A look at the three top state college football programs ahead of National Signing Day on Feb. 5.
Early-signing period rewind: The Gators came close to filling up their class by signing 21, a highly rated group that put UF in the top 10 in the nation among the recruiting services. The Gators filled needs in the secondary and on the defensive line, especially at tackle.
The stars of the class are five-star Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker Derek Wingo, high four-star defensive tackle Gervon Dexter and four-star cornerback Jahari Rogers.
The Gators missed on one big-name player on signing day. UF went into the day thinking Sebastian River defensive tackle Timothy Smith, an Alabama commitment, was going to flip to Florida, but he signed with the Tide instead.
National Signing Day fast-forward: The Gators did not fill all their needs during the early signing period and will be looking to add a running back and at least one more wide receiver to the class.
The top targets on the board are four-star running back Jahmyr Gibbs from Dalton, Ga., four-star Miami Columbus running back Henry Parrish, four-star Fort Lauderdale Stranahan wide receiver Leonard Manuel and Demarcus Beckwith, a four-star wide receiver/athletic from Florence, Ala.
The Gators filled their needs in the secondary during the early period, picking up seven defensive backs, but they have a chance to land four-star DeLand safety Avantae Williams, who had been a long-time Oregon commitment.
Star struck: The Gators have 10 members of the 2020 class who are already on campus and will compete for playing time this spring.
Those most likely to have an early impact would appear to be cornerback Jahari Rogers, safety Rashad Torrence, defensive end Antwaun Powell, defensive tackle Lamar Goods and offensive lineman Josh Braun. All are four-star prospects who will be competing at positions of need.
Transfer portal: The Gators have been active, picking up Texas wide receiver Jordan Pouncey, Penn State wide receiver Justin Shorter, Miami running back Lorenzo Lingard and Georgia defensive end/outside linebacker Brenton Cox. Shorter, who was a five-star prospect coming out of high school in New Jersey, committed last Sunday.
Archives: This probably comes as no surprise, but two of the best recruiting classes in school history were put together by Urban Meyer and his staff.
In 2006, Meyer had the No. 2 class in the country, one that featured four five-star recruits — quarterback Tim Tebow, wide receiver Percy Harvin, linebacker Brandon Spikes and offensive tackle Carl Johnson.
Meyer’s 2007 class was even better, finishing No. 1 in the nation. It featured four five-star recruits (quarterback Cam Newton, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, defensive tackle Torrey Davis and offensive lineman James Wilson), plus 16 four-star prospects, including tight end Aaron Hernandez, safety Major Wright, cornerback Joe Haden and offensive linemen Mike and Maurkice Pouncey.
— Robbie Andreu, Gatorsports.com
Early-signing period rewind: Miami coach Manny Diaz needed good news after the Hurricanes struggled in his first season.
And Diaz delivered as he signed 18 players to open December’s early-signing period, including eight ranked in the ESPN 300.
Diaz signed a potential star quarterback in Tyler Van Dyke, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder from Suffield Academy (Connecticut). The four-star quarterback was the ninth-ranked pro-style quarterback prospect nationally in the 2020 recruiting class.
"He checks all the boxes in terms of being a leader, in terms of being a gym rat, a guy that’s going to be the first guy in the building, the last guy to leave,” Diaz said last December. “Which is what we felt the culture of our QB room has been needing.”
The Hurricanes also signed a pair of heralded running backs from Florida — Donald Chaney Jr. of Homestead and Jaylan Knighton of Deerfield Beach.
Chaney Jr., was the nation’s fifth-ranked running back, according to 247 Sports; Knighton the 10th-ranked running back.
Chaney Jr. left Belen Jesuit as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,511 yards and 60 touchdowns on 442 carries. Knighton ended his prep career as the all-time leading rusher in Broward County history with 5,150 yards.
National Signing Day fast-forward: Diaz and the Hurricanes appear poised for a strong finish.
The Hurricanes’ 2020 class currently sits at No. 16 nationally and No. 2 in the ACC behind Clemson, according to 247 Sports.
UM’s recruiting momentum continued earlier this week, when it picked up a commitment San Diego Lincoln three-star wide receiver Keyshawn Smith.
Smith signed with Washington State last month during the early signing period. However, he was released from after Mike Leach left to be the head coach at Mississippi State.
Smith is the son of former San Diego Padres outfielder Ray McDavid.
Star struck: Miami, at least at the moment, has six scholarship quarterbacks competing for the 2020 starter’s role.
That should give Diaz plenty of options as the Hurricanes are switching to a no-huddle, spread offense under new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
The half dozen are: 2019 starter Jarren Williams, a rising redshirt sophomore; former starter N’Kosi Perry, a redshirt junior next season; rising redshirt junior Tate Martell; redshirt freshman Peyton Matocha; Van Dyke; and D’Eriq King.
Transfer portal: The Hurricanes received a double-dose of good news when King, the former University of Houston starting quarterback, and former Temple Owl defensive end Quincy Roach announced their intent to transfer to Miami.
King, designated as a grad transfer, is considered one of the country’s top quarterbacks. During Houston’s game at Tulane last season, King set the FBS record for consecutive games (15) with a passing and rushing touchdown, breaking former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow’s record.
The Hurricanes also may have found their solution at kicker nearly two weeks ago with the addition of FIU’s Jose Borregales, the older brother of 2021 Miami commit Andres Borregales.
Jose was 50 for 65 on field-goal attempts during his FIU career, including 21 for 29 in 2019. In the Panthers’ stunning 30-24 win over the Hurricanes on Nov. 23, Borregales made two of three field goals, both from beyond 50 yards.
Archives: Nobody will ever forget UM’s 1984 recruiting class under coach Howard Schnellenberger.
It featured a host of stars, including receivers Michael Irvin and Brett Perriman, cornerback Bubba McDowell, safety Bennie Blades and linebacker Randy Shannon.
Schnellenberger, however, didn’t stick around to reap the benefits from his signing class. A few months after National Signing Day, he accepted a $3 million-a-year deal to coach the USFL franchise that planned to move to Miami for the 1984 season.
Enter Jimmy Johnson. JJ, with the help of the ’84 class, led the Hurricanes to the 1987 national title.
— Tallahassee Democrat
Early signing period rewind: Florida State coach Mike Norvell had his hands full filling out his class with 10 days between his hiring and the early signing period. The Seminoles signed 17 players early and currently sit at No. 21 in 247Sports composite rankings. The early singing period was a success for the Seminoles, which added four-star quarterback Chubba Purdy, four-star wide receiver Bryan Robinson, three-star wide receiver Kentron Poitier, three-star defensive end Josh Griffis, and two star punter Alex Mastromanno to the class.
The Seminoles entered the early signing period with a need at the quarterback position after not signing a high school quarterback the last two classes. FSU filled that need signing Purdy and three-star quarterback Tate Rodemaker, who early enrolled. Four-star cornerback Demorie Tate is the highest ranked prospect to sign with the Seminoles at No. 38 overall. The Seminoles did miss out on three-star defensive end Morven Joseph, who signed with Tennessee. He had been committed to FSU prior to the coaching change.
National Signing Day fast-forward: FSU still has plenty of work to do on the class with at least six spots available. The Seminoles will be looking for help at multiple positions, including running back, defensive back, offensive tackle, and defensive end.
The top targets on the Seminoles’ recruiting board are four-star wide receiver Malachi Wideman – a FSU commit that didn’t sign early – from Venice, Fla., three-star safety Donovan Kaufman from Metairie, La., three-star offensive tackle Robert Scott from Conway, Ark., and three-star offensive tackle Jalen St. John from St. Louis Missouri
It has also been reported that the Seminoles are in contact with five-star running back Zachary Evans from Houston, Texas. Evans originally signed with Georgia, but was let out of his LOI by the Bulldogs. He’s also considering Texas A&M, Tennessee, and LSU.
Florida State landed a commitment from Brownsville (Tenn.) Haywood tight end Markeston Douglas (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) on Tuesday. This is the third-consecutive day that FSU has received a commitment for the 2020 class and the fourth straight day the Seminoles have received a commitment overall. His teammate — three-star athlete Darion Williamson — committed to FSU earlier in the day.
FSU added 2021 defensive end Josh Farmer on Saturday, three-star 2020 athlete Corey Wren on Sunday, and three-star offensive tackle Robert Scott on Monday.
Star struck: FSU has eight early enrollees on campus going through the off-season workouts.The most likely of the early enrollees to contribute immediately is Australian punter Alex Mastromanno, who will be the only scholarship punter on the roster. Three-star tight end Carter Boatwright from Valdosta, Ga. is one of two scholarship tight ends on the roster and fits the blocking role that Norvell has for the tight ends in his offense. Robinson and four-star linebacker Stephen Dix. Jr. from Orlando, Fla. could also make an early impact.
Transfer portal: FSU brought in three transfer prospects early and are looking to add more before the 2020 season. Florida International offensive tackle Devontay Taylor, Louisville defensive end Jarrett Jackson, and Texas A&M running back Jashaun Corbin are all on campus. Taylor and Jackson are both eligible to play immediately at positions of need. Corbin will need a waiver to play early. The Seminoles are also looking at Vanderbilt offensive tackle transfer Devin Cochran and North Carolina tight end transfer Carl Tucker, who has already taken an official visit to FSU.
Archives: It wasn’t very long ago that FSU was producing top recruiting classes regularly. The Seminoles had a Top Five recruiting class five times between 2011 and 2016. The Seminoles had the No. 2 recruiting class in the country — according to the composite team rankings — in 2011, though it was ranked No. 1 by ESPN and 247Sports. The Seminoles signed four five-star players in the class, running back James Wilder Jr., safety Carlos Williams, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, and tight end Nick O’Leary. ESPN ranked FSU’s 2016 class as the No. 1 class in the country.
— Wayne McGahee III, Tallahassee Democrat