Blog: Florida’s 2019 Early Signing Day

Lakeland High School senior football players L-R Deyavie Hammond , Lloyd Summerall and Keon Zipperer do the Gaotor Chomp aas they are interviewed on ESPN during a scollege signing event that was televised nationally from the film room inside Lakeland High SchoolÕs football locker room in Lakeland Wednesday December 19 2018. All three players sign letters of intent to play at University of Florida. ERNST PETERS/THE LEDGER

11:49 a.m.: Keon Zipperer trolled Miami to the final second, pretending to grab the ‘Canes hat before donning the Florida cap. Mullen goes 3-for-3 with the state champions.

11:42 a.m.: Lloyd Summerall joins Hammond and announces his signing with the Gators.

11:38 a.m.: Deyavie Hammond went first and committed to the Gators over Florida State. Mullen welcomed him on social media instantly.

11:21 a.m.: The Lakeland trio — offensive lineman Deyavie Hammond, defensive end Lloyd Summerall and tight end Keon Zipperer — are about to announce their collegiate decisions on ESPN2. The Gators are favored to land all 3 prospects, although it remains a possibility the latter two could spurn UF in favor of Miami.

11:05 a.m.: Humphries has sent in his signed letter of intent, erasing any doubt as to where he’ll end up. Humphries was pursued by nearly every SEC program until the final minute, but he’s going to follow through on his pledge.

10:11 a.m.: And then there was 1. The Gators have signed offensive lineman Ethan White, completing the group of early signee offensive line commits. Florida could still land Deyavie Hammond in about an hour on ESPN2, bringing the group to seven, but all of the current verbal commits at least have been accounted for. Defensive tackle Jaelin Humphries is the lone UF commit still expected to sign today who has yet to finalize his decision.

9:31 a.m.: Highly regarded defensive end/linebacker Mohamoud Diabate has sent in his signed letter of intent, and he’ll be on campus learning the ‘Buck’ role in January. And with that, the Gators have signed all linebacker commits except Diwun Black, who is expected to sign in February.

9:07 a.m.: Florida just received a letter of intent from Miami Carol City running back Nay’Quan Wright. Injury derailed his recruitment, but Wright bounced back in a huge way as a senior. He’ll be on campus prior to the summer.

8:41 a.m.: Chester Kimbrough and Jaydon Hill give the Gators depth at defensive back next season, and both have sent in letters of intent. Hill will have a ceremony at his high school later today, but neither could wait to put pen to paper.

7:59 a.m.: Mount Dora Christian Academy linebacker Jesiah Pierre wraps up a busy first hour for the Gators. Things are rolling at a considerable rate — many of these were givens, however. At 10 a.m. on ESPN2, the Gators will find out if they’ll land the Lakeland trio of Deyavie Hammond, Lloyd Summerall Jr. and Keon Zipperer.

7:53 a.m.: Deland wide receiver Dionte Marks is in. After Marks’ stellar senior season, wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales is confident he can play either in the slot or on the outside. UF has depth at the position, but Marks will find someway to contribute.

7:49 a.m.: Another offensive lineman is in and it hasn’t even been an hour. They really don’t waste any time. Will Harrod is a 6-foot-5 prospect currently ranked the No. 27 offensive lineman in the 2019 class. An important piece for Mullen and John Hevesy.

7:42 a.m.: Roswell High linebacker Tyron Hopper is in as the Gators seem poised to sign the best linebacker class in recent memory. Hopper is one of the top-25 prospects from the state of Georgia.

7:40 a.m.: Another offensive lineman is in, and this time it’s Kingsley Eguakun. The highly touted guard prospect flipped with Tarquin to Florida, and he sent in his signed letter of intent before a ceremony at Sandalwood.

7:30 a.m.: The first semi-surprise of the day has arrived. Buford offensive guard Riley Simonds indicated he might wait until February to sign, but Mullen and the Gators received his signed letter of intent early in the morning.

7:23 a.m.: Clewiston wide receiver Ja’Markis Weston becomes the fourth to send in his letter of intent. Dan Mullen is busy before the sun’s up.

7:18 a.m.: Buchholz wide receiver/safety Trent Whittemore sent his fax in from across town, becoming the third member of Florida’s 2019 class to sign and deliver a LOI.

7:17 a.m.: Florida’s signal-caller, four-star Jalon Jones, is in already, although he’s hosting a ceremony at Henrico High School in about an hour.

7:08 a.m.: Hope you’ve had your coffee and morning donut, because the early signees are already rolling in. North Marion offensive lineman Michael Tarquin, who flipped his commitment from Miami to UF after an official visit on Nov. 30, was the first 2019 prospect to send in a signed letter of intent.

The day has finally come (back). Florida will receive more than a dozen signed letters of intent from 2019 prospects early signees, and we’ll be keeping you plugged in all day with what’s going on around the country. You’ll want to bookmark this page and refresh it throughout the day, because information will roll in unexpectedly and repeatedly.



    • Sparky, fully expect to see the best RBs commit to UGA year after year as long as Smart is there. He doesn’t have the ability to design an offense that does anything but run the ball. If I were a top RB, I’d want to play there too. What you’ll probably stop seeing though are 5* QBs choosing to go there as much as they have in the last few years. Pretty sure Fields jumping ship as quickly as he is, along with Eason, that’s going to raise a red flag for elite recruits at the position. If you’re a top QB who wants to be the focal point of the offense and throw it a lot, then that’s not the program for you. It could eventually start having an affect on WR recruiting as well. Let him over recruit the RB position. With the defensive minded Pruitt reloading at Tenn and the Gators reloading as well, their ability to run all over teams is eventually going to stop and Smart’s going to have a big problem offensively.

        • You really think 2900 yards is lighting up the passing stats? Hell the the Gators had 2600. UGA is a run on first and 2nd and sometimes 3rd down team and there’s no arguing that. They throw the ball only when necessary. And I never said they didn’t throw it well. It’s not hard to throw it well when teams are selling out to stop the run. They’re 68th in passing offense and 12th in rushing. That’s a pretty large separation. One thing you’ll never see as long as Smart is in charge, is the passing offense being ranked anywhere near the rushing offense.

          • Joe. Hitting almost 70 percent of your passes for almost 3000 yards is tossing the ball around well in a balanced offense. But throwing 31 TD passes with only 5 INTs is really executing the passing game well. And Georgia does that. And they also run the ball well. Those two things put them in the SEC championship game and allowed them to almost upset Bama. You implied that Georgia does not have a good passing game. They do. But they do have a great running game as well. But Georgia is recruiting top QBs, top RBs, and top WRs….and I mean 5 star QBs, RBs, TEs, and WRs.

          • The Gators had a 60% completion percentage with 27 TDs, 6 int’s and 300 less yards with one less game played, so you’re saying the Gators really executed throwing the ball well? Seems like I saw nothing but complaining from Gator fans about how terrible Franks was all season, so that’s an interesting take. UGA’s a run first and second and sometimes 3rd down offense no matter how you look at it. That was my point in my original post. You can already see a drop off in QB recruiting with their class now compared to the last 2. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree regarding what type of offense they predominantly run and whether elite Qbs are going to want to play in it.

  1. Sparky, Georgia has no other in-state elite program to compete with, in one of the most fertile recruiting states. So they will always recruit well, almost regardless of who the head coach is. The same dynamic works in Louisiana for LSU.

    But Gator65 is right. And I have greater faith now in our strength and conditioning program and the staff’s player evaluation skill.

    • Nashville. Auburn, Alabama, SC, Clemson, and Auburn are a spit across the pot hole from the state of Georgia and all those schools recruit extremely well in the state of Georgia. Always have. Always will. The problem right now is that Florida is losing the top recruits in Florida to Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and Auburn. Plus Ohio State. Bama got Battle to flip from OSU this morning when Florida could not, and he is the best safety in the country and from South Florida. And the media is saying now that Sanders is likely headed to Georgia or Bama when his brother plays at Florida and his mom is a huge Florida Gators fan. I truly do not understand how Sanders does not end up in Gainesville (fingers crossed he still will). Mullen has to get most of the best players leaving the state of Florida fixed if he wants to compete with Bama and Georgia in the future.

      • Actually Bama lost the best safety in the country Daxton Hill to Michigan this morning. Battle’s like the 6th best safety in the country. Battle was never Florida’s to lose, he was predicted to go to Miami if anyone were going to flip him.

        • Joe. Sorry. I mean the best safety from the state of Florida from South Florida. And Mullen and his staff spent a lot of time trying to flip Battle to Florida. He flipped to Bama. And that has to stop on a regular basis if Florida wants to compete with Bama and Georgia in the future.

      • Swamp, I agree we need to get the top recruits. Florida first!! But the coaches are getting it done look at the 2020,2021 forecast. We flipped some and may get more but we are getting there. The coaches took a downtrodden team and got them to pick up their huevos and ended up 9-3 with players many had major doubts. QB play is going to improve. We have 4 on the roster that will make the spring competition something special. I will say it now that if these guys gel as a team we can run in the top echelons.

  2. Guys I’ve looked at the recruiters we’ve been after. Maybe not in as much detail as some in still working. Maybe til i can’t breathe anymore. I’ve looked at some the others have got. Now the intangibles seem to differentiate quite a few and the all important truly maturity / mental factor. What we saw happen this year with the talent that was inherited was in my opinion nothing short of amazing. Bringing in players he wants with three returning players will be fun to watch. This staff and I use that as a whole has been the missing link in our quest. Three months to…. When it’s the spring game? Haven’t been this amped in years. If you take the power five. Roughly 66 teams with~ 20 recruits a year = 1320. Take the top 25 teams and there are 500 recruits. Three pressure on the teams, the individuals is immense. Yet while rankings are important there are tons of thousands playing in HS. I’d bet the top 500 are all athletes with great potential. Lost my train of thought but it was going somewhere. We are going to be even better next year.

  3. I’m not jumping off the Mullen bandwagon by any stretch. I completely understand GA keeping guys in state. But how do they come into FL and steal the number 1 RB in the Country, that was originally committed to Bama, and his mom pushing him to be a Gator? Oh well, we have to get back to beating them on the field.

  4. I hate signing day. It is like everything else with us Gator fans. We can’t wait for instant success. Unless we sign 25 5 star players, it is never a success. Just like the season. Two losses and we’re ready to jump off a bridge. Patience is a virtue most Gator fans don’t have. Who the hell do we think we are? I would expect a team that has been in about 7 national championship games in the past 10 years to have a top class. Alabama is going into every state and getting recruits, not just Florida. Success attracts high ranking players. Our class will end up being a very good one on paper, which is pretty damn good considering this is the only full season our staff has had to establish relationships with kids and their parents. Mullen has checked off every box so far and he is just getting started. For once, why don’t we look at the guys we signed rather than the ones we didn’t. The proof is in the future as to how good this class will be.

    • I’m with you mkf. I don’t understand the doom and gloom either. This is a great class that filled some major needs with elite players, especially on the O line with 6 signees. Been a long time since we signed that many players at that position. Half of them are 4 stars and a couple are only a few tenths shy of 4 stars. Some great LBs as well. People are complaining about losing Sanders not even realizing Nay’Quan Wright is only 9 hundredths of a point below him in the composite rankings. Not exactly a huge separation there. Yeah it’d be nice to get the top player at his position, but we’re not exactly in dire need of a RB right now. I just think too many Gator fans are so used to living with a negative perspective on everything after the last 8 years, that they don’t how to be positive about anything unless we’re reeling in every 5* player available.

      • Thanks. To me , this is more about the psychology of the recruitnik than just about anything else, and I am speaking about myself more than anyone else.We are so competitive, we want to win everything. ESPN, 247 and all these sites who found a way to make bank on recruiting will sell you a bunch of BS for a bunch of months, be coy about who is coming bc they”don’t want to betray confidences” and in the meantime , charge a monthly rate to tell you nothing. Truthfully , I wonder how people would react if we had 25 silent commits who no one knew a thing about and then all 25 sent their letters to us on NSD? And it was the exact same class we end up with this year? How would people react to that? I know this: the other night I saw a 3 star Florida Gator catch one of many TD passes in an NFL game. I remember seeing Louis Oliver take his walk on talents to the Miami Dolphins and terrorize opposing receivers going across the middle. Emmitt was too short and too slow. Yancy Sutton was a deaf All SEC player. I know 5 stars are usually better but the truth is the star rating is usually NOT determined by the coaches who recruit them. It’s by guys running a business who have a monetary outcome. But being competitive, we want to win the “recruiting game” too. I want all the best players too but that is unrealistic. So does Bama and they won’t get them either. I trust our coaches’ ability to coach. We’ll see.

        • “I trust our coaches’ ability to coach”.

          Three star, four star, and five star player are — for lack of a better term — elite. Between groups, it is a matter of the estimated degree of elite, with the separation between 3* and 5* the most commonly thought of as a significant difference. Between 4 and 5*, not so much. There is no actual statistical degree of probability assigned, relying instead on what is known as the “inter-ocular test of significance”, AKA, the “learned eyeball measurement technique”. That’s OK, since the rating is determined by a consensus of expert opinion and by the fact that the level of data does not lend itself well to parametrics in the first place. The other ingredient is player development at the actual level he will be playing at, of course.

          I trust our coaches’ ability to coach. And, as 65 has previously stated, Rome wasn’t built in a day. I do believe, however, that if Dan Mullen and staff build it — they will come. Go Gators!

  5. Sanders shocking the world and picking Florida after 1pm would go a long way with turning the recruiting game around for Florida. I sure hope the mom gets him to Gainesville. But likely Bama or Georgia for whatever reason.

  6. Make it three of three from Lakeland. Zipperer is also a Gator, along with his Chucky doll. Nice haul from there. Now, fingers crossed for Sanders and Hunter at 1pm and 2pm. If that happens for Mullen and staff. Florida will be back big time on the recruiting trail.

    • I don’t see us getting either afternoon guys, but after getting all 3 Lakeland guys it will be ok. If Perine ends up leaving early, losing out on Sanders will hurt depth. Hopefully the next class will have some big time D-linemen. The O linemen in this class look great!

  7. This class looks great to me. I see a bunch of football players who want to get in here, get better and be a part of a TEAM that will be making history!!!!!! Welcome, scholar warriors!!!! You are the future legends who will engrave your names in history forever as part of the surging new Gator Empire!!!!!!

  8. Give Dan Mullen and the staff credit (or apologize if you doubted them). All things considered they’re signing a great class. One of the ESPN guys said it best – Florida was a national championship contender a decade ago, when most of these kids were 8 years old. Since then they’ve known Bama, Ga, Ohio State, Clemson, as the top teams. It doesn’t happen overnight. But if Mullen can steer the current team to a 9-3 record (and a New Year’s Six bowl) and can grab a top-10 or top-15 class, imagine what he’ll do a few years down the road. We should all thank God that Muller wanted to come to Florida, and is as enthusiastic a coach as we’ve had in years. For those of you who begged Chip Kelly to come (and complained when he didn’t) and pined for Scott Frost (who was Nebraska all along)… we’re waiting for your mea culpa.

    Go Gators – now beat Harbaugh.

  9. Looks like a Home Run!! I think these guys will leave the players that chose other schools wishing they had come to UF. Getting these guys in early and in the S&C program will be awesome. These young guys want to be here. I hope they all want to become great here at UF.

  10. ESPN is reporting we have moved up to 16th. Now if Sanders will join this bunch and I think Jones has a cousin in Ga. (maybe I missed where he is going OL). Neal should join them too. COME BE GATORS!! GREAT GATORS!

    • Until Saban retires, nobody will out recruit. Bama consistently. I love how many 4* linemen this class has. DL will be priority next year for sure. Other than grabbing a couple 5* players, it would be hard to beat this class for signing “needs”.

  11. While certainly wishing him all the best, I am imagining a scene where the Gators are romping Alabama in the SEC C’ship next November, while Mr. Sanders watches from the sideline and wonders what on earth he is doing!

    • Sanders is a prime example of today’s elite recruiting process. He verbally committed to Alabama in April of 2016 and hung with that commitment till January of this year, when his mom talked him into giving the Gators a serious look now that Mullen had come in and was turning the program around. Then the Gators signed his brother and the pressure on Trey to sign too went up, to the point he gave the Gators his FINAL official visit, which recruitnicks will tell you is a BIG DEAL. Still, when the time came to make his decision… he signed with the school he’d been committed to for 2 years.

      Following the recruiting process to its logical conclusion says that Mullen is off to a great start for 2020 and 2021… and hopefully beyond!

      Go Gators!!!

    • The magnitude of the disaster in Tally is burried in the details of their 2018 recruiting class. Nobody will argue that the Noles’ greatest weakness last year and this year was their OL. Yet, according to 247, they’ve managed to sign ONLY 2 “big uglies” so far and have ZERO OL prospects left on their list of unsigned commits. THAT is a prescription for more disasters on the field in coming seasons!

      By contrast, the Gators have signed 7 OL recruits so far, including flipping on of FSU’s commits.

      Go Gators!!!

  12. Hey Gator fans….before you jump off a bridge, chew on this for a minute. Nick Fitzgerald was a 2 Star recruit with scholarship offers from 2 schools. Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee State. This year Fitzgerald broke the SEC Q.B. rushing record previously held by a guy named Tim Tebow. LET MULLEN DO HIS JOB!!!!!! None of you are coaches. You may think you know something about football talent simply because you hold season tickets….YOU”RE NOT!!!!!!!

  13. Overall, a nice job by the coaching staff. Remember that they have really only had 1 full year to establish the relationships required and the proof in the pudding on the field. We are definitely pointing up big time, especially if the majority of our eligible juniors hang around for another year as it appears at this time. My only angst is with the interior defensive line, I was really hoping we would haul in at least 1 or 2 studs at that position. Keep our fingers crossed that we can close with Elam and Steele at corner and hopefully flip Pickering or another stud D tackle and we will be golden for 2019 season.. Nothing Greater than a Gator !

  14. Championships in college football these days begin with membership in Power 5 conferences (ask UCF.) That is followed in priority by consistently elite recruiting, followed by consistently elite coaching, followed by playing manageable schedules.

    To show how influential recruiting rankings are these days, UCF aside, the top 10 in the last 2018 CFP committee ranking can ALL be found within the top 12 of the 247 – 2018 Talent Composite of the last 4 annual recruiting classes. The two teams that fell out of the CFP top 10 in 2018 were USC at 4th in the 247 ranking and FSU at 5th, which both had serious coaching issues. Ohio State, which was #1 in the 247 ranking, finished 6th in the CFP ranking due mainly to their coaching controversy this year, which ultimately led to Meyer’s “retirement.”

    Notre Dame and Oklahoma were 10th and 11th in the 247 ranking, but both ended up in the CFP top 4 by playing much easier schedules than Georgia and LSU. Too bad SEC teams don’t get such scheduling breaks. Alabama at 2nd in 247 ranking and Clemson at 6th, rounded out the CFP top 4.

    The Gators were surprisingly ranked 12th in the 247 recruiting composite ranking, when aggregating McElwayne’s 3 recruiting classes to Mullen’s first class. Mullen then coached them up to a top 10 finish in the CFP ranking, but the 247 ranking argues that he had raw material to work with.

    So, don’t minimize the importance of those stars in recruiting rankings. If a team in a P5 conference has good and stable coaching, their composite recruiting ranking is the best indicator of where they’ll finish in the CFP ranking. A 16th ranked class in the 247 is OK if all Gator Nation wants in 3 years time is an invitation to the Outback Bowl.

    Go Gators!!!