Dan Mullen has been the coach at Florida a week, and much of that time has been spent trying to make up ground on the 2018 recruiting trail.
There are many things Mullen would like to accomplish before the early signing period begins December 20 and things he must accomplish before National Signing Day in February. GN takes a look at five “musts” for Mullen in his first recruiting cycle as Gators coach.
Get a quarterback (or two)
The Gators have a commitment from four-star quarterback Matt Corral of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Corral is among the top-three pro-style quarterbacks in the nation for the 2018 class, and has been Florida’s best recruiter when it comes to keeping the Gators’ class together after the firing of Jim McElwain. But Corral is visiting Ole Miss this weekend and visited Alabama on November 18.
Mullen visited with five-star dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields, from Kennesaw (Ga.) Harrison, last week. But Fields is a Georgia commitment who seems likely to follow through on his commitment.
The size of the quarterback recruiting board has increased with Mullen’s hiring; the hope is that doesn’t send a bad message to Corral.
Replace wide receivers
The two biggest de-commitments Florida suffered were from wide receivers: four-star prospects Ja’Marr Chase of Metairie (La.) Archbishop Rummel and Jacob Copeland of Pensacola (Fla.) Escambia. And three-star prospect Jalynn Williams of St. Petersburg (Fla.) High decommitted over the weekend.
While Chase always was an iffy commitment and now seems to be a lost cause, there is a thought that Copeland could come back into the fold at some point. If Mullen were able to bring Copeland back into the class, that would be enormous for the Gators.
Mullen also seems to be putting a full-court press on four-star wide receiver Malik Heath from Jackson (Miss.) Callaway, a Mississippi State commitment who is the No. 1 prospect in Mississippi in this cycle. Heath was Mullen’s first commitment for the Mississippi State 2018 class, in April 2016. Heath already has been visited by Billy Gonzales, who left Mississippi State with Mullen.
It appears Heath is a top priority for Mullen and his staff. But Florida needs to sign five or six receivers in this cycle. Anthony Schwartz of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage is another possibility. Schwartz is one of the fastest high school sprinters in the nation; he has been clocked as fast as 10.15 seconds in the 100 meters.
Add an in-state offensive lineman (or two or three …)
The 2018 class is a good one for offensive lineman in the state of Florida. UF has a commitment from four-star tackle Richard Gouraige of Tampa Cambridge Christian. There’s also a commitment from three-star tackle Chris Bleich of Plymouth (Pa.) Wyoming Valley West, who decommitted from UCLA to pick the Gators; he may move to center at UF.
That is a good start, but it is important Mullen get at least two more from the Sunshine State.
Five-star tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, a national top-20 player from Tampa Berkeley Prep, and four-star tackle William Barnes, a national top-50 player from Apopka High, happen to be two of the best uncommitted linemen in the country. Given that the state rarely produces this many high-level linemen in one class, Florida needs to land at least one to go with Gouraige, who is a national top-100 player. Landing both to go with Gouraige would be a coup.
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