For most of the 2020 recruiting cycle, it looked like the Florida Gators were going to finally fail to bring in a brother of a former star, as top-100 wideout Xzavier Henderson seemed for months like a Clemson lean just waiting for a prominent stage to pick the Tigers over the Gators.
But as the cycle wore on and that stage got closer, so too did the noise suggesting that Henderson would follow the footsteps of his older brother — outgoing Florida cornerback CJ Henderson — to Gainesville.
And on Saturday, the younger Henderson made a commitment to make that a reality, doing so publicly at the 2020 U.S. Army All-American Bowl with a memorable assist from his mother.
Gaaaators baaabyyyy - welcome to Gator Nation, Xzavier Henderson! pic.twitter.com/JL2aKn3Ne2— libgator (@lib_gator) January 4, 2020
As you might expect, that left one of the other Gators in attendance elated.
Xzavier Henderson picks the Gators. Elite athlete. And Gators teammate Wingo is thrilled. @XXH_03 @DerekWingo @AlligatorArmy pic.twitter.com/r9x1opbQoB— Bud Elliott (@BudElliott3) January 4, 2020
And Derek Wingo — another one of the players just missing five-star status in this Florida recruiting class — is right to be excited to play with Henderson. Hailing from Miami’s Columbus High, Henderson is a legitmate top-flight wide receiver, ranked No. 59 in the 247Sports Composite overall and No. 10 among wideouts. Like his older brother, his reputation as a prospect has a lot to do with bringing elite speed to bear on the field.
Whether he will immediately be running for 95-yard fade-and-go touchdowns in Gainesville is up for debate, but Henderson should be able to compete with Florida’s redshirt freshmen for targets in the 2020 offense, given that much of Kyle Trask’s arsenal consisted of seniors and is now NFL-bound.
And Henderson’s commitment provides the Gators with a shot in the arm in their efforts to finish with the best recruiting class outside a top tier consisting of three of this year’s four College Football Playoff participants — Clemson, Ohio State, and LSU — and SEC schools Alabama and Georgia. Florida now sits at seventh in the 247Composite team rankings, a hair’s breadth ahead of Auburn for that spot.