Florida lands commitment from four star DL TJ Searcy

TJ Searcy
Photo: Hale McGranahan, 247Sports

The Florida Gators are experiencing some less-than-joyous plot twists on the recruiting trail these days, but Billy Napier & Co. are punching back with what may later be recalled as one of the most underrated recruiting feeding frenzies in the past several years. Today’s addition: TJ Searcy.

The consensus four-star prospect out of Thomaston, GA, committed to Florida over South Carolina, FSU, and Tennessee. He also held offers from a pair of teams in last year’s College Football Playoff in Michigan and Georgia, as well as from CFP regular Clemson.

You can watch his high school tape here.

The film tells the story of a Swiss Army knife in the trenches who can contribute at a variety of positions. It’s shown not to matter which defensive line gap technique he’s told to line up in, as his tape is littered with productive plays at various spots. His footwork and natural athleticism are elite, and he’s pretty strong for his 6’5, 250 lb frame. The hands are powerful, although they could probably become a little more powerful with some work by Florida’s defensive coaches.

The reality of the situation is that TJ Searcy is not a drag-and-drop solution into Florida’s defensive line. He’s going to need time to develop. The pass-rush-moves repertoire isn’t quite there. But if he gets to Florida and then tacks on an additional 10-15 pounds of pure muscle and improves his pass rush moves, he could make quite a splash and potentially find his way onto some All-SEC ballots before his day is done.

Now for the big picture. Florida fans are logically irritated by some of the Gators’ recent losses on the recruiting trail, not the least of which was QB Jaden Rashada going to Miami, but also with things such as UF lean Daquayvious Sorey pushing back his commitment date and three-star offensive lineman Tommy Kinsler backing off his commitment to Florida two weeks after issuing it.

The truth is, though, irritating as those occurrences are, Florida has some real momentum building on the recruiting trail.

TJ Searcy becomes Florida’s fourth consensus four-star commit since June 21, and the third on the defensive line. Defensive end Isaiah Nixon kicked the snowball off the mountaintop by flipping from Central Florida, fellow defensive lineman Gavin Hill followed suit and committed four days later, and then two days after Hill pulled the trigger, cornerback Sharif Denson completed the week’s hat trick.

The recent rampage on the trail comes at a time where a lot of other schools are also landing commitments, so while picking up four recruits in a matter of two weeks would skyrocket Florida up the rankings, the Gators have only moved up from #49 in the 247Sports Composite rankings to #38.

However, don’t let the Gators’ recent frenzy fool you- Florida is also nowhere close to being finished with this class. With a typical class consisting of about 25 signees, Florida’s 2023 class- which currently has only nine committed players- is sure to nearly triple in size.

For perspective, many of the 37 teams ranked ahead of Florida in those rankings- like Duke, Northwestern, Cincinnati, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Purdue, Minnesota, Arkansas, and more- have at least twice as many players currently committed, meaning that the Gators will all but surely pass them in the rankings once the class is filled out with players that Florida wants, and that these other schools could not get. The Gators’ recent frenzy on the recruiting trail hasn’t just been limited to football, either.

New basketball coach Todd Golden just reeled in a commitment from four star power forward Thomas Haugh, out of Pennsburg, PA. He’ll be coming in next year as part of Golden’s first full class.

And over on the baseball diamond, Kevin O’Sullivan just earned himself a legacy commitment for his program in Colton Schwarz. If that name sounds familiar, it should: his older brother JJ was the first captain of Florida’s baseball program and helped pioneer them to their first ever national championship in 2017, and his older sister Taylor played a huge role on Florida’s softball team in its glory days in the mid-2010, helping them win back-to-back national titles in 2014 and 2015. Florida will have to wait a little while to get him though; he’ll arrive in 2025.

But back to football and the matter at hand.

Recruiting is a marathon, not a sprint, and while it’s not wholly unreasonable to be frustrated with some of the misses and likely future misses on the trail, Billy Napier and his staff clearly have something positive going right now. And that- plus what he did to land Kamari Wilson, Shemar James, and Devin Moore with virtually no time left on the 2022 cycle’s clock- is a strong indication that we should allow him and his staff to do their jobs.