As Jim McElwain tries to rebuild Florida football into a championship program, one of his mottos is “recruit daily or die.” Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of the latest Florida recruiting news, tales from the trail and perspective on what it all means for the Gators.
C.J. Smith replacements
Florida is now down to a pair of safety commitments after 4-star recruit C.J. Smith backed off his pledge to the Gators.
Here are three Gators targets who could replace Smith in the Class of 2018:
Kwantel Raines, 4-star safety, Aliquippa, Pa.: Raines visited Florida for the first time on June 19 and the trip really helped the Gators’ chances. He spent quality time with the coaches and liked their plans for him in the secondary. The biggest competition for Florida is Penn State and Pitt, but proximity to home isn’t a deciding factor for Raines. He doesn’t have a timetable for his commitment, but the Gators have established themselves as a finalist.
Jamien Sherwood, 3-star safety, Jensen Beach, Fla.: The Gators have some ground to make up with Sherwood. Florida and Miami led early for him, but the Hurricanes have seemingly pulled ahead along with Auburn, which hosted him for a visit last month. Sherwood attended Florida’s spring game and plans to make it back to Gainesville. He wants to take his five allotted official visits before deciding.
Randy Russell, 4-star safety, Miami: Florida’s best shot is likely with Russell. He visited the Gators on June 2 and de-committed from the Miami Hurricanes the following week. Russell hasn’t named Florida his top school, but the Gators led early for him and he returns to Gainesville this month for Friday Night Lights. He will likely officially visit UF as well. The early enrollee plans to decide in December at the latest.
Smith’s de-commitment from Florida was not expected but also doesn’t come as a surprise.
Smith told SEC Country he committed to the Gators in late March to claim his spot in the class, knowing Florida would fill up on safeties. However, he still has a desire to go through the recruiting process.
“I got big offers from like Alabama and Florida, but schools like Clemson and Ohio State didn’t come after that,” Smith said. “I wish more schools would’ve recruited me. All the SEC schools backed off after I committed.
“Florida, Louisville and North Carolina are the only schools hitting me up. I still like Florida and I’ve been there so many times, but I want to check out some other places just to expand my options and see what else is out there.”
Miss a previous Gator Chomps notebook? Find every daily recap of Florida Gators recruiting right here.