National Signing Day promised to be mostly quiet for the Florida Gators — with one possible major exception.
Avantae Williams provided that in the early afternoon — but did so by committing to Miami, not the Gators, in a ceremony at DeLand High.
SURPRISE!!!! Avantae Williams commits to Miami over Florida— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) February 5, 2020
More than a dozen Crystal Ball predictions suggested Williams would end up at Florida, as did more than a month’s worth of events following his decommitment from Oregon, like family member Lorenzo Lingard transferring from Miami to Florida and Florida getting his final official visit — one that featured him publicly cancelling another official visit to Georgia. But Miami stayed in the fight for Williams — who had long ago committed to the Hurricanes as a high school freshman — and reportedly put him in touch with newly-hired chief of staff Ed Reed, whose status is obviously a powerful chip for the Hurricanes to have.
And while Williams doesn’t have outstanding size for the safety position, a five-minute highlight tape of him making plays with speed and instincts and being physical makes clear that he could well be a special safety at the collegiate level — you know, like Reed.
Williams was set to possibly be Florida’s final commit for the 2020 cycle. The Gators remain in the mix for Texas defensive end Princely Umanmielen and Georgia running back Jahmyr Gibbs, but Umanmielen is deciding between Florida and in-state Baylor and Gibbs is seen as likely to maintain his long-running commitment to Georgia Tech.
If that is the case, the four-star safety was a heck of a whiff: At No. 44 in the 247Sports Composite national rankings for the 2020 class, he was the highest-rated uncommitted player available entering Wednesday, and would have slotted in as the second-best player in Florida’s class, trailing only five-star defensive tackle Gervon Dexter.
Williams’s addition would also likely have been enough for Florida to push past Auburn and finish No. 7 nationally in the 2020 cycle. Instead, Florida is likely to finish at No. 8, though final numbers on that won’t be released until the end of the day.
One thing Williams choosing Miami doesn’t do, however, is decimate Florida’s recruiting class in the defensive backfield. Florida had seven players listed as defensive backs by 247Sports — five corners and two safeties — committed entering Wednesday, with at least one of the corners and athlete Marc Britt also considered possible safeties at the college level. Williams would have been the top-ranked of all of those prospects, obviously, but his decision doesn’t do much to hurt Florida’s depth at the position in this cycle.