Hughes already paying dividends?

There is no doubt that Florida made a mistake in the previous hire of the Director of Player personnel, the assistant in charge of recruiting, but the new guy has hit the ground running. Drew Hughes came by way of NC State and Alabama and although he certainly isn't the only one responsible for getting so many big time prospects to campus this spring, he is in charge of coordinating it all.

There are some truisms in recruiting and one of them is that you need to get the big time prospects on campus if you plan on getting them committing to your program. The thought being is that you can show them everything you have. You can introduce them to your star players, you can roll out the red carpet on the visit and see what they would be missing if they signed elsewhere.

With that in mind, Florida has had a parade of big time prospects show up in the last few months, more than in recent memory for the same time frame.

Hughes is at the bottom of it all, making sure that the prospects are constantly contacted, that the schedules are all lined up, and when they show up, he is tailing them and making sure things go as planned. We didn't see this kind of organization and follow through a year ago.

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Another truism in recruiting is that you can't get them all. We all know that. But, getting them here is half the battle and then the coaches turn around and visit the prospects when the spring evaluation period begins in May. It is an ongoing cycle that Florida has a head start on.

The following is a list of prospects that we know have been here since signing day. Florida took advantage of a Final Four basketball team to host prospects for electrifying games in front of raucous crowds, and then a bunch of them visited during spring practice to see what the coaches had to offer on the field. The sheer number of quality prospects is what is eye catching, you will see what I mean.

The Gators are looking to sign a quarterback in the 2015 class. To that end, we know that at least five quality players at the position have shown up on campus.

Five-star Torrance Gibson of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage visited earlier this month. It seems like a long shot at the moment, but getting Gibson on campus is a big deal and the gator staff got it done.


Gibson

Three other quarterbacks that the Gators have offered have been on campus in the last 2.5 months. Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy super athlete Deondre Francois received an offer in February and was on campus with a bunch of friends. Tampa (Fla.) Hillsborough athletic quarterback Dwayne Lawson has also been on campus and then Piedmont (SC) Wren quarterback Kelly Bryant visited this past Saturday for the Orange and Blue Debut.

Lakeland Christian two-way threat Christian Alexander was in Gainesville last week as well taking in the sights of Gator practice. He is waiting on an offer from Florida, but they are keeping close tabs on him.

The Gators would like to sign two running backs in the 2015 class. Four-star Dexter Williams of Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange was on campus in the last two months, but has since committed to Miami. The Gators will continue to press on Williams and try to get him back on campus to change his mind.

Four-star Tallahassee Leon athlete D'Anfernee McGriff visited in February and is a big time player that could play multiple positions. Florida would like to get him back on campus again.

The top two guys on the board that aren't committed elsewhere may very well be Tampa Sickles Ray Ray McCloud and T.J. Simmons from Lakeland Christian. McCloud is a guy that can play many positions on the field. He and Simmons are both burners and the speed is the asset the Gators are looking for most.


McCloud

Oviedo High School's Jurell Green and Moore Haven's Markeis Hallback are two more speedsters that visited in the spring and the gators are looking at for the speed they bring to the table.

The Gators have commitments from two of the state's top receivers in Orlando Lake Nona receiver Deondre Farrier who since has been invited to The Opening by NIKE, and Jacksonville First Coast receiver Tristan Payton who won honors at the most recent IMG 7on7 tournament in Bradenton.

Florida was able to secure a visit from five-star receiver Preston Williams of Lovejoy (Ga.) who enjoyed the trip but remains committed to Tennessee. Five-star receiver George Campbell also visited Florida and the Gators remain well in the hunt for the Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake star.

A couple of visits each in the last month or so from Tampa Bay Tech's Deon Cain and Franklinton (La.) Pine's Derrick Dillon have the Gators feeling optimistic about both. Both are tremendous athletes that would add big time talent to the Florida roster.
Dillon

The Gators hosted Suwannee (Ga.) North Gwinnett receiver Daniel Imatorbehbeh who visited in February and has a Florida offer. He left Gainesville with Florida in the lead but has since committed to Clemson.

A trio of big time prospects in the state are awaiting Florida offers and getting one could prove big in their recruitment. Orlando Oak Ridge receiver Nyqwan Murray is piling up the offers right now and he visited the Gators in March. Tampa Wharton receiver /tight end Auden Tate was just here for the orange and Blue Debut. Tallahassee Godby athlete P.J. Simmons has been to Gainesville twice since February including this past weekend.

We mentioned Tate as a possibility at tight end and the Gators have a commitment at the position. Tallahassee Lincoln two-way star Camrin Knight visited in February and the coaches offered, two days after returning home he committed to the staff.

Apopka star fullback Chandler Cox needs to be mentioned here. Cox would be an H-back in the Florida offense and the Gators are out in front for the rising star. He's been to campus a couple of times since February.

Maybe the top target at the tight end is Devonaire Clarington of Miami (Fla.) Westminster Christian. The super-athletic tight end visited in February and is certainly a guy they want to try and get back on campus again.


Clarington

Florida wants to sign five offensive linemen in 2015. They need quantity and quality at the position and have been getting the prospects on campus this spring to see what the Gators offer.

The Gators have their center of the future in Jacksonville Bishop Kenny star Tyler Jordan. Jordan has been on campus a half dozen times or so since committing in late February and you can catch him helping recruit for his future team on social media.

The top prospect on the board is also the number one player in the country and Apopka's Martez Ivey has been to campus this Spring, visiting a couple of weeks ago. The Gators are certainly in the hunt for 5-star Ivey and are at or near the top of his pecking order. They would love to keep getting him on campus with teammate Cox.

Four-star offensive tackle Jake Fruhmorgen of Tampa Plant was on campus a couple of times in the spring, but recently committed to Clemson. Look for Florida to continue to recruit Fruhmorgen. Likewise, Florida hosted Jacksonville First Coast lineman William Sweet and offered him while on campus. Sweet, however, committed to North Carolina this last weekend.

Four-star Brooksville Nature Coast lineman Christian Pellage and Montverde Academy tackle Abdul Bello were on campus this spring as well. Florida would love to continue to host these two and see where it leads them.

Tallahassee Godby massive offensive tackle Brendan Loftus and IMG Academy's Tyree St. Louis and Mirko Jurkovic have also been on campus at Florida this spring. Of the three St. Louis has an offer but all will be recruited throughout the process.


Brendan Loftus

The numbers are low at defensive tackle but all the way from California, four-star DT Kahlil McKenzie visited for a spring practice in March. McKenzie is a big timer that the Gators would like to secure an official visit from down the road. The other DT we know of is Quay Picou of Buford (Ga.). Picou has now been on campus twice this spring but is waiting on a Florida offer. Florida is always looking to add defensive ends to the mix and with the success they have had at the position, they are usually in line for some god ones. Well, this may the best year in a long time for Florida in terms of who they could land on the outside of the defensive line.

One prospect listed as an end but the Gators are recruiting at tackle also visited. Current Gator defensive lineman Joey Ivie has a younger brother at Dade City Pasco. Andrew Ivie is high on the Gator wish list.

At defensive end, it all starts with the dynamic duo of Baker County's CeCe Jefferson and Byron Cowart of Seffner Armwood. Both are five-stars, both have visited Florida numerous times including this spring. It would be an upset at this point not to get either of them, but the process certainly has to play out.


Cowart

Four-star Atlanta (Ga.) Mays defensive end Natrez Patrick visited Florida as well as fellow four-star Peach State defensive end Mekhi Brown out of Columbus Carver. Brown was a commitment to Alabama and still visited the Gators.

Four-star defensive end Jason Strowbridge of Deerfield Beach (Fla.) is another big time prospect the Gators are currently after. He has an offer after seeing the Florida staff in person earlier this spring. LSU commitment Isaiah Washington out of New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr also visited in the last couple of weeks and is a high school teammate of Florida signee Gerald Willis.

Florida is looking to sign maybe four linebackers in the 2015 class and have done a good job of getting the top targets on campus. For the Gators it starts with Jacksonville Trinity Christian four-star Jeff Holland who has been on campus maybe more than any other big time prospect on the board.

Two visits in two weeks from Lawrenceville (Ga.) Central Gwinnett four-star linebacker Adonis Thomas has the Gators feeling good about their chances, especially since he has the gators in the lad at this time. Fellow Peach State backers Austin Smith of Buford and Roquan Smith of Montezuma Macon County both visited this spring and had good things to say about their visits when leaving.


Roquan Smith

The Gators finally got a visit from Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) hit man Tevon Coney. After missing a few trips to Gainesville, Coney made it up in the middle of spring practice sessions and liked what he saw out of the Gators.

The Gators also are still recruiting a couple of Jacksonville linebackers committed elsewhere who visited this spring at some point. First Coast athletic linebacker Sherrod Pittman and a true leader type in Victor Alexander from Trinity Christian both made it to Gainesville for a visit.

Florida is extremely happy with committed safety Deontai Williams also out of Trinity Christian. Williams seems to be underrated and is a hitter of there ever was one. He also continues to look at other schools so it is important to get him on campus as much as possible and he visited a couple of times this spring.

One safety the Gators would like to land is four-star Jaquan Johnson out of Miami Killian. Johnson has been a high profile prospect for a very long time and seems destined elsewhere, but getting him on campus is never a bad thing.

Coconut Creek Monarch four-star safety Shawn Burgess-Becker visited Florida even though he was a long shot. This weekend he committed to Alabama, but the Gators will continue to pursue. Another safety committed elsewhere that visited is Ronnie Harrison out of Tallahassee Florida State University School. Harrison has been committed to North Carolina for quite some time.

Continuing in the secondary where Florida always recruits well. The Gators were able to land a commitment from what some might call a surprise in four-star cornerback Marcus Lewis. Lewis is moving from the Washington DC area to IMG Academy in Bradenton and plans on graduating in December so he can enroll at Florida in January. At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds Lewis has the desired size they are looking for at the position.


Lewis

And continuing on in the size department, the number five ranked cornerback in the country is Tarvarus McFadden from Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage. He stands at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. The Gators are believed to be in the thick of it with McFadden and were glad to host him this spring.

A few more top state of Florida prospects that the Gators covet also visited this spring. Tim Irvin of Miami Westminster Christian is a four-star with a ton of offers and has visited with the likelihood of visiting again. Orlando Evans super athlete Jalen Julius could play offense or defense at the next level and visited Florida a couple of times in the spring. He also received an offer from the Gators on the last visit. Tallahassee Godby corner Jaylin Hayward has a bevy of big offers and visited Florida already twice this spring.

One out of state prospect at corner to keep an eye on is Jalen Thompson of Mobile (Al.) St. Paul's Episcopal. Thompson made it down to watch a couple of spring practices in March.

Three big time corners that have committed elsewhere, but will still be recruited also visited. Minkah Fitzpatrick of Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peters Prep and Coconut Creek Monarch super athlete Calvin Ridley both gave their pledge to Alabama this past weekend, but will continue to be pursued by the Gators. Rashard Causey of Ft Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas committed to Florida Atlantic.

There is just no way for us to track every single prospect that Florida has had on campus this spring, but this is about as good a list as you will get to attend any program in that time frame. They won't get them all and a few have pledged elsewhere already, but getting them on campus is a really big deal. The Florida staff has done a great job of doing that and better this recruiting cycle than in the past.


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