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NSD: Gators adding no new recruits with roster filling up

Zach Abolverdi
The Gainesville Sun
Unlike every year before this, Florida coach Dan Mullen will have a relatively quiet National Signing Day on Wednesday.

Florida recruiting fans don’t need to call off work to follow National Signing Day coverage this year.

In a first for the football program, the Gators won’t be signing any high school recruits on the first Wednesday in February. There will be no news conference from head coach Dan Mullen, either. 

With 22 early signees and a handful of recent transfers, UF is approaching the 85-man scholarship limit on its roster and, therefore, did not send out any letters of intent this week. 

After the Early Signing Period in December, Florida had three more scholarships available and Mullen said that offensive line was the biggest remaining need in the 2021 class.

However, he made those comments before senior starters Jean Delance and Stewart Reese decided to return for their extra year of eligibility. UF will now have 16 offensive linemen next season with the three incoming freshmen.

Linebacker Jeremiah Moon and receiver Rick Wells also are coming back for a sixth year, The Sun has confirmed, but the four seniors won’t count against the team’s scholarship limit. 

The departures of kicker Evan McPherson (NFL draft) and linebacker James Houston IV (transfer) in January gave the Gators a total of five roster openings, but at least four of those spots have been taken up by transfers. 

Running back Demarkcus Bowman (Clemson) and defensive tackles Daquan Newkirk (Auburn) and Antonio Shelton (Penn State) enrolled at UF for the spring semester, followed by the commitments of kicker Jace Christmann (Mississippi State) on Jan. 15 and tight end Arik Gilbert (LSU) last Sunday. 

It’s unclear whether Christmann, a walk-on at MSU, will be placed on scholarship, but he and Gilbert report to campus this summer along with Florida’s 10 signees who did not enroll early.

The Gators had the nation’s No. 8 class after the early signing period, but their ranking has dropped to 13th in the 247Sports Composite. That’s been caused by a combination of not adding any more recruits and some verbal commits leaving the class, including four-star receiver Trevonte Rucker (who signed with Jackson State).  

It’s important to note Florida’s five additions from the transfer portal are not included in the team rankings. If former five-star prospects Bowman and Gilbert could be factored in by recruiting services, the 2021 class would rank much higher. 

Nonetheless, Mullen and his staff addressed several needs in this cycle, most notably along the defensive line and in the secondary. 

Florida's 2021 early signees 

• *QB Carlos Del Rio-Wilson, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds

• *QB Jalen Kitna, 6-4, 205

• WR Marcus Burke, 6-3, 180

• *WR Daejon Reynolds, 6-2, 210

• *TE Nick Elksnis, 6-6, 240 

• TE Gage Wilcox, 6-4, 225

• OL Austin Barber, 6-7, 300

• OL Yousef Mugharbil, 6-4, 300

• OL Jake Slaughter, 6-4, 300

• *DT Chris Thomas Jr., 6-5, 300

• *DT Desmond Watson, 6-5, 385

• *DL Justus Boone, 6-4, 250 

• DL Tyreak Sapp, 6-3, 260

• *LB/DE Chief Borders, 6-5, 242

• LB/DE Jeremiah Williams, 6-3, 225

• LB/DB Diwun Black, 6-4, 225 

• *CB Jason Marshall Jr., 6-1, 195 

• *CB Jordan Young, 6-0, 185

• *DB Corey Collier Jr., 6-1, 180 

• *DB Donovan McMillon, 6-2, 190

• DB Dakota Mitchell, 5-11, 185

• LS Rocco Underwood, 6-4, 215

• * — indicates mid-year enrollee

Florida’s 2021 transfers

• RB Demarkcus Bowman, 5-10, 190 

• TE Arik Gilbert, 6-5, 249

• DT Daquan Newkirk, 6-3, 317 (grad transfer)

• DT Antonio Shelton, 6-2, 327 (grad transfer)

• K Jace Christmann, 6-0, 195 (grad transfer)