Welcome to our 2017 National Signing Day ticker! Updates will be posted as they happen, so keep hitting that refresh button. For the list of announcement times today, check here.
7:56 am- this could be a huge day for Florida. Up to seven currently uncommitted prospects could send LOIs in to UF today, and three of them are likely to do so. Despite the Gators’ relative lack of success on the trail so far this cycle, I’m excited to see how the day unfolds.
7:59am- Marco Wilson, Shawn Davis, Jake Allen and DaQuon Green have sent in their LOIs. Wilson did so first, meaning he wins the #FirstFaxAward. Congrats, Marco.
8:20am- Gators LB target Levi Jones appears to be bound for Los Angeles. Fine with me. Better USC than FSU.
8:22am- TJ Slaton is set to announce. Selecting between Florida, Georgia and Miami. He also held offers from Alabama, Clemson, Tennessee, FSU, LSU, and many, many more. To hell with stars, this would be a tremendous pickup.
8:29am- Slaton is part of a humongous Signing Day ceremony at American Heritage that includes all their athletes signing one by one. Given his status and the hype that surrounds his recruitment, he’ll probably go last. Prediction: Florida √.
8:33am- Kaboom. Slaton is a Florida Gator.
8:42am- so far, Florida has just the initial four LOIs in. No, I’m not worried that any of the other commits are pulling eleventh hour about faces, but that’s why I haven’t listed any updates announcing any other LOIs being sent in yet.
8:49am- friendly reminder: to track all of the announcements from recruits considering Florida today, keep checking this page.
8:53am- Donovan Stiner has sent in his LOI. That makes five of the 13 non-early enrollee commits.
9:00am- Levi Jones is set to announce. Selecting between Florida, FSU and USC. Prediction: USC√.
9:04am- It would be nothing short of a complete stunner if Jones picked Florida, but I will say this… his mother just tweeted a picture of her two boys wearing Florida and USC shirts.
9:09am- Levi Jones has committed to USC. Oh, but he gave us quite a tease first: he removed his sweatshirt to reveal a Gator shirt, to some cheers from the audience. Then he removed that Gator shirt to reveal a Seminoles shirt… and then he took that shirt off to reveal a USC shirt. He then said, “Fight On” and picked up the Trojan cap. Master troll job, Levi.
9:24am- Early morning assessment: I’m considering Elijah Conliffe a National Signing Day success, given that he set his announcement time well in advance and did it the day before simply to get his own moment of attention rather than share it with the other hundreds of recruits who would sign their LOIs today. So between Conliffe and Slaton, the Gators are off to a tremendous start on Signing Day. There was a time not too long ago where Florida didn’t look to be in good shape with either of them, so grabbing them both is certainly cause for celebration. And Levi Jones to USC feels like a draw, since Florida didn’t get him but FSU didn’t either.
But the day is still young, and in theory, Florida remains in play for seven more top targets: Jarez Parks (I doubt it), LaBryan Ray (not likely), K’Lavon Chaisson (chances have been reduced to a smoldering ember), CJ Henderson (coin flip), Brian Edwards (probably Florida), Adarius Lemons (if he’s academically eligible, Florida), and Elijah Blades (doubtful). It’s way too early to make any kind of judgment about how the day turned out, and thus, too early to make any real kind of judgment about this class as a whole.
So with a lot still to happen, keep refreshing this page and see how it all plays out…
9:36am- Brad Stewart has sent in his LOI.
9:40am- A couple LOIs I missed while I ran to grab a bit to eat: Zachary Carter and Malik Davis have sent in their LOIs.
9:49am- rumors have begun to swirl that the Gators could be in play for a few guys that they weren’t in play for earlier in the week. Further inquiries were met with intentionally cryptic responses. All I can say is that you definitely want to watch the announcement ceremonies of everybody on this list. As soon as I get anything I trust, I’ll put it out there.
9:52am- TJ Moore has sent in his LOI.
10:02am- Florida has picked up an eleventh hour addition in Lacedrick Brunson, a two star linebacker out of Miami. Brunson feels like the kind of signing that was solely done to fill out the class, as his only other Power Five conference offer was from Arkansas. Of course, everybody loves the story of the overlooked and underrated kid becoming a star, so there’s that potential. And I hope it happens.
10:20am- Florida’s two most recent commits, TJ Slaton and Elijah Conliffe, have sent in their LOIs.
10:40am- mid-morning assessment: the past hour has been a bit of a lull, but don’t worry, it’s about to pick up again. Florida still has seven more announcement ceremonies that will feature Gator hats on the table to look forward to, and they appear to be in good shape for three of them (Lemons, Edwards and Henderson). So grab a quick bite to eat, because things are about to get interesting…
10:59am- in a mild upset, Jarez Parks has committed to… no one. Instead, he committed to announcing to a later announcement time. What does that mean? Well, a quick glance at Alabama’s recruiting class suggests that they may not have room for him, assuming they’re going to land another top target or two throughout the day. Or maybe Parks is putting off his announcement to see if Alabama gets that top target or two to see if there is room for him. Regardless, I don’t think Florida has a particularly strong chance of landing him, but then again, this could be one of the aforementioned shockers…
11:11am- multiple reports have surfaced saying that Adarius Lemons will sign with Florida at some point today.
11:20am- Tre Brown and Charleston Rambo have signed with Oklahoma. The Sooners had been concerned over their recent visit to Florida, but they managed to hang on to both.
11:30am- three big announcements are coming up within the next hour. First, K’Lavon Chaisson will soon announce between Texas, LSU and Florida, and he’s probably not coming to Florida. But after that, things get real interesting. The Gators are in play for two top tier cornerbacks out of South Florida in Brian Edwards and CJ Henderson, and both will be deciding between Florida and Miami. We’ll have live updates of their announcement ceremonies when they begin.
11:50am- here is where the Gators’ recruiting class stands right now, with all the aforementioned announcements still pending. It’s not the best class in the country, but it’s a top 20 class by every ranking system. It could be a lot worse.
11:59am- K’Lavon Chaisson is set to announce at his high school. He’ll be picking between Florida, LSU and Texas. The Gators did get his last visit, but still… Prediction: LSU.
12:00n- Chaisson’s announcement ceremony features seven other athletes, and it’s a full assembly. Lots of other announcements to come first. Hang in there.
12:01pm- meanwhile, Chris Henderson is set to announce between Florida and Miami. Prediction: Florida√.
12:13pm- Chris Henderson has committed to Florida. Miami just lost another top target out of their own backyard to the Gators.
12:23pm- Brian Edwards can give the Gators a clean sweep over the Miami Hurricanes. He announces in a few minutes. Prediction: Florida.
12:29pm- after an exhaustive ceremony, K’Lavon Chaisson has committed to LSU. Oh well.
12:36pm- I was too busy flipping back and forth between Chaisson’s and Henderson’s announcement ceremonies to make a note of this, but let’s just take a second to appreciate one thing: Florida is really sticking it to Miami today. TJ Slaton and Chris Henderson are both from the Miami area, and the Gators robbed the Hurricanes of both of them after the Canes appeared to have them wrapped up at some point in the recent past.
12:43pm- Florida has two announcements coming up in the next few minutes: five star defensive lineman LaBryan Ray and defensive back Brian Edwards.
12:49pm- Edwards is expected to announce at approximately 1:10pm. Prediction: Florida.
1:02pm- LaBryan Ray is expected to announce at approximately 1:15pm. Prediction: Alabama.
1:07pm- Edwards has arrived for his ceremony. Show time.
1:10pm- …as has LaBryan Ray. Currently flipping back and forth between their ceremonies.
1:11pm- Ray picks Bama.
1:15pm- Jarez Parks has committed to Alabama, but there’s a twist. The Crimson Tide’s class is all full with LaBryan Ray’s commitment, so Nick Saban offered Parks a spot as a gray shirt (which means he can’t enroll now, but can enroll in another semester). Why he chose to take a gray shirt at Alabama over signing with Florida or FSU in a traditional fashion is beyond me. Better he get buried at Alabama then star in Tallahassee, I suppose.
1:21pm- Edwards is set to announce any minute.
1:30pm- Edwards is still waiting to announce. As is customary these days, his high school is having a big ceremony for every athlete to announce their college decision (or sign). And because he’s the most coveted, and his decision is the most highly anticipated, he’s going last.
1:35pm- two more Miramar players are going, then Edwards.
1:38pm- Edwards will be announcing at approximately 1:45pm.
1:44pm- Edwards waited… and waited… and threw on a Gator hat. And did some rather violent Gator Chomps. That’s a clean sweep over Miami today: TJ Slaton, CJ Henderson and now Edwards. And all three are from the Miami area.
1:50pm- Florida’s day is still far from over. The Gators have suddenly thrown themselves in the mix for JUCO defensive tackle Malik Young (who’s deciding between Florida, Missouri, Arizona and Arizona State), and they’re still expected to sign tailback Adarius Lemons. And even though I don’t think landing Elijah Blades is likely, they’re still worth a hat on his announcement table. So keep checking back for more updates as the afternoon progresses.
2:20pm- still awaiting word from Malik Young and Adarius Lemons. I’m feeling confident that both sign with Florida, but no timetable has been given for their announcements.
2:59pm- the Gators have received 16 of the 17 LOIs from the non early enrollees. The only one who has yet to send in his LOI is tight end Zech Byrd.
3:03pm- Byrd has told reporters that he still plans to sign with Florida, but that he will not do so today. He declined further comment when pressed. The idea that the Gators could lose him at the last minute is certainly a valid one, and his mysterious silence as to why he won’t sign today may be due to him looking around to see if he can find another school at the last minute.
3:25pm- mid-day assessment- Florida’s day is still not finished, although we still don’t have a commitment time for either Adarius Lemons or Malik Young. But even with their decisions still pending, though, the Gators did more enough today.
Florida’s three biggest needs in this class were on the offensive and defensive lines and the secondary. They landed three players in those three positions today: offensive guard TJ Slaton, cornerback CJ Henderson, and cornerback Brian Edwards. And when you consider that defensive lineman Elijah Conliffe only announced yesterday rather than today so he wouldn’t compete with hundreds of other athletes’ signing ceremonies for attention, you can make that tally four.
And yet what you do and who you land on National Signing Day, in itself, is irrelevant. What matters is who you land in the class, period, as grabbing CJ Henderson today was no more important than it would have been four months ago. So I try to temper high emotions about a school’s performance on one day, preferring to spread it out over time.
Having said that: the Gators were in a precarious situation with their 2017 recruiting class as of last week, and in the blink of an eye they’ve gone from being ranked somewhere in the 30’s (depending on which ranking system you look at) to having a consensus top 20 class. So job well done by Mac and staff.
Again, though, Florida is still in play for two more prospects, so the day is not done. But at this point, it can only get better.
3:33pm- Oh my. Florida has re-extended an offer to wide receiver James Robinson- and he’s now signed a letter of intent. J-Rob is a Florida Gator after all.
3:43pm- I’m still in shock. I think a lot of us are. Kindly give me a few minutes to contact some people and see what the #$%& is going on.
3:49pm- while I try to figure out what the hell just happened, I once again remind you all that Florida still isn’t done today, as Lemons and Young have both indicated that they’ll be signing by day’s end.
3:51pm- Adarius Lemons has sent in his LOI. Malik Young is still on the table, too.
4:34pm- Florida sent James Robinson a LOI to sign because “they came to believe that he deserved a second chance,” per a source. Remember, Florida pulled his offer earlier this week after he was cited for marijuana possession. Multiple other outlets are reporting similar angles. But do remember, McElwain always wanted Robinson. This felt like a battle between McElwain and UF administrators- and McElwain won. There’s still more to the story that I’m waiting for, though, so keep checking back for more.
5:08pm- Former Gators cornerback commit Elijah Blades has signed with Nebraska. Not a surprise.
5:11pm- there’s still one more prospect that Florida is in play for: JUCO defensive tackle Malik Young. He’s set to choose between Florida and Missouri, although there’s been no definitive word as to when. Keep checking back for updates…
5:26pm: a couple more details have come to me about James Robinson. First, my source made it clear to me that Robinson is on a short leash, but that “it doesn’t matter. He’s a Gator and that’s all that matters.” What happened was that McElwain went back to his higher ups and basically demanded that they allow him to re-extend the offer. It was almost a replay of a conversation they had two days ago, after the administration yanked the offer. McElwain’s argument was that Robinson was a good kid who made a mistake that was more foolish than harmful, and that it shouldn’t cost him the chance to play major level college football. And he (Mac) and his staff knew all from recruiting him for so long. The administration finally had a change of heart after doing their own background check on him and speaking with some people who knew him. In any case, it’s nice to see a good kid get a second chance. And however the conversation played out, I’m glad that UF came to its collective senses.
5:58pm- Florida now has a top ten class, per the 247 average rankings. Just a little validation.
6:27pm- one final piece of business still to wait for: Florida is still waiting for Malik Young’s decision.
6:54pm- defensive tackle Malik Young has committed to Missouri. Probably scared off by Florida landing Conliffe.
7:01pm- NSD review. I’ll have a lot more thoughts tomorrow, but for now, let’s quickly recap what’s happened today.
–Florida filled needs. The Gators needed to stock up on both sides of the line and in the secondary to replace the personnel losses this offseason, and boy did they. Offensive lineman TJ Slaton and defensive backs CJ Henderson and Brian Edwards are all guys that McElwain is very high on, and landing defensive tackle Elijah Conliffe yesterday- which was essentially an extension of today- was a big pickup as well.
–Florida pulled off the shocker of the day. James Robinson was always a Gator lean, but you can’t sign with a school if they don’t offer you. Or more specifically, if they un-offer you. And then the Gators apparently re-offered him out of nowhere, just minutes before McElwain was set to announce the class. However that came to pass- the details of which are still somewhat fuzzy- it’s a big pickup for a Florida class that only had one other true wideout in DaQuon Green.
–This is the strongest finish to a recruiting class in recent memory, and maybe ever. I can’t remember the last time a recruiting class was outside the top 30 five days before Signing Day and then finished in the top ten, but that’s what Florida did in every ranking system other than ESPN. And they did it by landing a whopping six players in the span of 24 hours- Slaton, Henderson, Edwards, Robinson, Lemons, and Conliffe.