Coming off a busy summer of official and unofficial visits, West Orange (Fla.) four-star wideout Jayden Gibson has narrowed his list to a top eight in July and is now set on making a commitment announcement sometime in September.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound wideout tweeted a top eight consisting of Auburn, Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Tennessee, and South Carolina – visiting seven of the eight in June and July
“So I took visits to Miami, Baylor, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, and South Carolina,” replied Gibson when asked about his summer trips.
According to Gibson, the visits served the dual purposes of being fact-finding missions as well as allowing him to have some fun with the recruiting process.
“I definitely took a good approach to the visits, making sure I was gathering all the information I needed while still enjoying it,” said Gibson. “Now I have all the information I need to make a decision, but I will possibly take another official visit before I decide, or maybe not. I'm not sure yet.”
Two of his summer trips were official visits to Baylor and Miami, meaning he still has three more to take if he wants. The issue though for Florida, even after saying in June that the one program assured of an official visit was the Gators, it sounds as if he has seen enough.
“It's not that they're not going to get one because I don't want to take one there,” Gibson said of a potential visit to UF. “I don't know if I have time to take all three official visits. I don't think I will be able to take any more official visits because I don't even think we have a bye. I could take one in the week between the regular season and the playoffs, so Florida said they want me to come for a [official] visit in December, and I would maybe do that.”
One of the reasons he is unsure about future official visits is that he has decided not to take his recruiting process out to the end. Gibson said he will be making his decision in a matter of weeks.
“I'm trying to have it all figured out in the next month, maybe the next month and a half or so,” explained Gibson. “I'm trying to get it done by mid to late September. I'm not going to narrow it down anymore from that eight, no one has been eliminated from it. I'm going to commit from off of that list.”
What seems to be the case is that the Gators are no longer in the driver's seat.
From the time Florida offered him in early February until now, the Gators have been seen as one of the favorites, if not the outright leader, to land Gibson.
Gibson is one of the few targets who has appeared in all four of Inside the Gator Mock Signing Classes to this point.
- Related: ITG Mock Signing Classes
If you are a Florida fan, what has to sting the most is what has hurt Florida's chances the most is his interactions with the man in charge of it all.
One of the most well-spoken, expressive prospects in this cycle, Gibson isn't afraid to let you know exactly what he is thinking at any given moment. In this instance though, he struggled with a way to describe his interactions with Florida's head coach.
“It's not necessarily like we're close or not close, it's more like Coach Dan Mullen is like, Coach Dan Mullen is just more like, what's the word, what's the better word, he's just like, you've just got to get used to, you've got to approach him a different way,” explained Gibson. “Like now, I think we have a good relationship and I like him a lot, and he's a great coach and all that stuff, but it takes longer to get to that point with him. I don't want to say he's less approachable, but he gives off a different vibe than other head coaches. He is more about business. His approach is he's more professional than personal. He talks about how great the education and the team is and how you can be developed there. I've talked to other people, historically, he's not into recruiting that way, he's more business. It can be a negative, but the truth is I don't take it that way now that I've got to know him because I'm okay with him being how he is. Coach Mullen is the boss (Gibson laughs while saying it), he isn't in there trying to laugh with me and get in good with me and be something that he's not. He's a businessman. He's serious about it. He's nice when you get to know him, but you have to get through his shell to get to know him first.”
On the other hand, Gibson said that his one and only in-person interaction with Georgia's Kirby Smart left him with a different impression.
“That was my first time there and being around Coach Smart,” explained Gibson. “He's more outgoing. We're sitting in his office talking and he has this passion for Georgia football that comes across in his energy. You can tell he's a really nice guy, full of energy, a positive coach for sure. I wish they would have recruited me sooner. Everything with them happened in the last month and a half. We haven't had time to build on it.”
As for assistant coaches, he said he has a couple that stand out the most.
“If I had to pick, I'll say three of them that I like the best are Coach [Rob] Likens of Miami. Me and him really have a great relationship. Coach Billy [Gonzales] and Coach [Justin] Stepp [South Carolina] are two more.”
Now with a decision timeline in focus, Gibson said that he is ready to put his commitment behind him and will do so based on the following criteria.
“What's important to me is going to the place I feel most comfortable at. All the schools I've narrowed it down to have done a good job showing that they feature bigger receivers. They all would give me a chance to play early. I'm not talking about handing me anything, but giving me the opportunity and do what you will with it. Really, I'm just trying to come to peace with my decision and know that I'll feel comfortable with the school that I choose. One day soon I know I'll just be able to say, this is where I see myself, this is where I'm going.”
The Inside Scoop: That was brutal to listen to. Gibson isn't someone who is scorned and lashing out, he struggled to say it as nicely as he could and put a positive spin on it, but he said what many already thought about Dan Mullen – that is he doesn't have the personal approach to recruiting to be a top-end recruiter when it comes to high school prospects. Florida was by far and away the team to beat when Gibson was leaving campus after the Summer Kickoff recruiting event. He stood there and said that UF was the one school guaranteed to get an official visit. Then, he went and met all these other coaching staffs face-to-face, and now I would bet UF is in no better than third place, and if you give Georgia another month, UF might fall to fourth. My money as of today would be on Miami to land him, but there’s still several weeks to go, so we'll see how it plays out.