Gator Nation now turns its focus to football with the season opener on Saturday, but let’s look back on the last month of Florida recruiting before we head into September.
Florida coach Jim McElwain and his staff landed a pair of high-profile commits in August. Those additions moved the Gators into the top 10 of the 2018 class rankings, according to the 247Sports composite.
Every month, SEC Country will outline three items the Florida coaches need to accomplish on the recruiting trail. At the end of the month, we revisit the list to see if the Gators checked off any boxes.
Florida’s recruiting to-do list for September publishes Monday. Here’s a recap of the August agenda:
Secure a commitment from a second running back
Mission accomplished. The Gators wanted to sign a pair of backs in the 2018 class and landed a commitment from 4-star athlete Iverson Clement in April. Florida once led for 4-star running back Asa Martin, but he lost interest in the Gators once in-state programs Alabama and Auburn began making him a priority. He committed to the Tigers last week.
Florida hosted 3-star athlete Leddie Brown at Friday Night Lights and a flip seemed possible, but Dameon Pierce beat him to the punch. The 4-star running back visited Florida twice in late July and made a surprising commitment to the Gators on Aug. 6, choosing them over Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and Georgia (prior to Martin’s pledge).
Win in-state recruiting battles with powerhouse programs
McElwain and his staff won the state of Florida in the 2017 recruiting cycle, signing more top-50 prospects from Florida than any other program in the country. However, Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State signed more recruits in the top 15 than the Gators.
McElwain wants to end that trend in this cycle and helped his case on Aug. 2 by landing 4-star wide receiver Jacob Copeland, one of the biggest Florida commits in recent years. The Gators went head-to-head against Alabama and beat out Nick Saban & Co. for a player they really wanted, something few schools are able to do. Florida must land more recruits of Copeland’s caliber to dominate the state and get on Alabama’s level.
Begin landing linemen on both sides of the ball
The Gators didn’t add any linemen to their 2018 class in August but had some positive news on this front. Coynis Miller, a 4-star defensive tackle from the Yellowhammer State, named Florida his leader over Auburn and Alabama. Four-star defensive end Andrew Chatfield de-committed from Ohio State on Aug. 7 after taking a two-day trip to Florida in late July for Friday Night Lights.
On the offensive line, the Gators are contenders for 5-star tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere — the nation’s top-ranked prospect at his position — and remain the team to beat for 4-star tackle Richard Gouraige. Gouraige and Petit-Frere are from Tampa, Fla., and their commitments would give Florida a top-5 class.