With spring practice in full swing following an early start from the Gators, the news for the University of Florida continues to pile up. This time, it comes in the form of recruiting as another class of 2022 prospect has announced his list of top teams.
On Friday evening, Ponchatoula High School (Ponchatoula, La.) safety Jacoby Mathews included the Gators in his list of six schools in consideration moving forward in his recruitment.
Holding 28 total offers from a multitude of Division I programs around the nation, Matthews narrowed down the list to LSU, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Texas and Alabama alongside Florida.
Rated as a five-star recruit according to composite rankings, Mathews sits as the second-ranked safety in the nation behind fellow Gators target Kamari Wilson of IMG Academy.
With an added emphasis on revamping the Florida secondary this offseason, the Gators have made multiple moves in the back end to begin the 2021 season.
Landing a plethora of talented athletes in said secondary as part of the 2021 recruiting class — highlighted by the likes of Corey Collier Jr. and Donovan McMillion at safety — as well as parting ways with Torrian Gray and Ron English, Florida has hopes for improvement defensively for the upcoming season and beyond.
With this reloading of defensive backs, Wesley McGriff steps into the fold as safeties coach in an attempt to return the unit to prominence. As a result, Mathews is a major target for UF as one of the best prospects in the 2022 cycle and being primarily recruited by McGriff himself.
Labeled as the second-best player in the state of Louisiana — and the 32nd-ranked player overall — the talented safety is equipped with the physical intangibles at 6-foot-2, 205-pounds to be an impact player at the next level no matter where he lines up.
Possessing an eye-popping athleticism that allows him to see both sides of the ball for Ponchatoula High School (starting nine games at quarterback in 2020) as well as the instincts in free-range coverage to make ball-hawking plays with consistency, Mathews presents abilities of a single high safety the Gators are desperately in search of.
With his versatility worth noting, Mathews could see a number of different packages at the next level, whether it is offense, defense or special teams.
Playing a significant amount of time in the slot defensively at the high school level, Mathews has flashed man-to-man coverage skills that brace him for a possible STAR role (given the ongoing evaluation for talent at the spot) if Florida is to land the talented defensive back.
While Mathews' recruitment is heating up and a decision is approaching in the coming months, “Crime Dog” McGriff and the Florida Gators sit in a prime position to lock down a big-time asset in the secondary for years to come.