Weekend Unofficial Visitor Insider Recruiting Notebook

Sep 7, 2021 | 0 comments

Inside the Gators has the latest news, quotes, and observations from the prospects who were in town for Florida's game against Florida Atlantic. Updates on five-star Sonny Styles, four-stars Derrick LeBlanc, Grayson Howard, and many more.

Top 10 Prospect Impressed with Campus and Staff

Pickerington (Ohio) Central 2023 five-star safety Sonny Styles‍ is the No. 8 rated prospect in the nation according to the 247 Sports Composite.

He and his family flew out of the midwest Saturday morning and arrived in Florida at 1 p.m. in order to look around before the game. They got a tour of campus, did the photoshoot, and walked University Ave to see all the activity before going to the stadium for the pre-game warm-ups and meeting with the coaches before the game.

They drove out after the game, stayed in Lake City, and then drove to Tallahassee for the Florida State-Notre Dame game on Sunday before flying back home earlier today.

When asked what stood out the most to him, Styles replied, "The highlight of the visit for me was the educational part, Florida is the No. 6 ranked public school in the country, which is amazing in regards to the fact that they are also a powerhouse in football!"

He said that he got to spend time with multiple coaches during the visit.

"I spoke with all of the secondary coaches as well as Coach [Dan] Mullen, and Coach [Tim] Brewster," said Styles. "They were just excited for me to be there and looking forward to building a relationship." 

He was asked if one visit stood out over the other, but he wouldn't play, "I don’t really want to compare the two visits they were both quite enjoyable. Both schools are great universities and have great programs, and I will take a deeper look into them."

Styles said he is unsure of when he will release a leaderboard.""Another top-rated 2023 prospect who was in attendance was Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola four-star defensive end Derrick LeBlanc‍, the No. 46 rated prospect in the next cycle according to the 247 Sports Composite.

"The highlight was when Dan Mullen and Coach [David] Turner took the time out of their day to stand there and talk to me because they had a game and all about ready to go on but they stood there asking me about how my family's doing and things like that. It's those little things that matter to me the most."

“They told me to take my time, but you know where home is," LeBlanc said of his discussion with the coaches. "After that, I talked to Brendon Cox and [Zach] Carter, and they were more direct about it. They told me I need to come here and get developed. I liked talking to all of them a lot."

It won't be the last time he sees them this month.

LeBlanc said he will visit Miami this Saturday for their game against Appalachian State. He will then return to Florida the following weekend when the Gators take on Alabama. He will be attending that game with A.G. Waseem – who co-founded Rat Pack 7-v-7 with Keiwan Ratliff before it disbanded – and several members of the Certified Dawgs program, including his high school teammate, four-star defensive tackle John Walker

LeBlanc said that the Top 10 he released back in January is out of date now, and he has other programs he is focused on, but he isn't ready to put out another list of favorites.

He did however say that some programs are sticking out to him based on how hard they are recruiting him.

"I'd say Florida, Ohio State, Clemson, Texas A&M, Alabama, and Miami."""Clearwater (Fla.) CAI teammates, 2022 defensive lineman Isaiah Hastings‍ and 2023 offensive lineman Lucas Simmons made it in. 

Hastings, who was a star at Florida's Elite Camp back in June (6/25 Camp Insider – Recruiting News, Notes & Observations) included Florida in his top eight back in August. However, after speaking with him, he sounded as though Florida wasn't exactly the team to beat.

A positive here is that though his teammate Simmons was at the game, Hastings didn't ride along with him. He made his own arrangements to attend the game, which shows more than just a passing interest in the Gators.

I was told that though he had a good time, UF still has some work to do here as even though he came down south to play his high school season, he has all but written off the possibility of playing his college ball in the south. That could change if the Gators can continue to get him on campus this fall, but don’t hold your breath.

As for Simmons, the 6-foot-7, 300-pounder is starting to gain some early Power 7 offers and said that Florida has only started recruiting him here lately.

"I’m just building a connection with them," Simmons said of the Gators. "I’ve talked to coach Kirby [O'Meara] and Coach [John] Hevesy the most."""As for the other 2022 defensive tackle at the game, Ocoee (Fla.) three-star Jordan Phillips‍ may have told Inside the Gators that though he loved his visit to Florida, he was firm to Tennessee. 

However, from those at the game, they said that they thought he was as much into the game and rooting for Florida as any of the other prospects. One other visitor who hung around Phillips said that he thinks he really likes Florida the most.

With the Gators’ defensive tackle board a lot smaller than it was over the summer when Phillips pledged to the Volunteers, UF will be amping up the pressure on him.""2023 Brunswick (Ga.) defensive tackle Ka'Shawn Thomas is an interesting prospect. He isn't ranked at all by 247 Sports, or the Composite, but is a four-star on Rivals. He reports offers from the likes of Auburn and South Carolina, but on Florida's list of visitors, he wasn't included with the top kids at the top.

He said the UF coaches talked to him briefly. It sounds like it will take a big junior season or maybe attending camp to get the Gators' further attention.""Hawthorne (Fla.) quarterback Tyler Jefferson said that he didn't speak with any of the Florida coaches while he was at the game, but he has spoken with area recruiter John Hevesy before. 

Before his arrival, I was told that UF liked him as more of an athlete, but after the game, he told me all of the schools recruiting him, including Florida, are recruiting him as a quarterback.

"When speaking on my recruiting they are recruiting me as a quarterback and they said that they definitely want to see film from these games of the beginning of my junior year."

After playing for Fort White, he transferred to Hawthorne to play for former Florida tight end Cornelius Ingram. and that will allow him to see Florida and be seen more often.""Jacksonville (Fla.) Andrew Jackson 2023 four-star linebacker Grayson Howard‍ just received an offer from Florida, but the Gators are already going all-in on him.

"I talked to Coach C-Rob [Christian Robinson] and he made it clear that I was a priority," stated Howard. "I can tell he's a genuine person, family man, and coach. I also met Coach [Dan] Mullen and Coach [Todd] Grantham."

Not only did Robinson make a positive impression, but so did the crowd.

"I thought the game was great, it was a lit atmosphere!" said Howard.

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