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.
‘Special’ week in Florida Gators recruiting
After Friday Night Lights ended last week, 5-star quarterback Justin Fields gave reporters a heads up about some possible news for the Gators.
Though privy to the secrets of some fellow recruits, not even Fields could have foreseen what would take place over the next 72 hours.
“Something’s about to happen, I can tell y’all that,” Fields said following FNL.
Well, a handful of things happened. Half dozen to be exact.
Florida would land six total commitments over the next three days and nine combined for the week, including 5-star QB Matt Corral. Those pledges — along with the biggest Friday Night Lights in the event’s 13-year history — gave the Gators one of the best recruiting weeks they’ve ever had as a football program.
Yeah, that’s something.
“I felt like something special was about to happen after being at Friday Night Lights,” said 3-star safety Randy Russell, who committed the next morning. “I actually wasn’t planning on it, but that visit changed everything.”
While in attendance at FNL, Russell found out some commitments were coming and began thinking about his own decision. Once he discussed his intentions with the other potential pledges, Russell was ready to pull the trigger.
“I enjoyed Friday Night Lights, slept on it and still felt the same way when I woke up,” Russell said. “A few guys at Friday Night Lights started telling people they were going to Florida, so I just felt like, ‘Why wait?’ I talked to Matt Corral and some other guys who wanted to jump on board, and we just did it.”
The Gators gained recruiting momentum earlier in the week by landing commitments from 4-star offensive guard Curtis Dunlap and 4-star tight end Kyle Pitts. Hours before FNL, a third prospect popped in 3-star tight end Dante Lang.
“Once I came for Friday Night Lights, I knew this was home,” Lang said. “The coaches aren’t coaches to me. They’re family. They keep in contact with me every day. I felt like they’re about to win a championship. That’s my goal, so this is where I want to be.”
Corral announced his pledge Saturday after Russell went public, making for an eventful 24 hours of UF recruiting. Russell was taken aback by Corral’s commitment, despite hearing it from the horse’s mouth the night before.
“He told us (at FNL) he was going to commit Saturday. At first I thought he was joking, but he was serious,” Russell said. “I commit the next day and then I go on Twitter to find out he committed. I didn’t believe it. I had to refresh my screen and look at it again to make sure I was seeing the right thing.”
Florida finished the week with the additions of receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tyquan Thornton, jumping more than 50 spots in the 247Sports Composite team rankings to move into the top 10. Like Fields, Russell is also guaranteeing more good news for the Gators.
“It’s going to be special,” Russell said. “A lot of guys want to be on board. I can’t tell you who, but I know this: We will have one of the top five classes in the country, no problem. Just give it time. If you want to be a part of it, come join now. The train is rolling and there ain’t too many spots left.
“With the guys that will be in this class, we’re going to compete for SEC titles and national championships for years to come. One day when I look back on what just happened this month, I’ll remember that’s how it all started.”
Miss a previous Gator Chomps notebook? Find every daily recap of Florida Gators recruiting right here.