As Jim McElwain tries to rebuild Florida football into a championship program, one of his mottos is “recruit daily or die.” Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of the latest UF recruiting news, tales from the trail and perspective on what it all means for the Gators.
Miami lands Kai-Leon Herbert
The Gators have won the majority of their recruiting battles against Miami in the 2017 cycle, but the Hurricanes are gaining some late momentum on Florida.
Miami landed 4-star offensive tackle Kai-Leon Herbert (Fort Lauderdale) on Wednesday. The Under Armour All-American told UF commits earlier this month he planned to join the class, but the departure of offensive line coach Mike Summers threw a wrench into his potential pledge.
An official visit to Miami last weekend catapulted the Hurricanes into first place and led to his decommitment from Michigan. UF coach Jim McElwain and defensive coordinator Randy Shannon conducted an in-home visit Tuesday night with Herbert, but they weren’t able to tell him who his position coach would be.
Last weekend, McElwain indicated to Gators OL commit T.J. Moore that a hire was already in place and Moore would like the coach. But those assurances didn’t do enough for Herbert, and on Wednesday he cancelled his trip to Florida and pulled the trigger for the Hurricanes.
Hurricanes trending for 4-star CB
Sources close to C.J. Henderson informed SEC Country the Hurricanes are now trending for the 4-star cornerback from Miami.
Florida had been the favorite to land Henderson since his decommitment from UM on Oct. 3. He officially visited Miami (Dec. 9), Alabama (Jan. 13) and Florida (Jan. 20), but last week he made his fourth unofficial visit to UM since backing off his pledge.
The school’s proximity to home as well as his relationship with high school teammates Trajan Bandy and Josh Jobe (2018), both cornerback commits for the ’Canes, are making Miami appealing for Henderson down the stretch.
He also has relationships with Florida commits Shawn Davis and Kemore Gamble, both of whom are from Miami. Gamble is an early enrollee and spent time with Henderson during his official visit to UF last weekend.
Henderson’s position is a big need for both the Gators and Hurricanes. Bandy is Miami’s only pledge at the position, while Florida currently has two cornerbacks committed.
The Hurricanes are expected to land 4-star JUCO cornerback Jhavonte Dean, a former Alabama commit. UF is the odds-on favorite for 4-star CB Brad Stewart, who will officially visit the Gators this weekend.
More Florida-Miami battles brewing?
The in-state rivals are still competing for 3-star defensive back Brian Edwards (Miramar, Fla.), who named Louisville his leader on Jan. 19. He officially visited Miami last weekend and will take a trip to Florida this coming weekend.
The Gators are also scheduled to host 3-star offensive tackle Zalontae Hillery (Brunswick, Ga.) this weekend. He’s been committed to the Hurricanes for sixth months and previously visited UF for Friday Night Lights.
Edwards and Hillery will be the seventh and eighth battle between the in-state rivals in this cycle. The Gators beat Miami for Davis, Gamble, 4-star offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort and 4-star cornerback Marco Wilson, while the Hurricanes edged UF for 4-star offensive tackle Navaughn Donaldson and now Herbert.
Miss a previous Gator Chomps notebook? Find every daily recap of Florida Gators recruiting right here.