GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida competes annually in recruiting against rivals Florida State, Georgia and Miami.
The four schools often pursue the same prospects, especially in the state of Florida. But in the last two cycles, UF has been having more battles with Alabama.
Last year the two schools not only competed in the SEC Championship Game, but on the recruiting trail. The Gators flipped the nation’s No. 1 junior college kicker, Eddy Pineiro, from the Crimson Tide just before mid-year enrollment. Then on signing day, Alabama stole cornerback Aaron Robinson from UF.
The Crimson Tide also tried to flip running back Lamical Perine and linebacker Vosean Joseph, but they stuck with the Gators. However, Alabama was able to outlast Florida for 5-star linebacker Mack Wilson.
This year 5-star wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) committed to the Crimson Tide over Florida, while 3-star tight end Zech Byrd (Millbrook, Ala.) went with the Gators instead of his in-state school. Florida and Alabama will duke it out for at least seven more recruits in the Class of 2017.
The Gators are still after Jeudy, who plans to officially visit UF in December. They’re trying to flip two more Alabama commits in 5-star offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood (Pensacola, Fla.) and 4-star athlete Chadarius Townsend (Tanner, Ala.), both of whom plan to visit Florida as well.
Leatherwood, who will make a final decision on Dec. 16, posted a Gators graphic on his Twitter account Monday.
— Alex Leatherwood (@Alskee_) November 1, 2016
In addition to Jeudy, both schools are battling for uncommitted 4-star wide receiver Henry Ruggs from Montgomery, Ala. The Crimson Tide are considered his favorite, but UF will receive a visit from him on Nov. 12 for the South Carolina game.
A pair of 4-star defensive ends, one from each state, might decide between Alabama and Florida as well. Those are the presumed leaders for Jarez Parks (Sebastian, Fla.) and LaBryan Ray (Madison, Ala.), with official visits coming up for each prospect to both schools.
They’re also chasing 5-star cornerback Shaun Wade from Jacksonville, Fla. He’s currently committed to Ohio State, but the Crimson Tide and the Gators have a shot at swaying him to the SEC.
Florida and Alabama are two of five finalists for Devon Hunter, the nation’s No. 4 safety from Chesapeake, Va. However, his recruitment is expected to come down to UF and Virginia Tech.
4-star LB off the board for Gators
An SEC team beat out Florida on Monday for a 4-star linebacker from Alabama, but it wasn’t the Crimson Tide.
Oxford’s K.J. Britt chose Auburn over Florida and Georgia in a Halloween commitment video. The decision came as no surprise, with Britt visiting Auburn six times since the summer.
He hadn’t been to UF since the spring, but was scheduled to attend the LSU game before its postponement. Gators coach Jim McElwain personally recruited Britt, but in the end he wanted to stay close to home.
Florida is still in the mix for 4-star linebackers Rahyme Johnson (Los Angeles), Levi Jones (Austin, Texas) and Anthony Hines (Plano, Texas), who officially visited UF on Oct. 15.
Florida commits in action
Here are the standout performers from Friday:
In one half of play, 4-star quarterback Jake Allen (St. Thomas Aquinas, Fla.) threw for 97 yards and a touchdown on 9-of-13 passing. His team beat Blanche Ely, 49-0.
Four-star cornerback Elijah Blades (Pasadena, Calif./John Muir) had three tackles for loss (six total) and caught a 19-yard touchdown in a 30-20 win over Burroughs.
Four-star defensive end Zachary Carter (Tampa, Fla./Hillsborough) had a sack and two quarterback hurries in a 38-20 loss to Armwood.
Three-star running back Malik Davis (Tampa, Fla./Jesuit) rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on just five carries to lead his team to a 45-14 win over Spoto.
Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.