GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida had a surprise recruit attend Saturday’s season opener vs UMass.
Gators quarterback commit Jake Allen came to the game with Kai-Leon Herbert, a 4-star offensive tackle from American Heritage High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A pair of Herbert’s teammates, linebacker James Houston and cornerback Marco Wilson (Florida commits themselves), were also visiting.
“It was really a great atmosphere,” Herbert said.
Herbert committed to Michigan over Florida in July, but he’s still being pursued by Gators offensive line coach Mike Summers and the staff.
“The (UF) coaches tell me how much they need me and how much they want me,” Herbert said. “Me and Coach Summers have had a great relationship since the first time he started recruiting me. Nothing has changed with that relationship. It’s still good.”
Herbert is also close with Allen. They played together at Cardinal Gibbons High School in 2014. Allen is now at St. Thomas Aquinas.
“It would mean a lot to play with someone I already played with,” Herbert said of a possible reunion with Allen. “He’s someone who can put balls in the end zone.”
The 6-foot-5, 284-pound prospect said Allen, Houston and Wilson are all in his ear about flipping to Florida. Did Saturday’s visit help the Gators?
“I’m not going to say,” Herbert said, “because I’m committed to Michigan. But it was great being back.”
Wilson thinks UF has a “strong” shot at swaying his teammate.
“It’s a great opportunity for him to come in and play, so that’s always something (attractive),” Wilson said of Herbert’s recruitment. “I told him he needs to commit and not go to Michigan. I told him he doesn’t want to go that far.”
Florida played 11 true freshmen against UMass, including offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor. That caught Herbert’s attention.
“Jawaan Taylor did a great job at right tackle,” Herbert said. “I watched him when Fred Johnson went out and he solidified the right side. I told Coach Summers that was really good to see.”
Herbert is ranked the nation’s No. 27 offensive tackle and No. 218 overall prospect.
Florida commits in action
Here are the standout performers from Friday:
Quarterback Jake Allen threw for 156 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-19 passing in a 42-6 win over Miramar.
Athlete Kadarius Toney (Eight Mile, Ala./Blount) accounted for 251 yards of offense and a pair of scores in three quarters of play, leading his team to a 41-10 win over Baldwin County.
Cornerback Elijah Blades (Pasadena, Calif./John Muir) had a 27-yard rushing TD, which was the difference in a 6-0 win over Desert Oasis. He also scored two more touchdowns that were negated by penalties.
Cornerback Marco Wilson had three tackles, an interception and a pass breakup in a 21-0 win over Don Bosco Prep.
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.