to re-evaluate his recruitment.

And wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, a four-star prospect out of Booker T. Washington who committed to Florida on July 24, also had a late change of plans. Thornton didn’t arrive Friday for his previously scheduled official visit, leading to speculation about his future.

By Saturday night, Thornton confirmed the news by flipping his commitment from Florida to Baylor University. Thornton’s de-commitment leaves the Gators with just one wide receiver currently committed, meaning coach Dan Mullen and his work-in-progress coaching staff have work to do before National Signing Day.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom in Gainesville this weekend. Four-star defensive back John Huggins, who had previously committed to FSU and coach Jimbo Fisher, decided to shut down his recruitment and commit to Florida less than 48 hours after arriving for his official visit.

The Daytona Beach native is ranked the No. 32 safety prospect in the 2018 class by 247Sports, and his commitment gives UF another prospect who intends to make his commitment official when the early signing period opens Wednesday.

However, perhaps the most significant news for the Gators, considering Corral’s de-commitment and the overall uncertainty at the position under Mullen, was the surprise arrival of five-star dual-threat quarterback Emory Jones.

The Franklin, Ga., native has been verbally committed to Ohio State since July of 2016, but sources close to Jones indicate the 6-foot-2 quarterback prefers to stay closer to home. And it helps that Jones’ family has long been a fan of UF, too.

While Jones did make a trip Saturday night to Florida State, those close to Jones believe he felt pressured to give FSU a fair evaluation under new coach Willie Taggart, who believes Jones is the ideal quarterback to run the high-octane offense he envisions running in Tallahassee.

Yet with the no-contact period beginning Sunday, Florida is confident that their final pitch to Jones will be enough to flip him from Ohio State before the early signing period opens.

Where it stands right now, the Gators expect to sign 10 prospects between Wednesday and Friday: Carol City defensive back Randy Russell, Calvary Christian linebacker/defensive back Amari Burney, Bainbridge (Ga.) running back Dameon Pierce, Rancocas Valley Regional High (NJ) running back Iverson Clement, Fort Payne (Ala.) kicker Evan McPherson, Vero Beach linebacker David Reese, Boca Raton tight end Dante Lang, Wyoming Valley West (Pa.) offensive lineman Chris Bleich, Archbishop Wood (Pa.) tight end Kyle Pitts, along with the aforementioned Huggins.

As if that weren’t enough for Florida fans to keep track of, Wednesday also marks the first day for junior college transfers to sign letters of intent to become mid-year transfers. If Mullen’s previous recruiting cycles are any indication, the Gators will likely be in for some surprise additions in the next 72 hours.

Graham Hall :

View Comments (64)

  • Good to see a safety has been recruited. That is a position of real need. With coaching, I think the WR's that we have will be fine. I still think Mullen could turn Toney into a real threat at QB

  • I think the de-commits all had one thing in common: a weird and twisted attraction to people with crooked, yellow teeth. When Mullen smiled and they saw the evidence of good oral health care, they freaked out and ran looking for a coach with some sort of gross mouth funk.

      • Yes! Dentists! It all makes sense! Note both Mississippi and Texas are known for large populations of people with gross, deformed, rotting teeth!

        • Ain't so out here in Texas, Richard, dunno about Mississippi. Also, for the last time, we don't marry our sisters! We just date 'em.

  • Sorry, I started to write a comment and for some reason I was denied, that's the reason for the why .I have been following the Corral saga. I don't think Mullen deserves all the harsh criticism he has being getting because of it. If you have been following the story, S Patterson the Ole'MISS QB transfered to Michigan and Corral saw that he had a better opportunity to get to play right away, so he bolted, I think he felt he just didn't fit in Mullen's offense. Anyway I prefer players that want to be and give their all to the Gators. I have to admit that at times I feel a little antsy with Mullen's decisions, but he is the HBC and he deserves our support. GO GATORS!!!!

  • What's with all the paranoia here ? Be real Gators and support your Coach and program. He should be given a chance to recruit the kind of athlete he feels is a good fit for his program. With the mediocrity that has surrounded this program the past few years there should be excitement instead of gloom and doom. McElwain didn't recruitment well and didn't get the most out of the players he recruited. He always left me exasperated when he responded to sports reporters questions about the team or athletes. He seemed to put together a string of sentences that absolutely had no meaning or failed to adequately address the question. I believe Mullen will be more transparent and we will get a more honest evaluation of the program.

    • Yea , Im just laying back and watching it all play out rather than trying to 2nd guess our coach. I'll comment when all the dust settles and we have some actual facts!

      • I'm with you, daz. Before this is all over and the dust settles, I'm halfway expecting a New York Times headline that reads, "WORLD ENDS, WOMEN AND GATOR FANS HARDEST HIT!".

  • Wait til Gators start being a THREAT AGAIN and watch EVERY [Football} Athlete will want tgo be a GATOR! You can be a part of history! REBUILDING a DYNASTY! Gators! Chomp Damit Chomp!

  • Corral probably figured he was not a good fit in Dan Mullen's spread offense scheme (where dual threat QB's are a much better fit). Coach Mullen and his coaching staff are doing a remarkable job of retaining verbally committed prospects and attracting interest from new prospects who previously were not considering UF (and perhaps vice versa). Thus begins the restructuring of the Gator football team, particularly the offense, which everyone agrees needs all the help it can get. This is why HC Mullen and crew were hired - to bring the USS Gator football team back on the course to victory (her sails and rudder ran afoul under Coach Mac, which is too bad - I liked Mac, but he was not up to the task). Dan Mullen is the man for the job - I have no doubt about this - he has proven himself as UF's former OC under Urban Meyer, as well as the HC at MSU - a very difficult job to achieve a winning record in the SEC Western Division, especially when the university name is not Alabama, LSU or Auburn. As a side note, I find it amusing that FSU lost its HC to Texas A&M. I guess money talks, and FSU's performance this year was only slightly better than UF's (I'm sure there was some grumbling going on in Tallahassee).

    • Turnabout, that is beyond a doubt the best application of good old American sarcasm that I've read in the last 5 years. Who can argue c that?

  • Maybe Mullens and crew have a plan, but it sure doesn't look like it from the outside. I know this, Urban Meyer's recruiting operation never had this many loose ends.
    On the other hand, I have a great deal of confidence in Mullen as a coach, so it seems wise to give this time and see how it works out.