CeCe Jefferson announced on Wednesday that he is signing with Florida. The five-star defensive end had narrowed his list to the Gators, Ole Miss, Auburn and Alabama. He revealed his choice during a televised ceremony on ESPNU.
Jefferson was long considered a Florida lean, but his destination became less predictable once Will Muschamp was dismissed as Florida’s coach and hired as Auburn’s defensive coordinator. This fall Jefferson took several trips to Florida and also visits to multiple other schools. After spending time at Ole Miss in October, Jefferson tweeted, “Oxford was so fun I about committed!”
Jefferson claimed in November that his teammates were responsible for a tweet announcing his verbal pledge to Florida State. Another confusing development transpired on Signing Day, when Jefferson was seen wearing an LSU jacket even though he did not include the Tigers in his final list of schools. In the end, he chose the team many expected from early in his recruitment.
In announcing his decision, Jefferson discussed the benefits of playing at a program where he “felt at home.” He also mentioned the possibility of squaring off with Martez Ivey -- who also picked the Gators Wednesday -- in practice.
Jefferson is such a highly regarded prospect because of his blend of power and explosiveness. At 6-foot-2 and 275 pounds, he is versatile enough to play several positions along the line. Though a broken collarbone sidelined Jefferson for most of his senior season and forced him to miss the U.S. Army game, he should be able to make an instant impact.
As SI.com’s Martin Rickman noted earlier in the day, it’s difficult to project how defensive end recruits will fare in their first seasons on campus. Myles Garrett and Derek Barnett shined last season at Texas A&M and Tennessee, respectively, while Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand did not supplant more experienced contributors on the top of the depth chart. At Florida, Jefferson will join a line that loses All-SEC honorable mention Dante Fowler Jr. to the NFL draft. Fortunately for the Gators, they bring back rising senior Jonathan Bullard and rising redshirt sophomore Caleb Brantley. In addition, leading tackler Antonio Morrison will be back for his senior campaign after injuring his knee in the Birmingham Bowl.
Jefferson’s pledge marks another Signing Day triumph for coach Jim McElwain, who replaced Muschamp in early December, less than two weeks before the start of the month-long recruiting dead period. Since Monday the Gators have landed seven prospects, including four-star tailback Jordan Scarlett, Ivey and Jefferson.