The Gators’ recruiting class received two major upgrades Monday night in RB Jordan Scarlett and CB Chris Williamson, but it’s still not complete. Florida is in the running for several more top prospects- a few of whom they absolutely have to have. Of course, this is a transition year with new head coach Jim McElwain frantically scrambling around trying to clean up the mess that Will Muschamp started, so the overall expectations for this class are not quite as high as they usually are… but it’d still be nice to finish strong. And I think the Gators can.
So here we go.
Wednesday, twelve highly touted prospects who have Florida listed as a finalist for their services will announce their decisions. The table below contains all the important information, including their announcement times, schools they’re considering and their current status (which we will be updating live):
UPDATE 9:10am: Byron Cowart has committed to Auburn. It hurts, but there are bigger needs out there for Florida.
UPDATE 9:15am: I just received a text saying WR Antonio Callaway will choose Florida.
UPDATE 9:40am: Antonio Callaway is indeed a Florida Gator. Welcome to the family!
UPDATE 9:54am: Just got a shocking text: Ryan Davis will sign with Auburn. Big blow if true.
UPDATE 10:21am: Ryan Davis’s LOI is in- to Auburn. Will Muschamp is responsible for yet another Gator loss.
UPDATE 10:29am: Jeffrey Holland is apparently tired of waiting, moved up his announcement time- Auburn.
UPDATE 10:47am: Deondre Francois’s LOI has been sent into Tallahassee. He was always a long shot anyway.
UPDATE 11:37am: Martez Ivey commits to Florida. GIGANTIC pickup for McElwain.
UPDATE 12:00n: Lamar Jackson has decided to stick with Louisville.
UPDATE 12:12pm: Things are getting very, very interesting with Byron Cowart. He has indeed signed his letter of intent to Auburn. But he’s also signed a letter of intent to Florida. And he hasn’t sent his LOI into Auburn yet, so he’s still in play for the Gators. Keep checking for updates on this story.
UPDATE 12:48pm: Things are officially getting weird with Byron Cowart. There are a variety of theories surrounding the reason- including his own indecision, his coach’s failure to sign the LOI, and slow fax machines- but I’m told that Auburn has still not received his letter of intent… four hours after he announced he was going to Auburn.
UPDATE 1:07pm: Just got confirmation from a source at Auburn that says the Tigers have received letters of intent from 22 different commits. Clearly there’s no problem with Auburn’s fax machine. There’s some smoke that Cowart is actually just waiting to see what Cece Jefferson decides to do at 2:30pm. We’ll continue to keep you updated as we get new information.
UPDATE 1:33pm: Two different sources (one of whom is his high school coach) have a stunning update on Byron Cowart. Despite committing to Auburn this morning, Cowart is now unable to decide between Florida and Auburn and is uncommitted all over again. He didn’t really look too happy when committing to AU anyway (at least not to me), but now enough people have gotten in his ear and made him reconsider. Do remember that he has signed letters of intent to both schools. I’m told the decision of Cece Jefferson will have something to do with where Cowart winds up going, but that is just one of many, many things spinning around in his head. Keep checking for updates.
UPDATE 1:42pm: Keivonnis Davis has decommitted from Oregon State and flipped to Florida.
UPDATE 2:13pm: Cece Jefferson is a Florida Gator. HUGE pickup. Get ready for the floodgates to open.
UPDATE 2:17pm: Jordan Cronkrite is a Florida Gator.
UPDATE 2:29pm: Nick Buchanan is a Florida Gator.
UPDATE 2:40pm: After decommitting from Auburn, D’Anfernee McGriff has decided to be a Florida Gator.
UPDATE 4:41pm: Byron Cowart’s LOI is in at Auburn. Oh well.
UPDATE 8:02pm: Just talked to someone close to the UF program. Cece Jefferson’s letter of intent is in fact still not in. I’m not exactly chomping on my fingernails, but the fact that we’re now going on six hours is not something what one would consider to be reassuring. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe he is a Florida Gator. He’s told the coaches that he would fax it in tomorrow, and I don’t necessarily doubt him. It’s just… well, these are the words of kids and nothing is official until he sends in the damned paperwork!
UPDATE 12:27pm Thursday: Cece Jefferson has still not sent in his LOI to Florida. His father is unhappy with his decision to attend UF, and won’t let him sign. This isn’t good, obviously, but before anybody freaks out, we’ve seen this before- Josh Harvey-Clemons and Alex Collins- and the recruit’s desire usually wins. Stay tuned.
UPDATE 1:10pm: Florida has parted ways with DL coach Terrell Williams, who supposedly either didn’t understand recruiting or didn’t enjoy it. He is going back to the NFL, and Florida is targeting Texas DL coach Chris Rumph to replace him. Now, how does this affect Cece’s status? Well, it doesn’t, really, contrary to many reports out there. Or at least it shouldn’t. Cece Jefferson is a Gator. It’s just a matter of his dad signing his LOI.
UPDATE 1:47pm: Or maybe the change at DL coach does matter. Mike Farrell of Rivals has spoken to Cece Jefferson’s father, Leo, who told him that McElwain and his staff never informed him of the coaching change, and that they don’t know Chris Rumph at all. Leo Jefferson also told Farrell that McElwain was the only coach not to call Cece at the end of his recruiting process. Other coaches- including coaches of schools that weren’t even finalists for Cece- did. That’s not very good, if it’s true. Of course, Cece Jefferson’s father could simply be lying, which wouldn’t be cool, but Jefferson has since indicated on Twitter that he is, at the very least, surprised by the coaching change. This is all just speculation right now, though. Somebody… somewhere involved in this case… is lying. We don’t know who, and we really don’t know anything definitive. All we know is that as of now, Cece’s LOI is not in.
UPDATE 2:01pm: I’m officially getting antsy about Cece Jefferson. That said, I still wouldn’t start freaking out. To expand on my earlier update, this is not the first time something like this has happened. A couple years ago, Alex Collins announced his decision to attend Arkansas. His mother didn’t approve, so she thought the best course of action was to literally snatch his LOI off the table, sprint to her car, and drive away with them. If memory serves me right, I believe Alex Collins had a big game for Arkansas against Florida in 2013. So I think he won that battle. Then there was Josh Harvey-Clemons, who wanted to go to Georgia and whose father wanted him to go to Florida. He wound up caving and signing his LOI to Georgia. Now, Harvey-Clemons did get himself kicked off the team… but he made it to Georgia. So again, I’d like to stress that kids usually… usually… win these types of battles.
UPDATE 2:25pm: Much has been made about Cece Jefferson’s dad refusing to sign the LOI. So the next natural question is: well, why can’t his mother sign it? The answer is not entirely clear, but multiple people are telling me that his mother likes the idea of Cece going to Florida even less than her husband. Why that is, I don’t know for sure, but if you want me to guess, I’ll give you two possible reasons: one, she shared her husband’s frustrations I mentioned in the earlier updates. Or two, her husband is simply refusing to let her sign the LOI. Mike Farrell of Rivals reported that Cece’s dad told him on the phone that his wife didn’t want Cece to go to UF, either, but didn’t cite a concrete reason. So, yeah, this is officially getting frustrating. But stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE 2:56pm: Finally, a bit of good news regarding Cece Jefferson. He originally planned on sending in his LOI this morning, but he never set that in stone. Good thing, because as you may have heard, his parents are refusing to sign his LOI. But now reports are flying from several news outlets that Cece knew about the coaching change at the DL position before yesterday. He committed to a school, the University of Florida, and not a coach. And now the best part: he is NOT wavering on his commitment to Florida.
UPDATE 3:38pm: The stances of both parties in the Cece Jefferson drama have now lost any ambiguity they may have had up to this point. Cece’s father Leo has made it clear that he wants Cece to go somewhere else- even though he admitted to Zach Abolverdi that he’s a Gator fan. The reason he gave: he wants him to branch out and expand his horizons. Now, I’m not going to speculate on whether that’s really true or not, but that’s what he said. And hey, at least it’s a reason, which is more than his conversation with 247 provided us with. For his part, Cece has made it clear that he’s not backing off his commitment to Florida, because he loves the school. So essentially, what we have here is an old fashioned father-son staredown. My bet: the father caves, because that’s how these standoffs end 99% of the time. I’ll again direct you to the outcomes of the Alex Collins and Josh Harvey-Clemons sagas.
UPDATE 5:12pm: Everybody’s reports are conflicting each other. Some say Cece’s mother does indeed want him to go to UF, others say she doesn’t. Some say Cece knew about the Gators’ DL coaching change, others say he didn’t. Some say Cece’s day is the reason for the holdup, others say it’s Cece himself. All we know for sure is that Cece’s LOI has not been delivered to UF, and now I’m really starting to get nervous. I’ve mentioned the stories of Harvey-Clemons and Collins multiple times now as a sort of “calm down” message, but now I think it’s worth mentioning that both of those dramas were settled in less than 24 hours, as they both faxed their LOIs in the next morning. We’re now way past the 24 hour mark with Jefferson- he committed a little after 2pm yesterday- and so I’m inclined to believe that this case is even weirder and has even more to it than anybody else knows. Having said that, Cece did say this morning that he would fax in his LOI either today or tomorrow, and that he is still a Gator. So I’m not hitting the panic button just yet, but I have to admit that I’m starting to look for it.
UPDATE 5:41pm: About an hour ago, Cece’s dad tweeted out that he wasn’t happy with all the coaching changes at UF. Aside from smirking at the FSU level grammar- come on, it’s been a long two days- I don’t think this is worth much. Yes, this is really Cece’s father’s account, and he may be telling the truth, but how do we know he’s not just saying this as an attempt to stop the vitriol that classless fans are hurling his family’s way? In pretty much every way it can possibly be construed, this move has negligible value.
UPDATE 7:21pm: Cece has tweeted that he is a Florida Gator. The only reason he didn’t send his LOI is because he didn’t know anything about the new coach and he just wanted to be sure. I expect his LOI to be in tomorrow.
UPDATE 9:02pm: A source close to the Jefferson family has confirmed to me that Cece Jefferson is expected to fax his letter of intent in tomorrow. For real this time. I’ll wait until I get confirmation of the receipt of the LOI to wave the “Mission Accomplished” flag, but I’m definitely easing off the panic button. Between what the source has told me and what Jefferson has said on twitter, I’ve gotten some legitimate answers:
-Cece got the heads up a few days before Signing Day that DL coach Terrell Williams was leaving. But he had heard it as a rumor, not as fact. This is why he tweeted out “Coach Williams is really leaving?” and conveyed a sense of surprise. He had heard it being floated around as a possibility, but didn’t think it would really happen. Hence his reaction of surprise.
-Nonetheless, Cece knew it was a possibility that Williams would leave, so he held off. This was just a precaution, though- he knew he was a Gator a week ago. His family had even ordered a bunch of Gator apparel to spread throughout the family to celebrate Cece’s announcement. He committed to UF, not Williams. He merely wanted to see what would happen before faxing in the LOI.
-His dad is not evil, mean spirited or selfish as we all thought. The only mistake he made was allowing Cece to go through with the ceremony on Wednesday when the Jeffersons knew that the UF DL coach position was in flux, and they knew that they wouldn’t want Cece to fax in the LOI until that situation was settled. The right move would have been to postpone the announcement. But neither of Cece’s parents are the malicious people forcing their son to go where they want him go that they’ve been painted as, according to my source. Do note that the source is close to t
he family, and thus probably doesn’t feel like portraying them in a negative way- even if that negative portrayal is accurate.
UPDATE 12:23pm Friday: Cece’s LOI is still not in. I’m told he’s expected to fax it in “sometime today.” Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE 2:22pm: I just spoke with my source regarding Cece Jefferson. He did indeed hold off on faxing in his signed LOI to UF due to his lack of total certainty about the UF DL coach position. He did, after all, cite Terrell Williams as a reason for why he chose UF in his official announcement on Wednesday. But the time he spent holding off on faxing the LOI was merely spent doing research on Chris Rumph; googling him, asking friends/former players of Rumph about him as a coach, and talking with his mother about him. This is what my source told me:
-A little while ago, he completed his little investigation on Rumph, and was possibly even more excited about playing for Rumph (who actually recruited him to play for Alabama) than he was about playing for Williams. He was absolutely giddy about his track record at three premiere schools.
-The source also reiterated that Cece did in fact commit to UF, and not a certain coach. He said that Cece understands that anything can happen with the current coaching staff, up to and including “the possibility that McElwain punches a fan in week three of the 2015 season, gets fired, Jeremy (Foley) hires a new head coach and the new head coach hires an entirely new staff.” In that specific (farfetched) scenario, the source tells me, Cece would remain 100% committed to Florida.
-Cece’s mother is 100% on board with her son being a Gator.
-So why didn’t his mom sign the LOI? Well, because the LOI he had on the table of his announcement ceremony has allegedly become a POW of his father Leo. That may be true, and it may not be. But my source has told me t
hat he “wouldn’t be surprised at all if the LOI Cece faxes in turns out to be the second one that UF sent to the Jefferson family.” So possibly in direct contradiction to the first line of the last bullet in my update at 9:02pm last night, Cece’s dad remains the lone holdup. Cece is not backing down. It’s his dad.
-As an addendum to that last bullet: Cece’s LOI is still expected to be faxed in today.
UPDATE 2:54pm: Per my source, Cece Jefferson’s father has finally come around. He is OK with sending in the LOI to UF. Confirmed by Zach Abolverdi. I’m not sure if this is the original LOI or if he destroyed it and UF had to send in another one, but honestly, at this point, who cares? It’s just a matter of time now, not a matter of changing his father’s mind.
UPDATE 6:52pm: My source confirms that a second LOI has been sent to the Jeffersons. The original LOI is officially MIA. The signing and faxing of the second one has an updated estimated time of arrival: within 24 hours. From now. Don’t freak out, though, as he’s still going to sign with Florida. His mother is expected to sign it.
UPDATE 8:53pm: We have a new estimated arrival time for Cece Jefferson’s LOI, and the reason for the delay is not necessarily a reason to hit the alarm button. So take a deep breath before you read this next sentence. According to a report from Baker County Press sports editor Jon Shumake, Jefferson is now planning on sending in his LOI by the end of next week. However, there’s smoke that this isn’t entirely true, and just a way of getting his dad off his back. Yes, his dad has apparently reverted back to his original stance, and is not letting Cece sign with UF. Or maybe he was lying when he said that he was OK with it. Either way, he’s currently not budging. Here’s the good news: his mother is onboard with Cece going to Florida and has again made it clear that she is willing to sign the LOI. And you only need one parent or legal guardian to sign the LOI. However, it’s much more complicated than that. Cece’s parents do live together, yes, but as I mentioned before, they supposedly fight a lot, so this is nothing unusual. Right now, it would stand to reason that his mother doesn’t love the idea of signing the LOI behind the back of Cece’s father. But I’m told that his mother will sign the LOI, and that Cece will fax it in. When? There are too many variables for me to tell you exactly, but my best guess is that it will be in the hands of UF staff by the time they return to work on Monday.
UPDATE 9:39pm: My source just told me that the only way Cece Jefferson does not wind up a Gator is if Florida simply gets tired of the whole drama and tells him that they don’t want him anymore because they don’t want kids whose families aren’t 100% in. But Cece is such a tremendous talent that I highly doubt that will happen. If Florida wants to turn away such an outstanding young player because of his father’s stubbornness, then shame on them. But again: that is the ONLY way Cece Jefferson does not wind up in Gainesville when it’s all said and done.
UPDATE 10:31pm: As an addendum to my last update: my source has said that UF is perfectly content to sit back and let the Cece Jefferson saga play itself out. So yes, Cece Jefferson will be a Florida Gator. Here’s why. The whole mess- meaning everything you’ve read, seen and heard up to this point-appears to be nothing more than a cleverly constructed distraction of an old fashioned mother vs. father debate. Neither of them are changing their opinions on this matter. Luckily for Cece- and Gator fans- you only need the signature of one parent or legal guardian. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: his mother is just as stubborn in wanting Cece at Florida as his father is wanting Cece to go elsewhere, and she will sign the LOI (at some point). So we can all relax.
UPDATE 11:05pm: The source has confirmed that this is indeed an issue between Cece’s mother and father. But as I said in the last update, it just takes one parent to sign the LOI. Cece’s mother will win: either the dad will back off, or she’ll sign it behind his back. In some way, shape or form, that LOI will be signed, because Cece’s mother wants him to go to UF just as much as he does. And she’s not backing down, and simultaneously holds the power to get Cece to Florida. And there’s nothing Leo Jefferson can do about it because of the need for only one signature.
UPDATE 2:13pm Saturday: Cece Jefferson is supposedly going to the Florida-Kentucky basketball game tonight. There is a chance… a chance… that he will arrive at the game with a signed LOI (by his mother) to give to Florida personnel. So if you’ve heard rumors floating around that Cece could have his LOI signed “as early as Saturday”, that’s how it would happen. As for Cece’s father Leo, oh, how the pendulum swings. Per my source, he’s still not thrilled with sending his son to UF despite reports that say he’s come around (and despite my update about 24 hours ago saying the same thing, as he’s either changed his mind yet again or I got that detail wrong). However, he’s supposedly coming to terms with the fact that there’s absolutely nothing he can do to stop it, as Cece’s mother qualifies as the one legal guardian the NCAA requires to sign the LOI. His mother may have to go behind his father’s back to sign it if she can’t get him to agree, and that leaves Leo Jefferson with two choices: administer a 24/7 surveillance system on Cece’s mother, or just accept it. His mother does not want to sneak around his father to sign it, but she absolutely will do it if it comes to that. And I’ve said this before, but just to reiterate: there can be 100 other people in Cece’s family who don’t want him at UF, but as long as he gets that one signature from his mom, what everybody else thinks is irrelevant.
UPDATE 3:58pm: Two different sources have given me an extremely upsetting piece of news. I’m not reporting the exact details about what happened as fact, because exact details are sort of conflicting and not totally clear, but each of them have told me that Cece’s father has taken off with his son’s letter of intent. Here’s where it gets dicey. One source said Leo torched his son’s LOI and then flushed the ashes down a toilet (for the record, the sheer lunacy and flair for the melodramatic required to do this makes me vacillate between losing hope in humanity and wondering if this really happened), and the other told me that he’s simply hiding it and playing keep away from Cece. I tell you the specifics of what each one individually said because it illustrates just how far apart from each other they are, and yet there’s a common denominator in what they’ve told me: Cece does not currently have possession of his own LOI. Both sources also told me that his dad saying he’d warmed up to the idea of Cece faxing in his LOI- both to my first source and to Zach Abolverdi- was his way of relaxing everybody around him, freeing him up to snatch the LOI and do whatever it was that he actually did with it to ensure that Cece wouldn’t get his hands on it.
UPDATE 4:02pm: For what it’s worth, I’ve never hoped to be wrong about saying anything in my life as much as I’m hoping I was wrong about my last update. But two different sources coming to the same conclusion makes me think I’m not.
UPDATE 7:01pm: I’m told that Cece Jefferson may… may… have snuck another LOI into the O’Dome (with his mother’s signature) and handed it in. This would explain why he tweeted his LOI would be in soon. My other source has given me a variation of this story: he’s going to meet with somebody, get another LOI, get his mom to sign it and then give it back. The two sources are saying basically the same thing, except for the lack of clarification as to whether it’s already happened or not. But in any case, this should all be over soon. Stay tuned.
UPDATE 7:10pm: Cece’s tweet said that his dad and Coach Collins had a long talk. That may be true, but both sources have reiterated that Cece’s father does not want his son to go to Florida. Both tell me Cece is just a good enough son to cover for his father. Both say his mother is expected to sign it, and that his dad still doesn’t like it. But that’s too bad for him. This whole mess looks like it’s just about over.
UPDATE 11:42pm: Source says Cece’s signed LOI will “in all likelihood: be in the hands of UF personnel tomorrow. The source also says that he’s not sure if this is the second or third LOI, but it’s “definitely not the original one”.
UPDATE 2:36pm Sunday: My two sources are split on the specifics, and I’ll get to answering “then why are you making an update?” in a minute. One expects the UF staff to formally announce their receipt of his LOI on Monday. This means that he either sneaked his signed LOI into the hands of UF staff before the game last night or they gave him another one to fill out, which he got his mom to sign and then handed/faxed it back. The other source says he doesn’t think it will be in the hands of UF staff until Wednesday. Now, here’s the common denominator of what they/logic/time are telling me: Cece’s father definitely did something with the LOI. Something very naughty. What, I don’t know, but I think it’s safe to say he won’t win father of the year. We’re going on 96 hours since Cece committed to UF on live television, and 16 hours since Cece left the O’Dome after last night’s game, and still no announcement from the UAA confirming receipt of his LOI. I’ll remind you again that Cece is 100% Gator, but this is getting ridiculous.
UPDATE 3:48pm: Cece Jefferson just tweeted “#UF19”. My source tells me that this is his way of announcing that his LOI has finally found its way into the hands of UF personnel. Keep checking for updates as I try to get some additional confirmation.
UPDATE 4:22pm: Multiple sources have confirmed to me that Cece’s LOI is in. The timing of the official announcement from UF is not yet known, but the sources have each said that it will probably be in sometime tomorrow. To no one’s surprise, his mother was the one who signed it. Here’s what I’ve been told. Cece went to the game last night with no LOI in hand. He enjoyed the game as a fan. But at some point after the game, he must have slipped into the athletic offices and gotten a new one, which he took home with him, quietly gave to his mother to sign, and then faxed it in sometime this morning/afternoon. There are still some details missing- how many LOI’s UF had to send the Jefferson’s, how his mother went behind his father’s back to sign it, and how it got faxed in without his father knowing- but those details are irrelevant at this point. All that we’re waiting for now is the statement from UF, and we can raise the Mission Accomplished flag.
UPDATE 11:44am Monday: It’s official. Cece Jefferson’s LOI has been received by UF staff. Welcome to Gator Nation, Cece!
|WR Antonio Callaway||9:00am||Florida, Miami, FSU||FLORIDA- SIGNED|
|DE Byron Cowart||9:10am||Florida, Auburn, FSU||AUBURN- SIGNED|
|OT Isaiah Prince||9:30am||Florida, Ohio St, Maryland||OHIO STATE- SIGNED|
|WR Ryan Davis||10:00am||Florida, FSU, Auburn, Kentucky||AUBURN- SIGNED|
|RB Dexter Williams||11:00am||Florida, Notre Dame, Miami||NOTRE DAME- SIGNED|
|OT Martez Ivey||11:35am||Florida, Auburn||FLORIDA- SIGNED|
|RB Jordan Cronkrite||1:15pm||Florida, Miami, West Virginia||FLORIDA- SIGNED|
|LB Jeffrey Holland||2:00pm||Florida, Auburn||AUBURN- SIGNED|
|DE Cece Jefferson||2:30pm||Florida, Auburn, FSU, Ole Miss||FLORIDA-VERBAL|
|QB Deondre Francois||TBD||Florida, FSU||FSU- SIGNED|
|ATH D’Anfernee McGriff||TBD||Florida, Auburn, Miami, FSU||FLORIDA- SIGNED|
|OL Nick Buchanan||TBD||Florida, Georgia, California||FLORIDA- SIGNED|
|QB Lamar Jackson||TBD||Florida, Louisville||Louisville- SIGNED|
|DE Keivonnis Davis||TBD||Florida, Oregon State||FLORIDA- SIGNED|