BLOG: Florida’s National Signing Day 2018

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Andrew Chatfield, center, announces he's signing with the University of Florida on national signing day Wednesday in Plantation. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

The wait is over, and National Signing Day is upon us, albeit with slightly less fanfare than usual.

With 10 scholarship spots left in the 2018 class for the University of Florida, it remains to be seen if the Gators fill out the class or roll them over until 2019, but there’s no shortage of high-end prospects left on Florida’s radar.

UF will receive signed letters of intent throughout the day, and we’ll be updating this blog as soon as the ink dries. If you missed our National Signing Day preview you can check that out here, and don’t forget to check out our updated mock class right here.

3:48 p.m.: Florida has wrapped up the day with what should be the final letter of intent, and it’s from Huntsville, Alabama, defensive end Malik Langham. Mullen went head-to-head with Nick Saban twice today and emerged victorious in both battles. A minute later, Mullen announced the Gators had received Copeland’s signed letter of intent.

 

3:23 p.m.: Florida has received a signed letter of intent from Tampa-based offensive lineman Richard Gouraige, who announced he will spurn Auburn and Clemson and stick with his commitment to the Gators.

2:58 p.m.: Quite a scene at Copeland’s commitment as his mother, dressed in both Alabama and Tennessee apparel, exited the room after Copeland’s commitment to the Gators.

She did return shortly, however.

2:35 p.m.: Florida has landed a signature from Jacob Copeland. Huge snag for coach Dan Mullen and wide receivers coach Bill Gonzales. We’ll update this blog when they’ve officially received his letter of intent.

2:21 p.m.: Jacob Copeland’s commitment decision is about to come up on ESPN2. I believe it’s about to be a very promising 90 minutes for Florida fans.

12:05 p.m.: Florida was in the running to land four-star defensive back Noah Boykin, but he’ll sign with the frontrunner: Notre Dame. Coach Brian Kelly had been recruiting Boykin throughout the cycle, and Florida’s late push wasn’t enough to land the Washington, D.C., native.

11:40 a.m.: The Gators have received American Heritage OLB/DE Andrew Chatfield’s letter of intent.

10:48 a.m.: 5* OL Nicholas Petit-Frere announces he is signing with the Ohio State University over offers from Notre Dame and Florida. Tough loss for Florida not keeping the Tampa-based prospect in the state.

10:29 a.m.: The Gators have a signed letter of intent in from OL Griffin McDowell. He flipped his commitment late in the process from Mississippi State and is a solid addition to UF’s 2018 class.

10:12 a.m.: Florida lands a commitment from a big-time DE/OLB in Andrew Chatfield from American Heritage. He’d been leaning towards the Gators throughout his recruitment and coach Dan Mullen did a solid job keeping him in the fold. Moments earlier, his teammate Nesta Silvera announced he will sign with Miami over the Gators.

8:45 a.m.: The first signee for Florida is in, and it’s Clermont athlete Justin Watkins. Ranked by ESPN as the No. 28 overall prospect in the 2018 class, Watkins is a huge signing for coach Dan Mullen’s inaugural class at UF.

156 COMMENTS

  1. Petit Frere signs with Ohio State. I was not overly impressed with him anyway. He got whipped by that DE going to Alabama several times in the Under Armour game and gave up at least two or three sacks. Not sure I would want him protecting my blind side. Needs to gain some weight too. Seems like a really good smart kid though. I thought he would pick Notre Dame. Good luck to you anyway. Can’t win them all Gators.

  2. NP-F to Tosu? I thought academics were important to him. UF just cracked the Top Ten in American public universities. Tosu is down in the mid-fifties I think.

    I guess the slimy p-o-s who shall remain unnamed sold him on the quality of the Crayons and coloring books in the sh*thole that is Columbus.

    Good luck to you dude!

    • I never believe the academic stuff these kids say. Let’s face it,if a kid is a 4 or 5 star athlete, likely he won’t even graduate with a degree. College football is the minor league system for the NFL. So kids are looking for a pipeline to the NFL. If academics meant anything, Fla, Mich, Va, Cal would lead the country in recruiting every year.

  3. No class, no respect, and unprofessional. You guys talking to a local Hawaii kid that made a verbal commit to his home team. Then you take him away. You guys suck, we need him more then you do. Why are you such a- holes. Wishing you guys a losing season.

  4. Boykin to ND. I have seen enough, as expected…… Will tune in at the end of the day Noticing that Florida cannot out recruit schools from other states for the top 50 recruits in the state of Florida. All you need to know about the current state of football. Tired of the spinning going on in Gainesville since the firing of Mac.

  5. Georgia is JUST KILLING IT. WR Bush just signed making 26 signees for the Dogs (I thought teams were limited to 25 signees???). There is a new Bama is the SEC East and it appears not to be Florida when it comes to recruiting anymore.

      • Of course he is, Smith. And why not? The guy has proven to be a great coach and high school players want to play for him. It’s only going to get harder as the Vols get back on their feet too, and maybe even Mizzou and USC (referring to the real one in Columbia). We’re going to see the East begin to resurrect over the next two or three years and that’s not a bad thing–we’ll be much better too because of it and the level of competition will be good for all of us. I usually have trouble finding disagreement with Rick, but on this one I do. He’s right as far as this year and probably next year goes, but we’ll be there soon bud. Just wish my old man was still here to see it when it happens. Oh hell, hope I am too!!!

  6. Not sure how any writer or fan can spin this as a positive day! Held onto Watkins as a positive but are the Florida Gators really at a level where flipping a 3* OL committed to Miss State (not exactly Alabama) as a recruiting coupe? Missing on everyone and all they have left is 2 players who were Gator leans before and after the Coach hire. Not exactly recruiting wizardry.

    • Unfortunately, I think we are there. This program averages 5 losses a year. 5* recruits aren’t interested in division titles and a trip to the Outback bowl, at best, and bowl ineligibility, at worst. The program needs massive repairing. Mullen won two national championships as offensive coordinator here. It isn’t his fault that the school and whiny coaches that followed threw that standard away. Recruits do not want to play at average facilities with the hope that they can go to the Liberty Bowl.

    • As far as the “spin” goes, Paul…………let’s look at the class average *Star rating when all the dust settles today. We were at +/- 3.73* before today started, let’s see what that number is after today. As Mike-the-Engineer would say, those numbers will tell the story all by themselves. No spin. I don’t like it either when somebody is pissing on my leg while trying to convince me it’s raining!

  7. I’m not really sure why we thought recruits would flock to UF. Our facilities need work and we average 5+ losses a year since 2009. We have had 2 losing seasons. Somehow Galen Hall managed to avoid that during his tenure and he was on probation and played a harder schedule. These recruits were in elementary school the last time we were relevant on the national stage. Muschamp and Mac have set this program back to the mid to late 80’s with the help of the administration who did not make the necessary upgrades to facilities and agreed to do things like paint division titles on the stadium walls. Even the ties! We accepted mediocrity so that is exactly what we got. Sure…Mullen deserves some of the blame but you can’t blame a player for not buying the promise of success, considering the most loyal fans have felt let down all these years. Mullen inherited 8 years of broken promises that are not his fault. All he did was coach national championship offenses here and it was our administration and subsequent weak coaches who forgot that was the standard. He will have to win and score points before the shine returns to the Gator logo. Then the recruits will come. 5* recruits aren’t coming to a school that unveils their division titles and talks about how the cancelled hurricane game will hurt our bowl eligibility.

      • Really it was mostly Foley. He failed to upgrade facilities while Spurrier was here because Spurrier said he didn’t really need them. He continued to ignore the facilities on a grand scale while other schools were surging ahead. Finally, he hired Muschamp and Muschamp whined about putting division titles on the stadium because he managed to win one (but not really). Foley also kept Muschamp after he had a losing season because of injuries. That set the stage that UF would accept losing. Somehow Galen Hall managed to never have a losing season in the 80s and he was on TV probation, had reduced scholarships and Kyle Morris was his QB. He also played Miami, FSU, Auburn, UGA, LSU so the schedule was arguably harder. Then Foley panicked and hired Mac, who burned this thing to the ground. Strickland has only been here a year and he stopped the Mac bleeding and has announced stadium upgrades. He also is painting over those damn division titles on the stadium. Mullen and Strickland deserve some blame but Foley, Muschamp and Mullen devalued this program and killed its winning culture.

      • Strickland and Mullen have a big job to do to clean up this mess. In my opinion, they are hard at work doing it. It won’t be fixed overnight. Dan is going to have to change the culture and start winning games in spite of the obstacles (facilities, past recruiting, etc) before recruiting gets any better. But I’m encouraged that even with a small class, there is more quality. Quite a few 4* and in the hunt for 5*. For the past few years we’ve had an awful lot of 3*.

        As far as accountability goes…I’m not one to play the blame game and punish failure after the fact…..what I do believe in is to fix your problems and move on and learn from past mistakes. Bringing in Strickland and moving out Foley fixed a big problem for the Gator programs. That’s my accountability.

        • Agreed. I like what Strickland is doing and I think Mullen will be just fine. I just don’t think this is a quick fix. Mediocrity has been accepted for awhile here…from the coaching to the administration. These guys seem to be taking steps to change that.

        • You are spot on, Rog. And you too, TGator. I’ve said from jump street that 5* recruits aren’t coming to the Gators until (a) we start winning and winning big-time, and (b) we change the culture here back to what it used to be, with expectations following. So OK, good for UGA and FSU……good for Miami and Tenn too….hell, good for Vandy and everybody else as far as that goes….off the field, as much as I hate to say it, we’re still a middle of the road SEC program. The main thing is, we’ve got a class of solid 4* on the average and what we do with them next season ON THE FIELD will be huge. This transformation will take a minimum of three years, which includes much better coaching for the players already here AND the new studs coming in. Put differently, this is not a disappointment, but the stars and moon are beginning to line up just fine. I’ll never forget what Chris Leak said when he signed on all those years ago……”Let’s bring back national championships to the Swamp”. That’s also Dan Mullen’s stated intent, and he has the moxie to do it.

      • You are correct… FSU, UM, and UGA are definitely killing it. McElteeth, Chump, and Foley (new law firm?) just killed the UF brand over the past 9 years (in fairness, Foley did a great job in lots of other areas, just not with the bell cow – football).

        But, I think UF certainly can, and will be, prestigious and attractive again! Gainesville and UF in my mind are very desirable when we’re doing things right. FSU?? who really wants to live in Tally? UM?? Miami the area, is attractive to many, but playing games in Hard Rock stadium 20 miles away is not exactly the same atmosphere as the Swamp. Of course I’m biased as I was born and raised in Hogtown 🙂

          • He’s talking to the idiot who says that FSU and UM offer more prestigious and attractive programs to blue chip recruits. Who needs fair weather fans like that? Who also has no idea what he is talking about. Please, Mike, go root for another team you perceive as more prestigious. Most Gators would rather not have you around. Mullen has done a good job pulling in a top 15 class, after a losing season and a coaching change. Those programs have had down years too. If Mullen has success on the field, recruits will come more easily. Give things a chance to play out for goodness sake.

    • JEEBUS! Yeah that’s right! Let’s crucify Mullen for not bringing in the #1 class in his FIRST TWO MONTHS on the job, to the program that’s been an f’in dumpster fire for the last seven years.

      Why not wait until he’s had a chance to coach the team he now has and play a season?

      Some of you people need to get an f’in life!

  8. 12:05 p.m.: Florida was in the running to land four-star defensive back Noah Boykin, but he’ll sign with the frontrunner: Notre Dame. Coach Brian Kelly had been recruiting Boykin throughout the cycle, and Florida’s late push wasn’t enough to land the Washington, D.C., native.

    -LOL…..so now we were never supposed to land Boykin?? Acting like every Gator site didn’t have him penned to Gainesville.

    • True, true Joseph. But it doesn’t need to be that way. What the last two coaching staffs did with their recruits is one thing. What this staff will do with them is entirely another. No rose colored glasses here, but what were we expecting? This will turn out to be a very solid class with Mullen in charge.

  9. Timing of firing the head coach combined with the first ever early signing period provided insufficient time to hold on to all of the then current committements much less flip others no matter who the new coach was. Less than 50 of the top 300 recruits were left unsigned after the early signing period. New coaches are historically and better evaluated on their recruiting skills after their 2nd and 3rd year at a new school. Those who think otherwise, need to reevaluate their thinking and get a life!

  10. Disappointing. After listening to Graham Hill the past couple of weeks it looked like a lot of top recruits would become gators. Not so. It could be a tough year next year. Just can not seem to get the top players even out of Florida

    • Florida was trending well for many of the top recruits, but weren’t able to overcome schools that had been in the picture longer for Nesta Silvera, Nicholas Petit-Frere or Noah Boykin. I agree that UF didn’t finish well with some of the top recruits they were in the mix for, but I think the only one the coaching staff feels they missed on is Boykin, and I don’t think they should feel that way after getting more info in the past few days from Notre Dame reporters.

    • Goerge…..the truth of the matter is, it has been a tough few years, especially 2017 anyway. I get the SEC East titles in 2015 and 2016, but did any of you really feel good about that after FSU and Bama spanked us both years? They were teams built on Chumps defense and showed regression, not improvement on offense.

      So… can 2018 really be worse? I’d say not. We are signing a small, but talented class this year so I’d argue that the talent level on the field this fall will be a marked improvement over last year and even 2015 and 2016, overall. And right now, I’d bet my retirement (if the stock market doesn’t destroy it all) that the coaching will be a big improvement.

      So 2018 I’d say, has to be better. It won’t be an SEC championship, but you likely won’t get frustrated each Saturday “trying” to watch and entire Gators game.

  11. Bobby Boucher from Gainesville fl rated the #1 water boy in the country and who said the most important thing to him is staying close to his momma who lives directly across the street from UF just signed with UGA saying “at the end of the day water is better then gatoraid” all the crystal balls had him signing with Florida. We just can’t get anybody today!

  12. “Jacob Copeland’s commitment decision is about to come up on ESPN2. I believe it’s about to be a very promising 90 minutes for Florida fans.”

    I hope so. We are teetering on the edge. I don’t want to jump, I don’t …

  13. What an embarrassment for the kid on what should be the biggest day of his life. She did come back and give him a hug but I feel bad for this kid. Hope they get it resolved and he doesn’t have to back of his commitment. Would be a true disappointment to lose arguably the top target of the day.
    Anything on Gouraige yet?

  14. Besides Petit getting away, I think this was a really nice day for the Orange and Blue. Getting Langham right at the end really helps. Biggest part of the day was getting Copeland though. Hope we hear Mick announcing “Jones to Copeland” for years to come!

  15. Cannot believe the negativity of some of you so called fans. Everything is cyclical. Always was and always will be. The sky is not falling, the sun will come up tomorrow and there will be football in Gainesville in September. We will win some and we will lose some, life will go on. It’s a freakin’ game, people, played by kids who sometimes make mistakes, sometimes get hurt and sometimes make bad plays on the field. How anybody can think that because a couple of 18 year olds, who are unproven at the college level, didn’t sign with us deems this a mediocre (or worse) program, makes me wonder if I want to be in the same Gator Nation. In all kinds of weather…

    • Well said, but don’t confuse the idiots who post here and on other forums as Gator Nation. Most of the negative nellies here don’t understand the game or the process. The thing I hate most about fair weather fans like these is that when things are going well, they will be cheering loudly from the bandwagon, as if they were somehow involved in the process.

      It was only 10 years ago that we were killing FSU, Georgia, and Miami on the field and on the recruiting trail. The reason we have dropped in recruiting is because we have had back to back coaching failures- that’s all. But even under the circumstances, we pulled a top 15 class in a short time span. More important than the ranking, we got some key guys, and Mullen has demonstrated he knows what he is doing- not just chasing stars and rankings.

      Now we just need to let things play out on the field, and see how Mullen does on the recruiting trail given time. Sit back, and enjoy the entertainment. Nothing wrong with complaining, but there is something wrong with being a nervous nelly, fair weather fan, who constantly overreacts and slams his own team, players and coaches without giving them much of a chance.

    • Bigdjm… sadly what you’re seeing is not exclusive to Gator Fans. It is what is going on in the world. I’m a lifelong Gator who now lives in Knoxville and trust me, (some of) the fans here are just as harsh on forums as Gator forums or fans at any other number of schools.

      Just ignore the internet trolls and the mean-spirited “fans” and know that many who post here love the Gators and just want to talk Gator football, good or bad.

      2018 will be an exciting year for Gator football. It may not produce a National or SEC Championship… but it’ll be exciting and enjoyable for most of Gator Nation. Just ignore the rest of them 🙂

      • Didn’t realize you were in Knoxville, Rog. Most of my family was originally from there, Knoxville–Strawberry Plains, etc, but the smart ones migrated to Avon Park-Sebring in the early 1900s. Thank the Good Lord, or else I’d probably be a Vol right now!