Top prospects in for Junior Day, as Gators look to add to top-5 class

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Vanguard Knights wide receiver Trevonte Rucker at Booster Stadium, in Ocala last season. [Cyndi Chambers/Ocala Star Banner Correspondent]

There are high expectations when it comes to Florida’s second Junior Day in the 2021 recruiting cycle. 

As football  coach Dan Mullen and the staff look to bring a top-five class to Gainesville, the Gators will have multiple high priority targets on campus over the weekend, in addition to a majority of UF’s 13 committed prospects.

Having yet to land a running back in the 2020 class, the Gators are prioritizing the position early in the ’21 cycle, although UF does hold a commitment from rising all-purpose back Brashard Smith. Aside from Smith, the Gators expect several highly recruited running backs in town and on UF’s campus this weekend, including Parkview (Ga.) standout Cody Brown. While Auburn appears to be the team to beat for Brown, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 9 running back in the class, the Gators are keen on making up ground in his recruitment. He’ll be joined by fellow Georgia native Jamie Felix, ranked the No. 9 running back as well but in the 2022 class. It’ll be Felix’s first trip to Gainesville, meaning Florida has a chance Saturday to get in the door early for a top-100 prospect in the following class. 

When it comes to reloading at receiver, the Gators hold commitments from two pass-catchers in Ocala Vanguard standout Trevonte Rucker and Grayson (Ga.) native Daejon Reynolds – both of whom will be on campus this weekend – but Florida isn’t done yet. 

Mario Williams, ranked the No. 4 wide receiver in the 2021 class, will be on campus for Junior Day as UF looks to make headway in the recruitment of one of the top in-state prospects. The Plant City standout has Alabama, Georgia and LSU in the mix as well, but don’t write off receivers coach Billy Gonzales and Co. when it comes time to land the 5-foot-10 pass-catcher. 

In addition, Marcus Burke, a 6-foot-3 four-star wide receiver out of Trinity Christian Academy, will make his return to Gainesville after having shown significant interest in Florida State and Georgia as of late. 

Florida will also have an up close look at some of the top defensive prospects in the cycle, such as a recent IMG Academy addition, defensive end Tunmise Adeleye. The Gators have been gaining ground in Adeleye’s recruitment as of late, and can only hope the program’s history with IMG Academy doesn’t result in the now in-state prospect landing elsewhere. The strong-side end is ranked the No. 43 overall prospect by 247Sports and sits just several spots outside of the highly regarded “five-star” designation – although there’s plenty of time for things to change, for better or worse. He’ll be on campus with former UF commit Bryce Langston, another Vanguard standout who backed off a pledge to the Gators in May of 2019. Florida isn’t giving up, however, on Langston, regarded as one of the top-100 prospects in the cycle. Furthermore, UF will have two rising Miami Palmetto prospects on campus in defensive tackles Leonard Taylor and Savion Collins. While Collins is committed to nearby Miami, the Gators appear to recently be the team to beat for Taylor, ranked the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2021 class by 247Sports – if they can hold off the ‘Canes, that is. 

The two won’t be the only Palmetto playmakers making the trip north to Gainesville either as a trio of the team’s defensive backs will be on campus prior to a 7-on-7 tournament. Corey Collier and Jason Marshall also anticipate seeing UF’s facilities prior to their competition, and both possess a rising recruiting profile that could ultimately lead to UF. Collier is ranked the No. 3 safety in the class, while Marshall holds a five-star ranking as the class’ No. 3 corner prospect. 

The focus will be on the highly regarded uncommitted prospects in Gainesville, yes, but UF’s coaching staff also is anticipating the majority of the current commits returning to campus.

Carlos Del Rio, Florida’s signal caller in the 2021 class, will make the trip from Grayson with Reynolds, while tight end Gage Wilcox, offensive lineman Javonte Gardner and defensive end Justus Boone each plan on making their first visits to Gainesville since committing to the program. Defensive linemen Tyreak Sapp and Christopher Thomas have indicated intentions to attend the Junior Day as well, as have defensive backs Clinton Burton Jr. and Kamar Wilcoxson. 

Already possessing the No. 2 class in the nation according to several recruiting sites, it’s clear the Gators have an opportunity this weekend to continue building on what is shaping up to be a transformational 2021 class.