Recruiting Quick Hitter: Top tight end targets visit

Quick Hitter: Bradley, Jones & Piening

by Inside the Gators Staff

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On Saturday, Florida played host to what may be their top three overall tight end targets in the 2025 recruiting cycle.


Over the weekend Buford (Ga.) three-star tight end Hayden Bradley visited Florida for the first time.

According to Bradley, the highlight of his visit was meeting with Florida’s head coach.

“Meeting with Coach [Billy] Napier in his office,” said Bradley. “His message was that I’ll fit in great at Florida. He said I would 100% fit in here and will have a good advantage coming in there after being at Buford.”

Despite its recent dismal on the field showing, Bradley said he expects Florida to come out of their three-year slump in 2024.

“I feel like this year is going to be a lot different,” stated Bradley. “There’s more chemistry and the guys are flying around at practice.”

The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder has a packed spring visit schedule, with trips remaining to Ole Miss (3/22), Texas A&M (3/27), Michigan (4/5), Georgia Tech (4/10), South Carolina (4/19), and Colorado (4/26).

He will then take his first official visit when he trips to Miami the first week of June.

After his visits, he can start to put together his list of leaders, but as of today, he maintains that he is still looking around.

“There’s no leaderboard yet,” said Bradley. “I’m still open in my recruitment. Florida definitely ‘wowed’ me. I’m looking to make another trip [to Gainesville].”


Though 6-foot-4, 200-pound, three-star tight end Caden Piening currently resides in Ohio, playing his high school football at Cincinnati (Ohio) Anderson, he lived in Orlando until a few years ago.

On Saturday he made a return trip to the Sunshine State in order to take in a Florida spring practice.

“Being from Ohio, the highlight of the visit was just being able to attend a spring practice and get quality face time with Coach [Russ] Callaway and Coach [Billy] Napier. I ended the day with a hour-long meeting with Coach Callaway. We discussed how my versatility as a dual-threat tight end fit extremely well in their offense and what they are looking to build.”

Now, he will look to compare what he saw at UF to what other programs have to offer.

According to Piening, he has several upcoming visits already scheduled.

“I will be at UCF March 11th, Louisville March 19th, Michigan State March 28th, and Pitt April 4th.”

He said he has one official visit scheduled, and another planned, but the date isn’t finalized.

“I have an official set for Louisville for June 7th-9th,” said Piening. “I got the official visit dates for Florida, so I am going to sit down and talk it over with my family and get a date set. I’m working on others as well.”

With over 20 offers to date, Piening has plenty of options to choose from. And while he has yet to officially narrow things down, he said that some programs are starting to separate themselves from the pack.

“The places I’m visiting for spring practices (Florida, Louisville, Michigan State, Pitt, and UCF) and official visits (Louisville and UF) are the main schools that I’m focusing on, but I am very blessed to be in this position.”

As for Florida, they made a positive first impression and will have a chance to build on that according to how the 2024 season plays out.

“For a school that was barely even on my radar two months ago, this visit has really opened my eyes on the true possibility of me finding a home in Gainesville. A winning season absolutely matters. Florida had one of the youngest teams which shows me they are willing to develop young guys. After watching practice I believe Coach Napier and the Gators have a promising future.”


While Bradley and Piening were making their first visits to Florida, Madison (Ms.) Central three-star tight end Micah Jones has been on campus multiple times.

This past weekend though was a bit different in that not only did he get to see the Gators practice, he had a chance to follow true freshman running back Kahnen Daniels for the day, to see what their routine is as a player.

“The shadow visits are important,” said Jones. “You get to see, and be a player and student for a whole day. I think it was a really nice visit, and a really important visit for my recruitment.”

What did Jones learn?

“I got to ask him questions and see how his experience has been. The weather, you know the place. The coaches, with how you talk to them now is what you’re going to get even becoming a player. He told me early enrolling would be a good thing for me.

Before NIL became a thing, recruiting was based primarily on relationships.

According to Jones, he feels like there are four coaches who he believes he has the best relationships with.

“Coach [Russ] Callaway being one of them,” said Jones. “I have a good relationship with Coach [Joel] Cox at Ole Miss, because he recruited me when he was at Alabama. Those two, and then Coach [Slade] Nagle (LSU), he’s been recruiting me. And Coach [Bryan] Ellis from Alabama.”

Though he didn’t want to name leaders, and said that he will come out with his leaderboard in April or May, he did say that the four SEC programs he mentioned above are starting to seperate themselves from th crowd.

“Those four (Alabama, Florida, LSU and Ole Miss) have definitely separated themselves. Colorado newly offered, and I have been talking to them. They are getting up there too.”

The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder said that he has yet to schedule any official visits, but there’s a good possiblity that UF could receive one in June.

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