Although Florida was perceived to be a contender for five-star defensive end Darius Hamilton -- especially after former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano left to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- the Gators failed to make the elite pass rusher’s final two.
Hamilton announced his decision earlier tonight and chose to stay close to home and play for Rutgers over what was his new second choice, the Miami Hurricanes.
Florida had long been considered Hamilton’s second option, while Rutgers had always been the team to beat. And when Schiano left Rutgers with less than a week to go until Signing Day, many believed Hamilton would fall right into the Gators’ arms.
Well, a late visit to Miami gave Hamilton a lot to think about, and the Hurricanes overtook the Gators for the No. 2 spot. Hamilton eventually eliminated Florida altogether.
However, second place means nothing in recruiting. Second place may as well be last place. And Rutgers, despite the late coaching drama, managed to hold on to its top target.
So what’s next for the Gators at defensive end? Well, Dante Fowler is still up for grabs, despite him saying otherwise. He still plans to do the hat-pick routine, choosing between Florida and Florida State. Another prospect to watch is Leonard Williams. He’s reportedly down to Florida and Southern California, and while all signs point toward USC, he would be a great pickup if he were to choose Florida.
The Gators already have commitments from four defensive ends: Jonathan Bullard, Bryan Cox Jr., Alex McCalister, and Quinteze Williams. But for depth purposes adding a fifth -- and another instant impact player to go along with Bullard -- would be ideal. However, it won’t make or break the class.