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Florida football recruiting: Previewing Friday Night Lights 2017

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The Gators will have a slew of top prospects on hand this weekend.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators will host Friday Night Lights, their annual football recruiting event, this evening, with a night of workouts and schmoozing. Florida kicked off its weekend of recruiting activities on Thursday, hosting their Next Level Quarterback Camp and Sophomore Night events, but the big draw is this evening’s revelry and action under the lights.

The prospects on hand at Friday Night Lights will be able to participate in drills with coaches in Florida’s indoor practice facility, and spend some time showing out on the field in The Swamp.

Florida already picked up two new additions to its burgeoning 2018 class this week with the commitments of four-stars Kyle Pitts (TE) and Curtis Dunlap (OL). Those gets generated some solid momentum heading into this evening’s festivities, and could be a good sign for the recruiting pendulum to swing in the Gators’ favor this weekend.

Who’s Coming?

Some highly rated recruits, that’s who.

The Gators are expecting visitors from many of the nation’s top prospects, including at least one recruit in the top 200 at each position. All nine members of Florida’s No. 1 ranked 2019 class are anticipated to be in town tonight, as are several members of the 2018 class.

Below, we’ll break down some of the prospects for each position that are expected to be in Gainesville this evening.

(Of course, this list is not binding or definitive, and is comprised of the recruits who are anticipated to be in attendance based on reports from sources such as the Gainesville Sun, SEC Country, Gator Country, and others.)

Quarterback

2018 five-star Matt Corral (Long Beach Poly)
2018 five-star Justin Fields (Harrison, Ga.)
2020 Harrison Bailey (Marietta, Ga.)

The headliners for tonight’s recruiting extravaganza are certainly a pair of five-star signal callers who are among the best at their position. Both were Elite 11 finalists, with Fields taking MVP honors.

2018 Long Beach quarterback Matt Corral is making his first trip to UF today and plans to spend three days in Gainesville. The California native is rated as the No. 2 pro-style QB by 247Sports, and decommited from USC last month after visiting Georgia. The Bulldogs have been reported to be in the lead for Corral’s services. Corral reportedly plans to make a decision before the summer ends, and is thought to be deciding between UGA and Florida.

Justin Fields is the nation’s No. 1 rated pro-style quarterback. Fields was originally scheduled to visit Alabama today for their Champions Cookout event, but instead opted to go to Tallahassee yesterday to stop by Florida State, and should be in Gainesville tonight to see the Gators. Fields was once a Penn State commit, but is now considering Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, and Georgia.

The addition of a quarterback — and especially an immensely talented one — to Florida’s smallish 2018 class could be a big boon for the UF’s future recruiting returns, as it could encourage other players to take notice of what the Gators are potentially building. The best often want to play with the best.

Running back

2018 four-star Iverson Clement (Rancocas Valley Regional, N.J.) (Florida commit)
2018 four-star Dameon Pierce (Bainbridge, Va.)
2018 three-star Leddie Brown (Smyrna, Md.) (West Virginia commit)

Florida expects current commit Iverson Clement in Gainesville tonight. The four-star is a highly-touted running back in the 2018 class, and will travel from New Jersey to Florida to see the Gators for the first time since he committed back in April. WVU commit Leddie Brown will also visit. Brown has a relationship with Gators running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider, who came from the Mountaineers. Florida is also in the hunt for Dameon Pierce, who visited UF in March and decommitted from Alabama in May.

Wide receiver

2018 four-star Ja’Marr Chase (Archbishop Rummel)
2018 four-star Jacob Copeland (Escambia High)
2018 three-star Corey Gammage (American Heritage-Delray) (Florida commit)
2018 three-star Tyquan Thorton (Booker T. Washington)
2019 four-star John Dunmore (American Heritage) (Florida commit)
2019 four-star Maurice Goolsby (Dunnellon High) (Florida commit)

2018 Florida commit Corey Gammage is expected in town tonight, as are 2019 receiver commits John Dunmore and Maurice Goolsby. One of Florida’s top targets at the position, Jacob Copeland, should be in attendance, as should Ja’Marr Chase, who pushed back his scheduled announcement between LSU and TCU because TV time ran out at The Opening. Tyquan Thorton announced a top five earlier this week which included Florida.

Tight end

2018 three-star Dante Lang (Boca Raton High)
2019 Keon Zipperer (Lakeland)

The Gators picked up a tight end for the 2018 class with the commitment of Kyle Pitts yesterday. Florida is also a favorite for Keon Zipperer’s services in 2019. He named the Gators his leader and called UF his dream school. Lang plays both tight end and defensive end — and it wouldn’t be surprising if he committed.

Offensive line

2018 four-star William Barnes (Apopka)
2018 four-star Curtis Dunlap Jr. (IMG Academy) (Florida commit)
2018 four-star Richard Gouraige (Cambridge Christian)
2018 three-star Ed Montilus (Apopka)
2018 four-star Nicholas Petit-Frere (Berkley Prep)
2019 five-star Kardell Thomas (Southeastern University Lab)
2019 three-star Andrew Coker (Taylor High) (Florida commit)

Nicholas Petit-Frere is a 6’6”, 272-pound lineman rated as the nation’s No. 6 tackle and No. 56 overall prospect. William Barnes, like Justin Fields, is expected to visit Florida for Friday Night Lights rather than attend Alabama’s Champions Cookout. Barnes plans to commit on National Signing Day and is presently thought to be deciding between Florida and North Carolina, with Auburn potentially in the mix. His teammate, Ed Montilus, should also be in Gainesville this weekend. The pair visited UF together this spring. New Gator pledge Curtis Dunlap is expected in The Swamp, as is 2019 commit Andrew Coker.

Defensive back

2018 four-star Gilbert Frierson (Coral Gables) (Miami commit)
2018 three-star Randy Russell (Miami Carol City)
2018 three-star Rachad Wildgoose (Northwestern) (Georgia commit)
2018 three-star Divaad Wilson (Northwestern) (Florida commit)
2019 four-star Derek Stingley (Dunham High)
2019 Tyrique Stevenson (South Dade) (Florida commit)
2019 Kaiir Elam (Benjamin)
2019 Jaden Davis (St. Thomas Aquinas)

2018 Florida commit Divaad Wilson is anticipated at UF this weekend, as are two 2019 pledges (Stevenson is scheduled to arrive on Saturday). Also expected is Randy Russell, a Miami native (and former ‘Canes commit) who recently named a top five which included Florida, and who would not be a surprising addition to the Gators’ class. Gilbert Frierson is a long-time Hurricanes commit.

Safety

2018 four-star Amari Burney (Calvary Christian) (Florida commit)
2019 four-star Jaleel McRae (New Smyrna Beach) (Florida commit)
2019 Marcus Tillman (Jones High) (Florida commit)
2019 Trent Whittemore (Buchholz High) (Florida commit)

Florida pledge Amari Burney will be in attendance tonight, as will a trio of 2019 Gator commit safeties. Burney is a highly regarded recruit and was the Gators’ lone commit at The Opening.

Linebacker

2018 four-star Channing Tindall (Spring Valley)
2018 three-star David Reese (Vero Beach)
2019 James Gordon (Plant City)

Channing Tindall, a South Carolina native, is a top target for the Gamecocks but is expected to visit both Florida and Florida State this weekend. He traveled to Athens last weekend. David Reese is only expected to arrive in Gainesville later this weekend, if at all, but I felt the need to mention his name here because Florida could have two linebackers named David Reese and that is pretty neat.

Defensive line

2018 four-star Coynis Miller (Jackson Olin High)
2018 four-star Azeez Ojulari (Marietta, Ga.)
2018 three-star Patrick Joyner (South Dade) (Florida State commit)
2019 four-star Jaquaze Sorrels (Largo High) (Florida commit)
2019 Khris Bogle (Cardinal Gibbons)

Coynis Miller and Azeez Ojulari are reportedly also heavily considering in-state programs, but Miller speaks to the Gators often. FSU commit Pat Joyner is expected to visit on Saturday.


Some of the nation’s top prospects are expected in Gainesville (or are already in town) for tonight’s event. The annual showcase is a chance for recruits to get noticed, and a great opportunity to generate commitments for the Gators.

Here’s to another successful Friday Night Lights.