Previewing Florida’s 2015 Friday Night Lights

By Adam Silverstein
July 24, 2015

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 24, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below are a list of 14 players (in no particular order) to keep an eye on either because of their talent or high level of interest in attending Florida.

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

WR Nate Craig-Myers (Tampa, FL) –
The nation’s top-ranked receiver, Craig-Myers (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) is an impressive in-state prospect with a top two of Florida State and Auburn but growing interest in Florida. The Gators are not only after Craig-Myers but his brother, three-star cornerback Jayvaughn Myers (Dade City, FL), who also appears to be a Seminoles lean at this time. Craig-Myers will be visiting Gainesville for the second time in as many weeks; an impressive showing by Florida at FNL could turn his top two into a top three.

WR Binjimen Victor (Fort Lauderdale, FL) –
While Craig-Myers is the highest-ranked receiver on average, Victor (6-foot-4, 170 pounds) is believed by many to be the best in the state. And there is no question he’s the Gators’ top target at the position. Florida, which appears to lead for Victor, can pitch early playing time and a featured role, but Urban Meyer and Ohio State is hot on its trails.

WR Sam Bruce (Fort Lauderdale, FL) –
Sensing a trend here? The nation’s No. 5 wideout is committed to Miami but that has not stopped UF from putting the full-court press on the athletic youngster. At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Bruce is not the dominant big-play receiver that Craig-Myers and Victor could develop into, but he’s nevertheless a supreme talent that the Gators desperately want in their class. And he could very well be the name you hear the most during FNL. It certainly helps Florida that he’s close with freshman running back Jordan Scarlett.

WR Calvin Ridley (Deerfield Beach, FL) –
If you have not figured it out already, the group of wide receivers the Gators have attending FNL will likely be the best at the event – or possibly any similar on-campus event – ever for a single cycle. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it is still incredibly impressive. Ridley (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) nearly committed to Florida in June but delayed his decision; as such, Alabama now appears to be his leader with UF looking to play catchup. An impressive showing by the Gators at FNL could put them back on top.

WR Freddie Swain (Citra, FL) –
Out-of-state programs have led Swain’s recruitment for some time, and Tennessee looks like the team to beat here. Still, National Signing Day is more than six months away and Florida is doing its best to make a move for the 6-foot, 172-pound prospect.

LB Jeremiah Moon (Birmingham, AL) –
The Gators have not been bashful about going into Alabama strongholds and pulling prospects in the past, though taking one from Birmingham is another story. That might well be the case for Moon (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) this weekend as the impressive linebacker has Florida in his top four along with South Carolina, Mississippi State and his home state team. Moon’s relationship with Gators defensive coordinator Geoff Collins began while Collins was with the Bulldogs and could very well help Florida this weekend.

DE Antonneous Clayton (Vienna, GA) –
A dynamic pass rusher off the edge that has been on UF’s radar for quite some time, Clayton gets along nicely with Gators defensive line coach Chris Rumph, with whom he’ll likely get some one-on-one time this weekend. Still, Florida will have to go down a long road for Clayton (6-foot-4, 218 pounds) who has ties to Georgia, his home state team, and Auburn, where his second cousin Montravius Adams attends.

DE Jordan Woods (Citra, FL) –
A local product and long-time Gators fan, Woods (6-foot-4, 251 pounds) seems like a shoe-in for Florida. He visited UF three times over a five-week span in March and April and will be returning for its biggest recruiting event of the summer. Though Woods may take his time and delay his commitment into his senior season, the Gators have an opportunity to land an effective pass rusher this weekend.

DE Shavar Manuel (Bradenton, FL) –
One of the top 10 players in the nation, Manuel (6-foot-4, 290 pounds) is a consensus five-star prospect and everything one wants in an edge rusher. He appears to be a strong lean to Florida State at this time, but Florida will look to make inroads with Rumph, one of Manuel’s favorite coaches on the recruiting trail. Whether the Gators will ultimately be able to land Manuel is another question altogether but getting him on campus and in front of their coaching staff will likely do much more good than harm.

ATH McArthur Burnett (Pahokee, FL) –
Close with Janoris Jenkins, Burnett appears to be a heavy Florida lean after decommitting from Miami on June 10, just two days after taking an unofficial visit to Gainesville. The Gators like Burnett as a cornerback, and he’s heard plenty from defensive backs coach Kirk Callahan about how good a fit he would be playing for Collins. UF may not wind up with a lot of commitments from FNL, but Burnett looks to be one of the most likely.

Prospects already committed to the Gators that will be in attendance include: four-star CB Chauncey Gardner (Cocoa, FL), three-star WRs Rick Wells (Jacksonville, FL) and Isaiah Johnson, three-star DE JaQuan Bailey (Jacksonville, FL), three-star CBs Aaron Robinson (Deerfield Beach, FL) and Christopher McWilliams (Miami, FL), three-star athlete Tyrek Tisdale (Orlando, FL), four-star 2017 QB Jake Allen (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and three-star 2017 WR Lavarus Tigner (Deerfield Beach, FL).

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.

Photo Credit: Aaron Daye/The Gainesville Sun


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