When it comes to recruiting, Florida hasn’t settled for simply scouting in the southeast.
No, the Gators and coach Dan Mullen have prioritized many areas of the country early in his tenure. When it comes to defensive backs, Mullen, and safeties coach Ron English, have eyed the west coast especially, and that trend continued Tuesday.
Ranked by 247Sports as the No. 8 cornerback in the 2019 class, Jeremiah Criddell arrived in Gainesville for an unofficial visit at the University of Florida, and the Mater Dei (Cali.) prospect didn’t arrive alone. With Criddell came Sean Dollars, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 1 all-purpose running back in the 2019 class and his teammate and Mater Dei, in addition to Jayden Daniels, the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback.
With no shortage of suitors, Criddell came away impressed by Florida’s program.
“It was a really good visit. It really opened my eyes to the SEC and like, how football is out here. It’s a whole different culture, just from the weather to the people out here,” Criddell said. “I sat down with coach Mullen and we had a really long talk, and I just listened to how he feels about recruiting and his school and how he runs his program.”
UF safeties coach Ron English has ties to the California area, which could have helped when it came to even getting Criddell on campus. However, English’s pitch was solely about football.
— J4 (@JayCriddell) April 3, 2018
“I talked to him, we chatted it up, but we actually watched a lot of film,” Criddell said. “Like what to do, different techniques. He gave me a lot of insight that I can bring back to high school.”
But if Florida hopes to become a player in Criddell’s recruitment, it’s safe to say the Gators have their work cut out from them. Criddell holds at least 20 scholarship offers, with Pac-10 powers Oregon, Washington and Arizona heavily in the mix.
“I’ve just been hearing from everyone. Just trying to see where I am with every school pretty much,” Criddell said. “Right now I’m just looking for a good school that’s going to be able to elevate my game, you know a place where I’m going to be at if football wasn’t there. Somewhere where I could fit in all around.”
Criddell is making sure to see as many schools as possible, too. On Wednesday, the trio of Criddell, Daniels and Dollars will visit with Florida State and coach Willie Taggart, and FSU is perceived by many to be heavily in the mix to land Daniels.
When it comes to Criddell, Oregon and coach Mario Cristobal seem to be the program to beat. He’ll next take an unofficial visit to Eugene, Oregon, for the Ducks’ Spring game on April 21.
“Coach Cristobal, we talk, he just basically, it’s just like a conversation. We talk everyday,” Criddell said. “It’s not a whole bunch of stuff recruiting-wise. It’s just how is your life going pretty much.”
Criddell said he would like to commit before the start of his senior season – but only if he’s found the perfect fit.
“If it doesn’t happen,” Criddell said, “Then I’m not going to force it.”
Regardless, Criddell sees the benefits of enrolling and signing early, and he intends to put pen to paper and sign early in December.
“I feel like the early signing day period is really beneficial. Even if you graduate early or even if you don’t, you’re already going to be committed to a school and signed,” Criddell said. “You’ll already have your mindset and you’ll know what they want out of their players. To be able to be in a college weight program and get ready physically, that’s really beneficial.”
And Criddell made it clear that the unofficial visit to Florida has the Gators “high on my board”, but he isn’t ready to rank any programs yet.
“I haven’t really made any top-10 or anything like that,” Criddell said. “I’m just still going through the process.”