5:30 update: A few signatures could still trickle in tonight or in the next few days, but here’s where things stand as the first day of the early signing period draws to a close.
Florida’s class is ranked eighth. If that holds, that will be the Gators’ best finish since 2013 and their first back-to-back top-10 classes since 2013-14.
Florida State started the day outside the top 25 but has risen to 21st. Miami dropped a few spots to No. 17, which is second in the ACC behind Clemson.
3 p.m. update: It’s raining QBs at Florida State. The Seminoles flipped Louisville commit Chubba Purdy, a four-star dual-threat quarterback from Arizona.
1:45 update: Florida State’s long nightmare is over. The Seminoles have signed a high school quarterback.
FSU has announced the addition of three-star recruit Tate Rodemaker from Valdosta, Ga. Rodemaker had been committed to USF but flipped to the ’Noles under new coach Mike Norvell. His addition is huge because Norvell’s predecessor, Willie Taggart, failed to sign a prep quarterback in either of his two recruiting classes at FSU.
FSU also picked up a key prospect in four-star receiver Bryan Robinson from Palm Beach Central. The top-200 recruit is now the second best of FSU’s class, which is up to No. 22 nationally.
Florida still has the state’s top class (No. 9), and Miami is next at 16th.
11:35 update: Florida missed out on a potentially large commit. Four-star offensive tackle Marcus Dumervil announced his intention to play at LSU. The Gators were among the finalists for the St. Thomas Aquinas product.
LSU’s class is fourth in the 247Sports composite rankings. UF is eighth.
Florida State picked up its latest signee with a local flavor. Pinellas Park running back Lawrance Toafili is officially headed to the Seminoles. He’s a four-star prospect and the country’s No. 17 running back. He was the No. 1 player in the Times’ annual HomeTeam 100 countdown.
10:50 update: Florida State is up to eight signees. The latest: Three-star linebacker Jayion McCluster from Largo High. The Under Armour All-American had 159 tackles as a senior and 129 as a junior.
FSU got another big addition with three-star defensive end Josh Griffis. The IMG Academy product had been committed to FSU but switched to Louisville before flipping back to the Seminoles today.
The Gators have landed 18 signees, so they’ve signed almost all of the commits they had entering today. We’ll see how they close in the coming hours.
10:20 update: The biggest drama of the day just went down in South Dade.
Four-star safety Jaiden Francois left the gym twice before his signing ceremony, according to a video feed of the event that was being viewed by thousands of fans Wednesday morning. He eventually unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a Nebraska shirt, choosing Scott Frost’s Cornhuskers over the hometown Hurricanes.
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9:50 update: It took a few hours, but national signing day has finally delivered a little drama involving state schools. First, Florida State signed three-star receiver Kentron Poitier from Miami Palmetto.
The 6-foot-2 prospect chose the Seminoles over Florida and Syracuse, among others. Receiver is a position of need for new coach Mike Norvell, especially if Tamorrion Terry leaves for the NFL draft. Poitier caught 10 touchdowns during his senior season.
Not long after, FSU watched its longtime quarterback commit sign elsewhere. Jeff Sims, a four-star prospect from Jacksonville Sandalwood, is headed to Georgia Tech. The Under Armour All-American had been committed to FSU since February but decommitted not long after Norvell was hired. FSU was still one of his finalists before he signed with Geoff Collins’ Yellow Jackets on Wednesday.
8:30 update: Signatures have been streaming into state schools for an hour and a half, but we haven’t seen any major surprises yet.
The Florida Gators are up to 11 announced signees, including Jesuit tight end Jonathan Odom. He’s expected to be the only local UF signs today. His dad, Jason Odom, was an offensive lineman for the Gators and Bucs.
The latest four-star prospects UF has signed are cornerback Ethan Pouncey — a cousin to the former Gators Maurkice and Mike —defensive end Antwaun Powell and offensive lineman Joshua Braun, a recent flip from Georgia. All three are top-300 recruits.
Florida State has added two more four-star prospects in the last hour: defensive tackle Manny Rogers and linebacker Stephen Dix. Its other two signees are also notable. Zane Herring is a three-star prospect from Madison County and will help fill a glaring hole at offensive line. And, like UF, the Seminoles have signed an Australian punter, Alex Mastromanno.
Miami, of course, already has one of those, Louis Hedley. The Hurricanes are up to six signees today. Four-star safety Keshawn Washington (South Dade) is the latest four-star athlete to join.
7:30 update: The Florida Gators started Wednesday well by signing their top-ranked commit, four-star defensive tackle Gervon Dexter. The Lake Wales product is the nation’s No. 31 overall recruit and had offers from Alabama, Georgia and Clemson, among others.
Dexter had been committed to UF for more than a year, but his signing is still a big get for the Gators. Four other recruits have also signed with UF already: four-star linebacker Derek Wingo (St. Thomas Aquinas), three-star offensive lineman Richie Leonard (Cocoa), three-star defensive back Tre’Vez Johnson (Bartram Trail) and Australian punter Jeremy Crawshaw.
Florida did, however, miss out on a top target, five-star running back Demarkcus Bowman. The Lakeland product stuck to his oral commitment and signed with Clemson instead of continuing his school’s pipeline to Gainesville.
The paperwork has also started to trickle into Florida State and Miami. The first official recruit of the Mike Norvell era in Tallahassee was four-star defensive back Demorie Tate out of Orlando’s Freedom High. The nation’s No. 50 overall talent was recruited by Alabama, Georgia, Auburn and Miami, among others.
The Hurricanes’ first signee of the day was four-star quarterback Tyler Van Dyke. The 6-foot-4, 212-pound Connecticut native plays an obvious position of need for Miami, which has struggled at quarterback for most of the past two seasons.
Keep reading for our early morning post, including some of the biggest questions I had going into the day and ESPN analyst Tom Luginbill’s thoughts on the Gators.
College football’s early signing period begins today. Technically it began Tuesday, when the Gators got a letter of intent from Australian punter Jeremy Crawshaw. About three-quarters of the sport’s top recruits are expected to sign their letters of intent over the next few days.
I’ll be updating this post throughout the day with nuggets on Florida, Florida State and Miami. A few things I’m watching before the signatures really begin rolling in:
How well can Dan Mullen’s Gators close?
Mullen’s staff has done a strong job of finishing (and flipping) in his first two classes, with previous, late decisions from prospects like quarterback Emory Jones. He has already one notable flip in the last week, plucking four-star offensive lineman Joshua Braun away from Georgia.
Mullen attributed the trend to the way his Gators have outperformed expectations with back-to-back New Year’s Six bowl games.
“The recruiting aspect of that out there is a lot of these young men are looking and saying, ‘This program is way further ahead than people thought they were. They’re having a lot more success than people thought they were (going to)…’” Mullen said.
“And I think that's more what guys see when they're looking at the reality of the situation maybe than maybe what the perception was at the beginning of recruiting."
Where does UF’s class finish the day?
Last February, I asked whether the Gators were recruiting at a high enough level to win championships. Heading into today, I feel like the answer is yes. Count ESPN national recruiting director Tom Luginbill among Mullen’s supporters.
“We place a premium on four positions of significant value: defensive line, offensive line, quarterback and defensive corner,” Luginbill said in a teleconference with reporters Monday. “If you look at Florida's class right now, of their top ranked players in the class I could go down, what, eight deep and it's the top five defensive ends, the top five defensive tackles, a top 10 corner, a top 15 offensive tackle, a top seven dual threat quarterback, a top 15 defensive tackle. Those are all positions of premium value. “I think they've really hit the ground running in this cycle. Back-to-back successful seasons on the field certainly ramp that up, but I always tell Florida fans put faith in the fact that this guy has won with players that other people didn't recruit. So if you see he's recruiting somebody, you might want to buy in first.”
UF’s class was at No. 7 nationally as of Tuesday afternoon. If that holds, it’ll be the Gators’ best finish since 2013.
How many quarterbacks does Florida State sign?
The Seminoles desperately need at least one quarterback after Willie Taggart failed to sign one in either of his two classes. New coach Mike Norvell was in a similar situation as an assistant at Arizona State; those Sun Devils signed a pair of passers each of the next two seasons.
Four-star recruit Jeff Sims decommitted from FSU not long after Norvell was hired, but the Seminoles have since flipped three-star prospect Tate Rodemaker from USF.
Another FSU target to watch: four-star quarterback Chubba Purdy, a Louisville commit who recently visited Tallahassee.
What happens with Miami?
Manny Diaz was a natural choice to replace Mark Richt as the Hurricanes’ coach in part because of his recruiting prowess. But a 6-6 disappointment hasn’t helped Diaz’s case.
Miami had the nation’s No. 15 class and 11 blue-chip commits as of Tuesday afternoon. How well do Diaz and the ’Canes close after ending the regular season with a thud?