GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Three weeks ago, SEC Country listed defensive tackle as the second biggest priority for Florida in the Class of 2017.
The Gators filled that need Friday with the best prospect they’ve landed at the position since 2014. Fred Hansard, the nation’s No. 11 defensive tackle, picked UF over Rutgers and Tennessee.
— Fred Hansard (@Fred_Hansard56) August 26, 2016
His commitment is important from a depth and talent standpoint. Florida has only signed — and kept — one DT in the previous three recruiting cycles, and that’s Khairi Clark.
Three signees from the 2014 and 2015 classes (Thomas Holley, Andrew Ivie and Gerald Willis) are no longer with the team, and the Gators didn’t sign any for 2016. That’s why CeCe Jefferson has slid inside to play 3-technique.
Hansard strengthens what’s been a weak spot in recruiting and brings an elite skill set to the position. 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong is high on Hansard.
“Florida’s latest commitment has the physical prowess and athleticism to control the line of scrimmage in the SEC,” Wiltfong wrote Friday.
“When Hansard flashes, he can absolutely blow up an offensive lineman. Best served as a 1- or 3-technique, Hansard moves well down the line of scrimmage and pursues, runs well for an interior lineman.”
The Gators lose senior Joey Ivie after this season and junior Caleb Brantley is expected to turn pro, but their production now can be replaced with three defensive tackles on board. Florida is also still in contention for recent Michigan de-commitment Aubrey Solomon and Tyrone Truesdell, who visited UF earlier this month.
Hansard gives coach Jim McElwain another feather in his cap as he continues to expand Florida’s national recruiting footprint. He and his assistants have landed out-of-state prospects from Alabama, California, Georgia, New Jersey (Hansard), Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Texas.
— Gators Recruiting (@_Gators_) August 26, 2016
— Geoff Collins (@CoachCollins) August 26, 2016
— Drew Hughes (@dhughes234) August 26, 2016