2021 Recruit Profile: Florida Gators OT Commit Javonte Gardner
Javonte Gardner, offensive tackle
School: Jones High School, Orlando, Fla.
Height/weight: 6-5, 290 pounds
247Sports Composite Rankings: Three stars, No. 40 offensive tackle, No. 72 state (Fla.), No. 431 national
The Florida Gators gave Gardner his first scholarship offer on March 21st, 2018. Gardner at first allowed more offers to pour in, from the likes of South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and UCF. The home-town Knights made a push for his services early on and throughout Gardner's recruiting process, according to the Orlando Sentinel's Chris Hays, but the 2021 prospect ultimately pledged to Florida on the final day of the 2019 early signing period.
As of the date of this post, Gardner is joined by multiple offensive line prospects in Florida's 2021 recruiting class, in Stephenson's (Stone Mountain, Ga.) George Jackson and A. Crawford Mosley's (Lynn Haven, Fla.) Adrein Strickland. JUCO product and 2019 Gators' signee Deyavie Hammond (Independence C.C. - Independence, Ky.) is also committed to the class.
Where he fits
Gardner currently stands at 6-5, 290 lbs., and carries enough length to continue gradually adding weight as he ascends through college. Gardner has primarily played left tackle during his career at Jones, but on occasion would slide over to right tackle.
There has been speculation that Gardner could make a good fit at guard for Florida, but the long-term potential at tackle is appealing should he continue to add weight without losing much athleticism. Gardner possesses very good upper body strength and solid pad level, which is evident in his run blocking.
He explodes well into down blocks and tends to throw defensive linemen off with a strong, well-placed initial punch, although he could stand to improve his core and lower body strength to finish his blocks with better balance. While Gardner wins at the high school level with upper body strength and good body positioning, that added bottom-half strength can unlock further dominance in the run game.
While his junior tape doesn't provide many wide pass-blocking sets, Gardner often showed strength against interior rushes and inside counters from defensive ends. With solid anticipation, Gardner keeps his feet underneath him and timed his punches well in reaction to inside moves. As a sophomore, Gardner played a bit stiff in wide sets, but his hip flexibility appeared to improve all-around in 2019. As Gardner's hips continue to unlock, he should keep making strides in this area.
Gardner has shown the ability to pull across the line of scrimmage and moving up into the second level. He plays with the same physical demeanor while blocking in spaces and looks to drive out blocks. This is another area where added core and lower body strength will only benefit his game and allow him to take the next step.
The rising senior offers a lot to like in terms of intangibles at the offensive tackle position, and possesses the current strengths to find success in a transition to guard. It will be interesting to see where Florida ends up placing Gardner should he stick to his pledge, but with added weight, he has the potential to develop nicely at right tackle.
There, Gardner can develop as a pass blocker without the responsibilities of protecting the quarterback's blindside - the present and future of Florida's quarterback room is, currently, entirely right-handed.
Following a couple of seasons of development, Gardner has the potential to push for a starting role at the position after the loss of 2020 signee Issiah Walker to the Miami Hurricanes via the NCAA transfer portal.