The final weekend before Wednesday’s National Signing Day should be a beneficial one for football coach Dan Mullen and the Gators.
Barring a last-minute change, Florida has room to add as many as four signees, and the Gators have no shortage of targets in mind.
First, the Gators have three unsigned yet committed players in tow, although only wide receiver Xzavier Henderson should be considered a lock to sign with UF when the window opens.
In regards to the other two – wide receiver Leonard Manuel and athlete Marc Britt, the Gators remain in the mix, but each has a full slate of SEC offers to consider.
Manuel visited Ole Miss the weekend of Jan. 24, and he was scheduled to take his final official visit to UF this weekend before cancelling last minute.
Britt, meanwhile, received an in-home visit from Mullen earlier in the week, and, like Manuel, he’ll use his final official visit to see the Rebels.
While that turn of events doesn’t preclude either from signing with the Gators, the pair appear to be drifting away from Florida; meanwhile, UF has looked around at other prospects, too.
The big one to watch as of late is Sedrick Van Pran, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 1 prospect at center in the 2020 class.
Van Pran will be UF’s lone official visitor this weekend – there’s a Junior Day on Saturday as well, which will give Florida’s coaching staff an in-depth look at several top prospects in the next class – meaning he’ll surely get the full-court press from Mullen and offensive line coach John Hevesy.
Van Pran has been committed to Georgia since August, but there’s no telling where he stands after former Dawgs offensive line coach Sam Pittman took the Arkansas head coaching gig.
While Van Pran is the final target in the 2020 class taking an official visit to Florida, the Gators remain high on the board for several top targets looking to make a final decision Wednesday.
Aside from Van Pran, another prospect who has Florida in mind is Manor (Texas) standout Princely Umanmielen, ranked the No. 9 strong-side in the 2020 class by 247Sports. Umanmielen took an official visit to UF last weekend, and there’s no shortage of programs pursuing him. Auburn and in-state Baylor are high on his list as well, and he’ll wrap up his visit schedule at Auburn this weekend.
With the final stretch upon us, the Gators appear to be the team to beat for DeLand standout Avantae Williams, one of the state’s top remaining uncommitted prospects and the No. 2-ranked safety in the 2020 class by 247Sports. Now that the Gators have his cousin, running back Lorenzo Lingard, in the fold and seeking immediate eligibility, Florida has seemingly moved ahead of in-state Miami and cross-country Oregon when it comes to landing Williams’ signature. He’ll stay put this weekend after taking his final official visit to UF on Jan. 24.
An additional name to watch, and one who joined Umanmielen in Gainesville last weekend, is Florence (Ala.) standout Damarcus Beckwith. The 6-foot-4 multi-sport athlete has Florida in the mix, with Tennessee being the perceived favorite to land the four-star prospect’s signature – but the Gators may know something we don’t.
While Florida’s top-10 ranked class is undoubtedly impressive, the elephant in the room is the running back position. The Gators are still players for Jahmyr Gibbs and Ashaad Clayton, yet the possibility they miss out remains a realistic one. Clayton is the more realistic of the two, but Florida may stand pat and take solace in adding a former five-star back in Lingard to the roster through the transfer portal.
One thing’s for sure – National Signing Day will, as always, be a spectacle to behold.