Success starts in the trenches.
Plagued by lackluster offensive line recruiting in recent years, the Gators' inability to land blue-chip linemen has become evident during their efforts to resuscitate a rushing attack that has been a shell of its 2018 self over the past two seasons.
However, on Monday, head coach Dan Mullen — who has taken on an increased role in OL recruiting — said that he felt good about their offensive line recruiting despite a number of heartbreaking misses at tackle in recent years.
“Pretty good, you know, we'll see," Mullen stated. "That's always one of the trickier ones because you know there's so much development that goes into that position.”
Namely struggling at the offensive tackle position, Florida received a much-needed commitment from Deerfield Beach (Fla.) product David Conner, he announced at a school event on Tuesday evening.
Conner received an offer from Florida in early August after impressing Gators offensive line coach John Hevesy and staff in recruiting camps over the summer.
Committing alongside his high school teammates, Conner chose to pledge to the Gators over Arizona, FIU and FAU, becoming the second offensive tackle prospect in the 2022 class to commit to UF. King's (Fla.) Tony Livingston pledged to UF in the spring but does not possess offensive line experience, making him a project recruit.
Florida heavily pursued but missed out on IMG Academy (Fla.) tackle Tyler Booker to Alabama and Boone (Fla.) tackle Leyton Nelson to UCF in recent months, which led to Conner's quick surge up the Gators' recruiting board.
Standing at 6-foot-6, 285 pounds, Conner is a long but slightly underweight tackle that will be forced to undergo a bulking regimen under strength and conditioning coach Nick Savage for the first few years of his career.
However, with a moldable frame, Conner’s development is no tall task for Savage who has noticeably shaped the figures of Ethan White, Zachary Carter and others during his time at Florida.
Conner possesses impressive upper-body strength that can be seen on tape, despite limited game film being available as he has transferred to two new schools since his sophomore season: First Southwest DeKalb High (Ga.) then Martin Luther King (Ga.) before ending up at Deerfield Beach outside of Miami earlier this year.
By landing Conner, the Gators fulfill a crucial need along the offensive front, adding an underrated project piece that the staff hopes will be the first domino to fall for offensive tackle recruiting going forward.
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