GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida once again has an elite secondary this year, but the unit will take a big hit after the season is over.
The Gators are expected to lose junior cornerbacks Jalen “Teez” Tabor and Quincy Wilson as well as senior safety Marcus Maye, a USA Today first-team All-American in 2015.
Florida coach Jim McElwain and defensive backs coach Torrian Gray hope to fill Maye’s spot with Devon Hunter, the nation’s No. 4 safety from Chesapeake, Va. McElwain and Gray visited Hunter on Monday during their first day on the recruiting trail for the bye week.
“It meant a lot to have the head coach come see me personally,” Hunter said. “I was the first actual recruit he came to see, so it was an honor for me.”
Hunter and Gray have a relationship that dates back to his time as a Virginia Tech assistant, but the U.S. Army All-American has also developed a bond with McElwain.
“Coach Mac is a passionate man,” Hunter said. “He cares about his players and he’ll do anything for them. He’s like a father figure to me and I always wanted a coach like that. He’s a great guy, but he loves to compete and he’s energetic.
“All of those things are what I love about him. He sees me coming in and making an impact. He tells me that all the time, actually. Normally Florida has a lot of DBs, but that’s not the case next year.”
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound prospect said the opportunity to play early at Florida is appealing because of the school’s tradition and track record with defensive backs.
“It’s amazing how those guys are playing,” Hunter said. “I’ve been watching them and they’re aggressive. They’re just making plays out there and getting turnovers. That’s why they call Florida ‘DBU.’ Coach Gray has those guys putting on a show. I love it a lot.
“It’s big for me knowing I can come to a school like that and make an impact. The two redshirt juniors (Marcell Harris and Nick Washington) also won’t be there long, so I could step in and fill their shoes. I’m willing to work to do that if that’s where I go.”
Hunter is still trying to figure that out, and he plans to make his decision in late December. He hasn’t named a leader, but Florida and Virginia Tech are considered his top schools.
Back in the summer, Hunter didn’t think he would use an official visit for UF. That might not be the case anymore.
“I might. I just might. It’s been on my mind lately,” Hunter said when asked about visiting the Gators. “I’m trying to visit there for their last home game, but it wouldn’t be an official. I want the whole experience of being there for a weekend, so I’ll wait on that and do it after their season.”
McElwain visits several defensive recruits
McElwain was in Georgia on Tuesday to see a half-dozen prospects from the Peach State. He even handed out a pair of offers to 2018 recruits.
In addition to his trips with McElwain, defensive line coach Chris Rumph visited 4-star defensive Jarez Parks from Sebastian, Fla.
Here’s the list of recruits targeted by Florida coaches:
McElwain and Rumph
4-star DT Aubrey Solomon, Leesburg, Ga.
3-star DT Tyrone Truesdell, Augusta, Ga.
4-star DE Markaviest Bryant, Cordele, Ga.
4-star ATH Tray Bishop, Dawson, Ga. (Auburn commit)
*4-star LB Quay Walker, Cordele, Ga. (2018)
*4-star S Otis Reese, Leesburg, Ga. (2018 Michigan commit)
* received an offer from McElwain
WR coach Kerry Dixon II
5-star WR Jerry Jeudy, Deerfield Beach, Fla. (Alabama commit)
3-star TE Jarrett Jackson, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
4-star S Gurvan Hall, West Palm Beach, Fla. (2018)
4-star S C.J. Smith, West Palm Beach, Fla. (2018)
RB coach Tim Skipper
3-star ATH Kadarius Toney, Prichard, Ala. (Florida commit)
3-star DT Neil Farrell, Mobile, Ala. (LSU commit)
3-star DE Justin Thomas, Spanish Fort, Ala. (LSU commit)
3-star CB Jalyn Armour-Davis, Mobile, Ala. (2018)
LB coach Randy Shannon
3-star DT Javier Edwards, Brenham, Texas (JUCO Florida commit)
3-star CB Jhavonte Dean, Brenham, Texas (JUCO Alabama commit)
4-star LB Anthony Hines, Plano, Texas
4-star LB Levi Jones, Austin, Texas
4-star OL Stephan Zabie, Austin, Texas
OL coach Mike Summers
4-star OL Saahdiq Charles, Madison, Miss.
3-star OL D’Marcus Hayes, Perkinston, Miss. (JUCO)
4-star RB Fabian Franklin, Hattiesburg, Miss. (2018)
DB coach Torrian Gray
4-star RB Darrian Felix, Fort Myers, Fla.
3-star TE George Takacs, Naples, Fla. (2018)
TE coach Greg Nord
3-star QB James Graham, Fitzgerald, Ga. (2018)
ATH Trezman Marshall, Homerville, Ga. (2019)
Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.