Over the weekend Florida played host to some of the top 2023 and 2024 prospects from across the nation. Inside the Gators caught up with several of them for the second of two Insider Visitor Notebooks.
FLORIDA IS AMONG TOP SCHOOLS FOR FOUR-STAR LINEMAN
Almost three years ago Highland Home (Ala.) four-star defensive end Keldric Faulk was a little known, somewhat scrawny, freshman football player who came in at No. 5 overall (situated right between Nick Elksnis at No. 4 and Anthony Richardson at No. 6) in our Ranking of the top Florida campers in the summer of 2019.
Now he is a 6-foot-6, 240-pound edge rusher who unofficially visited Florida this past weekend.
"The highlight of my day would be getting to see practice and talking with Coach [Sean] Spencer and Coach [Billy] Napier," said Faulk. "They said they like my length and athletic ability, that I could play multiple positions such as defensive end and outside linebacker."
Faulk said that while football was a focal point, he spent time on the total experience.
"I got to see the academic center and a little bit of practice. That's what stood out to me because it's fast-paced and everyone had great energy."
According to Faulk, up next are visits to Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and Ole Miss.
When asked about forming a leaderboard, he responded with, "Clemson, Flordia State, Oklahoma, Florida, and Auburn are leading right now."
FIVE-STAR LIKES THE DIRECTION UF IS HEADING
During the last cycle the previous Florida staff swung for the fences at Buford (Ga.) High School, but ended up striking out when previous pledge Isiah Bond took his talents to Alabama.
The new coaching staff came up to the plate again this weekend, and while it may not have been an immediate home run, it appears as though they at least made contact when it comes to Class of 2024 five-star defensive back KJ Bolden.
After visiting Florida last September, along with Bond, for the Alabama game, he was back on campus Saturday.
"The visit was great," said Bolden. "I for sure like the direction the Gators are headed in and I can't wait to see them this season."
The No. 5 rated prospect in the nation according to the On3 Consensus, told Inside the Gators that he had a chance to talk to several UF coaching staff members.
"I spoke with receiver [Keary Colbert] and defensive back [Corey Raymond] coaches," said Bolden. "They said they liked my film and that I would fit in."
It's still incredibly early in the recruiting process, but Bolden said some programs are starting to stand out to him.
"Right now it's still Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Texas A&M, FSU, Florida, Notre Dame, and a few more," replied Bolden when asked about leaders before then adding he has a timetable for naming leaders. "I want to narrow it down after this season."
He said that up next are trips to Alabama, Ohio State, Texas, and Texas A&M.
BEING OFFERED BY UF FEELS AMAZING
On Saturday Rockledge (Fla.) 2024 four-star cornerback Jaylen Heyward, the No. 73 rated prospect in his class according to the On3 Consensus, earned an offer from Florida while on campus for an unofficial visit.
WOWW!! Blessed to receive a(n) offer from The University of Florida!!🐊🔵🟠 @coach_bnapier @Jamar51Chaney @CoachBateman @JoeHamilton__ @UF_CoachRaymond @GatorsFB @CoachYounger14 @TRONE2 @bryceLovett55 @7_djjjj @traven_green @thetrueEC3 #GoGators #UFuture #Gators #Swamp pic.twitter.com/rXsphz2eeR
— Jaylen “Ap” Heyward 4🌟 DB (@Jayasii) March 19, 2022
It was an emotional time for the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder.
"It feels amazing to be offered by them," said Heyward. "It made me tear up a bit."
Heyward said he spoke with several coaches during his visit.
"I talked to Coach [Billy] Napier, Coach Jamar Chaney, and Joe Hamilton," explained Heyward. "They told me I fit their program well and they're going to recruit me hard for the next two years. They said they're going to be at the top of my list for the next two years."
Heyward, who has also been offered by the likes of Arkansas, Florida State, and Pitt said that he doesn't have an early leader.
However, his only current scheduled visit is a return trip to see Florida in two weeks.
RETURN TRIP TO CAMPUS FOR 2024 FOUR-STAR
After visiting Florida, and being offered by the Gators, just a couple of weeks ago, 2024 four-star defensive back Brayshon Williams was among a group of Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson players who were on campus with former Florida defensive tackle John Brown on Saturday.
This time around, rather than seeing the campus and facilities, he got a bit of a treat.
"My highlight was watching the boys practice at a high tempo," said Williams. "And I talked to coach [Jamar] Chaney, just catching up on some things."
The more he is on campus, the better the bond he builds with the coaches.
"The new Florida staff is great," said Williams. "Especially my guys on the defensive side, Coach PT [Patrick Toney], Chaney, and [Corey] Raymond."
Now that he has visited Florida twice up next are two out-of-state trips.
"I have Oklahoma on the 26th and Texas A&M on the 1st of April."
TIGHT END COULD BE OFFERED SOON
Havelock (N.C.) four-star tight end Javonte Vereen had his first chance to see Florida this past weekend and said that one thing, in particular, stood out to him.
"It had to be sitting in the tight end room, soaking up all the information and just hanging out with the staff," replied Vereen. "I talked to the whole coaching staff, but specifically coach [Billy] Napier, [William] Peagler, [Jay] Bateman, [?] Morris and Coach [Ty] Darlington.
— Javonte “Juice” Vereen (@JavonteVereen) March 19, 2022
Though he has been offered by the likes of Georgia, Louisville, and Maryland, the Gators have yet to pull the trigger.
But, it could be coming.
"UF has talked about offering, I should be expecting that real soon," said Vereen. "The coaches told me they are recruiting the Carolinas now and are taking one tight end."
For now, the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder said that he is still open to everyone and anyone recruiting him and he will narrow his list after the summer.
"I plan on coming out with my top schools after my unofficial visits are done."
As for those visits, he will be heading to Alabama, Louisville, and NC State next.