Daily Football Fix: 5 prospects who could commit to UF [Update – July 20]

IMG Academy Blue Team running back Trey Sanders picks up a few yards against Miami Central at IMG's Academy in Bradenton on Sept. 22, 2017. [Herald-Tribune staff photo / Thomas Bender]

It’s no secret that the first recruiting class in a head coach’s tenure at a program sets the baseline of expectations, and Dan Mullen is no exception. And as June winds down and the dead period settles in, Mullen and his coaching staff are entering a potentially cycle-defining window in July.

The Gators are in contention to land several high-profile targets over the next month — including three from The Golden State — from the 2019 class, with a verbally commitment from even one prospect being enough to boost Florida up the class rankings.

Here are five 2019 prospects whose commitments could shake out in Florida’s favor.

  1. Mycah Pittman, WR, 6-foot-0, 195 pounds — Pittman has seemingly narrowed his decision down to two programs — Oregon and UF. His social media accounts are wrought with content for both potential destinations, however, making Pittman a tough read. But the multiple cross-country visits on his own dime — with family in tow, nonetheless — puts the Mullen-led Gators in a strong position to land the four-star wide receiver prospect. Regardless of wherever he verbally commits, Pittman plans on taking an official visit to Florida on Oct. 6 to witness the Gators host LSU.
  2. Trey Sanders, RB, 6-foot-0, 215 pounds — Widely regarded as the top running back prospect in the 2019 class, Sanders has long held the Gators in high regard, and his family hasn’t shied away from sharing their favoritism towards UF. And with the addition of his older brother Umstead Sanders as a walk-on in the 2018 season, there’s a multitude of reasons the younger Sanders could spurn Alabama and Florida State and don the orange and blue. Furthermore, Sanders, who was previously committed to Alabama, might no longer consider the Crimson Tide as appealing of a destination following Wednesday’s commitment of four-star running back Keilan Robinson to the program.
  3. Chris Steele, DB, 6-foot-2, 185 pounds — Update – Steele committed to the University of Southern California on July 6. The rest of the article appears as it was originally published The Bellflower, California, native has narrowed his decision to three schools — University of Southern California, University of South Carolina and Florida — with a decision just over a week away. Steele intends to verbally commit to a program on July 7, and despite what you may have seen on social media, a source close to Steele confirms he remains torn on a decision. After previously telling The Sun he would push his commitment back if he remains even the slightest bit apprehensive, there’s been no indication he’s pushing a decision back. Steele has even gone as far as shooting multiple endings to his commitment video as he continues wrestling with his decision, the source confirms. UF remains in contention, but all Mullen and the Gators can do now is wait and see if the work in Spring will pay dividends.
  4. Elijah Higgins, WR, 6-foot-2, 225 pounds — Like Pittman, Higgins is considered one of the elite pass-catching prospects in the 2019 cycle. While he’s been seen recently rocking Florida gear to various camps, Higgins has yet to name a leader or give any indication as to where he’s leaning. A source close to Higgins tells me a potential commitment to Stanford is mainly contingent upon his acceptance to the university, but the Gators remain in a prime position regardless to land a verbal commitment in the coming weeks from the four-star wide receiver prospect out of Austin, Texas.
  5. Ethan Rae, TE, 6-foot-4, 240 pounds — Update: Rae committed to the University of Southern California on July 12. The rest of the article appears as it was originally published. Florida’s tight end board has taken several twists and turns throughout the cycle, and it now appears Anaheim, California, native Ethan Rae is the odds-on favorite to join UF’s 2019 class. Rae took an official visit June 15 to Florida and visited Colorado a week later, and plans on making a verbal commitment before his senior season commences. Florida added JUCO tight end Lucas Krull in the 2018 class and have two seniors competing for minutes on the roster this season, making the position an area to address moving forward. A commitment from Rae would continue strengthening the prestige of UF’s 2019 class.


          • Yes IMG gives scholarships to athletes from states outside of Florida (they are prohibited from recruiting or paying Florida students by FHSAA rules), and many of the families of football players there cannot and do not pay the full $72,500 annual cost of attendance. That fact, however, doesn’t explain why Florida has failed to recruit a single football player from IMG. What better explains the failure of UF to recruit IMG football players is the sad state of affairs that has prevailed at UF since IMG began playing football in 2013. If you are a parent of an IMG player, you are laser focused on him getting into a power 5 school that will best prepared him to make it to the NFL. When those parents looked at UF since 2013, it simply wasn’t a place where they saw a bright college and NFL future for their sons. Who can blame them? Now that UF actually has training facilities that are almost as good as IMG’s and coaches at every position who have a proven record of accomplishment, slowly but surely I expect that the IMG players and their parents will actually begin to give the Gators a serious look.

          • Sly. You are throwing crap into a fan with that money/IMG thing. Most of the kids at IMG come there from other states and have loyalties elsewhere, having not grown up here or played sports there entire lives in Florida. Most graduate and want to return closer to home and families, which is the greater influence on Florida’s challenge to recruit players from IMG. Now, IMG does have a pipeline of players from Florida going to FSU. But, then again, that has more to do with connections, previous high school coaches, and player interest and loyalty than money exchanging hands (when has never been mentioned by anyone in the press).

          • True. Wonder why the media hasn’t looked into it. Then again, maybe they have….don’t get a lot of that type of journalism out here unless it involves the Big-12.

          • The FSU pipeline for IMG players began when the AD and the coach were former FSU players. They are no longer there, and IMG players like Trey Sanders and others are starting to seriously consider Florida now. I expect, with Mullen and staff, that Florida will continue to build influence with IMG in the coming years. But out of state top recruits at IMG will remain hard to get recruits.

  1. It’s been a long time since I was a teen and I never even dreamed of a school recruiting me for sports. So can someone else explain to me why Steele, who has half a year ahead to commit to a school, has imposed a July 7 date on himself, knowing that the decision will be tough? All 3 of his prospective schools have lots of questions going into the season. Why wouldn’t he just hang back and see how things unfold? Is this just for attention, or is there a logic to it?

  2. Mullen and company have an uphill battle due in large measure to the breakdown of the once powerful Florida program. But he’s energetic, outgoing, likable and absolutely on fire for the future of Gator football. It wouldn’t be surprising at all for at least two or three of these five named by Graham to become Gators. Several other outstanding prospects have Florida firmly in view. And given how Mullen closed last December and February we should expect this class to push or break into the Top Ten. There’s lots of racket out there about any prospect linked to UF verbally announcing elsewhere. It’s that kind of easy-defeatism that’s defined a vocal, minority wedge of Gator fans too long and it will take a big recruiting breakthrough to change those minds. But it’s worth asking whether or not you think Mullen cares about those panicked snipers this summer. I can’t imagine he does.

    • Excellent points about the uphill battle and why…..frankly, I’m surprised, if not astonished actually, that we go into this year with the caliber of core players that we do have. But, we do have them despite all that, in addition some very fine new youngsters, and all are to be exposed to about the finest coaching staff that I can imagine putting together myself as a dream staff, if I even knew what I was doing in the first place. Feelings do have their place, and I “feel” something magnificent is about to happen. Used to call it a hope during those suffering years, but this is different…..kind of like faith, where the question, “But how do you know?” is best answered, “I don’t know how I know, but I do know”. I think a lot of Gators “feel” the same way without quite being able to put it into words.

      I’ll bet Mullen listens to the voices in his head about what he CAN do right now, and ignore those that tell him what he OUGHT do.

        • Having trouble containing myself, 65…..can’t wait until the season starts. I agree, there will be some ups and downs, but the overall trajectory I think will tell us that we are coming back from the edge. Sooner than a lot of us thought.

  3. Pittman’s only real concern about UF is the depth chart, has come to UF on a lot of visits, but it’s hard to beat that cross country distance. Cristobal at Oregon is a prime recruiter and it’ll be a battle for Pittman. Question is, does Pittman want to play in the SEC, or against an annual schedule of the Sisters of the Poor? 50/50

    If Steele commits to UF, I admit that I’d be doing the Snoopy Dance, but I don’t see it happening. Steele was recently seen at a camp with a Gator shirt on, but that doesn’t mean anything. My guess is he’s 80% USC, about 20% UF, but I sure do hope he proves me wrong on that.

    Trey Sanders is playing it cool to avoid anyone pressuring him and he’s enjoying the process. I’d be shocked if he didn’t pick the Gators and come to play with his brother who just enrolled this past week.

    Rae is a take and will camping at UF this week I think? Apparently he’s showing out at every camp he’s been at and he’s an immediate take if he says he wants to be a Gator. I’d say we lead for his services.

    Higgins or Pittman imo. One of the two will commit to UF. Both are exceptional WR’s.

    • Good assessment, Todd. I confess not to know the ins and outs at that level of detail, but if I could only get one wish….it would be Trey Sanders. If I got two or three, I’d probably be doing the Snoopy Dance ’till I passed out! (or the Funky Chicken, whichever one I could remember first)

  4. College football teams run in cycles as to recruiting and winning, that said there will be a changing of the guard in winning and recruiting. Look at recent history it’s going to happen mark my words…