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National signing day: Florida, FSU, Miami live updates

The Florida Gators have added (another) five-star transfer, but they missed out on a blue-chip safety who chose Miami instead.
Former five-star receiver Justin Shorter might be the biggest addition for the Florida Gators today. He has officially signed with UF as a transfer from Penn State. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano) [STEVE LUCIANO  |  AP]
Former five-star receiver Justin Shorter might be the biggest addition for the Florida Gators today. He has officially signed with UF as a transfer from Penn State. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano) [STEVE LUCIANO | AP]

1:45 update: Florida State lost a commitment, with four-star receiver Malachi Wideman flipping to Tennessee.

Wideman is a top-150 overall recruit from Venice. Ole Miss was also in the mix for him. FSU still has the nation’s No. 20 class.

12:50 update: Florida missed on another late target when four-star running back Jahmyr Gibbs stuck with Georgia Tech instead of switching to the Gators. Gibbs is a top-100 recruit and would have been the first running back signed in the Gators’ 2020 class out of high school.

Instead, he’s signing with former UF defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, who is recruiting well with the Yellow Jackets. In the early signing period, he nabbed four-star quarterback Jeff Sims from Jacksonville. Sims had been a longtime FSU commit.

12:35 update: Five-plus hours in, we have our first notable surprise of the day. Deland safety Avantae Williams picked Miami over the Gators during his signing day ceremony.

Williams is a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 44 overall recruit. He was widely expected to join UF instead of heading to Coral Gables. Instead, he becomes the highest ranked player in the Hurricanes’ class. With Williams’ announcement, Miami jumped six spots to the No. 12 class in the nation (second in the ACC, behind Clemson).

12:10 update: Georgia isn’t making it easy for Florida to gain ground in the SEC. The Bulldogs have already locked up the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, according to 247Sports.

Kirby Smart’s class includes a quartet of five-star prospects. That’s as many as UF has on its roster total. One of them, notably, is linebacker Brenton Cox, who transferred from Georgia to the Gators.

UF’s class still ranks eighth nationally, just as it did yesterday and just as it did after the first signing day in December.

11:45 update: Things continue to be quiet for the Gators, while Florida State is adding to its class.

Florida missed out on two targets when four-star athlete Dee Beckwith signed with Tennessee and four-star running back Ashaad Clayton stuck with his commitment to Colorado, despite visiting Gainesville last month.

FSU’s seven signees include two recent commits. Three-star linebacker DJ Lundy picked FSU on Wednesday over a group that included Virginia Tech, and late offer Sidney Williams also chose the Seminoles. Williams is a three-star defensive back from Alabama.

Related: What two coaching changes in three years means for FSU recruiting

9:15 update: Florida State is up to five signees this morning. The two most recent ones are both three-star prospects: Robert Scott, an offensive lineman from Conway, Ark. (where coach Mike Norvell played his college ball at Central Arkansas) and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back from Louisiana.

No major surprises yet for FSU (or Miami or Florida). But some announcements could be coming later this morning or early this afternoon to start injecting drama into the day.

8:30 update: Florida State has its first signee of the day, and it’s a big one: three-star junior college running back La’Damian Webb.

Webb is a 5-foot-8, 190-pound prospect out of Jones County Junior College. The former Mississippi State signee will help fill a big need at FSU. With Cam Akers headed to the NFL, the Seminoles are low on running backs; they were without a healthy scholarship tailback available for the Sun Bowl.

FSU has also announced the addition of Tennessee prospects: three-star tight end Markeston Douglas and three-star receiver Darion Williamson.

And rival Florida has added its first high school recruit of the day. Blue-chip receiver Xzavier Henderson has officially joined the Gators. The Miami native is the nation’s No. 66 overall recruit and the younger brother of standout cornerback CJ Henderson, who played for UF before entering this spring’s NFL draft.

Related: From December: Florida Gators’ class is better, but is it good enough?

8:15 a.m. update: The Gators have officially added what should be their biggest addition of the day. He’s just not a traditional recruit.

Former five-star receiver Justin Shorter has joined Florida as a transfer from Penn State. The move had been in the works for weeks but is now official.

Shorter was the No. 8 overall recruit in the 2018 class. He caught 15 passes for 157 yards in two seasons with the Nittany Lions before entering the transfer portal. His addition will help bolster a receiving corps that lost four players who made all-star games (Tyrie Cleveland, Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain and Josh Hammond).

Elsewhere in the state, former Florida State coach Willie Taggart has added a key three-star recruit to his class at Florida Atlantic: his son, quarterback Willie Taggart Jr.

And Miami has its first signee of the day: Isaiah Dunson, a four-star defensive back from Georgia.

7:16 update: We have our first notable signing of the morning. Largo three-star linebacker AJ Mathis made it official with Florida International.

Mathis had been pledged to Miami but decommitted in November. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound prospect will instead be part of an FIU class that has a notable Tampa Bay flavor. Steinbrenner High quarterback Haden Carlson has already signed with the Panthers, and Gaither High linebacker Chance Coleman is also an FIU commit.

The second, traditional signing day starts this morning across the country. Most of the top prospects have already signed, but there will be some significant decisions and drama to come.

I’ll update this post with news on Florida, Florida State and Miami (plus anything else that jumps out) as it develops. In the meantime, here are a few things worth watching today:

How much do the Gators move?

Florida coach Dan Mullen stands with the trophy after beating Virginia to win the Orange Bowl. [LYNNE SLADKY | AP]

As of Tuesday afternoon, Florida has the nation’s No. 8 recruiting class. That’s the same spot they were after Day 1 of the early signing period.

The difference is that now UF has a five-star signee, after services bumped defensive tackle Gervon Dexter up to that category recently. UF has only three unsigned commitments, but two of them are four-star prospects (receiver Xzavier Henderson and athlete Marc Britt, who is expected to sign in two weeks). Are there any other additions or surprises in store? As it stands, UF’s class would be the program’s best since 2013.

Can Florida State close well?

New Florida State coach Mike Norvell isn't in an easy spot as the Seminoles have their second transition class in three years. [MARK WALLHEISER | AP]

Mike Norvell did an admirable job in his first signing day at FSU with some last-minute adds, including four-star quarterback Chubba Purdy. There aren’t as many remaining targets this time, but there are a few still out there, including three-star linebacker DJ Lundy, who’s deciding between FSU, Georgia and Virginia Tech.

FSU’s roster needs help, and Norvell is in a tough situation thanks to another transitional recruiting class. I’m curious to see how he finishes and whether FSU can improve on its ranking (20th).

What’s going on at Miami?

Miami coach Manny Diaz currently has a recruiting class that is 17th in the country, which can't satisfy fans. [WILFREDO LEE | AP]

The Hurricanes’ class sits 17th with only three unsigned commits. What’s more interesting, to me, is what will happen after coach Manny Diaz’s news conference.

New offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee is scheduled to meet with reporters in Coral Gables. So is new chief of staff Ed Reed. And D’Eriq King, the grad transfer quarterback from Houston. I’m fascinated by Miami, so I’ll be monitoring what comes out of those conversations.

Related: Miami Hurricanes’ Manny Diaz is in danger of becoming another Willie Taggart

Who finishes No. 1?

Georgia coach Kirby Smart, left, continues to land top recruiting classes, but they haven't translated into national championships. ["BRONTE WITTPENN | TIMES" | BRONTE WITTPENN | Times]

Georgia has the nation’s top class with 19 blue-chip recruits (16 signees and three commits), but Alabama is in the mix, too. Clemson isn’t far off, but the Tigers have been focusing on 2021 instead of adding to the 2020 class.

Related: The good, the bad, the ugly: Revisiting Matt Baker’s preseason college football picks

If Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs hold onto the top spot, it’ll be the second time in three seasons that Georgia has landed the best class in the nation. It would also ramp up expectations for the Gators’ SEC East rival.

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