The centerpiece of what would have been Jim McElwain’s 2018 recruiting class for the Florida Gators won’t be part of Dan Mullen’s 2018 recruiting class for the Florida Gators.
Celebrated four-star California quarterback Matt Corral made his flip to Ole Miss — something that had grown from faint possibility to impending calamity in recent days — official late Thursday night, tweeting a graphic of himself with the December 20 date for the early signing period and the word “COMMITTED” in all caps.
It is the most significant possible loss for Florida’s class, which coalesced around Corral’s commitment in the wake of the Gators’ Friday Night Lights camp in July. Corral was the highest-rated quarterback to commit to the Gators since at least Jeff Driskel.
Corral had been vocal about his desire to stick with Florida all fall — through a disastrous season for the Gators that involved rumors about the job status of the coach and offensive coordinator that convinced him to choose the Gators, and then the firing of that coach. But Mullen pursued Georgia commit Justin Fields and widened Florida’s net at quarterback immediately upon taking the head job at Florida — and while he may have made traction with one of the 2018 class’s most inscrutable recruits, Corral appeared on social media to be uncomfortable with that move.
That discomfort may have helped spur an interest in Ole Miss, which got Corral to campus last weekend, sparking more rumors about an impending flip. And while Corral tweeted about planning an official visit with Florida for this weekend after getting an in-home visit from Mullen and new offensive assistant Brian Johnson on Monday, Ole Miss had another in-home visit for this week — and apparently convinced the passer to flip his commitment in time to sign early and enroll in January.
It’s not clear where Florida will go from this juncture when it comes to recruiting quarterbacks. But unless Mullen sincerely wants to enter the 2018 season with only Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask, and Jake Allen at the position — something that is very, very unlikely — he’ll have some serious work to do between now and spring practice.