In addition to the Sunshine State, Florida coach Dan Mullen and his staff have been making noise on the recruiting trail in Alabama, California and Georgia since the early signing period in December.
Their success in the Peach State has been particularly impressive. The Gators did not sign any Georgia recruits in 2014 and 2017, but that drought ended in the previous cycle.
Florida signed four players from the Peach State in the Class of 2018, highlighted by 4-star quarterback Emory Jones. The top-100 overall recruit flipped from Ohio State to Florida during the early signing period, turning down Alabama and Florida State as well.
Mullen & Co. also landed 4-star running back Damien Pierce, 4-star defensive back Trey Dean and 3-star guard Griffin McDowell, who flipped from Mississippi State. Florida also hosted three additional Peach State prospects on official visits, including 5-star guard and Georgia signee Jamaree Salyer.
There’s no sign of things slowing down, either. The Gators kept it rolling Tuesday with the addition of 4-star defensive tackle Jaelin Humphries (Lawrencville, Ga.), who is now the top-rated recruit in their 2019 class according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Right behind him on the commitment list is 4-star linebacker Tyron Hopper (Roswell, Fla.), one of four ESPN 300 members pledged to the Gators.
The in-state Georgia Bulldogs have been killing it on the recruiting trail under third-year coach Kirby Smart, but DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell told SEC Country there’s plenty of talent to go around in the Peach State.
“Georgia is now a football crazy state,” Sentell said. “I personally think there’s enough players in the state to put together maybe two or three top-10 recruiting classes. Clemson always comes in, Alabama and Auburn always come in. You look at it right now and it’s kind of really staggering.
“Among the top 30 players in the country, Georgia has seven of the nation’s top 30 players. That’s more than California and Texas put together. Florida has a lot, but you gotta remember, that’s counting those guys from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.”
Humphries officially visited the Gators last weekend along with another Georgia lineman, 3-star guard Riley Simonds (Buford, Ga.). He plans to decide between Florida and Virginia Tech this summer.
The Gators are also in contention for 4-star guard Keiondre Jones (Hogansville, Ga.), 4-star tackle Warren McClendon (Brunswick, Ga.), 4-star linebacker Derrick McLendon (Tucker, Ga.) and 3-star cornerbacks Warren Burrell and DJ Turner II, who are teammates at North Gwinnett High School in Suwannee, Ga.
Turner officially visited Florida on May 18 and Burrell is scheduled to take his trip this weekend. Jones and McClendon are also planning to visit Gainesville in June.
After signing 26 recruits in both 2017 and 2018, the Bulldogs are tight on spots in their 2019 class and will not have room for some quality in-state players they’ve offered. Sentell said schools such as Florida can take advantage of Georgia’s scholarship crunch and the Peach State’s large talent pool this year.
“I wouldn’t say there’s no vacancy at UGA, but the spots are going to be a lot more premium and a lot more elite,” Sentell said. “That gives schools in the SEC East like Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida the chance to come in and get more players in the state of Georgia than they should.
“That’s one factor. The other factor is those staff’s that are in place now at Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida, they can really recruit and they don’t let up. They’re like ninja recruiters, man. They just keep coming.”