25 2023 in-state prospects the Gator Nation needs to know

Feb 25, 2022 | 0 comments

Now that the books are closed on the Class of 2022 it is time to turn our full attention to the Class of 2023. Though there are over 10 months remaining in this cycle before the early signing period, it's never too early to pay attention to those who are top targets in the recruiting cycle.

Keep in mind, the prospects listed aren't on commitment watch, or even the top targets on the board, but rather 25 prospects from the Sunshine State in the Class of 2023 that the Gator Nation needs to keep an eye on over the spring to see where they stand after visiting Florida and elsewhere.

Cedric Baxter – The former Florida State commit was high on Florida's previous staff, but he hasn't had much of a chance to get to know the new guys. With that being the case, though they were surging with him at times last year, the Gators currently sit on the outside looking in. If they can't get him on campus and makeup ground in the next two months, he won't be on our list of prospects to follow over the summer.

Malik Bryant – The five-star unofficially visited Florida back in January, and that helped vault the Gators to the top of his list along with Alabama, Georgia, and Miami, but he doesn't have an outright leader. At this past weekend's UA Next camp he spoke of visiting Alabama and Georgia over the spring but didn't talk of a return trip to Gainesville. It will be interesting to see how his rankings take shape over the course of this cycle. He didn't have a great junior season and he looked out of place as a hand in the dirt rush end at UA Next.

Wilky Denaud – Though they couldn't close worth a damn, you have to give the prior staff credit for getting kids on campus at the very least. Then again, that isn't hard to do at Florida. He was a standout at a June camp session last season and then had a very good day Sunday at UA Next. He has been in contact with the new Gators staff and said that he will for sure visit Florida and Florida State in March, but hadn't locked in the dates. We'll see what happens with the rankings, but as of today, if given the choice, I would take No. 277 rated Denaud over No. 23 rated Bryant.

Sharif Denson – Two years ago, Denson was on the fast track to being one of the top-rated prospects in this class. For now, it doesn't look like he will reach the heights expected of him, but he is still a solid four-star – who grew up as a Florida fan. However, the Gators are in on some of the top cornerback prospects in the nation, meaning we won't get a better feel for where he stands on the Gators' board until after the spring evaluation period at the very soonest – and perhaps not until we see where some of these five-star corners land.

Jordan Hall – He visited Florida a couple of times last summer, first for a camp session and then he returned for the Prospect Cookout in the Indoor Practice Facility – where he was joined by former Gator Great, and mentor, Derrick Gaffney. He then took an unofficial visit in January to meet with some of the new staff and is scheduled to return in March. The Gators have to do a better job recruiting the First Coast under this staff, and he is one of the biggest (literally and figuratively) in the area.

Jaren Hamilton – The only local product on the list, the Gainesville (Fla.) PK Yong wideout was offered by the previous staff. We'll see if the new staff shows interest during the evaluation period. He is a deep ball standout.

Cedrick Hawkins – Throughout much of last year he was torn between Florida and Florida State, with the Gators holding the slightest of an edge. Now, he is committed to Ohio State. However, don't be shocked if he is part of the evaluation process this spring. One thing though, he is listed as a safety on the Composite, and he has a lot of bulk to add if that is where he projects on the next level. For now, speed and athleticism are the names of his game.

Grayson Howard – He first started to come to the forefront last spring at the Elite Underclassman Combine. He then visited Florida last season when the Gators took on Florida Atlantic. He was forming a relationship with Christian Robinson, but will get a chance to start to bond with Mike Peterson when he visits campus on March 5th. Jacksonville (Fla.) Jackson used to be a powerhouse but has fallen off over the last decade. This could be UF's chance to get back in the school and city, but he is building one of the most impressive offer lists in the area, including offers from Clemson and Georgia.

Roderick Kearney – Though he admittingly grew up a Florida fan, the previous staff dragging their feet in recruiting him has opened the door for other programs to very much get involved. He was wearing a Florida State camp shirt at the UA Next camp last weekend but said not to read anything into it. FSU, UF, and Michigan are some programs he said he will visit this spring.

Keon Keeley – Before he committed to Notre Dame, Florida looked to be a strong contender for his services. Then, last year when he visited with his teammate, then UF tight end commit CJ Hawkins, he sounded an awful lot like he could flip to the Orange & Blue. We'll have to see where that stands now that Hawkins is at Stanford and Florida has a new coaching staff.

Payton Kirkland – Two years ago, Florida jumped out to an early lead for Kirkland. So much so, that in our first interview with him back in June of 2020, he called Florida and Penn State his co-leaders. Then, he was always a go-to for our weekly Recruit Reaction piece because he was sure to have watched the Gators' game. Things started falling off last year though, and the Gators have some ground to make up to some out-of-state programs. The new staff will get a chance to make a great first impression when he visits the first week of March.

Darren Lawrence – The one time Florida commit told Inside the Gators that he is in constant contact with new receivers coach Keary Colbert and he will visit Florida on March 3rd. With this being a deep class at receiver in-state, you have to wonder where Lawrence stands on the board pre-spring.

Derrick LeBlanc – Though the rankings don't indicate it at this time, LeBlanc might just be the top overall defensive lineman in the state in this cycle. He has the body type to play strongside end or perhaps grow into a tackle. He visited Florida's new staff in January and will return to campus in March. A decision might not be too far off into the future. Florida has to make a big impression next month.

Bryce Lovett – After being an Elite Camp standout last June under the previous staff, he was offered this month by the new regime. During Sunday's UA Next Camp he spoke highly of the Gators and said he plans on visiting campus this spring.

Francis Mauigoa – He and teammate Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy teammate Aliou Bah unofficially visited Florida last year for the Vanderbilt game. Bah ended up signing with Georgia, but the Gators are still on Mauigoa and he tweeted out earlier this week that he will visit Gainesville on March 5th. Though he is playing his senior season in Florida, he is originally from California.

Cormani McClain – The No. 1 overall rated prospect in the Sunshine State has Florida as one of his stated top five from back in November, but there's been a complete coaching change at two of those five (Florida and Miami) since then. Historically, UF doesn't do well at Lake Gibson, but now there is a tie with Braves head coach Keith Barefield having worked for Billy Napier at Lousiana.

Samuel M'Pemba – After visiting Florida last year for the Alabama game he released a top 12 which included the Gators. That of course was under the previous staff. He tweeted out that he will have a chance to better get to know the new staff when he visits on March 5th.

Isaiah Nixon – Is he a defensive end or a tight end on the next level is one question that could be answered during the spring evaluation period. He has made his name on the defensive side of the ball, but then played tight end at UA Next this past weekend. Florida is one of many programs which have offered him early on and he is scheduled to visit with the Gators in March. As far as leaders are concerned, he said he doesn't have any.

Will Norman – If there is a reason for the Gator Nation to feel really good about a prospect early on, it would be Norman, who after visiting in January has taken every chance to talk up Florida.

Lucas Simmons – He visited Florida twice last season, including seeing the Alabama game along with his defensive line teammate Isaiah Hastings – who ended up signing with the Tide. Simmons has been offered by the new staff, but from the sounds of it from Sunday's UA Next Camp, the Gators have some work to do to be a real player for his services. Originally from Sweeden, he doesn't have deep roots when it comes to college football, leaving him open to whatever schools that make a big impression on him over the spring. He may have the highest ceiling of any offensive lineman in the state this cycle.

Richard Young – Much the same as when we saw him last spring at the UC Report Camp, this past weekend at the UA Next Camp though he mentioned Florida, he still seemed to be looking more toward out-of-state programs. The Gators ace-in-the-hole could be support staff member Jamar Chaney, the cousin of Young's head coach James Chaney.

John Walker – Being a four-star, No. 23 ranked prospect in the state according to the 247 Sports Composite is nothing to sneeze at, but that still feels a little low for Walker, who is a monster in the making. Speaking with him at Sunday's UA Next Camp, it is clear that he is wide open. He visited Florida back in January and will return in March. He also said that he has three out-of-state official visits already on the books. He will go to OSU, UM, and USC over the summer. You can bet he will see a couple of Florida games this season as well.

Treyaun Webb – He has already had two decommitments and is now looking to come out with a new leaderboard. The nephew of former Gator great Dee Webb, Treyaun has been on Florida's campus numerous times and is scheduled to return the first week of March. One thing about him is though he is listed as a running back, he might be a better prospect as an athlete – perhaps even slotted as a defensive back.

Tyler Williams – He camped at Florida last year as a prospect who was at that time better known for his basketball playing ability. Now, coming up on a year later he has double-digit offers. Normally, you like Florida to be a player for a coveted prospect from Lakeland. We'll see this spring if it is trending that way for this new staff.

Eugene Wilson – Florida just offered the UA Next Camp standout this week and he told Inside the Gators he is headed to campus on March 1st. He said that though he is listed as an athlete, Florida receivers coach Keary Colbert wants him at his position.

Tags: Sport

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