Chad Simmons

Gator Blitz: Recruiting Update 3/25

"Gator Blitz" recaps all of the big Florida recruiting storylines of the last few days in one place.

It's Friday, which means "Gator Blitz" is back. Although Florida football will take the next few days off for Easter, there is still plenty of things to talk about. 

Visitors Like the Energy 

The Gators welcomed several visitors on Thursday afternoon to see their first spring scrimmage, and many had positive reviews.

"The energy was what really caught my attention," said Jake Allen. "The whole coaching staff just had a ton of it and it translated to the players."

The four-star St. Thomas Aquinas quarterback visited Gainesville with his father, and was able to not only watch scrimmage but Wednesday's practice as well.

"The coaching staff just reiterated that they can't wait to have me on campus. Overall awesome time."

Maurice Goolsby also visited on Thursday, the 2019 wide receiver, who holds offers from UF, FSU and UNC, loved the vibe from practice. 

"It was a nice atmosphere," he said. "I felt at home for my first visit." 

The wide out also liked how Kerry Dixon, Florida's assistant coach, seemed very detail orientated. Full story with Goolsby will be posted later, on Saturday. 

Plenty of Work Needed

The Gators also hosted four-star defensive tackle and Florida State pledge, Cory Durden, however, the visit was not quite a "visit."

"It wasn't really a visit," Durden told  "I was only there for like 20 minutes because I had a doctors appointment in town and thats all that it was." 

He says he remains committed to the Noles

"It is just the loyalty and the program and the family atmosphere," he said. "My top there are FSU, Alabama and Georgia."

Torn Between Two Programs

The battle for William Poole continues between Georgia and Florida. The four-star cornerback was expected to make an announcement by mid April, however, decided to postpone that decision after his first trip to Gainesville this month. 

"I liked everything about Florida, so it really made me push back and hold on from a commitment, before I jump the ship and commit and have a different feel for the other school," Poole said in a recent interview with National Recruiting Analyst Chad Simmons. "So I decided to hold off and do it the right time." 

What changed with the Gators for the Georgia native? 

"Sitting there with [Head]Coach [Jim] McElwain and [UF assistant] coach [Torrian] Gray, Gray was recruiting me at V-Tech, but now that he is at Florida it makes it much better, since it's really close to Georgia," said Poole. "Sitting down with those guys and hearing how much they want me and pulling up my highlights and showing me things good and bad, and as well coach Geoff Collins, the defensive coordinator, showed me their depth chart, and after this year they are losing two DBs, so I can come in and make an instant impact." 

It looks like this recruitment will not end anytime soon. Although Poole was non committal about a timeline, it seems he will likely take official visits before making his final decision. 


Gators Close to Flipping Miami Pledge?

Florida is giving Miami commit, Chris Henderson, plenty to think about. Henderson, caught up with Analyst Corey Bender after his visit on Monday. The Scout 300 athlete gave the visit a '10'

"We did a lot on the visit, like watch practice, talk to the coaching staff and tour the school," Henderson said. "Coach (Jim) McElwain says the same stuff when I get up there, like how he wants me to be a Gator and I'm a high target." 

Henderson says he is "85-90 percent" committed to the Canes at the moment. 


Second Trip in Two Weeks for Four-Star

The Gators have made up some ground with four-star athlete, Justin Watkins. The Citra, Florida native saw a Florida practice on March 12th, and he returned on Wednesday to see the Gators in action once again. 

"The visit was good," Watkins said. "UF is in my top five. I like going there and I love the coaching staff. They just say I'm going to be a Gator and that's it."

The coaching staff has really impressed the 2018 playmaker. 

"It's really just the coaching staff. Also, by the time I get there, I'll have a good chance at starting at DB if I change my position."

Watkins has named Clemson and Florida State as his top two, but the former LSU pledge, now names Florida, LSU, and Alabama in his top five. Miami is also in the mix. 

Current Florida freshman wide receiver, Freddie Swain, is Watkins' former teammate.

Gators in the Mix for Top Linebacker? 

K.J. Britt recently announced that he will make his decision in August. The three-star linebacker from Alabama recently visited Gainesville, where the Gators offered the standout. 

"The coaches, they love me, I love them." he said. "It was one of the best visits I went on probably because of all the one-on-one time. I had time with coach Collins, coach McElwain, coach Hughes. It was good." 

Auburn is considered the favorite; he has visited the school at least five times. 

"If they are not on top, they are pretty warm," Britt told Simmons. 

Britt also says Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Ole Miss are up there with Auburn as well. 

STORY LINK [the hat in the interview...]

Four-Star Wide Receiver Has Great Visit

McElwain and his staff welcomed another big visit for Wednesday's practice, Henry Ruggs. The four-star wide receiver from Alabama told that his visit was "great." 

"The fact that during practice everyone is getting reps and no one is just standing around watching [stood out]," he said. "I like the way he [wide receiver coach Kerry Dixon] makes sure his wide receivers are getting reps and not standing around."

This was Ruggs' first visit to Gainesville and first college practice, however, he has visited in-state school Alabama several times already. He will visit Auburn on Saturday. 


In the Mix for 'Bama Commit?

Xavier McKinney has been committed to Alabama since last fall. The No. 9 safety says he is  still 100 percent committed to the Crimson Tide, however, he has taken other trips including one to The Swamp. 

"It's Florida, everything catches your attention pretty much," said the four-star defensive back. "The coaching staff is real with you. They don't act differently because recruits are up there. Just everything about Florida, the weather is great and the school is great." 

Although McKinney is still listening to other schools, he admits it will be hard to pull him away from 'Bama. 

"I wouldn't say it's impossible, but it's going to be hard." 


Torrian Gray Addition is Appealing to Four-Star

Juwan Burgess is taking a close look at Florida. 

"First off it is not too far from home, not too close," said the four-star athlete from Tamps. "I like the atmosphere,  what is around the school. If I go to Florida I have someone there I would know....I have somebody I am comfortable with that I can talk to."

However, the big thing that has changed with the Gators is the addition of Torrian Gray as their defensive backs coach. Gray recruited Burgess when he coached at Virginia Tech. 

"He is close to home now," Burgess said. "Virginia Tech is pretty far, now he is close to home [it's appealing]."

Other schools in the mix for Burgess includes: Miami, Clemson, and UCF. 


Florida Legacy Picks Up Offer

The Gators offered Judge Culpepper this week. The 2018 Tampa (Fla.) Plant tight end is the son of former Florida defensive tackle, Brad Culpepper.  Tennessee, Michigan and Minnesota recently came forward with offers as well.

STORY LINK [the video was just a few hours before Florida offer] 

Odds and Ends

Andover (N.H.) Proctor Academy's three-star tight end Alexander Marshall.

"The University of Florida, that's one, to my parents, that sticks out because of their very highly (rated) business school," Marshall told National Recruiting Analyst, Brian Dohn. "My dad is always on me about how they have a great business school. Both both schools (Florida and Florida State) are really good."

The Gators have not offered, however, Marshall has picked up recent offers from Florida StateLSUAlabama and UCLA, and Florida has shown plenty of interest. 



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