No drama, no surprises, nothing unusual or unexpected. The first day of the early signing period played out pretty much as anticipated for Dan Mullen and the Florida Gators on Wednesday.
Of the 24 prospects who were already committed to UF, 21 put pen to paper and now are officially Gators. The 2020 recruiting class resides in the top 10 nationally and will grow between now and national signing day in February, according to Mullen.
“Great day, really excited,” Mullen said. “If you look at it, covered depth across the board. Both our recruiting staff and our coaching staff did a great job getting players.
“Real excited. Good guys. You look at it, not a lot of shocks. Not a lot of surprises, but I think that goes to the character of the players that we recruit and the job, the relationship, our coaches form with these guys and how they work.
“Recruiting is not over. This is just the early signing period. We have six weeks from now, we do it all again. We already have a bunch of official visits set for guys in January that we have had set for quite a while. So, it’s hard to say with the totality of the class because it’s just kind of the first part of it done.”
UF figures to add four or five more prospects to the class. Obviously, the Gators will be targeting a running back (a position they came up empty on Wednesday) and at least one more wide receiver (they signed just one Wednesday). UF also could further strengthen the overall roster through the NCAA transfer portal.
So, there are more options ahead.
“Something that comes in now is the transfer (portal),” Mullen said. “There’s going to be, not just are we looking at high school signees, but you’re looking at transfers coming in as well to fill the different gaps.
“Certainly, I don’t expect this to be the end of this recruiting class or new Gators, if you will, coming in here for us. I still think there’s going to be some more coming.”
Mullen seems excited about that, but even more fired up about the players he and his staff added Wednesday.
The class, ranked No. 7 nationally by Rivals and No. 8 by 24/7Sports, consists of one five-star prospect (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker Derek Wingo), 11 four stars, eight three stars and one two star (Australian punter Jeremy Crawshaw).
The Gators really took care of things on the defensive side of the ball, signing three four-star tackles (Johnnie Brown, Dexter Gervon and Lamar Goods), four-star linebacker Antwaun Powell and six defensive backs, led by four-star prospects Jahari Rogers, Mordecai McDaniel, Ethan Pouncey and Rashad Torrence.
UF appeared to fill big needs in the secondary and at defensive tackle, an area where the coaches have been focusing on since last year’s class.
“Defensive line, obviously the last couple of years it hasn’t been great,” Mullen said. “We’ve made some changes on our recruiting and our coaching staff to address that. And I think you see that with the success we have with some of the D-line that we’ve recruited this year. And really excited about those guys.
“If you look at that and then the depth we’re trying to bring in in the secondary. It would be the second straight year we’re losing guys early to the NFL within the secondary. You’ve had a little bit of attrition and dealt with some significant injuries and some career-ending injuries. And it was a position we were short on last year.
“When you take that, with attrition, with injuries and with everything, there’s going to be an opportunity for a lot of these guys to come in and play right away, get on the field right away. Really excited about the DBs in this class.”
The Gators signed four offensive linemen, one tight end, one quarterback and one wide receiver. Three of those players — quarterback Anthony Richardson, tackle Joshua Braun and guard Richie Leonard IV — are already practicing with the team in the Gators’ preparation for the Dec. 30 Orange Bowl.
Overall, the Gators appear to have met their biggest needs with this class, one that sits in the top 10 and could eventually end up ranked higher depending how the coaches finish it off between now and the first Wednesday in February.
“Let’s hope it translates into continuing being top 10 on the field,” Mullen said. “I’m more concerned how we finish on the field. If you look at the rankings, I think we’re ranked at a different category depending on which website you want to go to.
“So those are other people’s rankings. I don’t know how they evaluated it or judged it. I guess it’s great that we’re in the top 10, people think we have a really good recruiting class, and our coaches have done a good job, excited about great players coming.
“It’s a great job from our coaches and the work they did and it’s great we have multiple people who think we have great players coming to play for us.”
Mullen and his staff have a plan to add more.
“For this one, just best available players,” he said. “We’ll look at who fits and where we have a need. It might be more than that, depending on attrition, I don’t expect us to have many more guys to declare for the draft, but you never know how that’s going to be and we’ll try to fill those gaps.”