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 :