Photo: Jacoby Mathews; Credit: Conner Clarke
The Florida Gators continue to work on its 2022 recruiting class, narrowing down the list and figuring out which prospects will fit in UF head coach Billy Napier's first class.
With that, the final two weekends of official visits are now upon us, with this weekend's visit seeing plenty of Florida's priority targets visiting programs around the country. On Friday, SI All-American's John Garcia broke down the 10 most critical recruiting visits to programs nationwide for this weekend, including one making the trip to UF.
National Signing Day is currently slated to take place on Feb. 2.
Last weekend, Florida hosted a host of top prospects, including linebacker Harold Perkins from Cy Park (Cypress, Texas), defensive back Miguel Mitchell from Oxford (Oxford, Ala) and receivers Caleb Douglas from Hightower (Missouri City, Texas) and Alabama transfer target Javon Baker, EDGE Emar'rion Winston from Central Catholic (Portland, OR) and athlete Arlis Boardigham from Birmingham (Van Nuys, Ca).
Aside from Mitchell, who committed with Florida following his visit, all of those players are currently narrowing down their choices of where to go to continue their football career.
While not all of Florida's targets were listed on Garcia's roundup, plenty were named in the star-studded cast that's currently set to tour the country.
On Florida's end, safety Jacoby Mathews from Ponchatoula (La.) is set to take a visit, potentially landing back with former LSU DB coach Corey Raymond, currently Florida's cornerbacks coach. It should be noted that Mathews was once a verbal commit to LSU.
Here is what Garcia had to say about the priority target for Florida:
The top available defensive back in the country is a former LSU verbal commitment and there's no doubt a big part of that initial pledge from Mathews was to notable assistant coach Corey Raymond. Of course the longtime LSU coach was the splash hire of Billy Napier's new coaching staff at Florida, and now Mathews will get to see Gainesville for the first time. Throw in the fact that Napier's Louisiana-based staff had long recruited Mathews and their previous stop and UF projects as an interesting dark horse in a race still busy with programs like LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M, Texas and others competing for his signature.
Though Florida is only seeing a visit from one name on Garcia's list, there are several others who are worth keeping an eye on as they continue their recruitment. That includes running back Jordan James out of Oakland (Murfreesboro, Tenn). James is currently slated to visit Oregon this weekend and is a Georgia Bulldogs commit.
Garcia notes that James has been coveted by Florida, among others as his recruitment heats up. He's set to visit Oregon this weekend.
A longtime Georgia Bulldog commitment who did not sign in December, James has become coveted late in the game by Oregon, Florida and others. The Tennessean will see each of the two programs under new management over the next two weekends as both staffs have made enough of an impression in short order. The national champion Bulldogs signed SI99 running back Branson Robinson in December but are set to lose several from the title backfield to graduation and/or the NFL Draft.
Another player worth noting is Lanett (Ala.) defensive end Caden Story, who recently included Florida in his top three, set to sign on Feb. 2. At 6-foot-3, 282 pounds, Story was formerly committed to Auburn but has become a legitimate target of late for Napier and his staff. He plans on visiting Florida on the final visit of officials, Jan. 28.
Here is what Garcia said about Story, who is getting set to visit Clemson this weekend:
A versatile defensive lineman out of Lanett (Ala.) High School, Story had been a longtime verbal commitment to local Auburn University until last weekend as other programs have continued to push for a change of heart. While AU is still in the mix, per the senior All-American Bowl standout, it's Clemson and Florida making up ground in short order before pen meets paper on signing day. The ACC Tigers are the newest offer on the table and he'll see Death Valley this weekend along with multiple Alabamians as Pelham (Ala.) High School product Dabo Swinney looks to again close well on the recruiting trail.
Another target for Florida is Westgate (La.) tight end Danny Lewis, who was recently offered by Florida on Dec. 11, 2021. He was recently committed to Cincinnati but would back off of that commitment on Jan. 12. He currently has standing offers from Florida, LSU and Alabama now as the late-riser continues his recruitment.
At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Lewis projects as a move tight end with plenty of size. He is currently slated to visit Alabama this weekend. From Garcia:
The late-rising tight end recruit has played his way up SEC recruiting boards and his last three offers help to tell that story. The New Iberia (La.) Westgate star backed off of a fall commitment to Luke Fickell and Cincinnati on January 12 and earned the in-state offer from Brian Kelly's LSU staff the same day. Florida and Alabama would follow over the next week and now trips to each are on the docket over the next two weekends. Alabama is up first and it will need to make a banner impression to win the late race for Lewis, who would become the fifth Louisianan to jump on board should he elect to roll with the Crimson Tide.
Safety Gentry Williams, a Booker T. Washington (Tulsa, Okla.) standout, is one of the better players in this class and was previously pledged to Oklahoma prior to Lincoln Riley leaving. According to Garcia, Florida is pushing among those on the "outside looking in."
Now, he will return to Oklahoma on a visit, seeing what former Clemson defensive coordinator, now OU head coach Brent Venables has to offer.
Here is what Garcia had to say about Williams:
A longtime in-state OU pledge who picked the program under Lincoln Riley's regime, Williams has been courted by other schools in the meantime. Now that he will be back in Norman for the Venables approach, it will be interesting to see if he shuts it down and signs with the Sooners after all. This will be Williams' second official visit to OU, permitted by the NCAA because of the change of leadership within the program. Florida is pushing among those on the outside looking in.
As one of the most recruited offensive tackles in the state of Florida, as Garcia writes, Matthew McCoy out of Creekside (Saint Augustine, Fla.), is another one of Florida's targets, currently being recruited by both offensive line coaches Rob Sale and Darnell Stapleton. At 6-foot-6, 285 pounds, McCoy fits the mold.
It should also be noted that McCoy recently told AllGators that he is in daily contact with Napier and UF.
He is currently slated to pay a visit to UCF, and here is what Garcia had to say about that:
It is likely shaping up to be a Sunshine State battle for the athletic, converted tight end talent, who is also being pushed by Miami and Florida, among others. The Hurricanes got him on campus last weekend and McCoy has since been visited by Florida, where he will trip next weekend to close out his recruitment. Gus Malzahn and company have beaten Power 5 programs for several current signees, but beating two in the home state for a truly coveted target like McCoy would be arguably the best win of the cycle for the Knights.
While he is not slated to continue his recruitment heavily with Florida, former Fitzgerald (Ga.) linebacker commit EJ Lightsey is also paying a visit to an SEC program this weekend in the Georgia Bulldogs. It appears as though he will continue his recruitment in the SEC with South Carolina among teams vying for him, writes Garcia.
Stay tuned to AllGators for continuous coverage of Florida Gators football, basketball and recruiting. Follow along on social media at @SI_AllGators on Twitter and Florida Gators on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.