The Florida Gators ultimately ended up with 20 publicly confirmed signings at the end of the first day of the Early Signing Period on Wednesday, picking up three from a trio of Lakeland High Dreadnaughts to go with the 17 who followed up their prior oral commitments into faxed National Letters of Intent.
And of those players, a staggering half will be enrolled within three weeks, if all goes well.
Prior to Dan Mullen speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Florida disseminated a list of its signees to media members that specified 10 players from this 2019 recruiting class who have already enrolled early.
Those 10 players, in case you do not particularly want to squint to see them:
- Linebacker Mohamoud Diabate
- Offensive lineman Kingsley Eguakun
- Offensive lineman Will Harrod
- Cornerback Jaydon Hill
- Quarterback Jalon Jones
- Linebacker Jesiah Pierre
- Linebacker Lloyd Summerall III
- Offensive lineman Michael Tarquin
- Offensive lineman Ethan White
- Offensive lineman Wardrick Wilson
That is not just a massive crop of early enrollees, but one that consists of some of the most important players who could have been early enrollees in this class.
No position is more complex than quarterback, so no player benefits more from enrolling early and adjusting to the collegiate level of practice, conditioning, and film study than a quarterback, and Jalon Jones will be better able to follow in the footsteps of 2018 early enrollee Emory Jones and get snaps in games as a freshman by virtue of his early arrival.
Linemen need collegiate strength programs more than most, so it is a huge deal that Florida has the majority of its offensive line class set to arrive in January. Players like Michael Tarquin, who is recovering from a torn labrum, and Ethan White, who Florida lists at an eye-popping 390 pounds and who will almost certainly need to reshape his body to contribute effectively at the collegiate level, can begin their collegiate careers with the longest path to the field possible, one that affords them (and Florida) more time to get their bodies into or closer to peak condition. (Lloyd Summerall, listed at 209 pounds, is very probably going to be tasked with putting on weight.)
And for almost all players, enrolling early has substantial academic and social benefits.
Players who complete a full spring term prior to a football season often end up with GPAs higher than summer enrollees, and exceptional students frequently use enrolling early as a springboard to graduating early — which is, lest we forget, part of the point of the college part of college football.
And football players arriving at schools at the beginning of a spring semester will end up at a fuller campus that is — in my opinion — easier to fit into than the largely deserted campus that comes with a summer term, and are more likely to find social groups both within and beyond a football program as a result. (There is also less downtime during the spring, which helps to cut down on the sort of stupid teenage dude stuff that stupid teenage dudes do.)
Getting 10 early enrollees in a class of 20 is a significant achievement for Florida that should help the Gators on the football field, sure. But it is also a significant achievement — and sacrifice, given that the young men qualified to enroll early forgo a final spring semester of high school that is usually more like a victory lap than the strenuous sprint to the finish less academically accomplished peers must undertake — for the 10 early enrollees themselves.
And they should see significant benefits as students and as people for enrolling early — even if they never play a down for Florida.