For the second consecutive year, Junior Day was a great success for Florida coach Will Muschamp and his staff.
The Gators landed three commitments and positioned themselves to pick up some more soon.
The obvious prospect is defensive end Justin Thornton (Prichard, Ala./Vigor), who said UF increased its lead for him and he could commit “at any moment.”
Despite their pledges to ACC schools, FSU cornerback commit J.C. Jackson (Immokalee) and Miami receiver commit Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman) each said Florida is now their No. 1 school.
Rudolph is still committed to the Canes for the time being, but Jackson already has his mind made up in regards to the Noles.
“I haven’t flipped yet, but it could be coming soon,” Jackson said. “Florida is my number one choice now. The academics here are way better than Florida State. And it’s the SEC, where you play against the best. I’m not making any decision yet. I’m just gonna sit on things, but I know I’ll be decommitting from Florida State soon.”
The Gators offered and took the lead for Opelika (Ala.) tight end Jakell Mitchell, who also hold offers from Auburn and Vanderbilt.
Defensive tackle Jamiyus Pittman (Moultrie, Ga./Colquitt County) received an offer from UF as well. He is from the same high school as Florida offensive guard signee Octavius Jackson.
“We’re pretty close, so he might have a little impact,” Pittman said of Jackson. “He talks to me about Florida every time I see him. We grew up playing rec football together so we’ve known each other since we were 7.”
UF also gained the early edge for 2015 running back Jacques Patrick (Orlando Timber Creek), who already has 16 offers from schools such as Alabama, LSU, Ohio State and Southern Cal.
“Florida is the early favorite right now,” Patrick said after his trip. “It’s one of the schools I’ve visited most. I just have a good feeling about them. It’s a place I feel comfortable. I like the offense style they run and I like the coaching staff.”
The Gators didn’t become the front-runners for linebackers Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra) and Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty Co.), but they made a strong impression on the Rivals100 members at Junior Day.
Bates’ recruitment is wide open right now, but he said Florida will be one of his finalists when he narrows his list down. McMillan told ESPN’s Kipp Adams that he is building a close relationship with defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin and views UF as a national championship contender. However, the Gators still trail Ohio State and Clemson for his services at this time.