This first day of the Early Signing Period in major college football — known as Early Signing Day far and wide even if that isn’t technically the correct name for the day, because National Signing Day needed a December equivalent — dawned with the Florida Gators knowing a lot more than they did on the two prior Early Signing Days with Dan Mullen presiding over affairs in Gainesville.
There is no blue-chip quarterback prospect being pursued, as Emory Jones was in 2017. There is no blue-chip trio of in-state recruits set to announce — likely for Florida — in one ceremony, as there was last year when Lakeland teammates Deyavie Hammond, Lloyd Summerall, and Keon Zipperer made the call for the Gators.
This year, the target list has largely turned into a commit list, and Florida — and Gators fans — will spend the day focused on the announcement of those commitments turning into signings, with a few possible public pledges in the afternoon.
For drama and clicks, this isn’t exactly the ideal scenario. For Florida? It’s close.
I woke up this morning with the intent of getting this open thread up by 7 a.m., but, uh, it was not the only thing I got up this morning, if you catch my drift. So I’ll quickly run down the list of Florida signees thus far, with the intent of making that into a table later today, and start catching up on Florida and national recruiting news from there.
Update, 9:30 a.m.: It’s not a table, but you now have the groups sorted as they should be: Signees, signees-to-be, players waiting until February to sign, and targets announcing (and signing) today.
Update, 10:33 a.m.: With Rashad Torrence’s signing announced, Florida is officially waiting on fewer signees than targets. That’s not a bad place to be in before lunch on ESD.
Update, 2:09 p.m.: It remains a quiet day for Florida.
E.J. Smith picking Stanford? That was expected, as was the heart-warming and honorable way that dad Emmitt reacted to his son not picking his own alma mater. Sam Brown opting for West Virginia instead of Florida? That’s a bit of a surprise, especially given that Florida held every Crystal Ball prediction. (And because Brown picked West Virginia, which has long been a haven for Florida prospects without the grades to get into Florida schools, there will be plenty of speculation to come about his academics.)
But Smith was never really interested in Florida, and Brown, despite being a burner, was going to be the lowest-rated prospect even in what many have considered a disappointing wide receiver class. Florida missing on prospects on this Early Signing Day, when much of its 2020 class is set and signed, isn’t exactly a death blow to the program.
Florida being subpar at running back and wide receiver, though, is only going to embolden those who would have the assistant coaches at those positions fired — and Dan Mullen openly admitting he made the change from Sal Sunseri to David Turner on the defensive line partially to upgrade Florida’s recruiting there isn’t going to quiet those cries.
Update, 2:25 p.m. Eastern: As for the Smith that was really interested in Florida: Tim Smith is still heading to Alabama, despite months of effort on the Gators’ part.
Not really much to say or fault Florida for here, as Smith was committed to one of the very few programs that has inarguably been more successful on the field than Florida of late, and plays a position that Alabama is excellent at pipelining to the NFL. And if Florida staying on Smith and getting him to campus repeatedly wasn’t enough to sway him to stay in state, that mostly strikes me as a sign that Florida needs to get level with Alabama and schools of its caliber on the field before it can reliably and repeatedly beat those schools for recruits.
If that sounds like a tall test? It is. But that’s why Dan Mullen gets paid millions of dollars.
Update, 4:40 p.m.: And it will stay a quiet day for Florida.
Texas A&M commit Donell Harris wore a Florida hoodie to his commitment ceremony, as it turns out. But he was wearing a jacket over it and an A&M shirt under the blue, and donned an Aggies hat for good measure after stripping down to the polo during his Instagram-streamed commitment.
Not being able to bring in Harris leaves Florida at 0-for-something — four if you count E.J. Smith, three if you don’t — on swaying prospects who committed on this Early Signing Day, a bummer of a close to the first and longest stretch of recruiting in the 2020 cycle. And contrasting Florida’s whiff of a finish with the strong closes of Auburn (up to No. 6) and Georgia (up to No. 5) is obviously something that helps make Florida look worse.
But coming up completely empty on the biggest recruiting day of the year didn’t do that much to diminish Florida’s standing nationally, as the Gators have only slipped from No. 6 to No. 8 in the 247Sports Composite team rankings.
And Florida now has a few scholarships in hand to allocate over the weeks leading up to National Signing Day and the close of the 2020 cycle in February. I think it would be pretty foolish to consider Florida’s class completely finished as of today.
Florida Early Signing Day Signees (Chronological Order)
- Punter Jeremy Crawshaw
- Defensive back Tre’Vez Johnson
- Offensive tackle Richie Leonard
- Defensive tackle Gervon Dexter
- Linebacker Derek Wingo
- Defensive back Ethan Pouncey
- Offensive lineman Gerald Mincey
- Edge rusher Antwuan Powell
- Offensive tackle Joshua Braun
- Tight end Jonathan Odom
- Defensive back Avery Helm
- Defensive back Mordecai McDaniel
- Quarterback Anthony Richardson
- Defensive tackle Johnnie Brown
- Defensive back Jahari Rogers
- Defensive tackle Lamar Goods
- Wide receiver Ja’Quavion Fraziars
- Defensive back Rashad Torrence
- Defensive tackle Jalen Lee
- Defensive back/kick returner Fenley Graham
- Offensive tackle Issiah Walker
Florida Targets Making Early Signing Day Announcements
- Running back E.J. Smith committed to Stanford.
- Wide receiver Sam Brown committed to West Virginia.
- Defensive tackle Tim Smith reaffirmed his commitment to Alabama.
- Edge rusher Donell Harris reaffirmed his commitment to Texas A&M.