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Zachary Carter, four-star defensive end, commits to Florida

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Florida has its new best recruit for the 2017 class.

Student Sports

Florida has long been the team to beat in and around Tampa on the recruiting trail, but recent years have seen some of the Gators' primacy in the Bay Area wane. After securing the commitment of four-star defensive end Zachary Carter, maybe Tampa's best 2017 prospect, on Friday, the Gators have some bite back.

Carter has an excellent frame for a defensive end, standing 6'5" or so and weighing nearly 250 pounds prior to his senior year of high school. The ways in which he can use that frame have made him a consensus four-star prospect, and one of the nation's top defensive ends.

Carter was thought of as a long-time Florida lean, with interest dating back a year or more, but Clemson — a frequent Florida nemesis in the Tampa area, having pulled Deon Cain, Ray Ray McCloud, and Artavis Scott out of the region in recent years — had surged in the race to secure his commitment in recent weeks, with Carter visiting the Palmetto State for three days just last weekend. But a run on predictions for Clemson turned out to be a false alarm, as Carter, a rising senior at Hillsborough High, is following in the footsteps of Tampa-area defensive end Dante Fowler in choosing the Gators.

His highlights justify more than a bit of excitement.

Carter shows a fine blend of both the strength to disengage from blocks and the quickness and agility to do something afterward, and demonstrates the power to finish tackles and crush quarterbacks, too. He plays a bit higher than one would like at times, but that might be a factor of his height, and leverage is far more coachable than any physical skill.

It's hard to pick a single current Gator that Carter most resembles. He might be a triangulation of Fowler, Jonathan Bullard, and Alex McCalister, given his combination of speed, power, and length, but I'm tempted to say that sort of combination actually makes him more like Jevon Kearse, whose talents were so freakish that they probably shouldn't be compared to mere mortals' skills.

If Carter can have a college career like any of those players, excepting maybe McCalister, his time will probably have been a wild success.

Carter is Florida's ninth commitment for the 2017 recruiting cycle, and its highest-rated. His commitment will vault Florida from 38th to 26th in the 247Composite recruiting rankings when they are next updated.