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Priority Prospects: Who Stands Atop the Florida Gators Recruiting Board?

The Florida Gators are expected to prioritize these 12 recruits between now and the 2022 National Signing Day.

Photo: Walter Nolen (left) and Tyler Booker (right); Credit: Zach Goodall

Following a busy month of June that included nearly 30 official visits and four commitments, the Florida Gators recruiting efforts have slowed down. 

Now that prospects have checked out the Florida campus and camped in some situations, the Gators can reformulate their recruiting board to figure out who they will prioritize down the stretch of the 2022 cycle.

Below, AllGators has compiled a list of 12 priority prospects that remain available for Florida to pursue. Each of these prospects have either visited or planned visits to UF since the COVID-19 dead period was lifted in June and are being targeted heavily by UF for positional needs and to simply add elite talent to the roster.

Walter Nolen, defensive tackle

Landing Walter Nolen would essentially "make" the class for the Gators this season. He'd be the headliner, and with good reason. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound mammoth of a defensive tackle out of St. Benedict at Auburndale (Tenn.) is thought to be one of the top few prospects in the nation if not the best player in America.

Florida has long devoted itself to building through the trenches, and after landing Gervon Dexter in its 2020 class a bit over a year ago, adding Nolen into the mix would be a continuation of that effort. Potentially the biggest get of head coach Dan Mullen's Florida tenure, Nolen would instantly make an impact the minute he agrees to sign with Florida.

Tyler Booker, offensive tackle

Although Nolen is the clear-cut No. 1 target on Florida's board at this time, if any prospect were to challenge him in a 1A/1B listing, it's easily Tyler Booker. Florida has not landed a blue-chip offensive tackle in years, and Booker meets that description for what he's put on film at IMG Academy (Fla.) roughly three hours from UF. He can play early on in his college career at right tackle and has guard flexibility.

Booker plans to commit to one of five schools - Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, and Oregon - before the summer is over.

Evan Stewart, wide receiver

While attempting to replenish a pass-catchers room that has seen five departures in the past two offseasons, wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales cannot do better than this uber-talented wideout from Frisco (Texas), Evan Stewart.

Showing track-level speed, excellent body control and elite high point ability on the ball, Stewart lands on the radar of the top teams around the nation. With Stewart reciprocating Florida’s interest for him, given the proven production of receivers at UF as well as quarterback commit and Stewart’s 7-on-7 teammate Nick Evers pushing for his talents in Gainesville, Stewart is currently the biggest priority of any skill position player on Florida’s board.

Already earning commitments from Isaiah Bond and Chandler Smith, Stewart would the ultimate cherry on top of a talented unit of pass catchers in 2022.

Kamari Wilson, safety

Florida has yet to land a safety prospect in its 2022 recruiting class, and Kamari Wilson is likely the best of the bunch when it comes to the offers they've sent out. As one of the best prospects of the class in general, the Gators and safeties coach Wesley McGriff will work hard in landing the standout safety out of IMG Academy (Fla.).

After missing out on Terrion Arnold in last year's class, Florida ought to be firmly in the running for Wilson, someone they don't want to lose out on.  

Terrance Gibbs, running back

The Gators have made it a point to land a running back — or even two — from the high school ranks in 2022. Now three cycles removed from Florida’s last running back signee (Nay’Quan Wright), Winter Park (Fla.) back Terrance Gibbs presents the best chance for Florida to end their insufferable drought.

Despite attempting to battle back from a gruesome knee injury he suffered prior to his junior season, Gibbs presents promising tools out of the backfield for Florida if he gets back to his original form. Equipped with excellent vision, breakaway speed in the open field and reliable versatility in the passing game, Gibbs is the perfect fit for Greg Knox’s thin unit. 

Azareyeh Thomas, cornerback

Although he primarily plays receiver now, Niceville's (Fla.) Azareyeh Thomas is one of the top defensive back recruits in the country who carries the physical and athletic profile, as well as man-coverage prowess, to lock down the boundary at the next level. Thomas has emerged as a priority recruit for Florida as such, someone that the Gators would like to keep within state lines.

Thomas paired up with Gators cornerback commit Julian Humphrey at The Opening earlier this month, and the duo met with Florida cornerbacks of the present and past in Kaiir Elam and Joe Haden.

Jayden Gibson, wide receiver

While he's been under the radar for a while now, Jayden Gibson has quickly risen up the ranks as one of the top receivers in the nation. He's become more of a priority for Florida as he ramps up his own recruitment, visiting the program twice in June.

Recently, Gibson included Florida on his top eight teams list, and his interest in the program has been made clear for months now. While Georgia, Gibson's most recent offer, will be tough to compete with, Florida still has the advantage of turning receivers into NFL prospects over the past few years. 

With plenty of receivers leaving over the years, landing the West Orange (Fla.) product becomes one of the priorities for Florida.

Enai White, edge rusher

The Philadelphia to Gainesville pipeline has flourished with the limited number of prospects to make the journey from north to south. As one of the most disruptive entities in this class, Imhotep Institute's (Pa.) Enai White plays with significant burst off the ball and polished pass-rushing techniques that will aid him in making an instant impact at the next level.

Right now, the Gators push for White to embark on a similar journey, despite their chances to land him over Ohio State, Georgia Alabama and Texas A&M currently looking slim.

Jaleel Skinner, tight end

Florida has already acquired a commitment at tight end in this class in CJ Hawkins, a raw prospect from the Tampa area. In addition to Hawkins' potential, UF remains in the hunt for polish at the position as well. Jaleel Skinner of Greer (S.C.) may not be that prospect to a T as he has work to do as a blocker, but he is one of the best pass-catchers in the class of 2022 given his immense length, impressive athleticism and great hands. 

Florida's Tim Brewster wants Skinner in orange and blue badly once he begins his college career, and perhaps he'll get his wish - at one point earlier this year, Skinner named UF the leading school in his recruitment. We'll know how true that remains once he ends up making a college decision.

Shawn Murphy, linebacker

In the class of 2022, no linebacker works down in the box while doubling as a coverage man the way Unity Reed's (Va.) Shawn Murphy does. Profiling primarily as a weak-side backer, the Gators could greatly utilize Murphy to clean up their recent struggles against the run and covering the middle of the field.

As a result, Christian Robinson and Florida maintain Murphy as a priority target to add alongside Shemar James.

Chris McClellan, defensive tackle

If Florida were to lose out on Nolen, Chris McClellan would be a solid consolation prize.

The 6-foot-3, 295-pound defensive tackle out of Owasso (Okla.), is one of the top prospects at the defensive tackle position and has become a bit of a priority for Florida after the program brought him in on one of the biggest official visit weekends of the recruiting season in June.

Florida has always wanted to build through the trenches, and even with potentially landing Nolen in this class, they'll still want to land McClellan with the idea of giving him some early playing time as Florida looks to rebuild its defensive line. 

Harold Perkins, linebacker

Much like Murphy and James, Harold Perkins is an elite athlete for the linebacker position who could bump in between the weak-side and middle spots of the second level. He also offers pass-rushing promise after accumulating seven sacks over the past two seasons.

Odds are, the Cy Park (Texas) prospect will be kept in the Lone Star State as the battle for his services seem largely between Texas A&M and Texas. However, Florida and LSU can not be counted out of his recruitment until Perkins says otherwise.

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