Florida Gators football recruiting rolled along for head coach Jim McElwain on Friday as two prospects from Deerfield Beach High School decided to commit to the program after receiving offers stemming from the 7-on-7 camp held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.
Unrated 2016 cornerback Christopher “C.J.” McWilliams (Miami, FL) verbally committed to the Florida Gators on Sunday, the player told OnlyGators.com.
McWilliams (5-foot-11, 160 pounds) received a scholarship offer from the Gators on Friday and jumped on the opportunity, as first reported by Luke Stampini of 247Sports.
Shortly after the Florida Gators‘ third spring practice of the 2015 offseason, the team added a pair of three-star 2016 commitments in wide receiver Isaiah Johnson (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) and safety Spencer Perry (Bradenton, FL).
Johnson, whose commitment was first reported by Blake Alderman of Rivals, chose Florida eight days after being offered, six after visiting UF for Junior Day and five days after decommitting from Miami. He also holds offers from Louisville and South Carolina.
Perry, who was offered by and took an unofficial visit to Florida in February, made his announced on Twitter: “I have verbally committed to THE University of Florida IM A GATOR.” He also has standing offers from Auburn, Mississippi State and Notre Dame.
Nine months after originally committing to the Florida Gators – and three months after decommitting from the program – four-star 2016 cornerback Chauncey Gardner II (Cocoa, FL) recommitted to the team on Saturday.
A one-time pledge to Miami, Gardner (6-foot, 194 pounds) is listed as the No. 114 player overall and No. 10 cornerback in the nation by 247Sports.
“Proud To Say That I Will Be Committing Back To THE University Of Florida,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
Gardner originally committed to the Gators moments after receiving a scholarship offer from the old staff last June, 20 months before 2016 National Signing Day. Now still 11 months away, there is plenty of time for him to change his mind yet again.
Tthe fifth player committed to Florida in the Class of 2016, Gardner joins three-star pledges including wide receiver Rick Wells (Jacksonville, FL), defensive end Eric Mitchell (Miami, FL), linebacker Vosean Joseph (Miami, FL) and DE JaQuan Bailey (Jacksonville, FL), who also committed to UF on Saturday.
Bailey (6-foot-2, 230 pounds), who is currently teammates with Wells at Raines High School, chose Florida primarily over offers from Cincinnati, Miami and North Carolina. His commitment was first reported by Blake Alderman of Rivals.
Mixing pomp and circumstance with football drills and relationship building, the Florida Gators use their annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as both a recruiting tool and means of evaluating some of the best high school football players in the country. The Gators often host top-tier prospects over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough while coaching up the recruits.
The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 25, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below are a list of 10 players (in no particular order) to keep an eye on either because of their talent or high level of interest in attending Florida.
OT Martez Ivey (Apopka, FL) –
One of the top offensive tackles in the nation, Ivey is down to Florida and Auburn. His trip to Friday Night Lights should help him feel more comfortable with the Gators, but he will not make a decision until he sees how UF plays in 2014 and determines whether the coaching staff recruiting him will be around next year. A big Florida fan, the Gators are ultimately the team to beat for his services but can just as easily beat themselves and send him across the conference to play for the Tigers.
ATH Ray-Ray McCloud (Tampa, FL) –
McCloud has set his commitment announcement for Monday at 6:30 p.m., and his decision to spend the weekend before that choice is made in Gainesville speaks volumes. Florida is the favorite to pick up one of the most talented athletes in the country but is in competition primarily with UCLA and Clemson. He plays running back, wide receiver and cornerback and will likely do so for the Gators, but as is the case with Ivey, will be keeping an eye on how the team performs in 2014 even if he does choose UF.
Though there are eight months left in the 2015 recruiting cycle, the Florida Gators proved Saturday night they also have their eyes set on the distant future, reeling in a commitment from 2016 cornerback Chauncey Gardner II (Cocoa, FL).
Previously committed to the Miami Hurricanes, Gardner flipped his pledge on Saturday by making an announcement on his Twitter account.
“I Would Like To Thank Miami For All The Opportunities They Presented To Me But I’m Taking My Talents To Gainesville #Chomp #GoGators,” he wrote.
Projected as a four-star prospect, Gardner (5-foot-11, 190 lbs.) spent Saturday taking part in a football camp at Florida. It only took him moments after receiving a scholarship offer from the coaching staff to change his allegiance, though there are still 20 months to go before he has to sign his National Letter of Intent.
Rivals.com analyst Woody Womack recently evaluated Gardner as he took part in youth football camps in March (Orlando) and April (Sugar Hill, Georgia).
“[Gardner is] very physical in coverage but does so in a way that wouldn’t draw a penalty flag. It’s clear he loves to hit – something that’s not allowed in a camp setting – but even with the limitations, him he still excelled,” Womack wrote in March.
He came away with a similar evaluation one month later: “He’s fiercely competitive, sometimes to his detriment, but once he learns to hone his emotions he has a chance to be a special prospect.”
Gardner is the third player committed to the Gators for 2016, joining two other cornerbacks in Tre Jackson (Baton Rouge, LA) and Tyler Byrd (Naples, FL).