GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Ricky Slade was the highest-ranked recruit at Florida’s Friday Night Lights.
The 5-star speedster from Woodbridge, Va., is the nation’s top all-purpose back and No. 18 overall prospect for the Class of 2018.
It was Slade’s second visit to UF, but his last trip took place with the previous staff. He was impressed with Jim McElwain & Co.
“They talk to you a lot more than the old staff,” Slade said. “I’m not bashing the old staff, but the new one acts like they have been together for a long time. They are just a really cool staff.
“It was good to come back and see everything again with the new staff. I’m definitely coming back. The visit was just fantastic, I’m trying to find a good word for the visit.”
While in Gainesville, Slade began building a relationship with Gators running backs coach Tim Skipper.
“He mentioned how they want to use me, went over some run schemes and pretty much gave me the whole deal,” Slade said. “He is a strict man, but at the same time he has time for fun. He gets business done, loves you a lot, and coaches you hard. He was telling me about all the backs that have been here.”
Slade is coached at C.D. Hylton High School by former Florida safety Tony Lilly, who accompanied him on the visit.
“The whole car ride down he was telling me about them,” Slade said of Lilly, who played for the Gators from 1980-83. “Florida is all he talked about.”
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound prospect plans to take his time with the recruiting process, but said right now his top schools are Florida, North Carolina, Penn State, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
“They’re up there,” Slade said of the Gators. “Far up there.”
Gators offer 4-star QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson
Florida’s inaugural quarterback camp produced a pair of 2018 offers from the UF staff.
In addition to New Jersey signal caller Artur Sitkowski, McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier offered 4-star quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson from Las Vegas.
“Coach McElwain gave it to me after I left the camp,” Thompson-Robinson said. “It was special to get it from him. He’s a real good coach. I can see myself playing for him.”
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound passer worked extenseively with Nussmeier while being evaluated by McElwain.
“McElwain wants that fourth (national championship) trophy and thinks I could give it to him,” Thompson-Robinson said. “He told me I throw well. I had good footwork. He liked my quick release and my accuracy. Everything he saw on film was there in camp.”
Nussmeier has recruited Thompson-Robinson for a while and convinced him to make the trip to Gainesville.
“I wanted to meet the staff,” he said. “I’ve been talking to coach Nuss for a minute, so meeting him in person was really cool. He’s real decisive in what he says and knows what he’s talking about. I also drove around campus and then I saw the football side of things.”
Thompson-Robinson is ranked the nation’s No. 4 dual-threat quarterback and No. 65 overall prospect. The Gators are now one of his top teams along with Arizona State, Michigan and UCLA.
“This visit definitely moved Florida up,” said Thompson-Robinson, who plans to return this fall for a game.
Nation’s No. 3 WR has five schools standing out
UF was the first SEC school to offer Jacob Copeland, the nation’s No. 3 receiver and No. 39 overall recruit for 2018.
The 4-star wideout from Pensacola, Fla., attended Friday Night Lights and felt the love from the Gators staff.
“They have been recruiting me since my freshman season,” Copeland said. “They keep telling me they have been impressed with me since the first time they offered me and nothing is going to change with how they’re recruiting me.”
Florida’s proximity to home is appealing to Copeland and his family.
“It makes me feel better because I can be in the same state for them to come and watch me play,” he said.
Five schools have sepereated themselves from the pack for the 6-foot-1, 188-pound prospect.
“Florida, Florida State, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State,” Copeland said.
Florida legacy camps at Friday Night Lights
Shamar Monroe was in familiar territory when he competed in Friday Night Lights.
The 2018 athlete from Miami is the nephew of former Gators safety Dorian Monroe, who was a member of Florida’s 2006 and 2008 national championship teams.
“I like The Swamp. I know the stadium well,” the rising junior said. “It’s a good place to be. The atmosphere is great, the players are welcoming.”
Last season, Monroe led all 2018 prospects in Miami-Dade County in receiving yards (407), receptions (21) and total touchdowns (10). He also had 36 tackles and three interceptions as a safety.
Monroe has yet to land an offer, but Georgia and Louisville are recruiting him. He camped at UF hoping to catch the eye of the staff.
“There was a lot of competition, which is something I look forward to,” Monroe said. “Overall, it was a great experience.”
Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.
Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.