The NFL announced its official invites Thursday to the upcoming 2019 Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, And, it’s obvious that the league feels strongly about two state program, specifically and their depth of talent for the next level.
The biggest example are “the Boys from Ol’ Florida.” The Gators will have eight players on hand for NFL personnel evaluators to look over. That includes: perspective number one pick offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, potential first-round pick pass-rusher Jachai Polite (above) and and linebacker / Edge rusher CeCe Jefferson. The Gators also have running back Jordan Scarlett and another offensive lineman, guard Martez Ivey, who are likely to be second or third day selections.
Meanwhile, the Miami Hurricanes have six players who were invited, led by prospective number one pick defensive lineman Gerald Willis. Willis is out of the mold of previous Miami defensive line greats like Warren Sapp, Russell Maryland and the late Jerome Brown. Willis leads four other Miami defensive players to the Combine. They include: safety Sheldrick Redwine and fellow defensive lineman Joe Jackson. Running back Travis Homer also got an invite from the offensive side of the ball in Coral Gables.
Florida State has three invitees led by defensive lineman Demarcus Christmas. Christmas, who just participated in the Senior Bowl last month, is expected to be a day two prospect for the second or third round. Seminole wide receiver Nyqwan Murray, who will probably be a day three selection is also on the NFL’s list.
The FAU Owls of Lane Kiffin ended up with strong representation including the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year the last two seasons in running back Devin Singletary. Also linebacker and defensive leader Azeez Al-Shaair was also given a coveted invite, too.
The lone representative for UCF is defensive lineman Tristan Hill, who has been one of the keys the last two years for a Knights team that ended up winning 25 consecutive games before suffering a loss in the Fiesta Bowl LSU.
The only state prominent program shut out in the Combine will be the USF Bulls.
While wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling wowed everyone with his blazing speed a year ago in Indy and ended up being drafted by Green Bay, the NFL didn’t designate any of the Bulls as worthy to be looked over in their process.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.
The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.
With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.
As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.
Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.
It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.
Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.
The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of former DB C.J. Henderson.
Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.
Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?
Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.
The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.
Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.
Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.