The uncertainty in Gainesville had a significant impact on the Gators’ recruiting efforts. Florida only has nine commits at the moment, and most of the top targets on the board were hesitant to jump on with Muschamp’s job in limbo.
Now that he’ll officially be done after two more games, the Gators can finally start to move forward, and that includes recruiting. Most of these recruits will wait to consider the new coaching staff in Florida. Relationships with assistants will be vital, and which ones — if any — are retained will influence these kids greatly. A big hire by the New Year could be enough to salvage the Gators’ class.
But sharks will certainly start to move in on these kids, LSU being one. The Tigers have long been legitimate contenders with a number of top Florida targets, and LSU stands to benefit from the coaching change in Gainesville. We’ll break down a handful of recruits with interest in both LSU and Florida and discuss the Tigers’ chances now that Muschamp is out.
You could argue Thomas saw this coming. The four-star linebacker committed to Florida in August but backed off a couple months later amidst the speculation regarding Muschamp’s job. Though he kept the Gators in contention, his attention started to focus on two other SEC schools — LSU and Alabama. He took an unofficial visit to Baton Rouge for the Alabama game and is set to return for an official on Dec. 5. Thomas was in Tuscaloosa this past weekend, so the battle is getting fierce between the Tigers and Tide. Thomas says he’ll still consider Florida depending on the new coach, but this looks like it’ll either be LSU or Alabama and the separation from Florida should grow in the coming weeks.
Jefferson was always considered a heavy lean to Florida, and Muschamp’s resignation may not be the end for the Gators. Jefferson actually plans to take a visit to Gainesville this weekend, where he should receive some clarification on the new direction of the program. This comes on the heels of a very successful official visit to Alabama. He was on LSU’s campus for an unofficial during the Alabama game, and he’ll likely return for an official visit before National Signing Day. Though Jefferson could certainly still go with the Gators, regardless of the new coach, this downtime will help LSU’s cause, though Alabama seems to be a growing threat.
OG Jalen Merrick
OG Jalen Merrick
Florida has been a consistent member of Merrick’s lead group along with Florida State and Miami. Unless the Gators retain offensive line coach Mike Summers, look for Florida to fall out of contention for Merrick. LSU has recruited this four-star guard very aggressively, with him serving as one of Jeff Grimes’ top targets since he came to LSU. Merrick is set to take an official visit to Baton Rouge on Dec. 5, and that should give an indication of where the Tigers stand. He took an official to Wisconsin this past weekend, and has trips scheduled to Arkansas and Florida State, with Alabama also likely to get a visit. LSU has a lot of competition for Merrick, but one less in-state school is a boost for the Tigers’ chances.
OT Martez Ivey
Auburn will be the team that benefits most with the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country. Florida and Auburn have long been considered the top two schools in Ivey’s recruitment, with all other programs on the outside looking in. Ivey may still end up with the Gators, as he’s often been realistic about the coach’s impact on his decision. But Muschamp’s resignation may create an opening for other schools. LSU hopes to take advantage, and the Tigers are working hard to get Ivey on an official visit for Dec. 5. If LSU can get him to campus that weekend, then the Tigers will have a more legitimate chance. But don’t rule out Florida for Ivey, and even then, Auburn will be tough to beat.
OTHER RECRUITS TO WATCH
Five-star DE Byron Cowart has been considered an even stronger lean to Florida than CeCe Jefferson. Those two are close friends and have discussed playing together in college. LSU’s always courted Cowart but hasn’t been able to nail down a visit yet. Maybe with the coaching change at Florida, Cowart starts to take a stronger look around.
The same could be said with Jeffery Holland. A high school teammate of Kevin Toliver, LSU has always been in the background with this big-time linebacker. Auburn will benefit most with Muschamp’s resignation, but LSU will continue pushing to get a visit from Holland before he decides.
DE/TE Devonaire Clarington will likely be taking an official visit to LSU soon. He recently checked out Florida, and the Gators were a big player in his recruitment. He’s been adamant that he’s wide open to all schools, and the Tigers will get their chance to impress him.
WR Antonio Callaway is another Florida prospect that has both LSU and Florida high on his list. He’s expressed interest in checking out LSU, but nothing’s materialized yet. LSU has in-state WRs Tyron Johnson and Daylon Charlot high on the board, so we’ll have to see if anything legitimate develops between LSU and Callaway.