It’s not often that a program coming off 4-7 record is in contention to land one of the top prospects in the ensuing recruiting class, but the Gators are in such a position with highly recruited defensive back Chris Steele.
Steele, a four-star prospect out of St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, California, took an official visit over the weekend to UF, and he’s hardly a stranger to the cross country trip, having taken an unofficial visit as well to Florida on May 18. While many analysts have linked him to in-state USC, Steele has spent the recent weeks taking in all the recruiting landscape has to offer, with the Gators and coach Dan Mullen in a prime position to land the blue chip prospect.
“It felt real good to get back. I was here two weeks ago for the cookout, but this weekend was a little different environment,” Steele said. “There were a lot of recruits on campus then, but this weekend it was just me and about three other dudes. It was just good getting a little bit more of one on one time with the staff, being around the players.
— steele 🎒 (@KinggChris7) June 3, 2018
“This is definitely a place I could see myself playing at. I connect with the players really well, I vibe with them real well. They’re already treating me like I’m their younger brother, so I know if I came here I would be well taken care of.”
With just one defensive back currently committed to the 2019 class in Gainesville product Trent Whittemore, the Gators have been selling Steele on the allure of early playing time.
Considering sophomores Marco Wilson and CJ Henderson seem poised for a bright future at the next level soon, UF’s coaching staff has pushed Steele to commit to a program known for developing defensive backs, and one possibly with ample playing time.
And Steele can look towards one of his idols – Green Bay Packers rookie Jaire Alexander – and see Florida provides the same development opportunity, as UF defensive coordinator Todd Grantham coached Alexander for three seasons while at Louisville under coach Bobby Petrino.
“I’d love to play for him,” Steele said of Grantham. “My favorite defensive back in college last year was Jaire Alexander, and if you look at what Jaire did in Grantham’s system versus what he did when coach Grantham left, it’s very clear coach Grantham puts dudes in positions to make plays.
“I know I’ll be developed and well taken care of if I came here.”
And freshman defensive back Trey Dean had words of wisdom to impart while hosting Steele over the weekend.
“He basically just told me to take all my visits and play it smart, and just kind of follow my heart,” Steele said of Dean’s advice. “I vibe with him real good.”
With a commitment date set for July 7, Steele has a full schedule ahead as he nears a decision. He’ll take an official visit Saturday to South Carolina, a program which is also in considerable position to land his commitment, before official visits to Miami (Fl.) and USC on June 16 and June 22, respectively.
But if Steele doesn’t see all that he needs to before then, his recruitment could stretch well into his senior season.
“Well, my commitment date is July 7 so it kind of depends on how everything plays out,” Steele said. “That will determine if I’m back out here between now and (signing day).”