Updated at 7:15 p.m.
Though still less than 24 hours after he committed to the Florida Gators live on ESPNU during National Signing Day, five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson has yet to send his National Letter of Intent into the program, a necessity so he can be cleared by the compliance office and added to the Gators’ Class of 2015.
Though all indications are that Jefferson still plans to join the Florida football team, the letter has not been sent via fax machine or otherwise.
According to Gator Sports Network sideline reporter Brady Ackerman, who reported on the status of Jefferson’s letter during an interview on Thursday with Bill King on 94.9 The Game in Nashville, Tennessee, Jefferson’s father is refusing to sign the letter that will allow his son to officially join the Gators.
“Apparently, his dad is not allowing him to sign with Florida just yet, OK? His dad and his mom, while they live together, don’t see eye to eye. The mom wants him to go to Florida; there’s a lot of Gators in Baker County, as you know, the proximity is very close to the University of Florida.
“This kid wants to be a Gator and apparently his dad is not signing it. Now from what I understand, he’s 19, but I’m also told a parent still has to sign [the letter]. That’s where the story ends for me right now. From the Florida perspective, they feel very confident that CeCe will be a Gator and that he is a Gator, but from a legal standpoint … it’s not officially official, if you will.”
OnlyGators.com has been able to independently confirm that Florida has not received Jefferson’s letter as of press time, just as Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports did a short while ago. Goldkamp also spoke with Jefferson’s father, Leo Jefferson, who confirmed that the family has not sent the necessary fax but would not go into specifics as to why.
Furthermore, Leo Jefferson has directly said that he refuses to sign Jefferson’s letter of intent. “You tell The Gainesville Sun that he isn’t going to fax it in. I won’t let him,” the father told reporter Zach Abolverdi.
“I’m a die-hard Gator fan, but personally, I want CeCe to go somewhere else,” Leo Jefferson continued. “I wanted to get him away from home. I didn’t want him in Gainesville, to tell you the truth.”
The Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson interviewed CeCe Jefferson after his commitment. During that conversation, the prospect indicated that his mother and father are two very different people.
“I’m right here in the yard announcing where I’m going to college and she’s crying like I’m about to go to war or something,” the player told Thompson. “I can only imagine how she’d be feeling if I went nine hours, six hours the road. That was big for me and her.
“My dad, he takes care of himself. Leo’s Leo.”
In a recent development, Leo Jefferson is now telling ESPN.com‘s Gerry Hamilton that it is his son holding up the process. “No, we are not sending it yet,” he reportedly said. “CeCe is still thinking about it. He wants time to think about it. … We don’t have a timetable. CeCe could change his mind about everything.”
All of this comes the same day as the Gators lost defensive line coach Terrell Williams, though ESPN.com recruiting analyst Derek Tyson reports that CeCe Jefferson knew Williams was departing the program after National Signing Day.
Though the final signing date for a National Letter of Intent for football is April 1, 2015, the letter itself becomes invalid seven days after issuance. Prospects under the age of 21 must have their signature accompanied by an individual parent or legal guardian.
Update: Jon Shumake, the sports editor for The Baker County Press, which is the CeCe Jefferson’s hometown paper, reported Thursday afternoon that “Jefferson said he was planning on sending in his NLI today … maybe tomorrow, but added he’s not changing commitment to #Florida.”
Update II: The mixed messages continue. In an extensive conversation with Rivals.com national recruiting director Mike Farrell, Leo Jefferson explains in detail that he and his wife are prepared to sign his son’s letter of intent but it is CeCe Jefferson who is not ready because of the shakeup on the Gators coaching staff.
Leo Jefferson disputes an early report, saying “the Florida staff never told us [Williams] was leaving.” He also claims Gators head coach Jim McElwain did not try to recruit CeCe Jefferson as strongly as other coaches and said athletic director Jeremy Foley‘s involvement in assistant coach hires concerns him. He did relent, however, and say if his son ultimately chooses Florida, he will sign the letter of intent.
Leo said that the in-home visit with Gators coach Jim McElwain was rushed, they stayed for an hour and rushed out the door to see a 2016 prospect and only talked about the new dorms and the new facilities on the visit. The visit paled in comparison to the other in home visits, according to Leo. …
Leo also mentioned concern about Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley being involved in the firing of assistant coaches and how involved he is in the program. Leo doesn’t believe that McElwain will have the power at Florida that Nick Saban, Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn, Les Miles and others have at their schools. …
“[McElwain] was only head coach of all the ones recruiting him that hasn’t called as of 1 p.m. Coaches from schools CeCe wasn’t listing as finalists have all called, but Florida has not called him.” … “The staff should have considered being honest with us about the [coaching] change. They haven’t pursued CeCe nearly as hard as others and I’m not sure why.”
Update III: Leo Jefferson tweeted the following around 4:30 p.m.: “Yes we are holding out. Florida making to many coaching changes this is not a game it’s my son life.”
Update IV: During an appearing Thursday on The Paul Finebaum Show, Tyson reiterated that the Jefferson family did know about the departure of Williams last week. Furthermore, he explained that the reason why CeCe Jefferson’s letter of intent is not in Florida’s grasp is becuase his father is holding it hostage. Otherwise, his mother would sign it. The Gators could send another letter of intent for Jefferson to sign by mail, but they cannot bring one over personally by hand.
Update V: In this interview with 1010 XL out of Jacksonville on Wednesday, CeCe Jefferson gave no indication that he was at all concerned about anything at Florida.
Update VI: After 7 p.m. on Thursday, CeCe Jefferson sent a series of three tweets explaining why his National Letter of Intent has not yet been submitted to the Gators. Here they are, combined:
“I haven’t sent in my LOI because someone told me a few days before NSD that williams was leaving,why send it in without being sure ?” he began. “Im a Gator my dude! Forget all these rumors that I was paid,my parents disagreed w my decision, all of that..My last tweet is whyi held out … So to all my haters,It’s still Gator Gang!”