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Florida Football Recruiting

Will Florida go Five-for-Five with the Palmetto Five?

March 19, 2020

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Perhaps the biggest overall Florida recruiting storyline to follow this cycle is whether or not the Gators will land all five of their targets out of Miami (Fla.) Palmetto High School.

Heading into the spring Florida has one in the bag already in athlete Brashard Smith‍ and Corey Collier Jr.‍, Jason Marshall Jr.‍ and Leonard Taylor‍ all had great things to say about the Gators after their most recent Jr. Day visits – in which they were joined by Savion Collins‍, the fifth member of the Palmetto Five.

Going back to where it all began, it was actually Collins, who was still a freshman playing for Miami (Fla.) Southwest at the time, who first came on the scene as a potential Florida target when he camped with the Gators in the summer of 2018.

Then former Florida defensive line coach Sal Sunseri took a bit of a different approach with Collins then what we have seen with current position coach David Turner.

Despite his youth, he headlined our Top Camp Performers list that summer.

Then, after camping with Florida once again last June (and then again in July), he once again made our list of Top Camp Performers.

Related: Summer Camp 2019 Insider Review

The following summer, in June of 2019, Smith, Collier Jr., Marshall Jr. and Taylor were on campus competing in a 7v7 tournament.

Several things of consequence happened during that camp.

First, there was an early hint at how much Florida coveted the bunch when out of the hundreds of kids on campus, it was Collier Jr. Marshall Jr. and Taylor who received a golf cart ride to the IPF from area recruiter Brian Johnson.

Second, though he was the lowest rated of the Palmetto FiveSmith showed out that day. Inside the Gators noted that he looked better than any of his more highly rated teammates that day.

Related: 7v7 Insider Recruiting Notes

That led to Smith earning an offer from Florida after the camp

Third, when it came to recruiting, Marshall Jr. revealed to ITG that Florida was his dream school, while Taylor let it be known that he wasn't hearing much from Florida.

Of course that changed the following month when Taylor and Collins attended Friday Night Lights and were each given plenty of face-to-face time with David Turner.

The Palmetto Five teammates visited campus several times since last summer including for games last fall and then of course Jr. Day earlier this month.

Probably the most tell tale sign of where Florida stands with the quintet is that rather than travel from South Florida to Gainesville as a group for the Jr. Day, each came separately with their parents. 

Attending with their parents rather than arriving as teammates in a single vehicle shows that the five individual recruiting processes have taken the step from the prospects just being interested, to them wanting to bring their parents on board as well.

Inside the Gators included three of the five on the very first ITG Mock Signing Class 1.0 which was published before Jr. Day.

Related: ITG Monthly Mock Signing Class 1.0

After the event Inside the Gators asked three of the teammates how many of the Palmetto Five they see attending the same school. Both Collier Jr. and Marshall Jr. responded with ‘four’ - while Taylor said ‘three’ of them.

That is what they had to say, but we wanted to get a bit more in-depth, so we decided to ask several South Florida high school coaches, 7v7 coaches and recruiting analysts for their thoughts as well.

When asked - via text message - who he believes the favorite is for each of the Palmetto Five, Palmetto assistant football coach Sheldon Smith had a straight forward reply:

He was also asked who he thought the dark horse candidate for each would be - and his response to that question was ‘Miami.'

While a couple of coaches shared their thoughts, because the prospects don’t play at their school, they didn’t want to go on the record.

One coach said that all he knows for sure is that Smith is ‘solid to UF’ while yet another said that he thought ‘LT is leaning to Florida’ - with LT being Leonard Taylor.

One person who was willing to go on the record though is SI All-American recruiting analyst John Garcia Jr. who was asked for a quick overview of each prospect as well as who he thought was a leading and a dark horse candidate.


In the Running: Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Penn State and Syracuse.

The Current Situation: When we spoke with him after Jr. Day he said that Florida had overtaken Clemson at the top (Related: Jr. Day Recruiting Notebook) but that could be in part to being in the moment, the visit ‘high’ of UF being freshest in his mind.

Garcia’s Favorite: Georgia. Perhaps the hardest to project between the Palmetto group, Collier has a foundation for several schools on his list. Talking to him earlier this month I got a heavy Georgia vibe as he continues to talk about winning and his familiarity given he lived in the Atlanta area for quite some time.

Garcia’s Dark Horse: Clemson. I think that one is a matter of 1. If he's a take and 2. When CU begins its push. This one is close between Clemson, UGA and UF either way and there appears to be a long way to go in the end.

On the Mark: Regardless of what he said immediately after Jr. Day, out of the five, I would feel less secure about placing Collier in the class at this time. What happens if Clemson pushes harder or if Florida State (where his father played) has a resurgence type of season?

Where he Ranks: (5) Right now, I have Collier Jr. as the least likely of the five to sign with the Gators.

In the Running: Florida and Miami

The Current Situation: Collins is currently committed to Miami.

Garcia’s Favorite: Miami. He's been committed and will remain on board barring a floundering on-field product, which seems hard to accomplish given their non-Clemson advantages in talent compared to the rest of the ACC.

Garcia’s Dark Horse: Florida. It's not a big secret he's eyeing on-field success and even with Miami surging towards a top 25 type of 2020 campaign on the field, most would still peg Florida as a program that will challenge for bigger accolades.

On the Mark: I basically look at Collins like I did Issiah Walker in the last cycle. Though Walker was committed to South Carolina, I felt that Florida was the team to beat and included him in my mock classes regardless of what he was saying publicly. In this instance, though Collins (who showed up wearing Gators gear for Jr. Day) is publicly committed to Miami, I believe if he had to sign today it would be with the Gators. You are talking about a prospect who, despite the distance factor, has been to UF more times than he has been to UM in the past 12 months and on this latest visit brought his mother.

Where he Ranks: (1) Regardless of where he is currently committed, this train has been rumbling down the tracks for quite a while now - even before Smith jumped on-board. I believe he is the most likely to be a Gator in the end.

In the Running: Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU and Miami.

The Current Situation: He states that he doesn’t have a leader from among his listed top seven. After visiting Florida for Jr. Day earlier this month he had planned on going to see FSU and LSU, but of course those plans were canceled by the NCAA restrictions on on-campus visits.

Garcia’s Favorite: Florida. It looks like a classic in-state battle between the Big 3 in the state of Florida and right now that conversation clearly begins with the Gators, especially when talking about an elite cornerback prospect.

Garcia’s Dark Horse:  Miami. Location hasn't come up much with this group but if Florida doesn't snag all five, you get the sense Miami will be a beneficiary based on another positive offseason.

On the Mark: Though he wouldn’t name a leader or leaders after his Florida Jr. Day visit, he said that he expects four of the Palmetto Five to end up at the same school (he thought Collins would be the lone exception). With Smith committed, Collier Jr. saying UF had surpassed Clemson as the leader and Taylor saying UF stood out, that would lead you to believe that he had Florida in-front. (Related: Five-star comfortable with Florida coaches).

Where he Ranks: (3) Though he played it straight talking about Florida after his Jr. Day visit, the way he phrased the response to the question I had about how many of the Palmetto Five would sign together, along with him telling me last summer that not only was UF his dream school, but how much he looked up to CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson, I just get a Florida vibe.

In the Running: AuburnFlorida, Georgia, LSU, Miami.

The Current Situation: Committed to Florida, but I was told that he will still take some campus visits along with his teammates.

Garcia’s Favorite: Florida, he's been committed for some time and fits what Florida wants to do as a gadget player and hybrid type. Looks like a candidate for the next Kadarius Toney.

Garcia’s Dark Horse: Georgia, but only if he visits.

On the Mark: Not only is he currently committed to Florida, but unlike some others in this class, he has never given the Gator Nation cause for concern as to whether that commitment will hold up. Having said that, he is going to go see other campuses, which can be worrisome to a degree.

Where he Ranks: (2) I think in the end he sticks with UF not just because of his feelings for the program, but I think he will see that with his skill set he will have an opportunity to contribute early for the Gators. That combined with at least two teammates coming along with him should secure his services.

In the Running: Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M

The Current Situation: He says that he doesn’t have a leader and is looking to take official visits to Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M.

Garcia’s Favorite: Florida. He's the top prospect in the state and plays a priority position the Gators have done well with in recent years. It would be a slight surprise should he end up anywhere else at this point.

Garcia’s Dark Horse: LSU. The Tigers have become strong in south Florida and feel like a program that could pick and prod in the area like Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State and Alabama have of late. If he is in no rush, expect a trip to Baton Rouge and the Tigers to begin climbing over in-state options on his list.

On the Mark: There are a couple of things that caught my attention here. After his Jr. Day visit though he wouldn’t name a leader, he said Florida was the team standing out the most (Related: Taylor's best relationship is with the Florida staff) He also said that he thinks each of the Palmetto Five could end up at the same program, but he feels three will for sure. Another thing, after talking up Miami so much last summer, he didn’t include the Hurricanes on his top five list and really hasn’t talked about them at all.

Where he Ranks: (4) I feel pretty damn good about Florida's chances no matter what with the first three, but here is where we start to start putting qualifiers on the Gators’ chances. UF has got to keep getting him on campus this summer when the ban is lifted and then in the fall for a game or two.

Will Florida go Five-for-Five with the Palmetto Five?

6,697 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by UFgator52-20
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Great write up mark...other than English is there any reason we can't get top flight safeties at UF?
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Getting all five would be great but there's no need to be greedy. I'll be happy with four if them.

If we lose Collier a year after losing Williams you would have to blame English.
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