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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.

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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Gators land Penn State transfer WR Shorter

Florida Football Insiders

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Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY

Good news for the Gators receiving corps on a Sunday afternoon in January, as they have landed a former high school five-star pospect transfer from Penn State.

Nittany Lions sophomore Justin Shorter had announced in November that he was transferring from Happy Valley, PA, and on Sunday afternoon after visiting the Gators a week ago, he’s made his decision publicly known on social media:

Shorter played sparingly for the Nittany Lions in 2019 appearing in seven games and catching only 12 passes. He caught three balls for 28 yards in the Nittany Lions lost to Ohio State. He announced the following week that he would be entering the NCAA transfer portal.

The Gators are in need of wide receiving help after losing Freddie Swain, Van Jefferson and Tyrie Cleveland to graduation this past season.

Coach Dan Mullen and offensive coordinator Billy Gonzales always seem to be able to reload. And, Florida has an incoming receiving class with Ocala four star high school prospect Jaquavion Frazairs and Texas transfer Jordan Pouncey already, as both having signed in the December in early signing period.

Back to Shorter. He was regarded as the #1 high school receiving prospect in the Northeast two years ago coming out of South Brunswick, New Jersey. And, at 6’4 with large “catch radius,” he had been viewed as a potential replacement for former Penn State, now Buccaneers, Pro Bowler, Chris Godwin.

He is a sophomore and it’s unclear if he will already be eligible for 2020 or will have to put in for a waiver with the NCAA?

Shorter and his father reportedly visited the Gainesville campus during the December “dead period” just after Christmas and while the Gators were in Miami preparing for their eventual Orange Bowl win over Virginia.

Florida has committed to QB Kyle Trask for 2020 after his success in replacing Feleipe Franks who fractured his leg in the September game in Kentucky. Franks announced last week that he was electing to transfer to Arkansas, as a graduate whom can immediately play this fall.

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