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Early Signing Period 2018: Florida Gators live open thread

Live updates on Florida commits and targets, with occasional looks at the rest of the country.

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NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators will begin to fill out their 2019 recruiting class today during the second annual Early Signing Period. Dan Mullen was at the helm for Florida’s first foray into a December signee class last fall, and produced a fine finish, but this time he’s had more than a few weeks on the job to assemble a class, and has his Gators poised to inch over 20 signees and possibly into the top 15 classes in the nation.

The Early Signing Period runs from today, Wednesday, December 18, until Friday, December 20, but the majority of the action should take place today.

Here’s what to watch for during the Early Signing Period 2018.

Current commitments

The Gators currently have 18 prospects committed for the 2019 class:

  • Four-star linebacker Diwun Black
  • Four-star linebacker Mohamoud Diabate
  • Three-star offensive guard Kingsley Eguakun
  • Four-star offensive tackle William Harrod
  • Four-star cornerback Jaydon Hill
  • Four-star linebacker Tyron Hopper
  • Four-star defensive tackle Jaelin Humphries
  • Four-star dual-threat quarterback Jalon Jones
  • Three-star cornerback Chester Kimbrough
  • Three-star wide receiver Dionte Marks
  • Three-star linebacker Jesiah Pierre
  • Three-star offensive guard Riley Simonds
  • Four-star offensive tackle Michael Tarquin
  • Three-star wide receiver Ja’Markis Weston
  • Three-star offensive tackle Ethan White
  • Three-star safety Trent Whittemore
  • Four-star offensive tackle Wardrick Wilson
  • Four-star running back Nay’Quan Wright

Of those 18, all but one — Black, who took an unofficial visit instead of an official visit last weekend because of academic reasons, and is understood to be academically ineligible to sign at this time — are expected to sign with their chosen school this week, and very few are considered significant risks to flip to another school. Hopper has given South Carolina considerations late, but is still considered likely to stick with Florida; Hill previously flirted with flipping, as well, but is also considered a given to sign with the Gators.

Prospects to watch

In addition to its commits, Florida hopes to land several blue-chip prospects during the early signing period, including four-star offensive guard Deyavie Hammond, four-star defensive end Lloyd Summerall, and four-star tight end Keon Zipperer, all Lakeland High prospects who have the Gators leading by a wide margin in their Crystal Ball predictions and are set to sign in a late-morning ceremony.

Other recruits who have the Gators among their finalists include three-star defensive lineman Brandon Dorlus, five-star running back Trey Sanders, and four-star cornerback Chris Steele — who had planned to sign early but not announce until January 5, but has since pushed back his signing. Florida fans could also keep their eyes on four-star defensive tackle (and FSU commit) Derick Hunter, four-star defensive tackle and recent official visitor Siaki Ika, and four-star offensive lineman (and FSU commit) Dontae Lucas, who all have at least some reported interest in the Gators, but are not considered likely to choose Florida.

Of those six players, Steele seems the most likely to ultimately become a Gator, with Sanders — whose brother Umstead is infamously on Florida’s roster, and who spent last weekend on an official visit in Gainesville — a somewhat distant second, given that he is also prized by both Alabama and Georgia. And if the Gators miss on Dorlus and Hunter, as seems likely, they will have a hole at defensive tackle in this recruiting class that will beg to be filled by National Signing Day in February.

Commitment schedule

Below you’ll find the commitment schedule for National Signing Day 2018’s potential Florida signees.

Early Signing Period 2018: Florida Gators Prospects

Player Position Commitment Time (Approximate) Schools Considering Crystal Ball Prediction / Commitment Signing
Player Position Commitment Time (Approximate) Schools Considering Crystal Ball Prediction / Commitment Signing
Riley Simonds OL 7:05 a.m. Florida Florida Florida
Tyron Hopper LB 7:45 a.m. Florida, South Carolina Florida Florida
Ja’markis Weston WR 8:00 a.m. Florida, Penn State, UCF Florida Florida
Jalon Jones QB 8:30 a.m. Florida, Mississippi State, Virginia Florida Florida
Nay’Quan Wright RB 8:30 a.m. Florida Florida Florida
Brandon Dorlus DL 9:00 a.m. Florida, Oregon Favoring Oregon Oregon
Siaki Ika DL 9:00 a.m. Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oregon, Utah Favoring Alabama LSU
Keon Zipperer TE 11:30 a.m. Alabama, Florida, Miami Favoring Florida Florida
Lloyd Summerall DE 11:30 a.m. Florida, Florida State, Miami Favoring Florida Florida
Deyavie Hammond OL 11:30 a.m. Florida, Florida State, Miami Favoring Florida Florida
Jesiah Pierre LB 12:15 p.m. Florida Florida Florida
Trey Sanders RB 1:00 p.m. Alabama, Florida, Georgia Favoring Alabama
Derick Hunter DE 2:00 p.m. Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Texas A&M Favoring Texas A&M
Dionte Marks WR 2:30 p.m. Florida, Nebraska Florida Florida
Dontae Lucas OL 4:00 p.m. Florida, Florida State, Miami Florida State
Jaydon Hill CB 4:45 p.m. Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee Florida Florida
Chester Kimbrough CB N/A Florida Florida Florida
Mohamoud Diabate LB N/A Florida, Texas A&M Florida Florida
Kingsley Eguakun OL N/A Auburn, Florida, Miami Florida Florida
William Harrod OL N/A Florida, Michigan Florida Florida
Jaelin Humphries DT N/A Florida, Georgia Florida Florida
Michael Tarquin OL N/A Florida, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma Florida Florida
Ethan White OL N/A Florida Florida Florida
Trent Whittemore WR/DB N/A Army, Florida, Georgia Tech Florida Florida
Wardrick Wilson OL N/A Florida, Michigan, Missouri Florida Florida

Keep refreshing and checking this live open thread throughout the day, as we will be updating it with details and linking to our other postings as National Signing Day unfolds.

7:11 a.m.: In a minor upset, it is offensive tackle Michael Tarquin who is first to get his National Letter of Intent in and verified for Florida to announce his signing.

I will not be embedding all of these tweets, for the record; most of them are getting linked.

7:18 a.m.: In less of a surprise, Virginia passer Jalon Jones is the second confirmed Florida signee of the day. Jones — whose highlight reel makes it clear he is a fit for the Mullen offense — had previously committed to Mullen at Mississippi State before pledging to Florida, and his love for both Mullen and the Gators did not waver this fall.

Jones is still set to have a ceremonial signing broadcast via his father on Instagram later this morning, in case you want to tune in for that.

7:22 a.m.: Signee No. 3 of the day is Gainesville Buchholz safety Trent Whittemore, one of just a handful of Florida commits in this 2019 class who originally pledged to Jim McElwain. Recent buzz has suggested that Whittemore, one of the lower-rated commits in this class, may end up playing wide receiver at the collegiate level — a supposition supported by Florida publishing highlights in which he makes two touchdown catches.

7:25 a.m.: Florida now also has a true receiver signee in the fold in the form of Clewiston wideout Ja’Markis Weston. Weston, too, is a holdover from McElwain’s tenure.

7:32 a.m.: The second signee in what should be a massive haul of offensive linemen today is Georgia bruiser Riley Simonds. There had been some smoke that Simonds would have to hold off on signing during the Early Signing Period; happily, that turns out to have not been the case.

7:35 a.m.: And just over half an hour into ESD 2018, Florida has a third of its current commitments signed, with wideout Dionte Marks making six of 18 commits to have been announced as signees. That is quick work.

7:38 a.m.: One thing I hope Florida teaches its athletes at some orientation? The difference between apart of and a part of:

7:43 a.m.: In Kingsley Eguakun, we can add a third offensive lineman — and a second to recently flip to Florida from Miami — to the list of Gators signees, and an utter nightmare for scribes to remember how to spell each time.

7:45 a.m.: In maybe the first actual decision of the day, four-star linebacker Tyron Hopper has maintained his Florida commitment despite late interest from South Carolina, with Florida announcing his signing. Hopper is one of the better prospects in what is a formidable class of linebackers, and keeping him is a very good outcome for the Gators — and a blow to Will Muschamp.

7:50 a.m.: Florida entered Wednesday with 18 public commitments. It now has nine signees within the first hour of the Early Signing Period, with four-star offensive lineman William Harrod being just the latest.

At this rate — and given that the trio of uncommitted players who seem to be Florida leans are set to sign before noon — it seems very much possible that almost the entirety of Florida’s signees will be known by lunchtime.

8:00 a.m.: While we are in a lull of sorts, two notes:

  1. Florida’s National Signing Day splash page looks really nice this year. It sure is a clean, fast experience on a laptop.
  2. The reason I am waiting on Florida-issued tweets to confirm signings here is that those tweets are the only official word we have that Florida has accepted and confirmed signings. Reporters can physically see prospects physically signing National Letters of Intent and physically putting that paperwork through a fax machine ... and that can not matter at all if the school does not receive or confirm the NLI. Today, Florida — and every other school confirming NLIs — is the official arbiter of who is signed and who is not.

8:04 a.m.: The lull did not last long, as manful linebacker Jesiah Pierre became Florida’s 10th signee just before 8 a.m. Eastern.

That is half of the Florida class officially signed before an hour was done.

8:19 a.m.: We are now up to 11 signees, with offensive lineman Wardrick Wilson — another McElwain-era commit — getting the Gators to one twice over.

...oh, that sounds stupid outside of a Drake lyric? And maybe you should refrain from using Drake lyrics out of the context of singing along? I REST MY CASE.

8:23 a.m.: In one of the most interesting national developments of the day so far, four-star safety and former Ohio State commit Jordan Battle has flipped to Alabama ... which appears to have prompted five-star safety and former Alabama commit Daxton Hill to flip back to Michigan.

The 2019 Ohio State recruiting class was once thought of as having the potential to be the best recruiting class on paper in the history of ranking such things. That is, uh, not going to happen.

8:25 a.m.: Florida is now up to 12 signees — two-thirds of its crop of commitments entering Wednesday — with the inking of Louisiana cornerback Chester Kimbrough. Geaux Gators.

8:35 a.m.: Writing out what commitments are still yet to become signees...

...makes quite clear how much work Florida already had done entering today. Of those five players, only Hill seems even plausible as a flip at the moment — and if Wright should implausibly become one, it might be as a domino falling in a sequence that stems from Trey Sanders landing with the Gators.

While having a flashy day filled with five-star commits is closer to the ideal than filling a board with three- and four-star commits who become signees with no-drama, and certainly does conform to expectations, one imagines a coaching staff appreciates being able to breathe relatively easy on a day like today.

8:39 a.m.: Oh, and Hill did not flip.

8:42 a.m.: Long ago, around these parts, some of us used to call Will Muschamp “Flipper” for his proficiency in staying on prospects and getting them to change commitments at the 11th hour. Muschamp and trusted lieutenant Travaris Robinson tried that with Tyron Hopper and Jaydon Hill this year.

They are now Gators.

8:52 a.m.: In case you thought Florida was doing especially well with getting its commits turned into signees:

Clemson also has the No. 5 class nationally at the moment.

There is still some distance between Florida and the current elites of college football.

9:07 a.m.: No surprise coming from Nay’Quan Wright — he is a Florida signee now.

9:12 a.m.: No surprise from Siaki Ika, either: Despite a late push by Florida, the LSU lean has committed to LSU, and is expected to sign later today.

Florida is still waiting on a National Letter of Intent from DT Jaelin Humphries, but after missing on Ika, the Gators’ fairly well-rounded class is still missing a second defensive tackle. And it does not seem at this point like either Brandon Dorlus or Derick Hunter is likely to be that second DT, with both players leaning elsewhere.

9:32 a.m.: With Mohamoud Diabate now confirmed as a signee, Florida is down to just three outstanding commits — Diwun Black, Jaelin Humphries, and Ethan White. And with Black not signing today, there are just two more expected faxes from commits to wait for at present.

Diabate is one of the more interesting recruits in this class, for my money: Not only is he an Auburn native who has spurned the hometown and in-state schools for Florida, but he is an openly devout Muslim who plays a sport deeply intertwined with Christianity in the South. Will Sammon of The Athletic took a good look at that, and Diabate as a whole, earlier this week.

10:14 a.m.: Now that Ethan White is confirmed as a a signee, the only Florida commit still expected to sign today who has not is Jaelin Humphries.

Of course, the Lakeland Three are set to make some momentous decisions next hour.

11:06 a.m.: And with Jaelin Humphries now officially in, we have a full set of 17 signees from 17 commits expected to sign.

Now Florida waits on Diwun Black getting himself ready to sign, and on commits-to-be who will almost simultaneously become signees.

11:58 a.m.: Though they missed their 11:30 a.m. mark for committing — blame ESPN2 — the trio of coveted Lakeland prospects all did pick Florida, with Deyavie Hammond, Lloyd Summerall, and Keon Zipperer all donning Gators hats, the latter two doing so with Chucky dolls in their laps.

That brings Florida to 20 signees on the day, with only Trey Sanders, Derick Hunter, and Dontae Lucas outstanding as targets — and only Sanders, a remote possibility, seeming to have any chance of landing with the Gators.

12:09 p.m.: You want a cool graphic? This is a good graphic.

Also, Chris Doering just mentioned on SEC Network coverage that Florida was aiming to sign 20 players today and did so.

You can probably rule out Trey Sanders, then.

1:16 p.m.: And now Trey Sanders has publicly announced a recommitment to Alabama, rendering him officially off of the Florida board.

It is a bummer that having his brother in the fold did not ultimately sway Trey to Florida, but the Gators failing to stage a coup against Alabama and Georgia is far from a death blow — especially at running back, where Florida is set up quite well going forward.