Names you need to know for Florida Gators football’s 2017 Friday Night Lights

By Adam Silverstein
July 21, 2017
Names you need to know for Florida Gators football’s 2017 Friday Night Lights

Image Credit: ESPNI

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 21, 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 not yet committed to Florida (in no particular order) to keep an eye on either because of their talent or high level of interest in joining the Gators.

All referenced ratings and rankings are from the 247Sports Composite.

QB Justin Fields (Kennesaw, GA) —
The No. 2 player and No. 1 quarterback in the nation, Fields has long been Florida’s top target at the position, and most believed the Gators had the inside track to land the difference maker after he decommitted from Penn State. Instead, what was thought to be a two-team race between Florida and Auburn has expanded to include Florida State, Georgia and Alabama. In other words, UF is battling all of its rivals for someone believed to be a guaranteed star. There was serious doubt that Florida would get Fields in town for Friday Night Light, which might have been the death knell for its chances. But Fields will indeed visit the Gators, and a strong recruiting performance may get them back near the top of his list. Presently, FSU is projected by most experts to land his pledge.

QB Matt Corral (Long Beach, CA) —
When Corral decommitted from USC, Florida and Georgia immediately jumped into contention for his services. The Bulldogs are currently believed to be leading the way, but the Gators get an opportunity to impress Corral for the first time at Friday Night Lights. Yes, in theory, UF could lose its top two quarterback targets — Corrall is No. 22 overall and the No. 2 signal caller — to its two biggest rivals. That’s if Florida does not find a way to make a major impression on Fields and Corral on Friday.

OT William Barnes (Apopka, FL) —
The Gators have done a great job rebuilding their offensive line, and a commitment from Barnes would go a long way to continuing that process. The 49th ranked player in the nation, Barnes is a steady prospect who projects as a tackle at the next level. He boasts a long offer lists, but Florida is presently believed to be on top.

RB Dameon Pierce (Bainbridge, GA) —
A former Alabama commitment, Pierce is thought to be seriously considering Florida as his ultimate destination. The Gators are in a fine spot at the position right now but there is a definite need for a standout from the Class of 2018 and the nation’s 186th ranked player would do just fine.

WR Jacob Copeland (Pensacola, FL) —
It was thought to be a matter of “when” not “if” for Copeland, who has long been projected to be an eventual Florida signee. The No. 49 player in the nation, however, has spent a lot of time at Alabama as of late, so UF will be battling to regain position after he visited Bama three times since April.

LB Channing Tindall (Columbia, SC) —
Will Muschamp has done a great job recruiting the local product, who appears to be leaning toward signing with his home state team. However, offers from Florida and Florida State have him seriously considering leaving the confines of home.

DB Gilbert Frierson (Miami, FL) —
The Gators are trying to pull a Hurricanes commitment – one from Miami who goes to Coral Gables High School. Let’s just say that will be a difficult ask. Still, Frierson will be in attendance in Gainesville and definitely seems to be looking around in some manner with increased interest from Florida and Georgia.

RB Leddie Brown (Smyrna, DE) —
Credit running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider with staying on Brown, who committed to West Virginia in April but has long been one of the coach’s favorite players at this position. Brown will get a chance to see what Florida is all about for the first time.

OT Richard Gouraige (Tampa, FL) —
Another big-time target for Florida along its offensive line, Gouraige is projected to wind up with the Gators, though his recruitment may not exactly come to an end this weekend in Gainesville. If Florida is able to land Barnes and Gouraige, that will be a great job done by new offensive line coach Brad Davis.

S Randy Russell (Opa Locka, FL) —
Talk about a long-time commitment expectation. Russell has seemingly been projected to the Gators for a year now. He previously told recruiting writers that he wanted to make a commitment on his birthday. Friday Night Lights is on his birthday.

Check out Florida’s updated recruiting classes by clicking here.

Special thanks to recruiting analyst Blake Alderman and recruiting analyst Andrew Spivey for contributing to this post.


  1. Sportsfanmann says:

    If Fields or Corral have any common sense, they’ll see that the one position that has held UF back from contention in the national scene has been QB. McElwain is consistently turning 3 and 4 star players into NFL draftees…imagine what he could do with either of those 2 QBs…!

  2. SW FL Joe says:

    All Mac has to do is show Fields film of the pummelling Francois takes game in and game out. That should take FSU out of contention

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