The Gators started off the day with 26 commitments, with one expected not to be in the class in Tony Nelson. That is the case. The early word came out that committed defensive tackle Shavar Manuel actually de-committed… knocking the class size to 24.
Then the best news of the day came in the form of a commitment from Under-Armour All-American Tyrie Cleveland, the #3 receiver in the nation according to Scout.com.
Finally, another bit of bad news came when 3-star cornerback Aaron Robinson flipped his commitment to Alabama.
The Gators missed on two big time prospects on the day when 4-star offensive guard John Simpson declared for Clemson and then 4-star cornerback Kristian Fulton decided he was going to stay home in Louisiana and play for LSU.
But this day shouldn’t be about the players they missed, but the kind of talent Florida is adding to the roster, especially if you look at the offensive skill positions. When you talk about running backs, receivers, and quarterbacks, they did about as well as they could do.
BOTTOM LINE: With the addition of Franks and Trask you have two big time arms inserted into a program that absolutely was devoid of that at the end of the season in 2015.
In Franks you have the golden boy quarterback with the arm strength, the height, and the athleticism to go along with the Army All-American stature that really solidifies this class as a top 10 type. The Gators flipped him from LSU when he eventually committed.
In Trask, Florida landed a player they believe is a gem and will compete from day one, like Franks. He’s strong armed and the knock on the young man is that he wasn’t the starter in high school. Certainly that is something to take note of, but he came to camp two times, all the way from Texas, and won a scholarship. The staff loves him.
BOTTOM LINE: All you really have to say is that Alabama wanted both of these guys and the Crimson Tide could never make the Gators relinquish them once they committed to Florida.
In Thompson the Gators have a big sturdy back that also happens to have track speed. He’s a guy that can utilize his power, but when he gets to the second level, he can turn on the jets and get to the end zone from anywhere on the field. He’s a top 5 JuCo nationally on Scout.
In Perine, a native of Alabama, the Gators got a power runner with a little wiggle as well. Perine is versatile and adept at catching the ball out of the backfield. He runs with such toughness, he is fun to watch play the hard-nosed game.
BOTTOM LINE: This is about as good as you can get and as well as anyone did this year at the receiver position. Considering the miserable performance of the Florida offense to close out the 2015 season, this could actually be considered a miraculous haul. Cleveland was the one that puts it over the top when committing on signing day.
With Cleveland, the Gators get an under Armour All-American play maker. He was the best receiver at the Under Armour event back in December and January and a guy that looks to have an instant impact on the field at Florida. Tall, rangy, and fast, he can do it all. The Gators flipped him from Houston when he eventually committed.
Swain is a top 100 player that has a good bit of everything. He’s fast, he’s quick, he runs great routes, he has good hands, and he is just a super receiver that really shined at the prestigious NIKE The Opening event over the summer with the best 150 players in high school football.
Hammond is another Under Armour All-American and is smooth, with exceptional route running ability and really good size in terms of muscle and the ability to get on the field early because of his frame. The younger brother of Gator Great Frankie Hammond, Hammond is better than Frankie at this stage and being an early enrollee like Swain, should contribute in year one.
Massey is a top 20 Junior College player that is headed to the slot position. He’s extremely fast and versatile with the ability to return punts and kicks as well. Another January enrollee, Massey should help right away in a lot of the facets of the game.
Wells may not have all of the pub, but he was the first in the class and the staff loves his size and ability on the field. He is built like a college junior already and has enough speed to get deep. He comes from a big time program and while he may be pressed to redshirt because arriving in June, expect Wells to make a contribution relatively early in his career.
BOTTOM LINE: Two things that didn’t get accomplished in this group, which is otherwise solid. The lack of a real big time rated prospect in the trenches is missing, but also they were one short of the number they hoped to sig. Still, you are talking about three players that have the size and strength to compete right away when they get on campus. Offensive linemen are often hard to judge, but they really like what they get in these three.
With Heggie, you do get the star power of an Under Armour All-American. He’s also a guy that was slated to back up in the game and won the starting job after a day or so in camp. Heggie is really put together and has good bulk, but the best part of his game is his technique. Having played the center position for years, he really knows what he is doing.
Forsythe surprised everyone when he was able to enroll early. He is a mammoth sized player that will have to improve on his quickness. But, he improved a great deal his senior season and after he committed. He may not pay in year one, but they like the tremendous upside of Forsythe.
They don’t look or play any meaner than Taylor. He’s an absolute beast that the staff pushed to lose a little weight before offering. He pushed himself a great deal and lost close to 40 pounds in a few months. The offer came and he committed a little whole later. Taylor is a bulldozer that just moves people in front of him and someone they had in camp several times to move on. The Gators flipped him from Miami when he eventually committed.
Later we’ll talk about the defensive and special teams recruiting, so stay tuned to Fightin’ Gators.