Some have described Florida’s 2015 season as miraculous under first-year coach Jim McElwain. Perhaps his good fortune will carry over to the recruiting trail.
The Gators currently have 25 members in their 2016 class, but there still could be a couple defections from the commitment list. UF will likely add at least five more recruits between now and signing day.
On Tuesday, SEC Country looked at the five biggest recruiting battles remaining for Florida recruiting. Those were all prospects UF has a legitimate chance at landing.
Here are the five recruits on Florida’s Christmas wish list:
- Dwayne Haskins, 4-star QB, 6-3, 198 pounds (Potomac, Md./The Bullis School)
Schools to beat: Maryland and Ohio State
Haskins has been one of Florida’s top targets at quarterback since the beginning of the recruiting cycle, but came off the market last May with his commitment to the in-state Terrapins. However, the coaching change at Maryland has opened the door for the Gators, and they could use a third quarterback in this class with the transfer of Will Grier. Landing Haskins would be more of a luxury than necessity, but with Florida’s struggles at his position, the more options the better. A few UF commits have been trying to flip Haskins, including ace recruiter Chauncey Gardner, who worked with him Wednesday. But with Haskins’ comfort level at Maryland and the excitement surrounding new coach D.J. Durkin, an excellent recruiter, the Terrapins still have the inside track.
- Binjimen Victor, 4-star WR, 6-4, 170 pounds (Coconut Creek, Fla./Coconut Creek)
Schools to beat: Miami, Ohio State and West Virginia
Six months ago, Victor was ready to be a Gator. After two visits to Gainesville in the spring, Victor planned to commit to Florida on June 22. He instead delayed that decision due to his desire to take more trips and continue his recruitment. At the time, he was one week removed from unofficially visiting Ohio State, which is now viewed as the favorite for him. The Buckeyes hosted Victor on an official in October, and OSU receivers coach Zach Smith went to visit with Victor twice this month. Victors is one of a few receivers the Gators are still trying to land, and they’re expecting him to make a trip to UF in January. But this time, things are trending toward the Buckeyes.
Prediction: Ohio State
- Jauan Williams, 4-star OT, (Washington, D.C./Archbishop Carroll)
Schools to beat: Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Maryland and Oklahoma
Florida has had its sights set on Williams for more than a year, but so have 40 other schools. He is one of the most coveted offensive tackles in the country and has a half dozen programs in the running for his services. Alabama and Maryland were his early leaders, but he named Florida State his “top choice” to 247Sports last week. Williams, who visited UF in the summer, has tentative plans to return to Gainesville on Jan. 15. His official visit schedule for January has yet to be finalized, though. He still has four trips available, but right now the Seminoles are the team to beat heading into the last phase of the contact period.
Prediction: Florida State
- Brian Burns, 4-star DE, 6-5, 215 pounds (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./American Heritage)
Schools to beat: Florida State and UGA
Like Haskins, the addition of Burns would basically be a luxury for the Gators. The recent addition of 4-star defensive end Jordan Smith put them at three commits for the position, and they’re only losing Alex McCalister and return six players next season. However, outside of freshman All-American CeCe Jefferson, Burns is better or as talented as any DE on Florida’s roster or in its class. UGA had the early edge for him, but UF made a strong push this fall and got him on campus for the FSU game last month. Burns may officially visit Florida, Florida State and Georgia next month, but McCalister’s departure will help Gators’ chances.
- Kristian Fulton, 4-star CB, 6-0, 177 pounds (Metairie, LA (Archbishop Rummel)
Schools to beat: Arkansas, LSU and Miami.
Fulton would be icing on the cake to an already great defensive back class for Florida. The Under Armour All-American is high on the Gators after their turnaround season and the direction of the program under McElwain. With Vernon Hargreaves III and Brian Poole leaving after this season, Fulton has a shot at early playing time because Florida only returns three cornerbacks for 2016. In-state LSU has long been considered the favorite for him, and with Les Miles staying on as the head coach, the Tigers will be tough to top. Fulton plans to visit LSU (Jan. 15), Arkansas (Jan. 22) and UF (Jan. 29) before deciding on signing day.