Florida football recruiting: 2018 National Signing Day predictions, announcement times

By Adam Silverstein
February 6, 2018
Florida football recruiting: 2018 National Signing Day predictions, announcement times
Football

Image Credit: ESPN Images

With 2018 National Signing Day on Wednesday, one of the top stories nationally is whether Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen will be able to close strong with a top-15 class or see his program lose a number of key battles as he looks to complete his first recruiting cycle back in Gainesville, Florida.

The Gators sit at No. 18 in the nation entering NSD, behind four other SEC teams (including Georgia), former head coach Urban Meyer and both in-state rivals Miami and Florida State. The coaching change did not hit Florida’s Class of 2018 too hard — all things considered — though Mullen and Co. are still looking to make up a lot of ground and close the cycle with a major move or two by the end of the week.

Let’s take a look at the Gators’ prospects and how they may wind up on Wednesday.

Top targets

Five-star OT Nicholas Petit-Frere (Tampa, FL): The No. 7 overall player in the nation, Petit-Frere is Mullen’s big fish. He took his official visit to Florida on Jan. 26, but Ohio State got his last look and some beleive the Buckeyes have made up major ground. If UF can land Petit-Frere, it will be a major addition and a coup for Mullen.

Announcement time: 10 a.m. hour (ESPNU)
Finalists: Florida, Ohio State, Notre Dame
Prediction: Ohio State | Confidence: 33 percent

Four-star OT William Barnes (Apopka, FL): The Gators were far ahead of the pack for Barnes, the No. 54 overall prospect, at one point, but as the season got away from Florida and Jim McElwain was fired, North Carolina emerged as the leader for his services. There may be too much ground to make up here, but it does help that UF is the in-state program.

Announcement time: TBD
Finalists: Florida, North Carolina, Ole Miss
Prediction: North Carolina | Confidence: 99 percent

Four-star WR Jacob Copeland (Pensacola, FL): A one-time Gators commitment, Copeland backed off his pledge following the departure of McElwain. He now appears to be 50-50 between Florida and Alabama, though UF got the final official visit on Feb. 2 (he visited Bama and Texas A&M recently). Copeland is the 14th ranked player in the state of Florida, No. 12 WR and No. 69 overall nationally.

Announcement time: 2 p.m. hour (ESPNU)
Finalists: Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas A&M
Prediction: Florida | Confidence: 75 percent

Four-star OT Richard Gouraige (Tampa, FL): Gouraige has been committed to the Gators since Oct. 20, 2017. However, following the departure of McElwain, he held off on signing early and visited Auburn, Clemson and Ole Miss leading into signing day. Ultimately, while there was some smoke with him moving over to Clemson, it appears like Gouraige will remain part of UF’s class. This will not change the Gators’ ranking, but it is still an exceedingly important announcement to watch as the 81st-ranked player in the nation makes his final decision.

Announcement time: 2:30 p.m.
Finalists: Florida, Auburn, Clemson
Prediction: Florida | Confidence: 75 percent

Four-star DE Andrew Chatfield (Fort Lauderdale, FL): Florida and Miami are battling for the services of the nation’s 213rd-ranked player with the Gators seemingly making up a lot of ground after hosting Chatfield on an official visit in late January. The Canes met with him last Wednesday in his home and got the final word.

Announcement time: 10 a.m. hour (ESPNU)
Finalists: Florida, Miami
Prediction: Florida | Confidence: 65 percent

Four-star DE Malcolm Lamar (Seffner, FL): A long-time Florida State lean, Lamar finished an official visit to Florida on Jan. 26, and the Gators suddenly look to be in contention for his services. A fan of UF growing up, Lamar canceled a planned FSU visit last weekend, which could indicate him swaying in the direction of the Orange and Blue.

Announcement time: 10 a.m.
Finalists: Florida, Florida State
Prediction: Florida State | Confidence: 60 percent

Four-star DE Malik Langham (Huntsville, AL): Florida nabbed an official visit from Langham, ranked 315th nationally, on Jan. 26, but he went to Auburn last weekend and looked poised to commit to Alabama, where he visited back on Jan. 19. There has been some late moment in the 247Sports Crystal Ball toward the Gators.

Announcement time: 3:30 p.m.
Finalists: Florida, Alabama, Auburn
Prediction: Alabama | Confidence: 25 percent

Four-star CB Noah Boykin (Washington, D.C.): Just days after officially visiting Florida in mid-January, Boykin decommitted from Maryland, where he had been pledged since July 2017. The Gators appear to be the clear leaders for his services going into signing day.

Announcement time: 11:30 a.m.
Finalists: Florida, Notre Dame
Prediction: Florida | Confidence: 65 percent

Four-star DE Caleb Tannor (Lithonia, GA): The Gators have made a push for Tannor, but Florida looks to be behind Auburn, which he recently visited last weekend. Tannor visited Nebraska back on Jan. 12, UF on Jan. 19 and Florida State a few days later. He’s likely set to commit to the Tigers.

Announcement time: 8:45 a.m.
Finalists: Florida, Auburn, Nebraska
Prediction: Nebraska | Confidence: 50 percent

Flip possibility

Four-star DT Nesta Silvera (Fort Lauderdale, FL): A current Miami commit, Silvera is giving Florida a legitimate look down the stretch but is likely to keep his pledge to the Canes. He visited UF back on Jan. 19 but also visited Tennessee prior to his UM official on Saturday. It would be a coup for the Gators to flip the nation’s No. 54 prospect.

Announcement time: 10 a.m.
Finalists: Florida, Miami
Prediction: Miami | Confidence: 60 percent

Secondary targets

Here are some other prospects on the Gators’ board that are either three-star recruits or are only takes if Florida misses on other higher-ranked players.

Three-star DE Dorian Gerald (Florence, SC): There is a lot of competition for Gerald, who has taken official visits to Texas A&M and Arkansas despite appearing to be a Tennessee lean for quite some time. An official to Florida went down last weekend, which is why many believe the Gators may be the team to beat for the 26th-ranked junior college player’s services. He’s also set to check in at Ole Miss.

Announcement time: Friday, time TBA
Finalists: Florida, Arkansas, Louisville, Texas A&M
Prediction: Florida | Confidence: 85 percent

Three-star DE Caleb Johnson (Columbus, GA): The highly sought after prospect has visited UF, Georgia and Auburn over the last three weeks as he attempts to decide between three SEC powers. Last week, 100 percent of the 247Sports Crystal Ball Johnson pegged as a future member of the Gators but that has shifted to nearly even with the Tigers.

Announcement time: 2:30 p.m.
Finalists: Florida, Auburn, Georgia
Prediction: Auburn | Confidence: 40 percent

Three-star OL Ed Montilus (Apopka, FL): Close friends with Barnes, they are expected to attend the same school, which at one point looked to be Florida but may now be North Carolina. He also visited last weekend.

Announcement time: 10 a.m. hour (ESPNU)
Finalists: Florida, North Carolina
Prediction: North Carolina | Confidence: 99 percent

Three-star TE Glenn Beal (New Orleans, LA): SEC teams are in hot pursuit of Beal, a massive 6-foot-5, 265-pound jumbo prospect. He took an official visit to UF on Saturday after recently making stops at Alabama, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Tennessee was once his leader. The Aggies look like the team to beat, but no one really knows.

Announcement time: TBA
Finalists: Florida, Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss
Prediction: Texas A&M | Confidence: 70 percent

Three-star DE Fabien Lovett (Olive Branch, MS): In what is expected to be an all-Mississippi battle, Lovett should choose between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. But with Mullen and Co. having so many in-state ties, Lovett will give Florida an opportunity when he takes an official visit on Saturday.

Announcement time: TBA
Finalists: Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State
Prediction: Mississippi State | Confidence: 70 percent

Commitments

CommitPos.Rating
Jacob Copeland (69)
WR
Emory Jones* (85)
QB
Richard Gouraige (81)
OT
Justin Watkins (89)
WR
Kyle Pitts* (161)
TE
Amari Burney* (177)
S
Trey Dean* (195)
DB
Dameon Pierce* (201)
RB
Andrew Chatfield (213)
DE
David Reese* (296)
LB
Iverson Clement*
RB
Malik Langham
DE
John Huggins*
S
Chris Bleich*
OL
Randy Russell*
S
Dante Lang^
TE
Evan McPherson*
K
Griffin McDowell
C
Noah Banks*
OL
JUCO

* Early Signing Peirod signee

All rankings referenced in this story are via the 247Sports Composite

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