College Football, Florida Gators, Recruiting

Weekend Roundup: Gators Host Slew of Top Recruits

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The Florida football team’s 2019 signing class currently ranks 10th in the nation. However, this class is far from over. This past weekend, the school hosted a number of official visitors that could further bolster the class.

Kaiir Elam (4-star, 52nd nationally, 0.9753)

Depending on who you talk to, the four-star corner can make or break the class. Now, it sounds silly to call a class that is likely to crack the top-10 incomplete, but Elam is arguably the biggest “want” for the staff come February. There is no official confirmation that he’s the number one remaining target, but this picture of he and Mullen should suffice.

As far as the visit went, Elam told reporters that he was, “Just happy to be on the official.” He brought a number of family members on the visit, including a former Gator, which is always a good sign.

In case this is your first go-around with Florida recruiting, Kaiir Elam is the nephew of Matt Elam, a former Florida safety and first round NFL draft pick. If recruiting is your thing though, I’m sorry that you have to hear this comparison yet again. And if you’re sick of hearing about it, I can only imagine what (Kaiir) Elam thinks. He told reporters that “[Matt] was happy to be here, I mean, living it up, but, you know that’s not going to influence me. It’s my decision and I want to live my dream.”

Right now, Elam is similar to Jacksonville, because he’s looking like a Florida-Georgia battle. 90% of 247 Crystal Balls put him in Gainesville, while 10% send him to Athens. But if you look at Rivals, 74% of predictions lean Bulldogs, while 26% say Gators. Elam says he may or may not visit Georgia next weekend, but only time (aka Twitter) will tell.

Charles Moore (4-star, 62nd nationally, 0.9695)

Fortunately for the team and the fans, the staff is making a glowing impression on recruits, namely 4-star DE Charles Moore.  Moore, a Mississippi native, was previously committed to Mullen when he coached at Mississippi State.

Prior to the visit, Moore’s top three was Florida State, Auburn, and Tennessee. After the visit, he told reporters that his new top three is Florida, Auburn, and Tennessee, with the Gators leading the pack. He likened a Florida degree to one from “Yale or Harvard,” but he’s pretty impressed with the football team too.

If being okay with a redshirt during the recruiting process isn’t a ringing endorsement, I’m not sure what is. Either way, Moore’s words should make the Gators giddy. In a class with only a few defensive signees, a pledge from a top-100 player, particularly at defensive end where Florida needs to add talent, bodes well for a program that prides itself on its defense.

Mark-Antony Richards (4-star, 99th nationally, 0.9566)

Richards’ position reads ATH, which is short for athlete, which means he can play multiple positions. Sometimes this designation means that the player doesn’t have a position that fits his skill set and may have to make his mark on special teams (i.e. Brandon James). James was an incredibly important player for Urban Meyer’s teams, but he struggled when his role expanded within the offense.

Mark-Antony Richards, on the other hand, should be able to contribute in a big way regardless of position. For example, he had 2,000+ all-purpose yards as a junior. As a senior, he cracked the 2018 All-USA Florida Football Second Team as a defensive back.

Richards rated his visit to Florida a 9/10 with a visit to Miami on the horizon. That may sound worrisome to Gator fans (who want the SoFlo native so badly that they dub him MAR), but this should help ease their nerves…..

You know what they say about Florida recruits in all-white.

Arjei Henderson (4-star, 127th nationally, 0.9449)

Henderson shocked the world (and Noles’ insiders) when he put on a Gator hat at the Under Armour All-American Game. After 75% of Crystal Balls sent the Texas-based WR to FSU, Noles fans swore it was a troll and Florida fans were not quick to disagree.

But this past weekend, it seems that the four-star prospect is a Florida Gator-to be. During his first visit to Gainesville (yep), the staff rolled out the red carpet.

The verbal commit was pretty frequently on the Bird as well…

Unfortunately, he did not get a chance to talk to reporters due to a flight. But to me at least, it looks like “King Hendi” will take his talents to the Swamp.

Ira Henry (3-star, 885 nationally, 0.8580)

Ira Henry’s signature would be the eighth from an OL in the 2019 class. Still, the staff must see something in the three-star recruit that would mesh with the team.

Like Henderson, Henry visited UF for the first time over the weekend. When asked what he likes about the school, the Missouri native told reporters, “It’s Florida.” He also said that the Gators are “way higher” on his list following the official visit.

Still, Henry plans to visit Florida State and probably Oklahoma, Texas, and “another school [he] might be getting an offer from.”

Smith Vilbert (3-star, 674 nationally, 0.8689)

Don’t let Smith Vilbert’s three-star rating fool you. The 6’7″ DE started playing football just one year ago and became a top 50 player in his position.

Vilbert did not get a chance to speak to reporters, but Penn State seems to be the team to beat for the New Jersey native.

Takeaway

After the early signing period, Florida needed reinforcements on the defensive line and top-100 talent. Both of those categories were present this past weekend and can help Florida close the 2019 class with a bang.

Elam, Moore and Richards would be the second, third and fourth highest ranked players in the class. Adding those three would bring Florida’s score to 281.7, which would have ranked 8th in both 2017 and 2018 and would be more than 20 points higher than any class ever brought in by Jim McElwain. Add two of those three and Florida likely ends up 9th. Add only one and the Gators likely end up 10th or slightly lower.

The potential is there for a huge finish come February.

 

3 Comments

  1. Mark

    Thanks for the roundup. I have been looking for something like this online and haven’t seen a list like this that breaks down each visitor like this.

    Kaiir Elam has not seemed overly enthused about Florida from the beginning, but maybe he is just a private kid. I have seen way more quotes from him saying that he isn’t his uncle and that won’t affect his decision than quotes saying he loves UF. It makes me nervous, although 90% of crystal balls in UF’s favors alleviates that a little.

    What recruiting rankings were used here? I don’t believe these were the 247 composite numbers as some of the ratings differ from the composite rankings, but I’m going to assume these are either 247’s own rankings or Rivals since both of those services were mentioned in the article.

    Thanks for the roundup, looking forward to more recruiting news in the next few weeks!

    • Olivia Granaiola

      Thanks for the positive feedback!!

      Elam is a private kid (rarely posts on Twitter, never gives interviews, etc.). I feel like you’ve seen more comments about his uncle than about UF for two reasons… one being because he doesn’t really give too much insight about his recruitment. He tells reporters from every school something along the lines of “I’m glad they had me and I had a good time,” which beings me to the second reason. When someone plays it so close to the vest, people will try any angle to get any sort of nugget in an answer. So imagine how many times the poor kid has been asked about his uncle (not even just by Florida reporters) in the three or so years he’s been recruited by top schools… he’s probably sick of it. I don’t think it’s any more than that 🙂

      Regarding the rankings, these were the individual rankings by 247 from each player.

  2. Julie B.

    Thanks for the analysis, Olivia!

    The kid I’m really, really hoping for is Moore. To me he fills the biggest need.
    It would be great to finish 8th or so. But no matter what happens, how can Gator fans not be excited for the future! Mullen is doing a fantastic job on and off the field. And I believe his real bump class comes in 2020. Time will tell…
    Thanks for the write-up and Go Gators!!!

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