The final weekend before the commencement of the Early Signing Period — set to begin Wednesday — is poised to be a critical one for the Florida football program.
The Gators expect to host five official visitors, with the No. 5 overall prospect, IMG Academy running back Trey Sanders, leading the pack of attendees in Gainesville.
Sanders, whose brother Umstead Sanders joined Florida prior to the 2018 season, initially backed off a pledge to Alabama, and the dynamic back is expected to sign with either the Crimson Tide or the Gators come Wednesday. But don’t count out Georgia, which landed Sanders’ highly regarded teammate, defensive end Nolan Smith, a week before the early signing period opens.
It’s no secret the Gators lack depth at defensive tackle, but help could possibly be on the way. Siaki “Apu” Ika, ranked the No. 11 defensive tackle prospect in the 2019 class by 247Sports, will take his fifth and final official visit to Florida over the weekend. Ika, who initially committed to Brigham Young University before his recruitment skyrocketed, is regarded as one of the top tackle prospects at 6-foot-4, 285 pounds — meaning Florida has its work cut out if it hopes to land the uncommitted prospect. Ika will sign early, and recruiting analysts believe he’ll decide between Alabama, Oregon and Florida come Wednesday.
Florida hosted two highly regarded Lakeland prospects — defensive end Lloyd Summerall and tight end Keon Zipperer — last weekend, but the Gators aren’t done recruiting the area.
Offensive guard Deyavie Hammond, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 12 guard prospect in the 2019 class, will give the Gators an official visit before he signs early next week. The 6-foot-4 Hammond has a slew of offers from around the state and SEC, and current projections peg him to sign early with the Gators.
And two UF commits — cornerback Chester Kimbrough and wide receiver Dionte Marks — will take their only official visits of the year before signing early. The two committed to Florida prior to UF’s 9-3 season and the New Year’s Six Bowl berth — meaning Saturday will be an affirmation and celebration rather than a typical recruiting visit.
Aside from the official visitors, the Gators expect a full slate of unofficial visitors — headlined by IMG Academy offensive tackle Evan Neal. The 6-foot-8 offensive lineman has already used all five of his official visits, but the Gators did make Neal’s final list of six schools in consideration to receive his services. It would likely take an unparalleled visit to sway Neal away from committing to Alabama — however, with Sanders in tow, the Gators could still capitalize on the recent momentum and land at least one of the state’s top uncommitted prospects.
Three UF commits — linebacker Diwun Black, defensive back Jaydon Hill and running back Nay’Quan Wright — will take unofficial visits to Florida prior to the early signing period. Hill and Wright will join the contingent of double-digit early signees in Gainesville. Black, however, earlier indicated an intention to sign early, although his situation remains in flux. It’s more likely the dynamic outside linebacker/defensive end prospect will sign with the Gators in February on National Signing Day — although, like all aspects of recruiting, anything can change between now and Wednesday.