ORLANDO — Saturday was media day for the 2018 Under Armour All-America Game.
Florida has five commits and several targets competing in Orlando this week. Here are the news and notes from Day 1:
- Florida quarterback signee Emory Jones is ready to recruit for the Gators this week. “I take a lot of ownership in that,” he said. “I have to lead the class and bring a lot of guys in that can change the program. I feel like this class will be the class to actually do it.” Jones said his top targets are wide receivers Jacob Copeland, Tommy Bush and Justyn Ross and offensive tackles Nicholas Petit-Frere and Richard Gouraige, a Florida commit. Jones on the receivers: “I know all of them except Tommy. I’ve talked to him over the phone, but I’ve never met him in person. Justyn Ross, I think I have a little time to get with him. I know he’s still with Alabama and Auburn, but I feel like I can talk my talk and get him to Gainesville. Jacob, I was at Alabama with him and a couple camps. I feel very confident in him. I’ve thrown with him and Justyn a couple times.”
- Copeland said his final three visits will be to Texas A&M (Jan. 19), Alabama (Jan. 26) and Florida (Feb. 2). He plans to make his decision on National Signing Day and said it’s basically a three-team race at this time. “I know Florida, ‘Bama, Tennessee … it’s really going to come down to those three. I’m going to take a visit to Texas A&M to see things with Jimbo [Fisher] and the new staff.”
- Ross said the signing of Jones will help Florida’s chances with him. He’s giving some late consideration to UF and has spoken with coach Dan Mullen and wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales. “I may set up a visit in January with the Gators, but I don’t know for sure yet,” Ross said. His top schools are Alabama, Auburn and Clemson.
- Auburn, Florida and Georgia are the finalists for 4-star receiver Anthony Schwartz, who also announces Thursday. Schwartz said he’s already informed the winning school. Florida had been the favorite for the nation’s fastest recruit, but the Tigers became his top team in November and they’re the favorite to land him next week. Despite his upcoming decision, Schwartz said he may visit Florida in January to get a better feel for the new coaches. “It’s just about having a good relationship,” he said when asked what it will take for the Gators to regain their lead. “That’s what I had with the old coaching staff. I knew everyone on staff. When they all got replaced, it just kind of hurts my relationship with Florida and that brings me closer to another school.”
- Former Gators wide receiver commit Ja’Marr Chase said he will consider visiting UF next month. However, he doesn’t have a relationship with the staff and admits that Florida isn’t really a factor right now. “On Jan. 26, I’m going to probably [visit] Florida. I want to go up there. I like going up to Florida. It’s a great place to be. I fell in love with it when I committed there. … It’s just about me getting to know the coaches. I’ve got to get comfortable with Coach Mullen.” Chase has trips scheduled to LSU (Jan. 12) and Auburn (Jan. 19). He won’t visit any schools for the final weekend and plans to make his decision on signing day.
- Florida tried to land a visit from 4-star receiver Justin Watkins, but he’s content with his final schools. Watkins will decide on Thursday between Alabama and LSU. “Coach Mullen told me he wanted me to stay home. They wanted me to visit, but I’m not. I grew up 20 minutes away. I want to go see something different. I don’t want to be in the same environment. All my family is right there and I don’t want to be distracted by a lot of people.”
- Petit-Frere didn’t offer much insight into his recruitment Saturday, but the 5-star offensive tackle hasn’t lost interest in the Gators despite the coaching changes. “It’s still Florida. It’s still a great football program. I’m just researching the new coaches and what’s going on there, what’s changing and what’s the same.” Petit-Frere has three official visits remaining, but doesn’t know where he will go yet. Florida is being considered for one of those trips along with Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State and others. Petit-Frere likely will decide on signing day and already has visited Michigan and Notre Dame.
- Florida State offensive tackle commit Christian Meadows took a surprise trip to Florida earlier this month. He was scheduled to return for an official visit on Jan. 20, but will visit UCF instead. Meadows said the Gators are still in it despite the change in his visit plans, but they appear to be on the outside looking in. Meadows will visit Auburn or Louisville on Jan. 13, Miami on Jan. 27 and FSU on Feb. 2.
- Florida defensive back signee Trey Dean thinks the Gators have a chance to flip Alabama linebacker commit Quay Walker. They’ve been friends since 10th grade and Dean revealed that Walker will visit UF next month. “Keep this on the low, but we’re going to get Quay Walker. Quay was going to Alabama because I was going to Alabama. Now I’m not going to Alabama, so he’s [iffy]. I’m an early enrollee, so he’s going to visit on [Jan. 12] and I’ll be there to show him around.”
- Florida tight end signee Kyle Pitts on Jones: “I like him a lot. He’s a mobile quarterback and can throw the ball. He fits Coach Mullen’s offense and he’s going to help recruiting. The past few years people have been saying that Florida doesn’t have a quarterback, but Coach Mullen came in and got a good one.”