FLORIDA REPORT CARD
Overall grade: B+
Analysis: In his first full recruiting cycle, Florida coach Jim McElwain benefited from a year’s worth of evaluations and relationships. He and his staff flipped big-time recruits Tyrie Cleveland, Feleipe Franks and Eddy Pineiro after months of pursuit, while also getting an early jump on under-the-radar recruits who later proved to be better than their ratings. Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Mississippi State and Southern Cal were among the schools trying to flip some of Florida’s three-star commits down the stretch. UF failed to sign a tight end and defensive tackle, which keeps this class from earning an A grade. And while McElwain said Wednesday he wants to sign at least one prospect at every position in each cycle, the biggest 2016 needs for the Gators were quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker and cornerback. They had multiple signees at each of those positions, several of which are highly-touted recruits.
Star of the class: Tyrie Cleveland, a 4-star prospect from Houston, is Florida’s most promising incoming receiver since Percy Harvin. However, he has a totally different skill set. Cleveland possesses a rare combination of size (6-3, 194) and speed (sub-4.4). Ranked No. 2 nationally at his position, Cleveland will make an immediate impact at UF.
Three others could play next year: Antonneous Clayton, 5-star DE, Vienna, Ga.; Mark Thompson, 4-star RB, Philadelphia, Pa.; Chauncey Gardner, 4-star CB, Cocoa, Fla.
Biggest surprise: After losing in-state commitment Aaron Robinson to Alabama, Florida did some flipping of its own. The Gators snagged junior college cornerback Joseph Putu from Arkansas late in the day. He committed to the Razorbacks at the end of his visit last weekend and has never been to UF, but a last-second offer from the Gators was enough to sway him.
The big fish that got away: Shavar Manuel, the 4-star DT from IMG Academy, switched his commitment from Florida to Florida State on Wednesday. Sources close to UF and IMG Academy told SEC Country that Manuel still needs to work on qualifying, but FSU is willing to roll the dice with his academics. Nevertheless, Manuel is a prospect Florida could have used at a premier position. Had he signed with the Gators, they may have finished with a consensus top-10 class.
Final rankings: No. 14 in the nation and No. 6 in the SEC via Rivals; No. 13 in the nation and No. 6 in the SEC via 247sports; No. 10 in the nation and No. 5 in the SEC via Scout; No. 12 in the nation and No. 6 in the SEC via ESPN.