Weekend Visitor Insider Recruiting Notebook I

Sep 20, 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 Alabama. Updates on five-star Samuel M'Pemba, four-stars Austin Ausberry, Cedrick Hawkins, and many more.

* Mcdonough (Ga.) Eagle's Landing Christian 2023 offensive tackle Zechariah Owens has already earned offers from Auburn, Georgia, and others, but not yet from Florida.

He said that he is in talks with John Hevesy, but he wasn't able to camp over the summer, so he understands why he is still waiting on the UF offer.  Owens said that he doesn’t have any early leaders and wants to get to several campuses, including camps next summer – including Florida – before he starts to sort through things.

* We've gone over the interesting story of Clearwater (Fla.) ACA 2022 offensive lineman Ramier Lewis already back in the summer. The 6-foot-7, 360-pounder reclassified from the Class of 2021 to this year. After a standout performance at Florida's Elite Camp at the end of June. He said that the Gators have offered and are talking to him about setting up an official visit in either the first or second week of December.

* Offensive line commit David Conner‍ also said that UF is talking to him about taking his official visit one of the first two weeks of December.

* Speaking of December official visits, Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab 2022 four-star cornerback Austin Ausberry‍ has a top-five of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, and Michigan. He said he will take his official visit to Auburn early next month and then will officially visit Florida on December 10. He isn't ready to narrow his list any further right now.

* 2023 Cocoa (Fla.) four-star cornerback Cedrick Hawkins camped with Florida over the summer, and he said that the reason he returned for the game Saturday boiled down to one word.

“Family,” replied Hawkins when asked what stood out about the Gators after he said he felt like UF, FSU, Ohio State and Nebraska were recruiting him the hardest early on.

* Going back to the spring of 2020, Florida was in very good shape for Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips four-star offensive tackle Payton Kirkland‍. Then, over the next year, the Gators seemed to fade a bit as other programs started trending upward.

The 6-foot-5 big man, who spent the last several months trimming down from 355 to 325, arrived at Saturday's game alongside friend, and rival, Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola defensive end Derrick LeBlanc‍.

"I spoke with coach [Dan] Mullen and [John] Hevesy," said Kirkland. "They were just glad to have me there." 

With offers from anyone who is anyone, Kirkland has his choice of schools, but has yet to put out a leaderboard. While he enjoyed his Saturday visit, he said nothing is going to move the needle for him at the moment.

"They are in the mix," Kirkland said of Florida. "There are no top schools."

* Florida offered LeBlanc, the No. 46 ranked prospect in the Class of 2023 according to the 247 Sports Composite, back in the spring and the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder visited Florida in June. He said that he doesn't have any leaders to name other than the top 10 he released back in January. Florida wasn't on that list, but they had yet to offer at that time. He did say that Florida is one of the schools recruiting him the hardest right now.

* Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage 2023 four-star running back Mark Fletcher said he is in regular contact with Florida running back coach Greg Knox. He already has offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Miami, and many others. He didn't want to name a leader, but said that he has always been a fan of the Hurricanes and that they were the first program to ever start recruiting him.

* Though he still has a couple of more years of recruiting to go, 2024 Miami (Fla.) Columbus four-star linebacker TJ Capers already has offers from the likes of Florida and Miami. 

The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder said that he mostly talks to Assistant Personnel Director John Herron at this point.

"Hova talks to me and asked me to come up for the game," said Capers. "I want to watch a good game and see what it's like here."

* Another visitor who has two more cycles to go is The Woodlands (Tx.) 2024 quarterback Mabrey Mettauer.

The 6-foot-6, 215-pounder was just offered by Florida a little over a week ago, and immediately decided to set up a visit for Saturday.

After the game he absolutely raved about the game and the Gators, telling Inside the Gators for our Recruit Reaction that he fell in love with Florida during the game.

"I talked to Coach [Garrick] McGee a lot on the field. He was happy to have me out and coach [Dan] Mullen went out of his way to come to meet me. And I hung out with some of the other quarterback recruits."

When it comes to recruiting, there’s nothing but positives to report on Winter Park (Fla.) four-star commit Terrance Gibbs‍. Before the game he said he is solid to Florida and doesn't have any other visits set up. However, it wasn’t all good. While he said he expects to be cleared to practice next spring, he was still walking with a noticeable limp on Saturday.

* This was the first visit of the fall to anywhere for Fort Pierce (Fla.) John Carroll 2023 four-star defensive end Wilky Denaud. He said he might make it to Miami for a game next. He said he is hearing the most from Florida, Miami, Mississippi State, Florida State and Penn State. He said he doesn't think about recruiting much this early but if he had to name a leader it would be Florida – then added 'maybe'.

"I mean every time I make an appearance with them they always are very excited to see me," said Denaud, who camped at UF over the summer before returning to for the game Saturday. "This definitely boosts my feelings towards Florida just because of the atmosphere and how they are a family there."

* Florida first offered Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy 2023 five-star athlete Samuel M'Pemba‍ back in the spring. Because he took a trip back to Africa over the summer, he had to put recruiting, camps, and unofficial visits on the backburner. 

He did make it to Florida on Saturday.

M'Pemba said he mostly hung around his fellow Ascender teammates Devin Hyatt, Kamari Wilson, Jaleel Skinner, and Rod Gainey Jr. while on campus.

"That was my first college game so for that to be my first experience, it was great. I didn’t really talk to the coaches, but the visit helped Florida a little bit." 

The trip will play a part when he drops his first leaderboard.

He said he grew up a fan of Alabama and some of the programs he likes early are the Tide, the Gators, USC, Arizona State, Washington, Notre Dame, and Oregon – and added that he will be releasing a top schools list soon.

* 2023 four-star quarterback Malachi Singleton‍ has early offers from Arkansas, Georgia, Louisville, Miami and others, but hasn't received one yet from Florida. He is a cousin of current Florida player Trent Whittemore.

"I didn’t get to speak too much to the coaches because I didn’t get there until they were warming up, but I said what’s up to Coach Mullen and talked to Coach [Derrick] McGee a little bit."

He did spend time around other visitors.

"Cayden Lee, KJ Bolden, Isaiah Bond, Debron Gatling, Jaleel Skinner – a little – and Creed Whittemore."

* Yet another 2023 visitor was Phenix City (Ala.) Central four-star defensive lineman Tomarrion Parker visited Florida over the summer and then he was back on campus on Saturday.

"The game was great and I talked with Coach [Kelvin] Bolden for a little bit," said Parker. "I talked with PK [Payton Kirkland], Karmello English, and Mykel Williams."

Back in July Parker released a top seven consisting of Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Penn State, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. He still has the same programs on top but said the visit, 'helped keep Florida as one of the top schools."

* 6-foot-4, 200-pound Birmingham (Ala.) Briarwood Christian three-star quarterback Christopher Vizzina already has offers from Arkansas, Georgia Tech and others, but is seeing increased attention from other programs.

"New schools are starting to come in every week," said Vizzina. "So I really wouldn’t say there are any leaders. But I have always been interested in UF. An offer from them would be beyond amazing."

He added that he is in contact with Garrick McGee, who he said tells him how much he likes his athleticism. One of the things holding up an offer is that he wasn't able to camp at Florida over the summer because he said the dates didn't match up. 

"The visit was awesome I’ve always wanted to visit Florida since I was little," said Vizzina. "All the coaches and staff were very interested in me and my family and made sure we knew everything about the university."

* Finally, 2023 Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep five-star Jalen Brown visited campus for the second time in the last several months.

"I talked to Coach Mullen and he said I’m a good player and he would love for me to be a Gator and help bring championships to UF.

Brown said he doesn't have a leaderboard, but one advantage that could work in Florida's favor is that Brown is good friends with current Gators wideout commit Raymond Cottrell‍.

Brown said that the two of them hung out during the game.


Cory Benavides and Chris Will contributed to this report

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