Gators to host 6 official visitors in first weekend of final stretch

Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun]

Florida signed 21 prospects during the early signing period, and the Gators are in prime position for a strong finish Feb. 6, National Signing Day.

Despite the high number of signed players, in addition to two verbal commits in Diwun Black and Arjei Henderson, the Gators can add several more highly recruited prospects over the final four weeks of the 2019 cycle.

Division I programs are limited to signing a maximum of 25 players in each class — however, programs can sign more than 25 prospects by counting five early enrollees toward the previous class, which Florida appears set to do after counting just 22 prospects to the 2018 class.

To add another wrinkle to the equation, the SEC doesn’t allow programs to receive more than 28 signed letters of intent; needless to say, the counting of scholarships requires meticulous management, and a little creativity, too.

Although things could certainly change between now and Feb. 6, the Gators should sign five prospects on National Signing Day to a class currently ranked No. 11 by 247Sports.

Now, after a nearly month-long dead period that prohibited coaches from in-person contact with prospective student-athletes, the Gators will begin the final stretch of Dan Mullen’s first full recruiting cycle in Gainesville by hosting six official visitors over the weekend.

After adding Chris Steele to the list of early enrollees on Jan. 5, the Gators are in position to land another top-tier defensive back. Kaiir Elam, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound cornerback out of The Benjamin School in North Palm Beach, will give the Gators an official visit Saturday, as he looks to narrow his list before signing.

Elam, ranked the No. 7 defensive back in the 2019 class in the 247Sports composite, holds offers from a multitude of Power Five programs, but he appears to have narrowed his decision to UF, Georgia and Oregon with less than a month until putting pen to paper.

Mullen and Co. initially believed they’d have to fend off just Georgia — no small task, but not an inconceivable one — for Elam’s signature, but the Mario Cristobal-led Ducks have picked up their recruitment of Elam after failing to keep Steele on the West Coast.

In addition to defensive back, Mullen admitted the Gators needed to buoy the defensive line prior to signing day, and UF expects to do just that by hosting a pair of defensive linemen over the weekend.

Charles Moore initially pledged to Mullen on Aug. 19, 2017, while the UF coach was in Starkville at Mississippi State. After much contemplation and exploration throughout his senior season, Moore backed off his commitment to the Bulldogs on Jan. 7.

Moore, ranked the No. 7 defensive lineman, will take an official visit to UF over the weekend as he looks for a new landing spot. Landing Moore is far from a guarantee — Auburn remains in the mix as well to land the Louisville, Mississippi, native.

And 6-foot-6 defensive lineman Smith Vilbert out of St. Joseph Regional in Montvale, New Jersey, will round out the list of defensive linemen taking official visits to UF.

Vilbert had been trending in the direction of Penn State prior to the early signing period, but his recruitment remains open seemingly due to several programs coming into the mix late in the cycle.

Henderson shocked the world and committed to UF over FSU during the Army All-American game, and he’ll look to reaffirm that commitment when he arrives in Gainesville on Friday for an official visit. However, the Seminoles will get the final visit from the Richmond, Texas, native — meaning UF has its work cut out if they hope to sign the No. 12-ranked wide receiver prospect in the 2019 class by 247sports.

Standing at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, offensive tackle Ira Henry has multiple top programs interested in his services, and he’ll take an official visit to UF over the weekend.

Henry will also visit FSU on Jan. 25 — a program that has a greater need for offensive linemen, considering the Gators have signed 11 offensive linemen in Mullen’s first 12 months at the helm.

Florida remains a likely landing spot for Wellington athlete Mark-Antony Richards, who seemingly narrowed his list to Penn State, UF and Auburn after Mark Richt abruptly departed Miami.

Richards, the brother of former ’Canes wide receiver Ahmmon Richards, was initially offered at running back by the Gators, but that was under the previous regime; it’s unclear just how Mullen would use the dynamic Richards, ranked the No. 3 athlete in the 2019 class by 247Sports.

More prospects will be visiting UF over the next four weeks than there are available scholarships; after a 10-3 inaugural season at UF, Mullen and the Gators have earned the privilege of choosing from multiple highly recruited prospects in the 2019 class.



    • Sparky. I read where mom is not coming on the visit. But where did you get the “word” that he is not coming on his OV? Or is that just you speculating based on knowing now that his mom is not coming. Please inform of where you got that “no OV” news. I would like to go read about that.

          • And I posted what I had heard. Before when I posted what i had heard about Steele on signing day, you said your cat knew better than my sources. Hence i didn’t know why you would bother asking where i read something (when I never posted I read it anywhere). Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

          • Sparks, they have instinct and can control human behavior. Very smart indeed. I’m experimenting using my cats to predict which school 5 star recruits will choose. Will let you know the results soon.

        • Agreed Sparky.

          Word is Fuller was only going to try and flip Henderson and one other on his OV. As for Henderson, word is he cancelled his OV to Rape State and will be shutting down his recruitment after his OV to UF this weekend.

          The only reason Taggart managed to talk Francois into coming back (Francois was NOT happy with the Taggart hire or his coaching), was because the NFL told him he wasn’t ready and he couldn’t transfer anywhere that he’d be guaranteed a starting role.

          The Briles hire borders on stupidity after all the bad PR fsu got for the Winston rape scandal, but it was enough to calm Francois to a degree. Btw, Briles’ offense just looked “so good” scoring that 14 points on Army a few weeks ago, eh?

          Hope Fuller enjoys himself at fsu and being UF’s whipping boy for his college career.

  1. If we can even come close to replacing Polite and Jefferson on the D Line we will have done well.
    We will need a deep and talented D, especially in the first 3 games, while our young O Line gets its legs
    underneath it. Maybe we can convert one or two of the 11 new O Linemen and convert them to D if needed.

    • Landing Greenard, the transfer from Louisville, should go a long way towards replacing at least Jefferson. Going to be hard to replace the 11 sacks Polite had, but Greenard had 7 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 2017 before getting hurt and missing 2018.

    • Lakeland. I think you are going to see Moon step up big time next season in Polite’s spot. Chatfield is going to do the same. Polite/Moon. Chatfield/Jefferson. And the new guy from Louisville will also play the Polite/Jefferson position. Also two very good 4-star recruits coming in that will be playing that position as well. So, I think the position fill for Polite/Jefferson is way more than “close”. The position is deep and very talented for next season already.

    • Thank you. Now, I haven’t known Graham to employ needless hyperbole in the past — but “come on Graham” is right. They might have been shocked in Tally, but it seems like the rest of the world got over it pretty quickly if they even took notice in the first place. Seriously….are we that bad a choice, that poor of a program, that it would “shock” anyone, let alone the entire world, if we sign a blue chip athlete?

      Come on Jaws — weigh in with some of your signature prose here! Set this thing right.

        • I don’t think the issue is whether it’s hyperbolic as much as it’s a worn-out, and pretty trite phrase. “Shock the world.”

          Let’s let Muhammad Ali have that one, and move on.

          Graham, go set the world on fire with your talent, and never type those words again.

          One man’s opinion.

          Go Gators.

          • Ted. And you are entitled to your opinion. But I believe it was Graham that the Sun hired to write about recruiting and other things on here, no you or us. I believe it would be better to write intelligent responses to Graham and others (which I think I did with the 85 roster statement) and get intelligent responses back from Graham (which I did concerning the 85 roster statement) and others (which is getting increasingly difficult to accomplish with “others” on here). Just one man’s opinion.

          • Hey Ted let me break down what TampaSwamp just told you, if you want to post here again you better listen closely to what he says and only post what he considers appropriate. You should go back and read all his posts to have an idea of what you can say, how to say it and when to do so. If you don’t then you will bring the collective intelligence of this discussion down just like the uncouth Gator 6 has done.
            Hope this helps, have a nice day.

        • Hey, you tell ’em, Graham. Just who does that Gator-6 guy think he is, anyway? Boy, talk about a gad-about-gaddis… thing you know he’ll be carping that the idea of Miss Universe is over the top too, even if Tim Tebow did snag one of them.

          Keep up the good work buddy — you’re the best in the solar system! 😎

          (On a serious note, we look forward to your excellent coverage of recruiting topics in particular — just yankin’ your chain on the other stuff)

          • The three of you are turning this site into juvenile level behavior and thinking with your posts. Will not be long before intelligent thinking and posting on here will be a thing of the past because of the three of you (Sparky, CO, and Six). Sad what the three of you are doing to this blog site.

          • Hey CO and Sparky (if you’re still bothering to listen to all this) — I don’t know about you guys, but I’ll have you know that I graduated high school too, and even though the Army told me that I’m “slightly more intelligent than a rather mature cucumber”, they saw fit to make me an MP and strap a .45 on me to boot. Oh yeah, and we’re having a cold winter out here in Texas, so the rumors of my “room temperature IQ” aren’t true either. At least until spring, anyway.

            Back to Anglogator’s original post, and my response to it, essentially stating that we’re good enough for it not to “shock the world” to sign an unexpected recruit, while it may indeed be shocking to a restricted sample of FSU fans or proponents — which actually does happen to have something to do with the status of Gator football — I’m not sure how this got twisted around to yet another dust up. Especially when the alleged antagonist, me — Anglo, Ted, and Sparky thrown in as innocent bystanders who apparently had the temerity to be on here at the same time as the instant offense — sings the praises of Graham in the next breath.

            We may act a little silly in the off season, or even a lot silly — but this is getting comical by now, inferior intelligence and sense of humor differentials notwithstanding. This will probably go on until the cows come home, but a little self restraint would go a long way.

          • 6, I agree with TampaSwamp that you seem very juvenile and it’s bad enough that first I was appointed president of your fan club and now I’m also supposed to be your “defender”. I don’t need any additional work so I would appreciate it if you can behave less I be given additional duties on your behalf.
            Have a nice day and Go Gators

          • Yeah, I get your point — sorry. But are you sure you can’t do it at least part time? Wait! Don’t answer yet! What if I say I’ll throw in the Ginsu knives?

            It’s time for ’65 to post the countdown clock again, Methinks.

  2. Graham. You failed to mention the 85 roster limit by the NCAA. With the transfer of the Louisville player onto the Florida roster, there are currently 85 players on the Gators roster. If Florida gets 3 to 5 more recruits to sign on the first Wednesday in February, that means that 3 to 5 players currently on the roster will either transfer to another school or have their scholarships removed. I could see Lenton, who has been injured almost his entire time in Gainesville, possibly transferring out. And maybe the Moore, the former 4-star OL recruit that has been be a major disappointment, possibly transferring out. And maybe McWilliams seeing the depth chart if Elam signs and leaves for another program. But what other two players do you see leaving the program if Mullen and staff sign five more recruits in February?

      • Obviously, Graham, multiple transfers out of the program are to come. Just wondering who they may be. Thinking the DB Lenton, the OL Moore, and maybe the DB McWilliams for starters. Also, maybe backup OC McCoy. And likely Brunson, the LB who never plays. That would be the five needed in order to sign five.

        • Would you say that concern regarding reaching the roster limit is yet another good sign that the program is really stepping up in recruiting? It seems like a good problem to have. How does it working regarding getting players to transfer out? Are they / are they simply told to pack their bags, or do they have to be convinced?

  3. For those challenging Graham’s “shocked” comment in this article. It was shocking and everyone at the all-star game thought Henderson was going to commit to FSU. No one thought Florida at that time. So, yes, it was shocking. But what will be less shocking is when he will likely flip to FSU on signing day, which I believe (and others as well) will happen with Henderson. I think the Florida roster is just too deep at WR already, and there are some really good future WR recruits committed already or likely to commit to the 2020 and 2021 classes. And Henderson may have academic concerns for entry to UF as well. Not as much likely for entrance to FSU. But he might even have to end up going the JC route because of academics.

    • He and Steele seem to be pretty close friends, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. I have a feeling he’ll be locked in after this weekend. Maybe Mullen can convince him to cancel his visit up north. Academics though are something to watch out for for sure.

    • I don’t think they were challenging the use of the work “shocked” but rather the hyperbole of the phrase “shocked the world”. Yes it was a shock to those closely tracking it and expecting otherwise, but it didn’t shock the world.

  4. If Henderson qualifies, I hope they at least can find a way to let Chauncey talk to the kid while he’s down here. Chauncey was FSU’s best coach in the Fla/FSU game. If you are going to play big time football in college, where they count first downs by stepping off 10 yards, where there is a clock that tells you how much time is left, where the game is divided into 4 quarters, you might want to consider putting your future in the hands of a coach who can at least count to 11.Plus, who is going to throw the ball to Henderson up in Tally? They’re losing QB’s faster than Tenn fans lose teeth.

    • Just a projection based on everything I have read about Henderson. Academics appears to be his biggest hurdle for Florida and maybe for FSU as well. If not JC, maybe Marshall??? But he must be working hard on is academics or Mullen would not even be bothering with him. But I think, when he looks at the WR numbers on the Florida roster to next season and the recruits committed and leaning to Florida for the coming recruiting cycles, he goes elsewhere.

  5. im more surprised we didnt here about mullen being wanted by the nfl this week. since a losing college spread coach (kingsbury) got an nfl head job, you would think cdm would have been a big name. glad for the quiet but i still expect to read about it some day (not him leaving but someone wanting him). im glad the job is such that he would prefer staying here.
    im not for worrying about who signs any more. we should get all the guys we need soon enough. moms, fsu, mind changes, arent going to be what matters. now its a matter of leaders stepping up. we have been out performing our recruiting rankings at least half of the last 30 years – including this team ranked #6.

  6. Did Mullen make a mistake not keeping Seider? The guy appears to be a good recruiter and a thorn in our side now. Was he that poor a coach?

    This whole thing with Henderson seems to classic FSU recruiting tactics. Bowdenesq.

    • Does anyone really know whether Mullen just flat out let him go? Knox has been with Mullen for 9 years and Mullen is obviously a big proponent of continuity, so it’s understandable why he brought him over. He could’ve given Seider the option to stay and coach a different position and he decided he’d rather continue coaching RBs somewhere else. He is an amazing recruiter though, so it was for sure a tough loss. According to 247, he’s ranked the 13th best recruiter in the country. The Gators don’t have a coach appear till 47th.

    • Jack. I think Mullen moving him to TEs coach was a way to give Seider time to seek another position instead of firing him, and I believe Mullen did that because Seider had done a great job at Florida and was relatively new to McElwain’s staff. Mullen clearly understood that Seider would not be on the market long once programs knew he was looking. And Mullen is very loyal to the coaches working for him that are doing a good job for him. No way was he not going to bring the RB’s coach with him from MSU if that coach accepted the offer to come, which he did. And the staff now appears to be recruiting extremely well and I think that is going to continue. The recruiting support staff will be a major key to that ongoing success. Bagley (I think that is her name) is doing a great job behind the scenes, as she did at MSU.

  7. When a player blue-shirts, isn’t that supposed to count towards next seasons scholarships ? How does that figure in if there are more than 85 on the team ? Just asking because I read that UGA is starting to blue-shirt some of their recruits.

    • I think it’s called grey shirting… but the idea is they either pay their own way or don’t get on scholly until January next year. Still the rule is no more than 85 at one time, so it’s a numbers game.

      • No, blue shirting and gray shirting are two completely different ways to get around the 85 limit. A gray shirt actually comes to school (usually between September and January) on his own dollar, practices with the team, and gets a scholly at the beginning of January and counts towards the following year’s roster and recruiting numbers. A blue shirt does not come on campus but knows he will get a scholarship at the beginning of January and will count towards the following year’s number. A gray shirt is basically a walk-on for a few months. A blue shirt is basically a recruit who wants to be with one team but that team does not have room for that recruit currently. But a promise is made to the recruit for the following season. Not many recruits are willing to blue shirt because it means they do not get on campus right away. But they have to be fully sold and do not want to go to any other school right away.

    • Blue-shirting is little more than walking on next season with a firm promise of getting a scholarship the following season. There are strict restrictions on the practice, such as no player official visit, no in-home coach visits and no signed National LOI now.

      Any player willing to accept those conditions must REALLY want to play at that school. He wouldn’t count against the 85 scholarship limit next season, since he’s getting no form of athletic aid to play then. His scholarship would free up when seniors graduate after next season.

  8. Let’s land Elam to complete the Gators return to top DBU. I am banking on Mullen landing Moore as well – he will really help bolster our D-Line. We must nail Henderson down, hoping he cancels his FSU visit.