This past weekend, Florida hosted three official visitors and over a dozen targets from the 2013, ’14 and ’15 recruiting classes combined.
Safety Marcell Harris (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) and offensive guard David Dawson (Detroit, Mich/Cass Tech), both ESPN150 members, were the only uncommitted targets that took officials.
Harris hasn’t done any interviews about his trip yet and did not answer my calls or reply to my texts. But several sources close to him and his family told me his visit went great and the Gators are definitely in the drivers’ seat right now.
One source said UF will likely land him no matter what, but if junior safety Matt Elam leaves for the NFL as expected, that will surely seal the deal. Harris wants to play right away and believes he can compete for and win the starting strong safety spot if Elam is gone.
As some of you may have seen, Dawson did not pop on his visit. He had his recruiting rifle loaded and was ready to shoot, but surprisingly, he didn’t pull the trigger.
His mother not being present was one of the reasons and Dawson plans to return with her for Florida’s banquet weekend on Dec. 8. He also wants to take officials Alabama, LSU and Michigan State. But the Gators are still his leader and have put themselves in prime position to pick him up down the road.
UF offensive lineman commit Cameron Dillard (Canton, Mich./Canton), Dawson’s close friend, was the third official visitor and will also be back for the banquet.
“I got to experience the full gameday atmosphere and what it was like after a victory,” Dillard said. “I just really enjoyed it and I’m glad that I’m a Gator.”
But not all the big uglies were blown away on Saturday.
Five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) unofficially visited UF for the second time in three weeks, but he said the Gators’ last two wins at home haven’t helped their chances.
“Not really, Florida is still the same to me,” Tunsil said.
Georgia and Alabama remain the leaders and Tunsil admitted he just doesn’t have interest in the Gators. When asked if that will change should they beat those two teams this season, Tunsil replied, “We’ll see.”
I told Florida fans to turn the page on Tunsil back in early September, and now it may be time to close the book completely.
UF also received unofficial visits from Alabama tight end commit O.J. Howard (Autauga, Ala./Autauga Academy), Auburn linebacker commit Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett) and Georgia cornerback commit Reggie Wilkerson (Ocala, Fla./North Marion), but Howard and Johnson are the only ones being targeted by the Florida coaches. I was told they don’t expect to flip either of them, but Howard and Johnson both had fun at the game and plan to officially visit later this year.
Clemson receiver commit Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, Ga./Peach Country) was a no-show for the second-straight home game. He told me via text that his ride fell through, but he still tuned in and was impressed with Florida’s 41-11 win over South Carolina. Robinson said he will “definitely” take an official to Florida at some point.
Immokalee 2014 running back D’Ernest Johnson visited UF for the first time on Saturday and tweeted after the game that he was committed to the Gators. When I called to interview him, however, Johnson said he had not spoken to Will Muschamp yet. For those who don’t know, no verbal commitment is official until it is accepted by Muschamp.
Johnson said he was going to speak with him on Sunday but it never happened. And if Muschamp wanted him, they would have talked. He is not ready to take Johnson this early in the recruiting process. That’s not to say Johnson isn’t talented enough, because he does have a UF offer, but it’s not committable at this time. The Gators still have a plenty of running backs, including Johnson, they need to scout the rest of this season, in the spring evaluation period and during summer camps.
Last but not least, Florida offered 2015 linebacker Sherrod Pittman (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) after Saturday’s game. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder is teammates with UF linebacker commit Daniel McMillian and also has early offers from Florida State and UCF.
NOTE: In case you missed my tweet, I came down with a fever on Sunday and was not able to write this story that night as scheduled. I apologize for the delay.