Florida held its annual Friday Night Lights event on, er, Friday, inviting waves of talented players to Gainesville, and into the Gators' new indoor practice facility and The Swamp. Recruits from all over — as far away as New Hampshire — came to participate in drills, meet with coaches, and check out Florida's facilities.
Amazing night at THE Friday Night Lights! Nothing better than football in The Swamp under the lights. #FNL2016 pic.twitter.com/8KTwM2gTCt— Jim McElwain (@CoachMcElwain) July 23, 2016
1. Who showed up?
The expected visitors list was impressive and plenty of 2017, 2018, and 2019 recruits were on hand at Florida on Friday, and on Thursday (underclassmen). Getting talent on Florida's campus is good for the Gators, and there was plenty of evidence that the Florida coaching staff accomplished that goal.
Star watchers should be pleased that a long list of four-star recruits descended on Gainesville, including a slew of elite 2017 defensive backs: Miami commit Christopher Henderson, Georgia commit Latavious Brini, Brad Stewart, safety Hamsah Nasirildeen, and athlete Tray Bishop, whom the Gators are said to be recruiting as a defensive back. Marco Wilson, brother of Florida corner Quincy Wilson, is headed in on Saturday. Other four-star defensive players in town included 2017 defensive ends LaBryan Ray and Fred Hansard, 2018 Auburn commit linebacker Robert Hicks, and 2017 California linebacker Rahyme Johnson. Notable three-star recruits on hand included 2017 defensive back Shawn Davis and 2018 defensive tackle Timaje Porter.
On the offensive side of the ball, 2017 three-star offensive lineman and Miami commit Zalont'ae Hillery visited, as did 2017 four-star Miami offensive line commit Navaughn Donaldson. Four-star skill position players in attendance included 2017 wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, 2017 running back and North Carolina commit Adarius Lemons, 2017 wide receiver and West Virginia commit Mike Harley (who came with Florida QB commit Jake Allen), and 2018 running back and FSU commit James Cook (you may recall his brother, Dalvin).
Florida also had 2017 and 2018 Gator commits on hand. Allen, known to do his own part in the Gators' recruiting efforts, was in attendance, as were four-star 2017 defensive end Zachary Carter, 2017 four-star wide receiver Daquon Green, three-star 2017 quarterback Kadarious Toney, four-star tight end Kemore Gamble, and 2019 defensive end Jaquaze Sorrells.
Allen and Gamble hooked up for a touchdown pass during drills.
Jake Allen to Kemore Gamble #Swamp17 pic.twitter.com/mqegC627tl— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) July 23, 2016
#Gators QB commit Jake Allen (@Jakeallen_14) being interview by QB coach Quincy Avery (@Quincy_Avery) after #FNL. pic.twitter.com/t1t7BmvVTA— Fernando Juncadella (@FJuncadella) July 23, 2016
Green and Toney posed for a picture together.
. @iamDG7 and @kadariustoney pic.twitter.com/Slk472rtuL— Andrew Spivey (@AndrewSpiveyGC) July 22, 2016
2. Who showed out?
The big highlight from Friday Night Lights was four-star wide receiver Jerry Jeudy:
BREAK THE INTERNET: Big-time 2017 WR @jerryjeudy dices 2019 #Miami DB commit Akeem Dent.@coachmarroquin pic.twitter.com/CgvUCHF8Rl— Corey Bender (@Corey_Bender) July 23, 2016
.@jerryjeudy just put on an absolute show here at #FNL2016 during the 1v1 portion #Gators— Graham Hall (@GrahamHall_) July 23, 2016
Jeudy, who was the top performer during 1-on-1 drills and is known for his fancy footwork and route running, named Florida and Alabama as his top two schools. Jeudy plans to graduate in December and early enroll so fans should not have to wait until National Signing Day for his decision.
FYI: Asked him if UF & Bama were top 2 & he said "yeah." Added that he's considering others. @NickdelaTorreGC & @OS_Recruiting also reported— Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) July 23, 2016
Also turning heads was four-star running back Adarius Lemons. Lemons, who is currently committed to UNC, worked out for the Gators while decked out in Gator gear.
Props to @adariuslemons for working out tonight. He has a ton of offers but not afraid of competing. pic.twitter.com/6mSByiwtmg— Andrew Spivey (@AndrewSpiveyGC) July 22, 2016
4-star RB Adarius Lemons working with Tim Skipper. https://t.co/PUBhgeO15m— Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) July 22, 2016
Florida is pushing hard for Lemons, and reportedly told him that if he committed he would be the only running back the Gators would take in the 2017 class.
3. Who committed?
American Heritage 2017 linebacker James Houston committed on Friday night. Houston recently suffered an ACL injury and will soon undergo surgery. Houston is Florida's second commitment at linebacker, a position of need for the Gators, for 2017.
Speaking of positions of need, defensive back Shawn Davis apparently considered committing to the Gators as well last night, but instead decided to wait until August to announce his decision at an announcement ceremony.
Miami CB Shawn Davis says he thought about committing to #Gators tonight, but wants to have an announcement ceremony in August.— Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) July 23, 2016
4. Who was offered?
Several recruits received offers after visiting Florida for Thursday's "Sophomore Night'"and quarterback camp. These included 2018 four-star offensive tackle Trey Hill, 2018 three-star tight end George Takacs, 2018 three-star tight end Jarrett Jackson, 2018 wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, and 2019 defensive end Derrick McLendon.
The Gators also offered two four-star 2018 quarterbacks who participated in their quarterback camp: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, from Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman, and Artur Sitkowski of New Jersey. Sitkowski impressed at Thurday's quarterback camp and spent time with Doug Nussmeier and the Florida coaching staff.
New 2018 QB offer @artursitkowski4 at #UF pic.twitter.com/qg5XWvgt5A— Blake Alderman (@MistaAlderman) July 22, 2016
Another 2018 Qb offered @DoriansTweets at #UF pic.twitter.com/zl1146pon3— Blake Alderman (@MistaAlderman) July 22, 2016
5. Who's coming back? Who was impressed?
As noted above, ankle-breaking wide receiver Jeudy stated that Florida and Alabama were his leaders, but he is also considering other schools, including Florida State, Tennessee, and Miami.
Davis, who reportedly considered committing to Florida last night before deciding to have an announcement ceremony in August, is considered a strong Florida lean.
Lemons, who is presently committed to UNC, is considering the Tar Heels and Florida right now, and there's plenty of smoke about him making a flip. His grandmother loves Florida, and being in Gainesville offers his family the opportunity to see him play on Saturdays without having to travel far or fly.
Clearwater RB @adariuslemons said at #FNL2016 he's narrowed his top two to the #Gators and #TarHeels— Graham Hall (@GrahamHall_) July 23, 2016
Safety recruit Hamsah Nasirildeen, who holds offers from Florida State and Alabama, enjoyed his second visit to Florida and spending time with defensive backs coach Torrian Gray.
Nasirildeen with Jalen Tabor, Marcus Maye, and Quincy Wilson:
Good time at Florida past couple days pic.twitter.com/KNzWWJHc1o— #️⃣4️⃣ (@nasirildeen) July 23, 2016
Speaking of Quincy, his four-star cornerback brother Marco has included Florida in his top five, which also includes Georgia, Miami, Ohio State, and USC.
Florida appears to have had a successful Friday Night Lights and impressed many of the recruits on hand. It remains to be seen what fruit will be reaped from these labors, but by bringing in a ton of talent, creating positive buzz, and putting on an entertaining event, Florida appears to be heading in the right direction with recruiting.
FNL a big success for UF. Organized & entertaining with a talented turnout. Job well done by @CoachMcElwain, @dhughes234 & the entire staff.— Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) July 23, 2016
One thing is for sure after FNL, the buzz around camp and the program is back. That's a credit @dhughes234 @CoachMcElwain and co.— Andrew Spivey (@AndrewSpiveyGC) July 23, 2016