Miami and Florida State are way out in front of the Gators so far.
Recent happenings in the state
Three more blue-chippers are off the board.
Oklahoma added four-star cornerback Jaden Davis. A week before his commitment, Davis clapped back to Florida fans who were giving him a hard time. Florida and Oklahoma now have the same number of four- and five-star commitments from Florida.
— IV (@Jayd4_) July 7, 2018
Georgia picked up Rian Davis, of Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva who seems like a perfect for as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Davis is rated as a top-100 player nationally.
Brendan Gant, a four-star safety from Lakeland (Fla.) Kathleen went public with his commitment to Florida State.
Florida is the most talented state in the nation. The recruiting battles in the Sunshine State are fierce, because who wins and loses them often helps decide conference and national titles. In the last 35 seasons, 11 of college football’s national titles have been won by schools in Florida. Eight more have come via schools in the two states bordering Florida.
I live in Florida and have covered the state for over a decade. In this space, I’ll chronicle who is doing the best, what I’m hearing, and some trends to monitor.
Why out-of-state IMG recruits are excluded
For the purposes of determining which schools are recruiting the state the best, I am excluding players from IMG Academy who are not from Florida. A move to IMG Academy is different than other moves. Because it is a boarding school, kids are coming to the school for the purpose of football, not because their family just moved to town. There is nothing tying them to the state. We know that a large majority of players who transfer to IMG from out-of-state return to their home region. By excluding these players, who make up about five of the state’s top-50 in a given year, a clearer picture of the schools recruiting true Florida kids, both in culture and roots, can be attained.
For 2018, these players are DE Nolan Smith (Georgia commit from Atlanta), RB Noah Cain (uncommitted from Denton, TX), WR Josh Delgado (Oregon commit from Bellflower, CA), and WR Shamar Nash (Arkansas commit from Memphis).
Florida State and Miami lead the way
The Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles are way out in front with a combined 15 of the state’s top 40 players as ranked by the 247Sports Composite. FSU has nine, while the Hurricanes have six.
FSU’s class is led by five-star DB Akeem Dent and four-star guard Dontae Lucas.
Miami’s class is headlined by four-star receiver Jeremiah Payton and four-star linebacker Anthony Solomon.
I have FSU and Miami’s in-state haul rated close to even, since I expect an FSU commit or two to drop to three-stars (see below) or decommit.
Florida has major ground to make up
The Gators have just one player committed in the state who is rated four- or five-stars. While all hope is not lost, there is no way to spin it: this is a bad start for Florida within the state. Florida took an aggressive line with players from California, and so far it has not paid off.
While Florida did undergo a coaching change, the first full class is typically one in which a school sees a major bump in its recruiting rankings.
Clemson and Ohio State are the top out-of-state recruiters in Florida
Clemson has five-star receiver Frank Ladson and four-star running back Chez Melussi. Ladson is an elite deep threat. Ohio State has a commitment from four-star safety Jordan Battle, who is one of my favorite players in the nation.
It shouldn’t be surprising that these two programs are doing so well with Florida recruits. Clemson has done well in the Sunshine State for a decade plus. Dabo Swinney is still well known for securing the commitment of C.J. Spiller in the 2006 class. Urban Meyer and Director of Player Personnel Mark Pantoni still have great connections in the state from their 2005-10 tenure with the Florida Gators.
Where the elite uncommitted kids might go?
Note: Not all four- and five-star players will be discussed here. Some have been intentionally left off because the offers they frequently mention are not actual options for them, per people with knowledge of the programs mentioned.
The Hurricanes are in good position with Evan Neal, Khris Bogle, Tyrique Stevenson, Mark-Antony Richards, Keon Zipperer, Tyler Davis, Kenny McIntosh, Lloyd Summerall, and maybe NayQuan Wright. Neal is from Okeechobee and his mom would like him to stay close to home. Richards and McIntosh’s brothers starred for the 2017 Hurricanes. Keeping Bogle and Stevenson in South Florida would be big wins for Miami, though both are big fans of out-of-state schools as well.
Florida State is in strong position with Will Putnam, Tyler Davis, and Raymond Woodie III. The Seminoles are also involved with Evan Neal, Trey Sanders, Khris Bogle, Tyrique Stevenson, and Lloyd Summerall. Woodie III is the son of FSU linebackers coach Raymond Woodie Jr. Neal would likely come in and start Day 1 for Florida State since the Seminoles’ tackle position is such a mess, but most think FSU is running third behind Alabama and Miami.
The Gators are in good position with Kaiir Elam, Trey Sanders, Lloyd Summerall, and maybe Keon Zipperer. Elam’s father played for coach Dan Mullen for a time at Notre Dame. The Gators took Sanders’ brother Ulmstead as a walk-on linebacker. Summerall is being recruited for the 3-4 defense, which helps the Gators stand out against Miami and FSU, who run the 4-3. And Florida is trying to flip FSU commitment Quashon Fuller, who has been very open about checking out all of his options, though he did not show up to UF’s “Friday Night Lights” camp.
The Alabama Crimson Tide has a strong shot to regain commitments from two former commitments in Trey Sanders and Evan Neal. Both visited Tuscaloosa in June.
Clemson remains involved with Tyrique Stevenson.
Expect some changes to the rankings
I know for a fact that some of these players rated four-stars are not seen as such by major college programs, and that some recruits lower down in the rankings are more highly thought of. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a 20 percent of the four- and five-star list change over the next half year.
Rankings via the 247Sports Composite.
Read more: sbnation.com