Every month, SEC Country will outline three items the Florida coaches need to accomplish on the recruiting trail. At the end of the month, we revisit the list to see if the Gators checked off any boxes.
Here’s a recap of the December goals:
1. Figure out QB situation
Florida coach Dan Mullen secured an elite quarterback for the early signing period, but it wasn’t the signal caller he started the month with.
Matt Corral had been committed to the Gators since late July, but flipped to Ole Miss on Dec. 14. After losing the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country, Mullen targeted the nation’s No. 4 dual-threat QB — Emory Jones.
The Ohio State pledge visited Florida the day after Corral’s de-commitment and flipped from the Buckeyes to the Gators on signing day. Mullen also beat out Alabama and Florida State for Jones.
Both Corral and Jones are top-100 overall recruits and Elite 11 finalists, but Jones is a better fit for Mullen’s system and the Gators don’t have another quarterback on their roster with a dual-threat skill set.
In the end, things worked out best for all parties involved.
2. Lock up early signees
Heading into December, Florida had seven commits who planned to sign early and enroll in January.
The Gators lost Corral and parted ways with 4-star offensive guard Curtis Dunlap, who signed with Minnesota. But Florida locked up the other five recruits: 4-star running backs Iverson Clement and Dameon Pierce, 3-star offensive tackle Chris Bleich, 4-star athlete Amari Burney and 3-star defensive back Randy Russell.
In addition to the mid-year enrollees, Mullen signed three more commits he inherited from the previous staff: 4-star linebacker David Reese, 4-star tight end Kyle Pitts and 3-star tight end Dante Lang.
3. Land some commitments
Florida landed just one recruit (3-star athlete Nigel Bethel) during the fall, but Mullen and his staff ended the drought in December.
After flipping Bleich from UCLA in late November, Florida picked up five commitments last month and all of them joined the class after officially visiting UF.
Mullen landed Jones, JUCO All-American offensive tackle Noah Banks, 4-star defensive back Trey Dean, 3-star defensive back John Huggins and Under Armour All-American Evan McPherson, the nation’s No. 2-ranked kicker.
Every newly-added recruit was committed to another school at the time of Mullen’s hiring on Nov. 26. Florida’s class experienced several changes in December, but Mullen finished with 13 early signees and filled some major needs.