When Friday Night Lights arrives, there’s one question that always get asked the most — who will commit?
Florida’s annual showcase has a reputation for churning out commitments over the course of the camp and having the Gators jump atop several leaderboards by the end of the night.
This year, however, was different.
There were only a few big targets on hand, none of them named UF their leader afterward and the only commit coach Will Muschamp landed didn’t even attend.
Not in the least.
This year was different because of Florida’s absurd amount of verbals. The Gators have never entered the event with a class size of 19. That’s unheard of for most schools in July.
Names like Kelvin Taylor, Ahmad Fulwood, Caleb Brantley, Daniel McMillan and Vernon Hargreaves III are usually undecided around this time of year. But in this cycle, Muschamp already has special talents like those in the commitment column.
Moreover, with so many players pledged and so little spots left, the Gators were not in a position to pick up a bunch of prospects.
But what they did do was help themselves with their final needs for 2013 and get a head start on 2014.
Tampa Hillsborough defensive end Jordan Sherit didn’t commit to UF on his trip to Friday Night Lights, but it didn’t take long for him to do so as he pulled the trigger the very next day.
Florida’s next commit, 2014 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, said late Friday that FSU had an edge over UF. But after two days of letting FNL sink in, he realized Gainesville was where he wanted to be and made it official.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Valentine, who plans on getting a Gator tattoo.
Wide receiver Chris Thompson, Florida’s newest 2013 member, was also an FNL participant.
Although the camp didn’t produce its typical splash, there was still a special atmosphere in The Swamp given the number of commits that came and recruited. Their class camaraderie had an impact on Sherit, Thompson and Valentine in the days that followed and will likely influence safety Marcell Harris and defensive end DeMarcus Walker, who announces his decision on Aug. 24.
“They’re going to want to be a part of that,” Fulwood said. “It’s going to be a snowball effect, we just got to get it going. Once we get it going, it’s not going to stop.”