Weekend Visitor Preview: Florida experiencing five-star fever

Sep 17, 2021 | 0 comments


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At the time it happened, we promoted the opening weekend of official visits back in June as Florida's biggest recruiting event of the cycle. And it was, back then. Now, it will be surpassed this weekend as not only the most talent brought in this cycle, but this is the most talented group of visitors the Gators have assembled at one time – ever.

UF is expecting 14 visitors who are rated as a five-star on the 247 Sports Composite to go along with another 40-plus visitors who are ranked as a four-star.

Inside the Gators has the breakdown.


The Commitments

Of Florida's 18 public commitments spread out over the class of 2022, 2023, and 2024, all but three are expected to attend the game this weekend.

Defensive end Francois Nolton Jr.‍ can't make it in because his Miami (Fla.) Edison team plays Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. He will officially visit for the Tennessee game.

Kicker Trey Smack‍ won't make it to the game.

2023 four-star tight end Mac Markway‍ told Inside the Gators earlier this week he won't be in, but will visit UF when they face Tennessee.

The Biggest Surprises

As we reported early Thursday, Inside the Gators was informed of a potential surprise visitor from IMG Academy. Going back to the spring, having four-star tight end Jaleel Skinner‍ on campus wouldn't exactly make waves. Florida was thought to be the leader. Then, over the next several months the Gators began losing ground until finally, he released a leaderboard that didn't include UF. However, here he is, scheduled to visit on Saturday.

He isn't the only surprise. Not long after UF canceled his June official visit, four-star safety JaCorey Thomas‍ committed to Georgia. This weekend, instead of attending the UGA home game that many other top prospects will be at, he will instead be in the Swamp.

Tampa (Fla.) Berkley Prep 2023 four-star linebacker Keon Keeley‍ has already pledged to Notre Dame, and we had been told in the past that he considered his recruiting process over and done with. However, he will be in town for the game. A note here, rather than ride with teammate CJ Hawkins, we were told he is coming with his parents. That changes the dynamics slightly. 

Though ITG has not been able to confirm it with five-star defensive lineman Mykel Williams‍ himself, Florida is expecting him on campus Saturday. The last time he visited Florida was for the Gators' Summer Kickoff event on June 1. He left saying great things about the Orange & Blue, but committed to Southern Cal. Now, with a coaching change out west, the door has been slightly opened for programs such as UF and UGA to get a foot inside.

Gautier (Ms.)2022 four-star offensive tackle Bryson Hurst‍ is committed to Ole Miss, but he might be at Florida for the game. He was considering UF before his pledge to the Rebels. We'll see if this unofficial visit helps convince him to take an official visit later this fall.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend, if not the cycle to this point is the Gators getting Tampa (Fla.) Hillsborough 2022 wideout Erriyon Knighton on campus. The Olympic sprinter was considered one of the top prospects in the state before he gave up football to concentrate on track – where he has signed an endorsement deal. How that could potentially impact his football eligibility, I don't know, but getting him on campus must mean that there is a possibility.

IMG Academy Visitors

Normally, you don't see many Brandenton (Fla.) IMG Academy players take visits during the season. Back in the summer when he decided to visit Georgia rather than go to Florida's Friday Night Lights Camp or Saturday Cookout, Kamari Wilson‍ asked Inside the Gators to hold on to that information until the start of the following week so as to not alert the school of his plans before he could do so himself when it was too late to change. Having said that, combined with the lack of success Florida has had recruiting the school, it has to be a big recruiting victory in itself just to get so many Ascenders on campus Saturday.

Not only will Wilson and Skinner be there, but top 2023 target Malik Bryant‍ is coming in along with other targets such as safety Joenel Aguero‍, offensive lineman Knijeah Harris‍ and others will be there.

They aren’t just coming in time to watch a game. They are scheduled to arrive at noon so they can tour the campus some, and take in the full game-day experience.

Last November an On the Mark column asked if Florida was finally going to make a move at IMG Academy because of the relationship they were building with then-head coach Bobby Acosta. He has since left for another program, but the Gators are making a push with the new staff.

Five-star Fever

Like any other game day weekend, not every visitor on the list will actually show up, and there will be some who show up who aren't on the list, but as it stands right now, even going back to the Urban Meyer days, going by their ranking on the 247 Sports Composite, this will be the most talent-laden visitor group ever assembled by a Florida staff.

By our count, it will feature 14 (that isn't a misprint) five-star rated prospects and over 45 others who are ranked as four-stars.

Yes, some might be on hand just to watch a good game, but anytime you can get a kid on campus, and they get to experience what the game atmosphere is sure to be on Saturday, that is a win-win for the Gators.

Here are the 14 five-star visitors expected in on Saturday

  • Joenel Aguero
  • Jaiden Ausberry
  • Jalen Brown
  • Malik Bryant
  • Vic Burley
  • Jahlil Hurley
  • Cormani McClain
  • Tony Mitchell
  • Walter Nolen
  • Jaheim Singletary
  • Evan Stewart
  • Mykel Williams
  • Kamari Wilson
  • Richard Young

Position-by-Position Highlights

QUARTERBACK

  • Nick Evers
  • Colin Hurley
  • Marcel Reed
  • Malachi Singleton

RUNNING BACK

  • Cedric Baxter Jr.
  • Anthony Carrie
  • Mark Fletcher Jr
  • Rod Gainey Jr.
  • Terrance Gibbs
  • Jerrick Gibson
  • Treyaun Webb
  • Richard Young

WIDE RECEIVER

  • Isaiah Bond
  • Jalen Brown
  • Raymond Cotrell
  • Karmello English
  • Jayden Gibson
  • Jaren Hamilton
  • Erriyon Knighton
  • Darren Lawrence
  • Zycari Lewis
  • CJ Smith
  • Evan Stewart
  • Creed Whittemore

TIGHT END

  • De'Carlo Donaldson
  • CJ Hawkins
  • Tony Livingston
  • Jaleel Skinner

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Daniel Calhoun
  • David Conner
  • Jalen Farmer
  • Knijeah Harris
  • Bryson Hurst
  • Tommy Kinsler
  • Payton Kirkland
  • Vysen Lang
  • Ramier Lewis
  • Eddy Pierre-Louis
  • Ja'Kavion Nonar
  • Qaeshon Sapp

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Reuben Bain
  • Vic Burley
  • Kelby Collins
  • Myron Green
  • Jordan Hall
  • Gabe Harris
  • Isaiah Hastings
  • Gavin Hill
  • Derrick LeBlanc
  • Jamari Lyons
  • Frenchi Mack
  • Chris McClellan
  • Walter Nolen
  • Tomarrion Parker
  • Jordan Phillips
  • Stantavious Smith
  • Jahkeem Stewart
  • John Walker
  • Shone Washington
  • Mykel Williams

LINEBACKER

  • Jaiden Ausberry
  • Malik Bryant
  • TJ Capers
  • Lewis Carter
  • Zavier Hamilton
  • Grayson Howard
  • Shemar James
  • Keon Keeley
  • EJ Lightsey

SECONDARY

  • Joenel Aguero
  • Austin Ausberry
  • Jamarrien Burt
  • Sharif Denson
  • Jonas Duclona
  • Fred Gaskin
  • Cedrick Hawkins
  • Jacari Henderson (maybe)
  • Demari Henderson (maybe)
  • Trevon Howard
  • Julian Humphrey
  • Jahlil Hurley
  • Antione Jackson
  • Kenton Kirkland
  • Terrance Love (maybe)
  • Cormani McClain
  • Tony Mitchell
  • Devin Moore
  • DJ Pickett
  • Desmond Ricks
  • Antonio Robinson
  • Shawn Russ
  • Jaheim Singletary
  • Jarell Stinson
  • Azareyeh Thomas
  • Jacorey Thomas
  • Makari Vickers
  • Ade Willie
  • Kamari Wilson
     

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