One of the top defensive tackles in a recruiting class featuring a host of elite prospects at that position announced his college decision on Tuesday. Shavar Manuel said in a message posted to his Twitter account that he will attend Florida. “After taking my time, listening to my heart, and thinking things over, i would like to take the time to say I have officially committed to the University of Florida,” Manuel wrote.
Manuel purportedly ended his recruitment even though he plans to take multiple official visits before National Signing Day in early February. The IMG (Fla.) Academy standout said last month that he will see Florida on Jan. 23 and Florida State on Jan. 29, according to ESPN’s Derek Tyson. Manuel also listed the Gators, Seminoles, LSU and South Florida as his top four and indicated Florida was his leader, Tyson reported.
If Florida signs Manuel, it will bring in a disruptive interior force who excels at rushing the passer. Scout.com’s scouting report of Manuel notes that he is “very strong at the point of attack. He's violent and uses his hands well. He can stun lineman with his initial pop,” and that he “plays the run and rushes the passer equally well.”
Manuel transferred from Howard W. Blake High School in Tampa, Fla., to IMG prior to his senior season and helped an Ascenders team featuring a number of high-level recruits, including the top prospect in the country, quarterback Shea Patterson—go 9-0 in 2015. Scout.com ranks Manuel the nation’s No. 5 defensive tackle and No. 10 prospect. The Gators’ second highest-rated commit in their 2016 class is quarterback Feleipe Franks (86).
Manuel is part of a group of top-flight defensive tackle prospects in the class of 2016. Five of the nation’s top 10 players, according to Scout.com, are DTs (Rashan Gary, Dexter Lawrence, Ed Oliver, Derrick Brown and Manuel). Three of them already have committed to programs—Lawrence to Clemson, Oliver to Houston and Manuel to Florida. Both Gary and Brown are ranked higher than Manuel, but his addition is just the latest positive development on the recruiting trail under first-year coach Jim McElwain.
Manuel and fellow class of 2016 commit Antonneous Clayton, a four-star defensive end, will upgrade a line that this season ranked sixth in the country in Football Outsiders’ defensive Rushing S&P+ ratings. Though Florida is losing end Alex McCalister to the NFL and tackle Jon Bullard to graduation, it is set to bring back several talented contributors, including freshman CeCe Jefferson. If landing Jefferson was one of the Gators’ biggest recruiting wins last year, getting Manuel on board may be just as significant.