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Florida football recruiting: Gators land Justin Watkins on official visit weekend

It was a successful weekend in Gainesville.

NCAA Football: Florida-Head Coach Dan Mullen Press Conference Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The sun was out and temperatures were temperate — a rarity of late in a cold month for much of the United States — in Gainesville this weekend.

And for the Florida Gators, staying warm — if not hot — on the recruiting trail was a priority.

The Gators hosted five official visitors over the weekend, in what was their third-to-last official visit weekend before National Signing Day, and what should be the quietest of the three major official visit weekends the Gators have planned in the run-up to the finish of the 2018 recruiting cycle.

Caleb Tannor

Noah Boykin

Nesta Silvera

Justin Watkins

None of the five prospects the Gators hosted — Maryland-committed cornerback Noah Boykin, Peach State linebacker Caleb Johnson, Miami-committed defensive tackle Nesta Silvera, Georgia decommit and edge rusher Caleb Tannor, and LSU decommit and athlete Justin Watkins — came to campus as a Florida commit.

But Watkins left as one, committing to the Gators Saturday night and giving the program another four-star prospect. And Boykin left with a scholarship offer that many recruitniks think will ultimately lead him to flip from the Terrapins to the Gators.

The fates of the other three prospects are less certain.

Silvera has been committed to Miami for ages, hails from South Florida, and is an excellent and deeply underrated defensive tackle prospect whom the ‘Canes would love to keep. I think he’s far more likely to stay a Hurricane than flip to the Gators, but Florida getting him on campus counts for something (Miami, one suspects, was not particularly pleased about that development), and there had been smoke about him flipping to the Gators last summer — a time that may as well be a decade ago, given how much the intervening months have changed both programs.

Johnson and Tannor, on the other hand, are three-star prospects whom the Gators would seemingly like to have, but may not be takes at this precise moment.

Of the two, Johnson is the more college-ready — looking at the picture of Tannor in a uniform above and imagining that human being playing college football at Florida’s level in seven months is comical — and would slot into the position of greater need as an interior linebacker, but murmurs about whether he is likely to be academically cleared might help explain him being not just not committed to Florida but uncommitted at the moment. Tannor, probably more likely to be a linebacker than a defensive end, may be a fallback plan — if Florida cannot, say, convince prospective future official visitor Andrew Chatfield to pick the Gators, its board for edge rushers and/or outside linebackers may expand accordingly.

Either way, it would seem that Florida’s efforts to put together a full class for the 2018 cycle despite a coaching change continue apace.