Friday Night Lights Recruiting Notebook

Jul 31, 2021 | 0 comments


Orlando (Fla.) Boone offensive linemen Leyton Nelson‍ told Inside the Gators earlier in the day that he planned on arriving to the camp at around 3:30 p.m. or so. And he did. However, he got pulled over by the police and they held him until his mother came to pick him up. He has his high school team media day on Saturday but still plans to drive to Gainesville when it's over.

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Gainesville (Fla.) Buchholz 2023 receiver Creed Whittemore was greeted by his brother, current Florida wide-out Trent Whittemore in the parking lot prior to his registering for Friday Night Lights. It isn't known whether or not the big brother shared any words of wisdom for his younger brother, but there's no doubt that the younger brother was one of the stars of the show. Creed isn't as tall as Trent, or as thick (then again, Trent was thin as a senior), but has a sure set of hands and is deceptively fast. He already has some early offers, it will be interesting to see how much interest Florida shows in him over the next 17-18 months.

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We touched briefly on the situation of Belleville (Mi.) three-star offensive lineman Ramier Lewis after he was a standout at Florida's June 25 Elite Camp. He was originally a member of the Class of 2021, but reclassified to the Class of 2022. The 6-foot-7, 370-pounder said that Florida is still showing him interest, but they want to see more of him this season.

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Pike Road (Ala.) 2023 offensive lineman Vysen Lang already has an offer from Florida. He was out at the IPF with his parents, who spent most of the drills speaking with a recruiting assistant while Vysen watched the offensive line positional drills. He said that though he wasn't camping, he would be at the Saturday BBQ.

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Though he didn't participate in the camp, Orlado (Fla.) Bishop Moore Catholic four-star receiver commit CJ Smith‍ spent a couple of hours on campus today for the first time since he pledged to the Gators. 

He said he had a chance to talk to the coaches as well as quarterback commit Nick Evers. He also wanted to make sure it was clear that he is 100% committed to the Orange & Blue. The only visits he has planned for this fall are to return to Gainesville to watch Gator games.

He and his father left about halfway through positional drills to head back home. He said he won't be attending the Saturday BBQ.

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Like Smith, some of the other top names in attendance didn't actually camp. That group included Miami (Fla.) Central four-star linebacker Wesley Bissainthe. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was greeted by both Christian Robinson and former Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes when he arrived at the Heavener Complex. He spent time during the camp with Assistant Director of Player Personel John Heron. Miami and Florida State are the teams to beat, but the Gators are trying to get a foot in the door.

Other top prospects who were spectators rather than campers was a group of prospects from Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson. 2022 five-star Sam McCall, 2023 five-star Cormani McClain, 2022 four-star Jaylon Glover‍ and 2022 three-star Jyvonte McClendon were escorted around by Assistant Director of Player Personel Kiewan Ratliff. They made the rounds on the sidelines talking to former Florida linemen Maurkice and Mike Pouncey as well as other prospects and Florida players.

Also on the trip with them was former Florida defensive tackle, and another Lakeland Dreadnaught, John Brown – who is the defensive line coach at Lake Gibson.

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From the time he was warming up in the IPF, through agility drills, and then on to positional drills, there was no doubt that Ridgeland (Ms.) 2023 four-star wideout Ayden Williams could be picked out of the crowd, and not just because of his hair color.

He came into the day with offers from the likes of Florida State and Oregon and had earned one from Florida before the night was through.

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Florida tight end coach Tim Brewster spent most of the warm-up time in the IPF speaking with Tampa (Fla.) Berkley Prep three-star commit CJ Hawkins‍, who looks like he has added some lower body muscle mass since we last saw him almost two months ago at the Summer Kickoff. 

According to Florida four-star linebacker commit Shemar James‍, that added size to go with above-average athleticism made him hard to handle during one-on-one drills

"We were going at it," James said of his battles with Hawkins. "It was pretty tough, he's the best competition I played against."

As fun as those battles were to watch, the biggest smile of the night had to come from Christian Robinson as he watched James go through agility drills in the IPF (he was also under the watchful eye of Todd Grantham).

James said that he, 'Missed C-Rob's bald head' and the highlight of his night was getting coached up by Robinson between reps.

The Mobile (Ala.) Faith Academy linebacker said that he also spent time on Friday with Nick Evers, CJ Smith, and Terrance Gibbs.

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Speaking of Gibbs, he was one of three commitments on the day. None of which came out of left field.

For a while now, it hasn't been a matter of if, but rather when Winter Park (Fla.) four-star back Gibbs would pull the trigger for the Orange & Blue.

He told ITG back on July 4 that the Gators were leading and he wanted to make his commitment before school started. He ended up going public on Friday in one of the better commitment videos ever made.

From the time he was first offered by Florida back in May, Milton (Fla.) 2023 four-star wideout Raymond Cottrell‍ has made it clear that he loved the Gators.

The only real surprise from Friday is that he worked out at all, much less looked as good as he did. During the week he informed ITG that he was injured and though he would be at the camp, didn't plan on participating.

Not only did he camp, but he looked great and ended up committing.

If he had committed a month earlier, we would have been referring to 2024 running back Jerrick Gibson as a hometown commitment, but instead, after he camped at Florida for their Elite Camp back on June 25, he moved to the Atlanta area. He returned to town to camp with Florida for a third time this summer and then committed to the Gators before leaving campus.I don't put much stock in commitments from prospects a cycle out, much less those who pull the trigger two years out, but at the very least, Florida is in a very good position with Gibson.

Quick Hitters

Former Miami commit, Gainesville (Fla. ) Buchholz wideout Quan Lee participated in the camp.

Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian 2025 quarterback Colin Hurley earned a post-camp offer from Florida.

After almost not even making the trip, Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep 2022 tight end De'Carlo Donaldson not only camped at Florida but will stay overnight for Saturday's BBQ. He said that at 6-foot-2, 215-pounds the UF coaches are trying to figure out where they want him to line up. He has committed to Tulane after early interest and offers from Florida State and Miami.

Florida three-star commit Jamarrien Burt lined up at both cornerback and wide out on Friday during one-on-one drills.

Tags: Recruit

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