GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida will play five running backs in the season opener, which certainly should appeal to Lorenzo Lingard.
The 5-star recruit from Orange City, Fla., is scheduled to attend Saturday’s game against UMass. Lingard, the nation’s No. 2 running back for 2018, recently named a top 3 of Alabama, Auburn and Florida State.
However, UF is recruiting him harder than any other school and he grew up a Gators fan. The 6-foot-1, 192-pound ballcarrier hasn’t been to Gainesville since the spring, so getting him back on campus this weekend is huge for Florida.
A pair of 5-star cornerbacks from Jacksonville — teammates Shaun Wade and Tyreke Johnson (2018) — are expected to be on hand. Wade is currently committed to Ohio State, but Alabama and Florida have a chance to flip him.
Two more elite in-state prospects for 2018, 4-star wide receiver Warren Thompson (Seffner) and 4-star offensive tackle William Barnes (Apopka), also plan to visit Saturday. The Gators are the top team for Barnes, while Thompson has Florida and Miami as his co-leaders.
Some other 2018 recruits visiting include FSU offensive tackle commit Christian Meadows (Montezuma, Ga.), defensive end Malcolm Lamar (Seffner, Fla.) and athlete Shocky Jacques-Louis (Fort Myers, Fla.).
Several 2017 UF commits will be at the game as well: quarterback Jake Allen, defensive end Zachary Carter, defensive tackle Jordon Scott, linebackers James Houston and Ventrell Miller, and cornerback Marco Wilson. There will be a pair of 2019 commits on hand in defensive lineman Jaquaze Sorrells and defensive back Jaleel McRae.
2018 recruiting underway for Florida
Thursday was the first day college coaches could contact prospects for the Class of 2018.
Gators coach Jim McElwain and his staff wasted no time, reaching out to multiple recruits at midnight.
Among those to hear from the coaches were Lingard, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (Las Vegas), wide receiver Jacob Copeland (Pensacola, Fla.), offensive lineman Tank Jenkins (Montgomery, Ala.), defensive end Xavier Thomas (Florence, S.C.), cornerback Brendan Radley-Hiles (Calabasas, Calif.) and LSU commit safety Nadab Joseph (Miami).
The Swamp was first ?
— KING. (@Bookie_44) September 1, 2016
— Nadab Joseph (@nadabjoseph) September 1, 2016
— DTR. (@DoriansTweets) September 1, 2016
— Tank Jenkins (@_MJ70_) September 1, 2016
— Christian Meadows. (@ChristianMead17) September 1, 2016
Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.