Florida football offers this highly coveted JUCO OL recruit

Billy Napier and crew offered one of the top offensive linemen in the JUCO ranks on Saturday.

College football’s regular season is over a third of the way through but that does not mean that [autotag]Billy Napier[/autotag] and his army of staffers have diverted their attention from the recruiting trail. On the contrary, unlike his predecessor [autotag]Dan Mullen[/autotag], Florida’s new staff continues to grind away as the schedule continues to unfurl.

On Saturday night, despite their game with the Eastern Washington Eagles being delayed by Hurricane Ian, Napier and Co. extended a scholarship offer to Coffeville C.C. (Kansas) offensive lineman [autotag]Keyshawn Blackstock[/autotag], who is highly sought by many top programs.

“I have been talking to Florida for about a month now,” he told Swamp247. “The only thing they have been waiting on me is getting my measurements from my coach. We got those to them a few days ago. They called me a bit ago after my game, maybe 30 minutes ago, and they offered me on the phone. They said my film wasn’t a problem at all, but they just wanted my measurements. That was the biggest thing they were waiting on.”

However, Blackstock has only had limited face time with the new staff.

“I haven’t really been down there, but I’ve watched their offense. I like how their offense plays,” Blackstock told Gators Online. “They also have a hell of a defensive line. You just have to have a dog mentality along the offensive line and all the guys have to be on the same page. You can have a hell of a team like that.”

The 6-foot-5-inch, 315-pound lineman had also been pursued by the Tennessee Volunteers, Oregon Ducks, Auburn Tigers, Michigan State Spartans and Penn State Nittany Lions, among others. However, it appears that Florida’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach [autotag]Rob Sale[/autotag], who is the main point of contact during his recruitment, is pushing all of the right buttons with the JUCO standout.

“I have been talking to him for about a while now,” he told 247Sports of Sale. “Coach [Billy] Napier actually offered me on Twitter today [Satutday] too. He is a straightforward guy honestly. He is going to keep things honest. He told me if I come there I just have to come in and work and that nothing would be given to me. He told me they have a senior tackle and a junior tackle. I told him I can play anywhere on the field up front and can do whatever to help make the team successful. It doesn’t matter if it’s guard, center, or tackle I will play whatever.”

The Georgia native still has all of his official visits remaining and intends to use them before making his final decision, including a trip to Gainesville. But in the meantime, he remains focused on his current team’s campaign.

“I haven’t really focused on offers right now,” he told Swamp247. “More about the season I have now and my teammates now. I tell every coach that I am 100% open and that I am open to anyone who wants to recruit me. I just don’t know where I want to visit. I haven’t really thought about it, but I want to make a top 10 and then a top 5 whenever that occurs, but I want to finish my season strong.”

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Gators to get this 5-star QB recruit on campus for Sunday’s game

Despite the postponement, Florida is still on track to get this coveted quarterback on campus Sunday.

Florida football continues its efforts on the recruiting trail this weekend as the team gets set to face the Eastern Washington Eagles on Sunday after getting pushed back a day by Hurricane Ian. Among those who will be in attendance as the Gators host their FCS opponent in the Swamp is one of the top prospects in the 2025 class.

Five-star quarterback Colin Hurley out of Jacksonville (Florida) Trinity Christian was originally set to visit on Saturday, but despite the delay, still plans on attending the game, according to Swamp247. The highly coveted recruit was pursued heavily by [autotag]Dan Mullen[/autotag]’s administration and he is looking to rekindle that passion with [autotag]Billy Napier[/autotag] and Co.

“Being offered by the new staff means a lot to me,” he noted. “Obviously, I was the No. 1 target for the previous staff. It was very important for me to get in front of the new staff. I got to meet them, but at the same time, I got to show them why I am the top quarterback in the 2025 class and even the 24s as well. I think I did that. I feel like they were impressed with what I can do. I only live 67 miles away and they clearly target the Jacksonville area, so I think I am a target for them.”

The visit will be the third time he has stepped foot in Gainesville since Napier took over, having visited back in July for the Friday Night Lights event while also attending the season opener against the Utah Utes. It appears that the new members of the Orange and Blue have made a significant impression on him.

“The recruiting department with Ms. Katie (Turner) and Ms. Bri (Wade) is one of the most welcoming environments a recruit could ask for,” he gushed. “They really make recruits and families feel at home. The new football facility is state-of-the-art and second to none. It houses everything a program, coach and player could ever want, or need, all under one roof.”

Hurley is ranked No. 24 overall and No. 3 at his position nationally according to the 247Sports composite while the On3 consensus has him at Nos. 23 and 2, respectively. On3’s Recruiting Prediction Machine currently has the Gators with a slight lead over the LSU Tigers at 27.7% (vs. 24.2%) while the Ohio State Buckeyes wrap up the top three with a 14.1% chance of landing him.

The game is set to kick off at noon EDT on Sunday inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, and can either be watched on the SEC Network+ or heard on the Gators Radio Network.

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Florida still battling for this 5-star Notre Dame decommit

Florida might not get an official visit from Keon Keeley if he can’t make it for the LSU game, but his family says it’s still a three-team race, per reports.

After five-star edge rusher [autotag]Keon Keeley[/autotag] decommitted from Notre Dame, Florida quickly emerged as one of three contenders for his services along with Alabama and Ohio State.

Keeley grew up a fan of the Gators and has visited twice since Billy Napier arrived to lead the program. UF played host to him during the weekend of the Kentucky game, but it wasn’t the official visits the family hoped for. Corey Bender of Gators Online spoke with Keeley’s mother, Janické, and she said that UF is limiting official visits to the Oct. 15 game against LSU or December. They still “went through it all” on the unofficial visit, in case Keeley can’t get back for an official.

He’s been to Columbus a few times this season and Alabama is getting an official visit in a few weeks. The Crimson Tide lead the On3 recruiting prediction machine with 52.4% odds to land Keeley and the Buckeyes are in second at 25.4%. Florida is third with 20.3%, but the race is far from over.

“We will figure it out,” Keeley’s mother said. “As of now, it can be any of the three teams.”

It could be tough for Keeley to get back on campus this year with a busy high school schedule. He’s seen most of what there is to see, but there are perks that come with the official visit tag.

If Florida gets him back on campus for the LSU game, the Gators could be a dark horse worth betting on in ther recruitment of Keon Keeley. But If Sept. 10 ends up being his last trip to the Swamp, this will quickly turn into a two-horse race.

The On3 consensus ranks Keeley at No. 11 overall and No. 1 among edge rushers in the class of 2023.

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This 5-star WR ‘sees a difference’ with Florida under Napier

Florida’s made contact with the top-ranked receiver in the class of 2024, but he thinks they could be doing more.

Florida wide receivers coach [autotag]Keary Colbert[/autotag] has landed commitments from several elite pass-catchers during the 2023 cycle, but he’s going after a five-star when it comes to the class of 2024.

On3’s Chad Simmons caught up with the top-ranked receiver in the class of 2024 and the No. 3 overall recruit on the On3 consensus, [autotag]Joshisa Trader[/autotag], and the Gators were one of many teams discussed. Ohio State is currently in the lead, and Florida has a lot of ground to make up, but Trader says he’s seeing the difference in Gainesville now that [autotag]Billy Napier[/autotag]’s group has taken over.

“I see a difference,” Trader said. “The receivers are doing better from last year. (Florida) got a better coaching staff. To me, they got a better coaching staff.”

Ohio State‘s Brian Hartline is one of two wide receiver coaches ranked higher than Colbert on 247Sports recruiter rankings. If Colbert makes Trader a priority, it could be a fun battle to watch over the next year. The only problem is that Florida hasn’t quite given Trader the attention he thinks he deserves.

“This (is) their first time really recruiting me,” he said. “At first, when they (weren’t) recruiting me, they didn’t really pay attention to me, but I noticed that. They did pay attention to other people they had to recruit to get them there, so I noticed that. I understood that. Going on now, they’ve been better recruiting (me), but I feel like they could do more.”

Whether the Gators answer that call remains to be seen, but Trader has made it known that he wants the Gators to step up. Landing him would be quite the statement by Colbert. Hartline and OSU have created a wide receiver factory that’s routinely brought in some of the best names at the position around the country. Keeping the Florida kid at home that Hartline wants is how top-five classes are built.

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This 5-star WR ‘sees a difference’ with Florida under Napier

Florida’s made contact with the top-ranked receiver in the class of 2024, but he thinks they could be doing more.

Florida wide receivers coach [autotag]Keary Colbert[/autotag] has landed commitments from several elite pass-catchers during the 2023 cycle, but he’s going after a five-star when it comes to the class of 2024.

On3’s Chad Simmons caught up with the top-ranked receiver in the class of 2024 and the No. 3 overall recruit on the On3 consensus, [autotag]Joshisa Trader[/autotag], and the Gators were one of many teams discussed. Ohio State is currently in the lead, and Florida has a lot of ground to make up, but Trader says he’s seeing the difference in Gainesville now that [autotag]Billy Napier[/autotag]’s group has taken over.

“I see a difference,” Trader said. “The receivers are doing better from last year. (Florida) got a better coaching staff. To me, they got a better coaching staff.”

Ohio State‘s Brian Hartline is one of two wide receiver coaches ranked higher than Colbert on 247Sports recruiter rankings. If Colbert makes Trader a priority, it could be a fun battle to watch over the next year. The only problem is that Florida hasn’t quite given Trader the attention he thinks he deserves.

“This (is) their first time really recruiting me,” he said. “At first, when they (weren’t) recruiting me, they didn’t really pay attention to me, but I noticed that. They did pay attention to other people they had to recruit to get them there, so I noticed that. I understood that. Going on now, they’ve been better recruiting (me), but I feel like they could do more.”

Whether the Gators answer that call remains to be seen, but Trader has made it known that he wants the Gators to step up. Landing him would be quite the statement by Colbert. Hartline and OSU have created a wide receiver factory that’s routinely brought in some of the best names at the position around the country. Keeping the Florida kid at home that Hartline wants is how top-five classes are built.

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ESPN has Florida in the top 10 of its 2023 recruiting rankings

The Florida Gators come in the Top 10 in ESPN’s latest 2023 football recruiting rankings.

The Florida Gators stay pat and come in at No. 9 in ESPN’s latest 2023 recruiting rankings. They are the 4th highest SEC team in the rankings behind Alabama (No. 1), Georgia (No. 3), and LSU (No. 7). They are the second-highest team in the state of Florida, with Miami one spot ahead of them at No. 8.

The Gators had an up-and-down summer on the recruiting trail. In June, they missed out on multiple highly regarded prospects, including four-star quarterback [autotag]Jaden Rashada[/autotag] who committed to in-state rival Miami. The sentiment among the fan base was so negative, first-year head coach Billy Napier had to issue an open letter urging patience in the recruiting process.

Since Napier published that letter, Florida has received commitments from 15 players, all four-star prospects. At the end of July, the Gators hosted their annual Friday Night Lights recruiting event. The next day, they followed it up with a cookout for recruits that was regarded as a massive success. That turnaround was enough to give Napier the moniker “Blue-Chip Billy”.

The Gators will play Eastern Washington this weekend in non-conference play. The game was initially scheduled to be played on Saturday but was moved to Sunday due to Hurricane Ian’s impact on the state. The game will kick off at noon EDT and will be broadcast on SECN+/ESPN+.

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Florida still leading in recruitment of this Louisiana 4-star OT

Four-star offensive tackle Caden Jones still has Florida on top of his list after keeping in close contact with the program.

Word came in toward the end of August that De La Salle (Gretna, Louisiana) offensive tackle [autotag]Caden Jones[/autotag] had Florida at the top of his list. As October approaches, the Gators are still leading his recruitment, according to Gators Online.

“The coaching staff and the feeling I get when I’m down there. It’s just the energy and I feel like I can be myself down there,” Jones said when asked why Florida is the leader.

Jones has already been to the Swamp twice this year (once in spring and again over the summer), but he wants to get back on campus a few more times before making an official visit. He doesn’t have any dates locked in, but Jones says he wants to take official visits to UF and Texas A&M in December.

Florida State, Houston and Texas round out his top five, but it’s the two SEC programs that are leading this race right now. Florida’s getting it done with steady communication, something Jones values a lot.

There are three coaches connecting with him often: offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Rob Sale, offensive line coach Darnell Stapleton and running backs Jabbar Juluke. Jones says he likes that his relationship with the team is good and that they text often.

Jones is a four-star recruit, according to both On3 and Rivals. 247Sports lists him as a three-star, but his On3 Consensus score still grades out at four stars. He’s ranked No. 362 overall and No. 24 among offensive tackles in the class of 2023.

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Gators makes top 8 for this 2024 4-star EDGE

One of the top in-state edge rushers from the class of 2024 narrowed his list of schools down to eight on Thursday, and Florida made the cut.

Largo High edge rusher [autotag]Adarius Hayes[/autotag] narrowed things down to eight schools on Thursday and the Florida Gators made the cut.

The four-star recruit from the class of 2024 named Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Texas A&M and UCF to his list of top schools, and the Gators might be the favorite of the group. The On3 recruiting prediction machine has Florida at the top of the list with 88.9% odds to land him, but it’s still early in the cycle and that number is inflated thanks to an early pick for the Gators from Gators Online’s Corey Bender.

Hayes is a priority target for the Gators and is has already made four visits to UF in 2022. He should get back to campus at least one more time this year, so he’s no stranger to the program.

 

Leading the effort for the Gators is inside linebackers coach Jay Bateman. Florida offered him almost immediately after Billy Napier joined the program and has been on him since then.

The 247Sports composite ranks Hayes 40th overall in the class of 2024 regardless of position. He comes in at No. 7 among edge rushers and No. 11 among recruits from the state of Florida. The On3 consensus agrees in most part with him at No. 55 nationally and No. 6 among linebackers.

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This 5-star CB will make decision ‘very soon’ with Florida among top 3

The top player on Florida’s recruiting board is nearing a decision. Will Florida be able to land the services of five-star cornerback Cormani McClain?

One of Florida’s top recruiting targets in the class of 2023, five-star cornerback [autotag]Cormani McClain[/autotag], is nearing a decision, according to 247Sports.

McClain has narrowed his options down to Florida, Alabama and Miami, and he told Andrew Ivins that he’s looking to get things over with sooner rather than later.

“I don’t got a date yet, but it will probably be soon. Very soon,” McClain said. “I’m just trying to get it over with and stay focused on one school.”

The Gators hosted McClain during Week 1 for a big win over Utah. He liked what he saw and still has confidence in the program after a pair of losses. That was an unofficial visit, which leaves the door open for an official one later on, but McClain said he hasn’t set anything up yet.

“They showed me a lot and impressed me a lot,” he said. “I think they can turn it around this year.”

Alabama will host him on an official visit in two weeks when Texas A&M comes to Tuscaloosa. If McClain is serious about speeding up his timeline, Florida may push to get him back on campus for the Oct. 15 matchup with LSU. He’s expected to sign in December during the early signing period and enroll in the spring.

The 247Sports composite ranks McClain No. 2 overall in the class of 2023 and No. 1 among all defensive players. He’d be the crown jewel of the class and a big win for [autotag]Billy Napier[/autotag] over Alabama and Miami.

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Florida strongly recruiting this 2024 4-star quarterback

Florida has its eyes on one of the top-ranked quarterbacks in the class of 2024, four-star Jake Merklinger.

A new name is gaining steam as one of Florida’s top quarterback targets in the class of 2024.

Jake Merklinger, who plays for Calvary Day School in Savannah, Georgia, is the latest prep quarterback to be linked with the Gators. On3’s Chad Simmons says the Gators are doing a “great job” recruiting Merklinger, with Billy Napier and offensive analyst Ryan O’Hara as his main points of contact.

Merklinger was in town for Florida’s home opener against Utah and said he enjoyed the atmosphere. He’s also been to Auburn, Michigan State and Virginia Tech this year, and he has plans to stop by Clemson and Tennessee.

“There’s a vibe around the campus, an energy that’s really, really good,” Merklinger said of UF when speaking with Simmons. “The coaches are super nice to me. It is in the SEC. I’m from the South, so that’s really cool and it’s only about two hours away from my house. It’s a really easy trip.”

Merklinger plans to take officials in the spring of next year, but he won’t rush to a decision once those are in the books. The Spartans are considered the unofficial leaders in his recruitment and have a 36.0% chance to land him, according to the On3 recruiting prediction machine. Florida is in second place with 23.8% odds.

The On3 consensus has Merklinger ranked No. 79 overall and No. 9 among quarterbacks, but the site’s individual ranking are far more bullish on him at No. 15 overall and No. 2 at his position. The other three main services — 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals — have him ranked well above No. 100 in the class, though.

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