GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Navaughn Donaldson’s visit to Florida last month apparently has had a lasting effect.
After attending Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp, the 4-star offensive tackle from Miami Central High School told SEC Country the Gators made an impression. However, the Miami commit said at the time that Texas A&M was the only school he was set on officially visiting.
That has changed.
At Miami Dolphins High School Media Day, Donaldson told 247Sports that Florida now is guaranteed to receive an official visit. He made no mention of the Aggies.
This is great news for the Gators, who are trying to land a second offensive tackle in the 2017 class. Their top two targets, 5-star Alabama commit Alex Leatherwood and 5-star Auburn commit Calvin Ashley, don’t appear to be options anymore.
But Donaldson is an elite lineman too, ranked No. 14 at his position and No. 88 nationally in the 247Sports Composite. He and UF commit Kadeem Telfort are the two best offensive tackles in Miami.
Donaldson spoke highly of Florida offensive line coach Mike Summers and linebackers coach Randy Shannon, his area recruiter.
“They told me I could come in and get some early playing time if I learn the system,” Donaldson told 247Sports. “I have a chance to get see the field, so that’s important. That’s one thing I can look at.
“(Summers) told me he was glad to have me up here and that if I commit, I would be able to get a great education and play early.”
Donaldson wouldn’t be the first Miami pledge to switch to Florida under Jim McElwain.
McElwain has Miami’s number in recruiting
McElwain made South Florida recruiting a priority upon his arrival and hired Shannon to help him in the region.
The Gators not only have been successful with Shannon leading the charge, but they’ve out-recruited the Hurricanes.
Since the end of the 2015 cycle, Florida has landed or flipped a total of six recruits who were once committed to Miami: running backs Jordan Cronkrite and Jordan Scarlett, cornerback McArthur Burnett, tight end Kemore Gamble and offensive linemen Jawaan Taylor and Telfort.
The Hurricanes haven’t stolen any Florida pledges under McElwain — and they’ve tried.
During that time span, the Gators have won three head-to-head battles against Miami with recruits — all from South Florida — who officially visited both schools (wide receiver Antonio Callaway, offensive tackle Fred Johnson and cornerback C.J. McWilliams). The Hurricanes have beaten Florida for one prospect: 2015 offensive tackle Tyree St. Louis.
That trend has continued in this recruiting cycle. Cornerback Marco Wilson committed to Florida over Miami last week, and cornerback Shawn Davis is expected to do the same on Aug. 26.
In addition to Donaldson, the Gators also are threatening to flip Hurricanes cornerback pledge Chris Henderson. And while UF seems to be raiding Mark Richt’s commitment list, Miami actually wants/wanted more prospects in Florida’s class.
Only three of the Hurricanes’ 11 in-state commits have a Gators offer, while nine of Florida’s 10 in-state commits hold an offer from Miami.
Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.