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 four-star commit Isaiah Bond, targets Keon Keeley, Isaiah Hasting, and more.2023 Tampa (Fla.) Berkley Prep four-star Keon Keeley has already committed to Notre Dame, but he still holds a soft spot for Florida.
“Yes, I am already committed to Notre Dame,” said Keeley. “It's a great school, and I love it. I love Notre Dame, and it’s the right place for me, but I’ve always held Florida as a special place in my heart. To get the opportunity to get to come to see my home-state favorite team, who I grew up watching, it's great.”
According to Keeley, Florida's staff is recruiting him as hard as they did before his commitment to the Irish.
They’re talking to me about watching me become great on the field and be the best man I can be.”
Notre Dame is a great fit, but I really do still love Florida and the staff here is amazing
Not only is the Florida staff recruiting Keeley, but his high school teammate, Florida commit CJ Hawkins is on him as well.
“CJ’s always on me 100-percent,” Keeley replied while laughing. “He wants me to come up there with him. He loves Florida and stays on me about them.”
The Inside Scoop: As a Class of 2023 prospect, there’s still a long way to go here, but he is absolutely a flip candidate for Florida. If the Gators can get him back on campus this fall, and then next summer, and next fall to visit Hawkins, UF can win this battle.
Two weeks ago I would have told you that Florida was fighting an uphill battle for Canadian transplant, 2022 defensive tackle Isaiah Hastings. But after Saturday, I’d put the Gators right in the thick of things.
When he visited UF for the season opener, I was told that the feeling was that he would probably be more comfortable signing with a school up north to be closer to his home base, but Hastings told Inside the Gators that he is becoming more and more comfortable with living in the Sunshine State (though he did show up wearing all black head to toe).
“Honestly, being up north is nice because it's close to home, but location is starting not to matter that much to me,” explained Hastings. “I want to go to the place that can develop me to be the best player I can be.”
Florida has sold him on the ability to develop him, and now he is starting to see the Gators in a new light.
“I’m really interested in everything Florida has to offer and I’m happy I got to enjoy the environment again and spend some time with the coaches.”
He is becoming a hot commodity, earning an offer from Georgia within the last week. However, he is still taking the process slowly, with just one official visit planned.
“The only official visit I've set up so far is with Oregon for October 15th. I’m going to come back here again too, but I’m not sure when, I haven’t set it up.”
The Inside Scoop: This is how quickly things change in recruiting. Two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have given Florida much of a chance mostly because I was told he wanted to head back up north, but he sounded anything but set on that when I spoke with him on Saturday. However, things are heating up for him. Not only did he get the UGA offer last week, but Alabama jumped on board with an offer on Sunday.
Back when he committed to Florida, Buford (Ga.) four-star wide receiver Isaiah Bond had both Alabama and Miami as finalists. So naturally, it was concerning to some in the Gator Nation when he decided to spend the opening weekend of the season watching the Tide dismantle the Hurricanes in Atlanta.
Did he go simply to watch a good game or because he is interested in the participants?
"A little bit of both," replied Bond. "They're both in my top three schools and I also saw a good game between two top programs in the country."
Though he says he has a top three consisting of UF, UA, and UM, he made it clear that he considers himself committed to just one program.
"I'm 100-percent committed to Florida."
Alabama initially recruited Bond as a defensive back rather than his preferred position of wide receiver but now they are coming around.
"They said I could play both ways at Alabama," said Bond. "When I went there and they found out I wanted to play offense, the coaching staff that had been recruiting me had kind of switched, but they said it's a long way until signing day, so they aren't going to stress that I'm committed to Florida."
Though they are off to a rough start this season, Miami finds themselves still in the picture to a degree.
"Miami and Florida were my dream schools growing up, so."
It isn't like the Gators staff is throwing in the towel. Bond said that he stays in constant contact with UF.
"The message is they can't wait for me to get down here," said Bond.
The Inside Scoop: Yes, I believe Bond when he says he is committed to Florida, but it’s never good news when a committed prospect claims he still has a top three. It will be worth watching to see if he takes a trip to Tuscaloosa this fall.
A flip that could work in Florida’s favor could come in the form of Naples (Fla.) 2022 three-star defensive back Devin Moore.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder was high on the Gators before eventually pledging to Notre Dame.
That commitment has stopped UF from pursuing him or him from attending Saturday's game.
“I have a friend playing in it, Derek Wingo, and I have a couple of boys on each team, so I wanted to come support all of them and see the two teams play,” replied Moore when asked about the reason behind his visit.
Though he may not have picked them, Florida’s coaching staff isn't waving a white flag.
“Someone from Florida is in contact with me in some way every day,” said Moore. “I talk to Coach [Dan] Mullen, Coach [Todd] Grantham or Coach Jules [Monitar] every day. I also talk to Coach [Keiwan] Ratliff too. It’s a daily thing with them.”
After getting him on campus this weekend, UF is now trying to get him to return for an official visit.
“They’ve talked to me about it, but I’m not sure if I’ll take any more officials,” said Moore.
According to Moore, Alabama is still after him as well and the Tide are trying to set up an official visit.
When asked if he would commit to officially visiting the winner of Saturday's game, Moore laughed, but said no.
The reason being, he said he is still firm with the Irish.
“It's still as strong as it’s ever been. I talk to them every day and I have a great relationship with the coaches.
The Inside Scoop: There might be a little crack in the door here, but for the most part, Moore sounded solid with Notre Dame. We’ll see if UF can get him back on campus for an unofficial or official visit.
The last time Inside the Gators spoke with 2023 Warner Robins (Ga.) five-star defensive lineman Victor Burley was after Florida's Summer Kickoff event on June 1.
Back then he had great things to say about the Gators after spending the day touring the facilities, campus and visiting with the coaches.
“The first time I was here it was a great experience being able to put voices to faces and getting to know the coaches better. Now I'm getting a chance to see what a game is like here between two great programs. It's just a good time.”
Being a five-star, Burley isn't without options.
As a matter of fact, Georgia asked him to visit on Saturday for their game against South Carolina, but instead, he decided to travel to Gainesville.
“Really, Florida asked me first, probably about a week before and I said yeah, so I committed to coming here when Georgia asked me a couple of days later, but I really wanted to come back down here to see Coach Turner and Coach Rat. They said they want to get me down here and keep me.”
Now UF can only hope that committing to them over UGA becomes a trend.
It will be a while before he is ready to pull the trigger at all.
“I don't have anyone right now," replied Burley when asked for early leaders. “Really I don't know who I like. I’ll say whoever shows me they can coach me up the best and where I can get the best education.
The Inside Scoop: The good news is Florida got him on campus again when he had other options. Other than that, he didn't give up anything of significance.
On Saturday Fitzgerald (Ga.) three-star linebacker commit EJ Lightsey visited Florida for the second time in three weeks.
While quite a few prospects visited simply to see two top teams go at it, Lightsey said he had a different mission in mind.
“I’m coming down whenever I can to be around the coaches and players to get to know everyone better and get comfortable with everyone. Coach Rob [Christian Robinson] can't call me like he was, but we still text every day and he is on me as hard as before I committed."
According to Lightsey, a few other SEC programs have kept in contact as well.
“Auburn, Georgia, and Kentucky are the three that are still recruiting me," said Lightsey.
However, he said he doesn't plan on visiting any of them and his only visits will be to make the trip back to Gainesville.
The Inside Scoop: Lightsey is as solid as can be. Enough said.