Securing a rising star from the state of Georgia early in the recruiting cycle can change the trajectory of any program's class.
For Florida, the Gators hope their latest commit can do just that after some struggles earlier in the cycle. On Sunday, May 9, the Florida Gators solidified a much-needed addition to the 2022 recruiting class.
Announcing his commitment to the Gators on Mother's Day, speedster Isaiah Bond locked down his recruitment just before the recruiting dead period comes to an end on June 1.
Doing so in surprising fashion – given the release of his top five occurred prior to his offer from Florida – Bond elected to head to Gainesville to play for wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales over Georgia, Miami, Alabama, Wisconsin and Pittsburgh as well as fellow late offerers Texas and Michigan.
Standing at 6-foot, 175 pounds, the Peach State athlete has a smaller frame – will likely look to add about 10-15 pounds upon arrival to Florida – but makes up for it with a number of desirable intangibles to be used at the collegiate ranks. Playing on both sides of the football for Buford, the position Bond would play at the next level varied between programs.
Landing the consensus three-star talent from Buford (Ga.) High School in Bond, Florida hopes he can pick up the slack at a slot receiver spot that was overlooked in the previous recruiting cycle.
What are some of the skills that Bond withholds, and how will they translate to the Gators' offense when his time comes?
Speed, Speed, Speed
As a member of the illustrious Urban Meyer coaching tree, Dan Mullen understands the importance of possessing a fast roster. When Florida was on top of the college football world during the late 2000s, speed littered the field, creating mismatches that made it difficult on the opposition.
Looking to return to that stature of prominence with national championship-caliber talent, equipping skill positions with speed is of utmost importance, something that is evident with the acquisition of Bond.
As a result, the drawing factor of Bond's game is his elite-level speed both on the field and on the track.
Recently, Bond participated in the 100-meter dash track event, showcasing his blazing speed in the Georgia state sectionals. Clocking a 10.48 in the event just a day before his commitment, the two-sport star impressed with a considerable victory over the rest of the field.
Carrying that speed over to the football field, Bond consistently finds himself getting behind opposing defenses – mostly via a polished nine route – to make home-run hitting scores for the state title-winning team in Georgia for the 6A classification.
Combining the straight-line speed with impeccable acceleration skills at the top of his routes, Bond is a difficult assignment for defensive backs and proved such with his well-rounded performances throughout his junior season.
On top of his documented speed, Bond is an all-around playmaker with the ball in his hands. While it is something he does not get to demonstrate often, Bond's elusiveness in the open field makes him a difficult assignment to bring down to the turf.
As someone primarily utilized as a deep threat within the Wolves offense, given the effectiveness of using him that way, Bond saw little opportunity to show his ability to make people miss.
However, in the times he was able to exhibit those skills, Bond displayed excellent lateral quickness and several juke moves (most notably a spin move) to churn out extra yardage.
Likely to see more time working at the short and intermediate levels out of the slot in college, Bond has the foundational maneuvers to make plays from all three levels of the defense while in Gainesville.
Hands & Body Control
While his speed sticks out as the attention-drawing factor of his game, Bond presents polish in the finer points of the receiving game.
Showcasing reliable hands and body control in the air, Bond plays in a way that presents a go-to threat for the Gators offense, hauling in routine and acrobatic receptions with ease.
Meanwhile, Bond also has the knack of high pointing ball over his head and the hand strength to fight through contact.
Despite where he lacks in height, Bond brings in jump balls and extends his body for diving completions that show off his impressively large catch radius, a highly-regarded attribute to have.
Playmaking might be his claim to fame, but Bond showed on multiple occasions his ability to make drive-extending receptions for modest gains in his 2020 tape.
As a result, Bond presents a rare mixture of being an explosive entity as well as a possession receiver depending on the situation at hand, something that will bring dependability to the Gators' offense.
In modern-day college football, being in a scheme that knows how to utilize its explosive athletes can pay dividends for an individual's draft stock.
As seen with former Florida Gators wide receiver Kadarius Toney – who found his niche in the Gators offense after three years of plug and play – highlighting an individual's strengths while they develop into a complete player throughout their career benefits both parties in the long run.
Set to play for one of the best play-callers in the nation in Mullen, Bond will be placed into an offense that is tailored to maximize one's talents.
Like Toney, Bond has a desirable skill set that calls for early playing time in his Gators career, creating the need for getting him the ball in creative ways early on.
However, being recruited as both a wide receiver and cornerback to the ranks of Division-I football, Bond possesses a unique versatility that makes him a coveted entity in the 2022 recruiting class that stretches further than a one-sided impact.
Having the potential to play on both sides of the football, if need be, Bond could be an ultimate chess piece for the Gators squad in all three facets of the game.
While the offense will undoubtedly be Bond's home, he could find himself participating as a special teamer early on in his Gators career – a spot that Mullen emphasizes as a vital phase of the game – either as a gunner or a return man given his aforementioned speed.
All in all, the possibilities for Bond are endless.
Bond's commitment to Florida is one that brings excitement for the return of track speed to the forefront of the Gators' offense.
Despite their late arrival to the party where Bond is concerned – offering him shortly after the announcement of his top five – Florida earned a huge victory on the trail by outbidding the others in contention.
Set to see the majority of his time out of the slot in the Mullen-led offense, albeit his experience on the outside of the formation further emphasizes his versatility, Bond will fill a hole that was created when Florida neglected the slot position in the 2021 recruiting class.
As a result, Bond will be an intriguing option to beat the defense in a multitude of ways.
Filling a need and providing an explosive playmaker from an offensive skill position to Florida's offense in the future, Bond is a headlining act and foundation for what the Gators want to build in the 2022 class going into the summer.