With their first nine commitments for 2014, the Florida Gators have addressed several needs by landing at least one commitment at positions of priority.
However, they’ve yet to pick up any pass rushers.
UF must add some talent at Buck linebacker and both defensive end spots between now and National Signing Day, which is just under 10 months away. Although there’s still time and plenty of prospects on the board, the Gators are only in good shape for a few of them at this point in the process. The recruitment of these positions will be critical for UF in the coming months.
Here are some of the top targets on Florida’s radar.
* Trent Harris, 6-2, 227, Winter Park, Fla. — Harris is the only pass-rushing prospect who has UF with the outright lead. FSU is in second place followed by Alabama and Georgia. But barring any changes, Harris will be donning a Gator hat when he decides at his spring game on May 24.
* Richard Yeargin III, 6-3, 216, Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School — Yeargin isn’t naming favorites anymore but UF is believed to be one of his top schools. His visit to Gainesville on March 29 definitely helped Florida’s cause. If the Gators can land his teammate, safety Quincy Wilson, there’s a good chance he follows suit. Yeargin plans to decide on signing day.
* Jacob Pugh, 6-4, 221, Tallahassee, Fla./Godby — The Gators made Pugh’s Top 3 following his trip to UF on April 8, but they’re a distant third right now behind Florida State and Alabama. Florida has to make a move for him fast with his decision scheduled for the summer.
* Denzel Ware, 6-3, 220, Opp, Ala. — Ware attempted to flip from Kentucky to Florida last weekend, but Will Muschamp wasn’t ready to accept what would have been his third commitment in seven months. The former FSU pledge then decommitted from the Wildcats three days later and proclaimed his love for the Gators. Muschamp most likely wants to see how long it lasts and let the board play out some before moving forward with Ware.
* Justin Thornton, 6-5, 215, Mobile, Ala./Vigor — Two months ago, it looked like a only a matter of time before Thornton joined Florida’s class. Things have since changed. He told The Sun the UF coaches are showing a lack of interest and no longer answering his calls, which prompted him to name LSU his leader this past Tuesday. Thornton reportedly had grade concerns in February but claims his academics are now in order. Nevertheless, the Gators have apparently moved on.
* Jalyn Holmes, 6-5, 255, Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor — Holmes named Florida and Ohio State his leaders in February. He has since backed off those comments but plans to visit UF this summer and return in the fall on one of his officials. Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech are also in the mix for Holmes.
* Lorenzo Carter, 6-5, 221, Norcross, Ga. — Alabama and Georgia are the favorites for the five-star recruit. The Gators have ground to make up and need to get him on campus, but there’s still time to do both and Florida is one of the schools recruiting him the hardest.
* Andrew Williams, 6-4, 231, Mcdonough, Ga./Eagle’s Landing Christian — Williams told The Sun he has a Top 12 (in alphabetical order) of Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Oklahoma and Tennessee with no leader. He plans to visit UF again before narrowing down his list to five finalists and making a commitment prior to the start of his senior season.
* Lorenzo Featherston, 6-7, 215, Greensboro, N.C./Page — The Gators offered him on Thursday and are scheduled to stop by his high school this coming week. Featherston has only seen colleges close to home — Clemson, North Carolina, N.C. State and Tennessee — and hopes to visit Florida “soon.” He doesn’t have any favorites or a timetable on his decision.
* Gerald Willis III, 6-4, 247, New Orleans, La./Edna Karr — Florida holds a slight edge for Willis over LSU, Texas A&M and Texas. However, many assume he will wind up with the Tigers because of his mother, April Justin. She is infamous for disagreeing with the decision of her eldest son, safety Landon Collins, to attend Alabama over LSU during his announcement at the Under Armour All-America Game in 2012 (video HERE). In an interview with ESPN in January, Justin said, “I like the town (of Gainesville), but it’s even farther (from home) than Tuscaloosa. I don’t know enough about the coaches yet to say if I would support that decision or not. I still think they’re a little afraid to talk to me. I just want what’s best for my son. If that’s the place, then I’ll be wearing a Florida jersey just like I wear an Alabama one to Landon’s games.”
* Da’Shawn Hand, 6-4, 245, Woodbridge, Va. — The nation’s consensus No. 1 overall prospect has a Top 5 of Alabama, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia Tech (in alphabetical order). UF is the only one of those schools he hasn’t visited, which is a good sign for the Gators considering they’re one of his favorites and haven’t even hosted him on campus. That being said, his upcoming trip to Gainesville (sometime this month or next) needs to go well for them to become a real player.
* Davon Godchaux, 6-4, 270, Plaquemine, La. — UF extended Godchaux an offer last month and were immediately guaranteed a spot in his Top 3 when it is released. Some other schools vying to make the cut are Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and USC. He plans to take his official visits, including one to Florida, and commit on signing day.
* Dewayne Hendrix, 6-5, 240, O’Fallon, Ill. — Hendrix has over 20 offers and his list is rapidly growing. In-state Illinois and Tennessee (where he has a lot of family) had been mentioned as two early standouts, but he appears to be wide open now. The Gators offered in late February and he intends to take a trip to Florida late in the summer. His recruiting process will probably run into the early part of next year.