In a phrase, yesterday was essentially much ado about nothing for the Gators. For a blow-by-blow recap of the day, check out our NSD tracker. To view the Gators’ complete 2020 recruiting class, click here:
First things first. Florida didn’t lose anybody who came into the day as a Gator commit, which was priority number one, and landed letters of intent from 21 of those 24 committed players plus Texas transfer Jordan Pouncey. There was the matter of Issiah Walker’s LOI being delayed, but he did send it in late last night and will be enrolling this upcoming semester.
Florida did suffer a few disappointments yesterday, though. Wide receiver Sam Brown, thought by many to be a Gator lean, wound up signing with West Virginia. Many also thought a flip from defensive tackle Tim Smith was coming, but the Crimson Tidesman decided to stick with his Alabama commitment. And lastly, defensive tackle Donell Harris stuck with his commitment to Texas A&M despite a late push from Florida coaches. But those would have all been eleventh hour additions to the class, meaning Florida didn’t lose anybody today; they merely didn’t gain anybody.
The so-called “misses” were inconsequential, too. Florida is taking not one, not two, not three but four consensus four star defensive tackles- Gervon Dexter, Lamar Goods, Jalen Lee and Johnnie Brown. Did they really need any more? Want, sure, but need? Furthermore, the optics of losing Sam Brown to West Virginia aren’t great, but same story here: Florida is already taking a trio of four star receivers in Leonard Manuel, Marc Britt and Jaquavion Fraziars. So again: did they really need Brown?
So for all the hope and hype Gator fans had coming into today, virtually nothing changed with this class whatsoever. Florida came into the day with a unanimous top ten ranked class, and will leave the day with a unanimous top ten ranked class. The fact that Florida didn’t add anybody today is dwarfed by the fact that Florida still reeled in a smorgasbord of talent this cycle, and that collection of talented players is worth no more and no less than if the Gators had first landed commitments from them today rather than several months ago. Jahari Rogers and Derek Wingo are the exact same players they would have been had they put on a Gator hat on national television today rather than announce their intentions before the season kicked off. It’s still a damned good class that Dan Mullen has brought in- but now it just needs some fine-tuning before the sun sets on the residual National Signing Day in February.
To me, the biggest concern is that Florida hasn’t taken a running back so far this class. Running back isn’t a huge need this year, but not taking a single one this year would make it a huge need next year. Florida has some depth there right now, with Dameon Pierce, Malik Davis, NayQuan Wright and Iverson Clement on the roster, but you can never have too much depth there given the pounding they take on a daily basis. Georgia Tech running back commit Jahmyr Gibbs as well as Columbus High’s Henry Parrish are both high on the Gators, so look for Mullen to go all in with at least one of those two.
But there’s work to be done elsewhere, too. Florida is also expected to be hot in pursuit of wide receiver Xzavier Henderson, Parrish’s high school teammate and brother of now-former Gator cornerback CJ Henderson. And then there’s former Oregon commit Avantae Williams, the X-factor of this whole class, who could really provide some depth to a safety position that’s been shaky at best for Florida this season.
Regardless of how the next few weeks pan out, it’s hard to imagine a combination of sequences that results in the Gators not finishing with a class that ESPN, Rivals and 247 all agree is one of the ten best in the country. And given the success Dan Mullen has had on the field with classes ranked much lower than that, it’s exciting to think about what he can do with it.