The very recent history for the Florida Gators on the recruiting trail had been one that gave the nattering nabobs of negativism in the fan base plenty to natter about during the otherwise quiet period of recruiting in a pandemic.
On Tuesday morning, Florida finally countered the building narrative against it by securing its first commitment in more than a month, as 2021 offensive tackle Adrein Strickland committed to Florida via his Twitter account.
Strickland is listed at 6’6” and 330 pounds by his 247Sports profile — his Twitter account adds an inch, reporting him at 6’7” — and is in any case a mountain of a man, even as a rising high school senior. His junior-year highlights show him moving heaven and earth for the A. Crawford Mosley Dolphins of Lynn Haven, flashing surprising mobility for his size, and finishing plays with impressive downfield blocking:
What Strickland doesn’t have as of yet, however, is a ranking or rating from the 247Sports Composite, a strong indicator that he’s likely not been on the camp circuit in previous offseasons — and, by virtue of that circuit being disrupted by the novel coronavirus pandemic this year, is unlikely to take that tour during his high school years. I see a likely three-star prospect with some significant room to improve (especially if he can slim down a bit) on that Hudl film, a player that Florida offensive line coach John Hevesy is probably perfectly fine with adding to the depth chart at offensive tackle.
But while Strickland committing is a positive for the Gators after a series of negatives on the trail — the decommitment of 2021 wideout Brashard Smith, the transfer of freshman offensive tackle Issiah Walker, Jr. (to Miami), and misses on 2021 WR Jacorey Brooks and 2020 RB Zach Evans all happened in the last two weeks, and Strickland’s commitment is Florida’s first since tight end Nick Elksnis popped in early March — whether that positive will satisfy those who spent any part of the last two weeks panicking or grousing remains to be seen. He’s a big man, but certainly not a big name, and even if offensive line construction is more about assembling a corps of the former than the latter, there has rarely been an offensive lineman whose commitment thrilled an entire fan base.
And Tebow knows the most important thing for any fan base of a college football team is being entirely thrilled with the team’s direction in mid-May prior to a season that may not actually happen.