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Nine Florida Gators Recruits to Monitor Around Friday Night Lights

Nine prospects to keep an eye on who will be attending or have decision dates surrounding Florida's Friday Night Lights camp.

The Florida Gators will host their biggest recruiting event of the year this weekend, kicking off with their annual Friday Night Lights camp on — you guessed it — Friday before inviting prospects back for a barbeque and visits on Saturday. 

During that stretch, as well as in the days leading up, numerous UF targets are scheduled to make their college commitments known. The Gators are hopeful that some of those recruits will pick the orange and blue and that such a build-up of momentum can push the priority prospects to team up with Florida before the weekend's conclusion.

As such, AllGators has compiled the nine recruits worth monitoring for Florida through the end of the week. This mostly includes prospects confirmed to be heading to Gainesville for the weekend, as well as some targets scheduled to commit whose chances of ending up with UF are considered favorable at this time.

QB DJ Lagway

Florida has its quarterback in the class of 2023, Marcus Stokes, and will use Friday Night Lights as an avenue to access signal-callers in future classes.

The most notable passer in attendance will be a 2024 recruit, Willis (Texas) High's DJ Lagway, who made his debut on Napier and Co's recruiting board by earning an offer during an unofficial UF visit in March. He expressed plenty of excitement about the return trip in an interview with AllGators.

"I'm only going to Florida this week, I'm excited to get back up there," Lagway said on Sunday. "I've always liked Florida as a school, as a kid I always liked watching them. I mean, growing up it was my dream school. I'm always excited to get back down there."

Lagway intends to make a third Florida visit later this year to attend a game. It's safe to say the Gators are sitting in a great spot for the talented passer, and one might wonder when Napier will begin to aggressively push for a quarterback in next year's class with Lagway showing this much interest.

WR Andy Jean

Andy Jean confirmed with AllGators on Tuesday that he will be in attendance at Friday Night Lights and the recruit cookout, which he first acknowledged in June after naming Florida his leader following his official visit in Gainesville.

There, Jean strengthened his bond with Napier, who made him feel like a priority recruit, and wide receivers coach Keary Colbert, who gave Jean the run-down on how he'd fit in the Gators' offense. Off-field assistant Randy Russell and cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond have also been involved in Jean's recruitment.

"Florida is a place that's building," Jean said in June. "I want to go to a school that's building, not a school [that] already just has a lot, you feel me? I want to help build and I want to become a legend, wherever I go."

Although Jean shared after his visit that he plans on making his commitment early in the fall, it's fair to wonder if UF will utilize and of its projected recruiting momentum surrounding this weekend (which we'll discuss with certain prospects below) to seal the deal with Jean, a prospect clearly enamored by the program.

WR Aidan Mizell

Another one of Florida's top pass-catcher targets this cycle is scheduled to commit on Friday, Aidan Mizell possesses the potential to positively alter the trajectory of the Gators' wide receiver room with his home run hitting ability.

Receivers coach Keary Colbert has treated the recruitment accordingly since he was offered in mid-March, putting significant emphasis on the explosive boundary threat in an attempt to replenish the unit's speed in space.

With Tennessee and Alabama also in the picture, Florida has remained the favorite to land the athletic legacy recruit since entering the frame. With his commitment taking place at Boone High School (Orlando, Fla.), the likelihood of an appearance at FNL following the ceremony and celebration is unlikely even if he is to choose the Gators.

However, if Florida is the team, he could make the trip up for the cookout on Saturday to continue the celebration at his future home and begin his recruiting efforts on behalf of the orange and blue.

EDGE Samuel M'Pemba

Although Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy edge rusher and St. Louis (Mo.) Samuel M'Pemba has widely been projected to other top programs, UF remains in pursuit of his talent and will host him this weekend alongside several of his IMG teammates, including Florida offensive line commit Knijeah Harris.

M'Pemba did include Florida in his top seven schools at the start of July, along with Georgia, Notre Dame, Oregon, Miami, Alabama and Tennessee. 

A gifted athlete, M'Pemba aligns both as an edge rusher and big slot wide receiver for IMG and is expected to primarily man the former position as a senior. 

However, it wouldn't be a total shock to see him catch passes at Friday Night Lights, especially as he's got the build to play tight end while Florida is without a commit at the position in the class of 2023 — whereas, the Gators hold EDGE pledges from Thomaston (Ga.) Upson-Lee's T.J. Searcy and St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood's Isaiah Nixon already.

DL Kamran James

Orlando (Fla.) Olympia Kamran James is a bit of a late-bloomer on the recruiting scene and isn't in a rush to make a college decision any time soon as a result, but this visit could prove monumental for the Gators as James continues to skyrocket up both defensive line and national prospect rankings.

It's safe to say Florida has already impressed James quite a bit across his visits this year, most recently on an official basis last month.

"Naming everything I like about Florida would be pretty hard," he bluntly admitted to AllGators in June.

James is a raw, developmental defensive lineman who only began to focus on football in high school, but has all of the traits coaches loom for at 6-foot-6, 265 pounds with great length, power and athleticism in his game. It'll be worth monitoring his technical improvement at Friday Night Lights, obviously in addition to his recruitment.

CB Cormani McClain

No matter the event, when Cormani McClain shows up, he is the headliner of the group of recruits. That fact remains true as he heads to Gainesville this weekend.

Arguably the top prospect in the nation for 2023, the Lakeland (Fla.) cover cornerback has been a priority target for the Gators dating back to the previous leadership. New cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond has helped take McClain's interest in Florida to the next level as it competes with Alabama and Miami for him.

"Coach C-Ray, me and him have a great relationship, I think it's there," McClain told AllGators. "He's produced a lot of great athletes. I look up to coach C-Ray as one of the guys that you know is going to get you to the league and [has the] things that you need to get there."

While he isn't 100% confirmed as an attendee, he shared his intentions to make it during his Future 50 interview earlier this month. 

If he does show up, which we expect, McClain will likely receive VIP treatment as Raymond continues the pursuit of his top target.

CB Desmond Ricks

McClain isn't the only big-time Gators cornerback target set to be in Gainesville. IMG Academy prospect Desmond Ricks announced his intentions to attend the end-of-summer festivities during the media availability session at Future 50, citing the pitch from Florida cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond as the reason for choosing Florida over other programs hosting similar events simultaneously.

"I just wanted to go see coach Raymond, and it's close to where my parents just moved," he said. "He wants to get me down [to Gainesville] so we can watch film."

Ricks recently released a top ten, including Alabama, Jackson State, LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M and USC alongside Florida to continue forward in his recruitment. 

While he currently views all teams as equals — and a commitment is still a long time from being made — his presence at FNL gives Gators ample opportunity to continue building the crucial relationship to separate themselves from the pack of contenders.

CB Ja'Keem Jackson

As the Gators enter a crucial recruiting period in the upcoming days, Ja'Keem Jackson is one of the pieces who could get the ball rolling in Florida’s favor.

Seeing a rapid increase in interest during his recruitment process this spring, Jackson was offered by the Gators in May. Since then, he has visited on multiple occasions, including two unofficials and his official the first weekend of June. 

Florida, as a result, is atop the list of schools in contention for his services.

“He’s developed good DBs in the league and he's willing to coach for the future," Jackson told AllGators about position coach Corey Raymond — who he said he talks to every day — in early June.

Jackson, who is set to announce his commitment on Thursday, is playing his cards close to his chest on if he will be in attendance for FNL and the cookout. However, if he does pledge to Florida, the Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola cornerback could make the short trip to Gainesville to celebrate and begin helping the staff haul in other blue-chip talents.

S Jordan Castell

Trending toward Florida heavily over the last several weeks, Jordan Castell could very well be in attendance to make his commitment, originally planned for Oct. 1, on June 30. He has spoken glowingly of the program’s direction since the new regime took over this past December.

“It’s just [defensive backs] coach [Corey] Raymond, [co-defensive coordinator and safeties] coach Patrick Toney, [head] coach [Billy] Napier, these guys [are] about to change the program,” he said following his official visit weekend June 4-6. “I believe in them. They're about to change this program.”

Adding in the fact Florida is close to his current home of West Orange High School in Winter Garden (Fla.), the Gators are in great shape to haul in the talented safety prospect. If he does end up committing to UF, Castell will continue what the staff hopes to be an evident swing in momentum in the Gators' favor to end the month of June.

That would push Florida into the fall with a bevy of high-level talent already in the fold as they try to close on the elite prospects still on the market.

What better way to do that than at the biggest recruiting event of the year for the University of Florida?

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