After the Gators’ recruiting fell off under Jim McElwain and Dan Mullen had to fight tooth and nail just to salvage the 2018 class, Mullen appeared to return it back to where it was used to be with his second class in 2019. Meaning, the top ten of every ranking system.
But a disastrous offseason resulting in some heavy attrition to that class left Florida with just 19 of its 24 commits in the class of 2019 standing by the time the Gators’ season opener against Miami kicked off. The silver lining to that, though: now Mullen had even more room for an enormous 2020 recruiting class. The 24 commits currently listed in that 2020 class make up what 247’s composite rankings claim is the 8th best class in the country- and that doesn’t even account for transfers Brenton Cox (LB, from Georgia) or Jordan Pouncey (WR, from Texas), who will be joining the Gators’ 2020 football team.
As is stands right now, this 2020 class is already a resounding success for the simple reason that every single need is addressed. The annual goal of signing a quarterback was reached by signing four star dual threat Anthony Richardson, who’s already on campus. The Gators are going to need to replace a bevy of wide receivers- so Mullen and Billy Gonzales went out and landed three of them in Marc Britt, Leonard Manuel and Jaquavion Fraziars, all of whom are consensus four star recruits. Florida needed to add another safety, so the Gators went and poached four star Rashad Torrence out of Georgia’s backyard. Defensive line will be a concern next year with Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga leaving, so Florida added four four star interior linemen (Lamar Goods, Jalen Lee, Gervon Dexter and Johnnie Brown) and Antwaun Powell on the end. And Florida’s floundering offensive line was clearly the team’s biggest weakness in 2019, so Mullen and John Hevesy grabbed five linemen: three star guards Jovens Janvier and Richie Leonard (who’s already on campus), three star tackle Gerald Mincey, and four star tackles Josh Braun (a flip from rival Georgia) and Issiah Walker.
And then you’ve got the guys at positions that are less in need of an instant overhaul, but that Mullen and his staff made even better simply because they could. Guys like Mordecai McDaniel, Jahari Rogers, Ethan Pouncey and Derek Wingo weren’t immediate needs, per se, but not only will they be in a year or two (or sooner than that if the injury bug strikes), they’re each so extremely talented that they may be too good to keep off the field for very long. Florida has used this class to bring in reinforcements at pretty much every position, and any additions they may make from here on out are just making the rich richer.
Now comes the home stretch of that class. The early signing period begins tomorrow, and the official National Signing Day (which is now more the residual Signing Day) is just six weeks away. Who else could the Gators add?
Three star DT Clyde Pinder could be one. The Seffner, FL product is currently committed to North Carolina, and may not want to commit to a class that already has a quartet of four star interior linemen. There’s been some smoke regarding a flip with him, though, after Florida came in late in the game with an offer and then drew him in for an official visit this past weekend. So keep your eyes peeled for news on him.
Another flip to watch for involves in-state defensive end Donell Harris. The four star from Miami is a current Texas A&M commit, but Harris really seemed to enjoy his visit to Gainesville last weekend. And for those who put any stock into this: he’s scrubbed his social media of most Texas A&M related content. Most importantly, however, is that despite his commitment status, he’s set up an announcement ceremony tomorrow at 4pm.
A third defensive lineman flip that could be on the table involves defensive tackle Tim Smith. The high four star out of Sebastian, FL, remains committed to Alabama for now… but not so strongly that he could resist seriously looking around. Smith visited Gainesville this past weekend for the second time in the last three weeks, and though flipping guys that Nick Saban really wants away from his Crimson Tide is never easy, you have to think the Gators have a legitimate chance here. He’ll pick between the two at 2:15pm tomorrow.
All purpose back EJ Smith appears to be trending away from Gainesville, but the mere fact that he’s the son of Gator record setter Emmitt Smith means he’s at least worth paying attention to. He seemed to enjoy his Florida visit back in October, but Texas A&M and Stanford appear to be the teams to beat for his services. The Dallas prospect will be committing tomorrow at 10:45am.
JUCO four star wideout Malik Heath is a current Mississippi State commit, but Florida has not given up its pursuit of him by any means. The Gators are in a position where no amount of wide receivers is enough in this 2020 class, and you can bet Heath is aware of the mass exodus that’s coming at that position. Plus, it’s not completely irrelevant to point out that, well, Florida kind of has a history of taking whatever it wants from Mississippi State.
Avantae Williams is the wild card of the whole class as it relates to Florida. The four star, ex-Oregon commit projects best as a safety at the next level, and there’s certainly a need for that at Florida. It feels down to Florida, Georgia and Miami for Williams, but the Gators can sell him the ability to play close to home- and pending the results of fall practice, potentially right away. Unlike most of the guys on this list, though, he’ll sign in February, meaning there’s a lot of work still to be done with him.
Four star offensive tackle Marcus Dumervil is a long shot at best, but Florida has a decent history with St. Thomas Aquinas kids and he has a good relationship with John Hevesy, so who knows. He commits at 10am tomorrow morning. Don’t expect anything with him, as all signs point him to LSU, but there’s always the possibility that a relationship goes sour at the last minute, so it’s worth at least tuning into his signing ceremony and hoping for a miracle.
Ditto the above for four star linebacker Phillip Webb, out of Buford, GA, but maybe increase the odds of landing him by a fraction of a percent. He liked what he saw in Gainesville on Thanksgiving weekend and he did open up his home to Florida coaches last Monday. LSU and Alabama have to be considered the heavy favorites, but he’s at least worth watching when it’s time for him to pick a hat tomorrow at 11am.
The Gators already had a family advantage for four star receiver Xzavier Henderson, whose older brother CJ just finished a stellar three year career in Gainesville, and now another factor has recently broken their way. The Clemson lean just watched his primary recruiter, Jeff Scott, leave for the South Florida head coaching job. And the Columbus (Miami) prospect did visit Florida twice back in November. Florida had a lot of ground to cover with him, though, so all that may not have been enough to sway him, but the Gators’ chances to land him are at least greater than microscopic. He’ll commit during the All-American Bowl on January 4th.
Three star receiver Sam Brown is one of the most likely to pick Florida tomorrow. Brown visited the Gators this past weekend and came away impressed, leading me to believe all other suitors are far behind on him. Mississippi could make a run for the former Central Florida commit, but Brown feels about as likely a Gator as any uncommitted prospect right now. Be prepared to see a Gator cap adorn his head when he makes his announcement at 1:45pm tomorrow.
Four star running back Henry Parrish out of Miami’s Columbus High School is another one who’s slowly trending back toward Florida. A high school teammate of Xzavier Henderson, Parrish just decommitted from Pittsburgh and now has a slew of teams displaying eleventh hour interest in him, including Mississippi. With Demarkcus Bowman seemingly off the Gators’ board, Parrish would certainly be an impressive haul as a backup plan.
The only reason I would say to keep an eye on four star wideout Arian Smith is because of his hometown. The University of Florida has built a massive pipeline of talent through Lakeland, Florida, and though Georgia seems to be the team to beat here, you just never count out the Gators with a Lakeland Dreadnaught. He commits at 12:05pm tomorrow.
Lastly, fans will have to wait a little longer to see what four star defensive end Morven Joseph decides to do. He’s committed to, and subsequently decommitted from, both Florida and FSU. Now Tennessee has thrown its hat in the ring and seems to have built up an edge. Originally scheduled to make his announcement on Thursday, he’ll be announcing tomorrow at 3pm.