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Florida football recruiting: Speedy 2020 safety Mordecai McDaniel commits to Gators

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The Gators stocking up on safeties is the last phase of refilling their defensive cupboards.

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Florida vs Michigan Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Telling you that Washington, D.C.-residing safety Mordecai McDaniel committed to the Florida Gators on Friday — flipping his pledge from Tennessee — is old news at this point, and news that I intended to post about this weekend if/when another commitment happened. Mea culpa on that part.

But it’s no less exciting for having happened a couple of days back, as McDaniel, a four-star safety with excellent speed for the position, is a prospect with skills and talents to dream on.

McDaniel has legitimate track speed...

...and it translates on the field.

That alone makes him a tantalizing safety prospect for Florida, which is loading up at the position in its 2020 class. With McDaniel, Georgia-grown thumper Rashad Torrence, Jacksonville playmaker Tre’Vez Johnson, and potential safety Marc Britt — a high school wide receiver — already in the fold, and DeLand star Avantae Williams high on Florida’s wish list, there should be no lack of players at the back of Florida’s secondary in coming years. And there may well be enough depth for players to cross-train at corner and Florida’s Star-designated nickel corner position. (247Sports lists McDaniel as a corner, in fact, which might be a suggestion as to where Florida’s coaches would have him start.)

But the greater upshot of McDaniel joining a stellar class of safeties is that Dan Mullen, Todd Grantham, and Grantham’s staff of defensive assistants are shoring up the spots of defensive weakness left by the Jim McElwain regime.

Florida was notably short on linebackers even entering 2018, needed corners in 2019, and was set to be looking for players at defensive tackle and safety in this class even way back when Mullen arrived; all of those needs have been well-addressed since then. And meeting them (along with developing those players post-enrollment) should put Florida in a position to do less recruiting by quantity and more by quality going forward, something it hasn’t had the luxury of doing on defense since the Will Muschamp era.

McDaniel is Florida’s 24th commitment in the 2020 cycle, and while his pledge did not push the Gators up any spots in the national team rankings, their 264.54 points in the 247Sports Composite team rankings are not far off the 268.90 that fifth-ranked Texas A&M boasts, pretty clearly placing the Gators’ 2020 class in the second tier of the nation’s elite behind a quartet — Clemson, Alabama, LSU, and Ohio State — currently operating at a different level.