Even in a week in which the Gators lost Jaden Rashada to Miami, Florida is undoubtedly beginning to pick up some steam on the recruiting trail with the addition of Sharif Denson.
Denson, a consensus four-star defensive back prospect out of Jacksonville, committed to Florida on Monday evening via his Instagram page. Denson becomes the third four star Gator commitment of the week. Defensive end Isaiah Nixon flipped from Central Florida last Tuesday, and fellow defensive lineman Gavin Hill committed on Saturday night.
The recruiting rankings say Sharif Denson was a four star prospect, but pretty much every major school not named Alabama thought enough of him to offer him a scholarship. Among the other schools to offer Denson were: Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Auburn, Georgia, Texas A&M, Miami, Michigan, LSU, Penn State, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Michigan State, and more.
A month and a half ago, Denson declared that Texas A&M, Florida, FSU, Ohio State, and South Carolina were his top five. Denson had begun gaining a little traction toward Miami two weeks ago when he visited the Canes and they reaffirmed his offer to try to curry favor with him, but then tonight, he pulled the trigger to Florida. So by all accounts, that’s a gargantuan victory for Patrick Toney and Corey Raymond.
You can watch his high school tape here.
Denson isn’t the biggest corner in the class- he’s 5’10, 160 lbs.- but he still has plenty of time to grow and fill out his frame. And pretty much everything else you want in a corner is there.
First, his speed. There’s one play on his tape where a running back breaks into the clear and has a little more than a ten yard head start, yet Denson takes off, makes up the ground, and flags him down in the open field. His short-range speed is there, too, meaning when he does get beat, he can quickly recover and make up the lost step just like that.
Then there’s the physicality. He can press and jam pretty well as a junior, and he’s made it very clear on his film that he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty and make tackles. The ball skills are probably between “great” and “excellent,” as he has a way of tracking the ball without getting tangled up with the receiver and flagged for interference. He can recognize plays quickly and fly around his half of the field to make tackles, and he can creep up onto the line and blitz and make tackles in the backfield, too.
To reiterate, this was, by all objective measures, a huge get for Florida, and a great way for the staff to flex its muscle and demonstrate that Jacksonville is still Florida’s turf. The Gators’ class is now ranked #28 in the country according to 247Sports’ composite rankings- and keep in mind, that’s with just nine players committed. When it’s all said and done, the Gators’ class will have nearly three times that many players in the 2023 class.
Here’s hoping Florida can take this momentum from late June and roll it over into July and August- and then bolster that momentum with the ultimate sales pitch: on-field results.