Florida’s 10 true freshman early enrollees aren’t the only new players already in class and on the roster. They’ve been joined by five transfers, one who is very prominent.
Like the freshmen, the transfers are going through the strength and conditioning program in preparation for the start of spring drills in March.
Here’s a look at the five transfers and how they might fit in:
Lorenzo Lingard, Running Back, 6-foot, 200 pounds — this could be a significant addition for the offense, which must replace leading rusher Lamical Perine. Lingard, who transferred from Miami, was one of the nation’s premier running backs coming out of high school two years ago — a five-star prospect who was ranked the No. 2 running back in the nation.
In his senior season at University High School in Orange City, Lingard rushed for 1,701 yards and 22 touchdowns. For his career, he rushed for more than 2,500 yards. He was also a state champion hurdler.
Lingard played in six games for the Hurricanes as a true freshman in 2018 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. He redshirted this past season while still recovering from knee surgery and will be a redshirt sophomore for the Gators in 2020. Lingard is seeking a waiver from the NCAA that would make him immediately eligible. If the waiver is granted, Lingard will battle for the starting role at running back along with Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis and Iverson Clement.
Jordan Pouncey, Wide receiver, 6-1, 190 — the Texas graduate transfer will be a redshirt junior this fall who is expected to compete for playing time at wide receiver and on special teams. He played in 12 games for the Longhorns over the past two seasons, mostly on special teams.
Pouncey, who is second cousins with former UF standout offensive linemen Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, was a three-star prospect coming out of Winter Park High School. His younger brother, cornerback Ethan Pouncey, is one of the 10 true freshman early enrollees.
Jordan Pouncey stood out on both sides of the ball in high school. In his senior season, he caught 17 passes for 515 yards and seven touchdowns on offense, while recording 29 tackles, one interception and five passes defended on defense.
With the departure of the four seniors — Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, Tyrie Cleveland and Josh Hammond — playing time is available at wide receiver this spring and heading into next season.
Noah Keeter, Outside linebacker, 6-5, 218 — the three-star prospect coming out of Buchholz High School signed with UCLA a year ago, but entered the NCAA transfer portal after redshirting last season. He’s coming home as a preferred walk-on at UF.
Like Lingard, Keeter likely will seek a waiver from the NCAA that would make him eligible in 2020. He could see immediate playing time on special teams and could work his way into the playing rotation at linebacker, where the Gators lack depth.
During his Buchholz career, Keeter had 22 sacks and 28 tackles for losses.
Hayden Knighton, Offensive line, 6-3, 270 — his only offer coming out of Oasis Charter school in Cape Coral a year ago was from Southern Miss. He did not sign with anyone, instead opting to go to Fork Union, a prep school. He has enrolled at UF as a preferred walk-on.
He’ll need to get bigger and stronger to compete at this level and likely will redshirt in 2020. He had zero stars on the recruiting sites.
Zack Sessa, Place-kicker, 6-0, 175 — this two-star prospect signed with Georgia Southern a year ago, but never enrolled and received his release by the school. He has transferred to UF as a preferred walk-on and will be eligible in 2020.
Sessa was a three-way player at Venice High School — offense (wide receiver), defense (defensive back) and special teams (kicker) — who started all four years as the starting kicker.
For his career, he connected on 22 of 34 field goal attempts. His long of 50 yards came in his freshman season, so he has a strong leg. The Gators, of course, are set at place-kicker, where standout Evan McPherson is coming off a strong sophomore season.
This spring, Sessa will be competing with junior Chris Howard for the backup role behind McPherson.