UF heads into the fall with 11 members in its 2015 class and 10 more spots currently available, excluding walk-ons who have been awarded scholarships.
No recruiting site has the Gators higher than 20th in team rankings, but they’ve met two of their top three needs in this cycle.
The biggest is at linebacker, a position that loses a pair of senior starters after the season and didn’t have any signees in the last class. Consensus four-star recruits Jerome Baker and Adonis Thomas are committed, and Florida is a top school for Te’Von Coney, Jeff Holland and Roquan Smith, all attendees at Friday Night Lights.
Another area addressed is the interior of the offensive line. Three of the five prep linemen signed for 2014 were tackles, so the guard position is a priority this year. UF’s four pledges — George Brown, Mike Horton, Tyler Jordan and Brandon Sandifer — are being recruited as interior linemen.
Although most sites rate them as three star-prospects, all hold offers from four of these six schools — Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina and Ohio State. The Gators are also in contention for guard Jalen Merrick and tackles Matthew Burrell, Martez Ivey and Isaiah Prince. Those four linemen also attended FNL.
UF still needs to land some defensive ends with juniors Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler Jr. possibly leaving early for the NFL. Fortunately for the Gators, they’re currently considered the favorite to land five-star ends Byron Cowart and CeCe Jefferson, both of whom visited UF on Aug. 2.
Cowart announces his decision Sept. 28, while Jefferson plans to wait until signing day. Three-star defensive end Houshun Gaines, another FNL visitor, has Florida in his top four with Miami, N.C. State and Virginia Tech.
Beyond linebacker, offensive guard and defensive end, UF could use a running back, another defensive tackle and at least one more receiver.
Mack Brown is a senior, and Matt Jones will be one in 2015. Should Kelvin Taylor become the back most expect him to, he’ll likely bolt for the league after his junior season. If the Gators don’t sign a back this year, that could leave them with just Adam Lane, Brandon Powell and one or two true freshmen for 2016.
Florida might flip FNL visitors Ray-Ray McCloud III (Clemson commit), T.J. Simmons (UCLA commit) or Dexter Williams (Miami commit) with a good season, and four-star running back Nyheim Hines took a trip to UF this month.
The Gators signed a total of six prep defensive tackles (if you count Gerald Willis III there) in the last two classes. But given Florida’s two senior starters and the high interest being shown by Kendrick Norton and Texas A&M commit Daylon Mack (who will official visit UF on Oct. 11), landing one or both of them in addition to Andrew Ivie would be huge.
With George Campbell seemingly bound for Florida State and K.J. Hill deciding this Friday (not for UF), four-star receiver Ryan Davis looks to be the most likely candidate to join Derrick Dillon and Kalif Jackson in the 2015 class. Davis has visited Florida twice this month and will return for a third time Saturday for the season opener.
UF returns six corners and four safeties next year, so the secondary isn’t a pressing need. The Gators aren’t in the running for any top-flight defensive backs other than athlete Tim Irvin — due in part to their depth — but Da’Vante Davis and Jeremy McDuffie are still on the board.