Florida’s annual recruiting showcase, Friday Night Lights, gets underway tonight at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Some of the top names in the recruiting landscape are expected in Gainesville, along with some budding prospects and highly recruited targets.
Thursday featured some rising underclassmen in instructional drills with Florida’s coaching staff. Get caught up on the weekend with five observations (so far) from Friday Night Lights:
A clear standout Thursday
Of all the sophomores in attendance Thursday, Marrieta (Ga.) signal caller Harrison Bailey was the best of the group. The pro-style quarterback has the height to excel at the position, and he continued to display impressive arm strength and accuracy during drills with Florida’s coaching staff.
It seems more than just a possibility that Bailey will be one of the top prospects at his position in the 2020 class.
— Graham Hall (@GrahamHall_) July 20, 2017
Tight ends trending for Florida
Four-star TE Kyle Pitts committed to the Gators earlier in the day in a recruitment video produced by Bleacher Report. Pitts is a huge get for Florida’s coaching staff as he’s currently ranked the No. 11 tight end prospect in the country by 247Sports.
But the good news continued Thursday night when 2019 TE Keon Zipperer named the Gators his early leader. The four-star recruit out of Lakeland also holds offers from Florida State, Auburn and Georgia, but he’s built a solid relationship with UF offensive line coach Brad Davis that’s helped Florida get out in front for the rising in-state prospect.
And TE Dante Lang arrived early Thursday and spent the day observing and talking to UF’s coaching staff. He’ll be on display at FNL.
Offers go out
The Gators offered several prospects after they left campus Thursday, including 2020 defensive back Rashad Torrence (Marietta, Ga.) and 2021 athlete Jaquez Smith (Marietta, Ga.).
In fact, all of Marietta’s athletes impressed Thursday. With at least 10 athletes from the program in attendance, I came away most impressed with 2020 prospect Arik Gilbert. Gilbert, who picked up an offer from the Gators in February, is agile despite his 6-foot-5 frame, and it seems more than likely he’ll only continue to grow before his signing day. When asked about Gilbert, Bailey agreed that his recruitment is likely to pick up sooner rather than later.
Many current Gators showed up to help instruct campers during drills, including many 2017 signees. Among them was C.J. Henderson, who was looking to do more than just help out. C.J.’s younger brother, Xzavier, was in attendance and participating in drills with the staff. A 2020 wide receiver, Xzavier Henderson holds offers from both the Gators and Miami (Fl.), but only time will tell which school lands the rising prospect.
Biggest Friday Night Lights in a decade?
It’s more than just a possibility, especially with two five-star quarterbacks in attendance. As previously reported, five-star signal caller Matt Corral arrived in Miami earlier in the day before making it to Gainesville just before midnight. Corral will be on campus touring the facilities before making his way to the indoor practice facility around 2 p.m. The main festivities kick off around 7 p.m. at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, but one of the top prospects in the nation is making sure not to waste any time seeing what UF has to offer.
And after initially indicating his intention to attend Alabama’s invite-only cookout Friday, five-star QB Justin Fields will instead be in Gainesville at FNL. The nation’s top dual-threat quarterback, Fields camped at FSU on Thursday.
Considered one of the top QB prospects in recent history, Fields has visited Georgia, FSU, Alabama and Auburn all in the past month. The visit today marks the second time in under a month that Fields has taken an unofficial visit to UF.
But the QB’s are far from the only highly recruited prospects expected in Gainesville for Friday Night Lights. Here’s a (ever-growing) list of some top prospects who will take the field tonight:
2018 QB Justin Fields (Harrison High, Ga.)
2018 RB Iverson Clement (Rancocas Valley Regional High, NJ) – UF commit
2018 WR Jacob Copeland (Escambia High)
2018 WR Corey Gammage (American Heritage-Delray) – UF commit
2018 OL Nicholas Petit-Frere (Berkeley Prep, Fl.)
2018 TE Dante Lang (Boca Raton High)
2018 OL William Barnes (Apopka High)
2018 RB Dameon Pierce (Bainbridge High, Ga.)
2018 DB Randy Russell (Miami Carol City High)
2018 OL Ed Montilus (Apopka High)
2018 OL Richard Gouraige (Cambridge Christian High)
2018 DB Gilbert Frierson (Coral Gables High)
2018 DL Coynis Miller (Jackson Olin High, Ala.)
2018 RB Leddie Brown (Smyrna, MD) – WVU commit
2018 WR Tyquan Thornton (Booker T. Washington High)
2018 LB Channing Tindall (Spring Valley High, SC)
2018 DB Amari Burney (Calvary Christian High) – UF commit
2018 DB Divaad Wilson (Northwestern High) – UF commit
2018 DB Rachad Wildgoose (Northwestern High) – UGA commit
2019 DB Derek Stingley (Dunham High, La.)
2019 DB Trent Whittemore (Buchholz High) – UF commit
2020 QB Harrison Bailey (Marietta High, Ga.)
2019 OG Kardell Thomas (Southeastern University Lab School)
2019 WR John Dunmore (American Heritage High) – UF commit
2019 DE Jaquaze Sorrells (Largo High) – UF commit
2019 TE Maurice Goolsby (Dunnellon High) – UF commit
2019 OL Andrew Coker (Taylor High, TX) – UF commit
2019 DB Tyrique Stevenson (South Dade High) – UF commit
2019 S Marcus Tillman (Jones High) – UF commit
2019 S Jaleel McRae (New Smyrna Beach High) – UF commit