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Gators led busy early National Signing Day

Jamil King

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Wednesday was an early Christmas for college football fans. The early National Signing Day provided some fans with something new to look at aside from this past season. Today is a look into the future, and for teams around the State, the mood coming into the day was different for all the prominent state schools.

For Miami, they wanted to forget a disappointing season and see what coach Manny Diaz could do on the recruiting trail to look forward to his second season. Florida State fans were looking to see how new coach Mike Norvell saved a class that had been hurt by the firing of Willie Taggart. And, for the Gators, they were excited to see how Dan Mullen reloaded a team he has led to a 20 – 5 record, so far, in his first two seasons.

The Gators ended the day with the best class in the State. Already, clearly the best team in Florida, the Gators continued the potential future dominance. With the 8th ranked class in the nation right now, the Gators reloaded their defense with ten four-star players signing on that side of the ball. They landed three early enrollees, including the number five ranked dual-threat QB Anthony Richardson.

The Gators are not done yet, either. They are still trying to land the number 2 ranked safety, Avantae Williams, who is also considering the Miami Hurricanes. The Gators also have two verbal commits unsigned and will have to wait for February, but overall though, a very solid day for the program.

The Miami Hurricanes had a disappointing season finishing 6-6 before the bowl. They were able to win on NSD, however. The Canes have a top 20 class the second-best in the ACC and the State. The Canes will have no issue at running back, landing two top 10 backs. Don Chaney Jr. and Jaylan Knighton will look to make an impact early and help relive the passing game. Diaz, now having a whole season under his belt, delivered a pretty solid class and will look to build on that already having the number 5 ranked class for next season.

Florida State came into the day looking to salvage the class with a new coach and make a little noise. They were able to accomplish that. The Noles landed corner Demorie Tate to headline their class on the defensive end. On offense, the Noles were able to flip Louisville commit quarterback Chubba Purdy, the sixth-ranked dual-threat QB in the country. FSU currently has the 21st ranked class, a position they are not used to. New coach Mike Norvell did a good job to save this class, but all eyes will be on him this season both on the field and the recruiting trail.

USF and new Coach Jeff Scott only landed 12 recruits on the early signing day. They were able to get a few power five transfers, though. QB Cade Fortin will come from North Carolina. Running back Darrian Felix makes his way to Tampa all the way from Oregon. And, fellow running back Lavonte Valentine from South Carolina. Scott, who joined late in the game, will now focus on gaining a few more commits before the last signing day in February.

In Orlando rival, UCF landed 19 commits and a power five transfer of their own, offensive tackle Marcus Tatum comes in from Tennessee. The Knights also reloaded at the skill positions, including getting speedy WR/ATH Johnny Richardson from Lake Wales, as coach Josh Heupel has settled in with having to find his own talent for year three.

Jamil King is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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.

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Florida Gators

Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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