One of the most important pieces in Florida’s top-10 recruiting class has left the group.
Ja’Marr Chase, the nation’s No. 6-ranked WR by 247Sports, de-committed from the Gators on Wednesday. He made a surprise pledge to Florida in late July, but his latest move didn’t come as much of a shock.
Chase committed to the coaches more so than the school — specifically Tim Skipper. He served as Chase’s area recruiter and primary contact at UF, playing a vital role in his pledge to the Gators. It simply doesn’t happen without him.
The top-100 overall recruit was also attracted by the summertime buzz surrounding Jim McElwain’s program and the commitment of Matt Corral, who was rated a 5-star quarterback when he and Chase attended Friday Night Lights.
That event is when the core of Florida’s class came together, with Corral, Chase, Dameon Pierce, Jacob Copeland and Randy Russell all conversing with one another and making a collective decision to commit that week.
Given Chase’s proximity from Gainesville, Fla., and his lack of connections to the Florida football program, he was always the most likely member of that core group to leave the class — even before McElwain’s departure.
Once that happened and Skipper’s future at UF became uncertain, so did Chase’s. And with other schools turning up the heat on him and at least a three weeks left in Florida’s coaching search, Chase isn’t willing to wait it out.
Corral, Pierce and Russell are being patient with the process and staying committed for now, as is Copeland. However, Alabama is going all on for the top-100 WR and he returned to Tuscaloosa last weekend for the third time this fall.
Copeland may wait on the Florida hire before he officially decides to re-opens his recruitment or flip, but things are trending in that direction. And if the next coach chooses not to retain the primary recruiters for Florida commits Corey Gammage (Ja’Juan Seider), Tyquan Thornton (Randy Shannon) and Jalynn Williams (Kerry Dixon II), all three of them could be gone as well.
A big-name hire or some key staff additions might keep some of those guys in the fold and may even bring Chase back on board, but the latter seems unlikely.