More top-flight football prospects visit UF campus

Students walk to class across University of Florida's campus during their first day of spring semester classes on January 8, 2018. (Lauren Bacho | Gainesville Sun)

The penultimate weekend for football prospects in the 2018 class to take official visits has arrived, and the Gators are racing to the finish.
The UF coaching staff is expecting six official visitors, and half of the group are offensive linemen, including one of the top overall uncommitted prospects in Tampa Berkeley Prep lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere.
Ranked the No. 1 offensive lineman in the 2018 class by 247Sports, Petit-Frere has had the Gators on his radar throughout his recruitment, but the transition to coach Dan Mullen and offensive line coach John Hevesy leaves Florida with ground to make up before National Signing Day on Feb. 7.
Florida’s chances of signing Petit-Frere may be hinged to fellow Tampa-based offensive tackle Richard Gouraige, who committed to UF’s previous coaching staff in October, but has continued evaluating his collegiate options following Jim McElwain’s departure. Gouraige will take an official visit this weekend, and the 6-foot-5, 270-pounder will need to come away feeling comfortable and with a strong impression of Hevesy and Florida’s coaching staff if UF hopes to land the prospect ranked the No. 7 offensive lineman in the 2018 class by 247Sports.
While previous indications suggested the pair of highly rated offensive linemen out of Apopka — William Barnes and Ed Montilus — would take official visits to Florida over the weekend, that’s no longer the case and the pair is expected to be at UF during the weekend of Feb. 2. In the event they can’t get either on campus, the Gators have developed a contingency plan, and it’s not a bad one to have considering the proximity to signing day. Florida’s coaching staff paid an in-home visit during the week to Mississippi State offensive line commit Griffin McDowell, and McDowell will have a chance to evaluate Mullen’s new program when he arrives in Gainesville on Friday for an official visit.
The Gators also expect to host Huntsville (Ala.) Lee strong-side defensive end Malik Langham on an official visit. Expected to eventually put pen to paper and sign with Alabama, Langham continues to evaluate the recruiting landscape as he makes a final decision.  He’s been recruited throughout the cycle by UF assistant coach Billy Gonzales, and UF will hope a pitch built on playing time and his potential role in defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defensive front can sway Langham to spurn the Crimson Tide and sign with the Gators.
Florida will also host another strong-side defensive end in Armwood prospect Malcolm Lamar, who de-committed from Oregon in December following the departure of Willie Taggart. Although Taggart’s coaching staff at Florida State is still believed to be in the driver’s seat for his recruitment, Lamar is evaluating his options before making a final decision on his collegiate destination, and the Gators could get in the mix if he comes away from his official visit with a strong impression of UF.
And indications suggest Fort Lauderdale American Heritage defensive end/outside linebacker Andrew Chatfield will arrive in Gainesville on Friday for an official visit, although he may push his visit to the final weekend before signing day. Florida has long been believed to be in prime position to land Chatfield, ranked the No. 13 weakside defensive end in the 2018 class by 247Sports, but UF’s revamped coaching staff will have to stave off Miami and FSU in the final stretch if the staff hopes to sign him Feb. 7.
Either way, the weekend will help clear up Florida’s recruiting board before the staff hosts a full slate of prospects Feb. 2.