Photo: Earl Little Jr.; Credit: John Garcia Jr., Sports Illustrated All-American
The Florida Gators are one of three programs standing out the most to American Heritage (Fla.) defensive back Earl Little Jr., he told Sports Illustrated All-American after kicking off his senior season.
Little, the No. 45 overall prospect and No. 7 cornerback in the country in the class of 2022 according to SI All-American's rankings, is heavily weighing his fit into a college program's defense while evaluating the schools that he is most interested in. A versatile defender, Little appears a natural fit at nickel cornerback but is capable of playing outside and even at safety.
"Alabama, LSU, and Florida," Little told SIAA. "They talk about playing like I do here.
"Playing all those positions, it makes me more versatile, so that's how I like to play everything. I feel like I can play every position and I feel like that's how I can help the team. At corner, they'll put me outside and may need me to start. They'll put me at safety, nickel, because I'm versatile."
Florida has recruited Little for quite some time, sending a scholarship offer his way in April 2020. Originally, Little was pursued by former Florida defensive back coaches Torrian Gray and Ron English, but tight ends coach Tim Brewster and cornerbacks coach Jules Montinar have picked up Little's recruitment since Gray and English were released of their duties in January.
Alabama and LSU had offered Little in February of 2020 and June of 2019, respectively.
Little has posted 72 total tackles, including two for loss, six interceptions and a fumble recovery over his past two seasons at American Heritage, the same high school that notable recent former Gators Marco Wilson and T.J. Slaton attended in their prep days, among others.
What will be the biggest factor in Little's decision, though?
"Whoever produces their DBs the best,' Little said. "I like how all those schools carry themselves on and off the field. I feel like I can go to one of those organizations, being brought up like those other players did.
"Production. I need to see production throughout the season with the DBs."
Alabama and LSU have found plenty of success developing defensive backs in recent and long-term memory, but so have the Gators under head coach Dan Mullen and dating back quite a while. This past year, Wilson and safety Shawn Davis both heard their names called in the 2021 NFL Draft. Cornerback C.J. Henderson, also from the Miami/Fort. Lauderdale area, also went in the first round in 2020 after a successful three-year stint with the Gators.
In 2021, Little will be able to observe Preseason All-American Kaiir Elam and other talented Florida defensive backs as well as he draws closer to a final college decision.
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