Florida’s Friday Night Lights proves fruitful

Justin Fields
Justin Fields, one of the top quarterback prospects in the country, throws in a drill as Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, right, watches during Friday Night Lights, the annual Florida football high school camp at the Indoor Practice Facility. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer]

With the amount of talent on hand in Gainesville for Friday Night Lights, the University of Florida’s annual football recruiting showcase, the Gators seem set for an even brighter future.
A pair of verbal commitments, two premier quarterbacks and a multitude of prospects high on Florida’s board were just some of the aspects on full display at UF’s Indoor Practice Facility and under the lights at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
But before the event got underway, the Gators landed a verbal commitment from rising tight end prospect Dante Lang, a three-star recruit in the 2018 class out of Boca Raton High. Lang said his relationship with Florida tight ends coach Greg Nord helped solidify his commitment.
“It’s a good vibe for me here, good family and I’m cool with all the players and coaches. It’s just like one family,” Lang said. “Nord, he’s a big guy. When I told that man I committed, that man jumped like seven feet in the air and jumped on me.”
After the camp’s conclusion, the good news only continued for Florida with a verbal commitment from offensive lineman Wardrick Wilson, a 6-foot-4 prospect out of Miami’s Norland High. A rising prospect in the 2019 class, Wilson gave UF offensive line coach Brad Davis his verbal commitment after camping at Florida.
The commitments may have a long-lasting effect on Florida’s program, but all eyes Friday were understandably on quarterbacks Justin Fields (Kennesaw, Georgia) and Matt Corral (Long Beach Poly, Calif.). The top remaining uncommitted quarterbacks in the 2018 class, both participants were on hand Friday in the Indoor Practice Facility working with Florida’s coaches and visiting the facilities.
Corral arrived in Gainesville late Thursday night and he plans to spend Saturday on campus before taking the flight back to California. Instead of participating in instructional drills with UF’s coaching staff, the pro-style prospect spent the night talking to Florida’s coaching staff and meeting many of the prospects the Gators continue to show significant interest in.
Fields, who spent Thursday camping at Florida State University, didn’t shy away from the competition, however.
The nation’s top dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class, Fields arrived just before the start of camp and spent the early portion throwing with Gators running back commit Iverson Clement (Rancocas Valley High, N.J.).
Fields said his trip to Gainesville will likely be his last visit of the summer before turning his attention to preparing for his senior season at Harrison High in Kennesaw, Georgia.
“I’ve got practice on Monday,” said Fields, who didn’t throw at Florida State on Thursday. “I’m not taking any more visits.”
And while he said he isn’t prepared to commit anywhere just yet, the five-star prospect did imply the Gators should expect some good news in the near future on the recruiting front.
“Something’s about to happen, I can tell y’all that,” Fields said with a smile. “Not with me, somebody else. I can’t tell you who.”
Saturday’s update
Friday Night Lights continues to pay dividends for the Gators.
After taking an unofficial visit to Gainesville over the weekend, 2018 safety Randy Russell Jr. verbally committed to the Gators over offers from Michigan, Miami and Virginia Tech.
Russell, whose birthday was Friday, de-committed on June 6 from the Hurricanes following an unofficial visit to Florida.
A three-star prospect and the No. 46 safety in the 2018 class by 247Sports, Russell is the fourth defensive back prospect to commit to Florida’s 2018 class.
With Russell’s verbal commitment, which is non-binding until he signs a letter of intent, the Gators have 11 commits in the 2018 class.