While much of Florida’s 2020 class signed in the early window in December, there’s still work to be done on the recruiting trail for football coach Dan Mullen and the Gators.
With the traditional National Signing Day less than three weeks away (Feb. 5), Mullen and his staff are preparing to add the final pieces to a class of 29 signees — meaning that, barring any more attrition, the Gators have four spots remaining in which to add underclassmen or transfers.
Of the remaining transfers on the market, no one carries more intrigue than former five-star wide receiver Justin Shorter.
The 6-foot-4 pass-catcher signed with Penn State out of South Brunswick (N.J.) with considerably hype, yet produced modest results in two seasons with the Nittany Lions. In eight games in 2019, Shorter hauled in just 12 passes for 137 yards – a far cry from what was expected for the No. 1-ranked wide receiver prospect in the 2018 class. A change of scenery – and a wide-open position room – may be just what Shorter needs to realize his potential, and he’ll take an official visit Jan. 24 to Florida to see if the Gators best suit his needs.
Considering Shorter is the lone remaining transfer expected to be pursued by Florida, much of UF’s current work on the recruiting trail is focused on landing several of the remaining highly recruited and unsigned prospects coming out of high school.
Avantae Williams, a 5-foot-11 athlete/safety out of DeLand, appears to have narrowed his final three to a trio of programs in the South: Florida, Miami and Georgia.
Williams, who is cousins with incoming UF transfer Lorenzo Lingard, de-committed from Oregon just prior to the early signing period, and even weighed pledging to Ole Miss and new head coach Lane Kiffin before ultimately trimming his options.
The Gators are expected to be the team to beat, considering the aforementioned addition of Lingard, the depth at safety after next season and the fact Florida was the first program to offer Williams when his recruitment was first getting underway.
But they’ll have to beat out the ‘Canes, who will host Williams on an official visit Friday before he makes his way north to Gainesville for an official visit to Florida on Jan. 24.
Although the addition of Lingard gives the Gators a former five-star running back to work with next season – if he’s declared immediately eligible, that is – Florida isn’t done when it comes to bolstering the position’s depth.
The Gators are one of several top-10 programs in heavy pursuit of Dalton (Ga.) four-star running back Jahmyr Gibbs. The 5-foot-9, 191-pounder remains committed to Georgia Tech despite receiving interest from the likes of LSU, Ohio State and Georgia over the final month of 2019. Like Shorter and Williams, Gibbs will take an official visit to Florida on Jan. 24 before wrapping up his recruitment Jan. 31 with an official visit to Georgia Tech.
And if there’s one thing Florida’s learned over the past two seasons, it’s that you seemingly can’t have too many linemen. Despite adding five offensive linemen in the early signing period, the Gators remain intrigued by the prospect of flipping Sedrick Van Pran from Georgia to Florida.
Ranked the No. 3 center prospect by 247Sports, Van Pran committed to Georgia in August, yet the departure of line coach Sam Pittman for Arkansas led him to hold off on signing during the early window. The hesitance has led Van Pran to explore opportunities at other programs, and the Gators are one of three programs getting a crack at him; he’ll first visit Alabama this weekend for an official, followed by Georgia on Jan. 24, with the Gators getting the final opportunity Jan. 31 to land his signature.
Despite possessing the No. 7-ranked recruiting class by 247Sports, Florida’s not satisfied on the trail, as the following three weeks could factor greatly into the program’s ceiling in 2020.