Head coach Jim McElwain has brought renewed enthusiasm to the Florida Gators – both on the field and off it. And with the Gators finishing with a previously unthinkable 10-3 record and SEC East title in his first year at the helm of the program, Florida has major momentum on the recruiting circuit – so much so that it could land the Gators two coveted prospects who are set to make their respective decisions on Tuesday.
Florida got a slam dunk commitment when it earned a pledge from four-star quarterback Feleipe Franks (Crawfordville, FL) on Nov. 29, though that has not stopped the Gators from going after an even higher-rated signal caller in five-star Jacob Eason (Lake Stevens, WA).
Eason, the No. 4 player in the nation per the 247Sports Composite, is a Georgia commitment but has been wavering in his pledge, even more so following the departure of head coach Mark Richt. Eason visited Florida on Dec. 1 and saw McElwain pay him a visit in Washington on Dec. 10. Threaded between those trips was an in-home visit from new Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart and a final look at the UGA campus on Dec. 11.
At one time, it appeared as if Eason was actually leaning toward joining Franks on the Gators. (Franks, to his credit, said he is “not worried” about a potential freshman quarterback competition. Florida is in desperate need of a potential day-one starter with sophomore Treon Harris struggling so mightily in 2015 and redshirt freshman Will Grier unavailable until the seventh game of the 2016 season).
Whether McElwain’s pitch and connections to the state of Washington ultimately result in UF landing Eason remains to be seen, but it appears as if UGA has held on to its spot in the driver’s seat. That said, every recruiting analyst (covering a variety of services) who spoke with OnlyGators.com late Tuesday night was unable to give a confident prediction in Eason one way or another, referring to the situation as a true toss-up.
But while Eason is less than certain to link up with the Gators, it appears likely that Florida will land a commitment who may be an even greater need entering the 2016 season.
Junior college kicker Eddy Pineiro (North Miami Beach, FL), a long-time Alabama commitment and the near-consensus top-rated player at his position nationally, decommitted from the Crimson Tide on Monday less than 48 hours after taking his official visit to the program.
The Gators have been hot after Pineiro for quite some time, and with Florida being the only other team he’s visited over the last three months, UF appears to be in a tremendous spot to land his pledge.
Simply put, the Gators can offer an immediate starting job to the in-state prospect who is described by Kornblue Kicking as a guy who “might be the most explosive placekicker ever to have come through our camps.”
Tuesday will be an interesting day for Florida as it could legitimately result in triumph or near-disaster. The Gators having Franks committed would ease the sting of seeing Eason sticking with Georgia, but Florida landing Pineiro – and taking him from Alabama – would still be a huge victory. Yes, that is how badly the Gators need a kicker.