GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Recruiting never stops for the Florida football coaches.
Despite the ongoing season, they’re trying to close strong in the Class of 2017 and also get a head start on 2018 prospects.
Here are the two most important recruits for the Gators in the immediate and distant future.
Short term: 4-star CB Marco Wilson
Cornerback is the No. 1 priority in Florida’s class and the Gators are looking to sign as many as five players at the position. They will lose junior cornerbacks Jalen “Teez” Tabor and Quincy Wilson, both of whom are projected to be first-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Losing that type of talent is tough on a secondary, especially with no obvious replacements on the roster. Either Duke Dawson or Chauncey Gardner will start at nickelback next season, leaving one of the cornerback spots open.
Florida returns three other players in C.J. McWilliams, Joseph Putu and Chris Williamson, but none of them have shown any promise to this point. There’s a strong possibility the Gators will start a true freshman cornerback in 2017.
They have three commitments in their class and a few more targets on the board, but the prospect capable of playing right away is Marco Wilson from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The 4-star cornerback and younger brother of Quincy Wilson committed to UF on Aug. 1 over Miami, Georgia, Ohio State and Southern Cal.
The 6-foot, 180-pound prospect is somewhat underrated because he missed his junior year after tearing his ACL, but he’s having a monster senior season. Wilson has the skill set to be an elite cover corner and prevent the Gators from having a drop-off.
Long term: 4-star QB Artur Sitkowski
Quarterback is still a question mark for Florida moving forward following Luke Del Rio’s regression and the uncertainty of the young quarterbacks currently on the roster.
True freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask have all the tools to be prolific passers, particularly with their arm strength and size. But Jeff Driskel also had those qualities, and there’s no telling how Franks and Trask will play once they’re under the lights.
The same can be said about UF commit Jake Allen and any other signal caller this staff recruits. Gators coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier have shown the prowess to identity, evaluate and develop quarterbacks in the past, but the latter takes time and it’s difficult to project how a player will pan out in college.
McElwain and Nussmeier must continue recruiting well at the position because it still hasn’t been fixed. Their best bet at an elite passer for 2018 is Artur Sitkowski from Old Bridge, N.J. He’s ranked the nation’s No. 4 pro-style quarterback and No. 67 overall prospect in his class.
Sitkowski visited Florida in the summer and lit it up at Friday Night Lights, showing off the arm and size (6-foot-4) that McElwain and Nussmeier covet. The Gators are considered the team to beat in his recruitment at this time.
Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.