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Football Recruiting News from Around the State of Florida

Checking in with the recruiting efforts for football programs at UCF, Florida, Florida State and Miami.

There’s been massive turnover in the state of Florida during the past three weeks. Florida fired Head Coach Dan Mullen, and the Gators recruiting class began to take on water. Down in Dade County, Miami finally pulled the trigger on firing Manny Diaz and signed former Miami player and assistant coach Mario Cristobal as its new leader.

With UCF and Florida State, no new coaching changes. Each program has been hosting recruits, however. Let’s get to the recruiting news, starting with the Knights.

UCF Knights

UCF just hosted two official visitors this past weekend, with running back commitment Jordan McDonald and defensive end Khurtiss Perry both being top priorities since early in the recruiting process.

McDonald is all set with joining the UCF program and the official visit was more about getting back on campus to be around coaches and future teammates. Perry, meanwhile, is a difficult read with regards to his recruitment.

He’s a Montgomery (Ala.) Pike Road player, and that’s definitely Auburn territory. In fact, the Auburn coaching staff visited Perry for an in-home visit on Nov. 28.

UCF is also battling traditional powers in Texas, Clemson and Alabama for Perry’s services. That’s a murderer’s row of top programs. If the Knights pull Perry from the clutches of four of college football’s all-time great programs, it’s a sign that things are looking up for UCF.

Perry already officially visited Alabama (Nov. 20) and Auburn (Nov. 27) in addition to UCF (Dec. 4).

Look for the Knights to start landing players from the transfer portal fairly soon, and do not be surprised if the Knights also take at least one junior college prospect along the offensive line. One or both of those situations could play out fairly soon. Here’s one example that makes sense if the Knights go after a player that members of Head Coach Gus Malzahn’s staff decide to go in this direction:

Florida Gators

With Coach Mullen fired by the Florida administration, the Gators are apparently cleaning house for the most part. There’s only one assistant coach that is reportedly staying on staff. That would be Christian Robinson, the Linebackers Coach. He’s a vital part of the chemistry for the connection between the Florida staff and the current players, and he’s also tight with a top-notch recruit.

One time Florida commitment Shemar James is still in play for the Gators, but it will not be an easy sell for new Head Coach Billy Napier. Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban just completed an in-home visit with James. With the Crimson Tide riding high after defeating Georgia in the SEC Championship game, and many members of James’ family being Alabama fans, it’s safe to say that Alabama is at least a contender for his services.

As for the Gators, James will be receiving an in-home visit from Coach Napier within the week. The issue is his staff beyond Coach Robinson. Who’s going with Coach Napier and completing the in-home visit with James? That’s also an issue with a player in the Panhandle of Florida.

Top-notch safety Azareyah Thomas was once thought to be a Florida lean, but that’s now up in the air with Coach Mullen’s firing and a rival school going all-in on his recruitment. That would be the Seminoles, and it takes this report to that program.

Florida State Seminoles

Head Coach Mike Norvell and his entire staff headed over to Niceville (Fla.) High School to see Thomas and his mother. They made quite the impression. That’s good news because the Seminoles have not seen a verbal commitment since Aug. 2 when Duncanville (Texas) High School offensive lineman Jaylen Early pledged to Florida State.

That’s an incredibly long drought, but with one week before signing day Coach Norvell and his staff could swing Thomas and/or other prospects.

The other player that is really interested in making a move with Florida State would be long time Georgia commitment Tyre West, the defensive tackle from Tift, (Ga.) Tift County.

Landing West would be huge for the Seminoles, and there’s still a chance at yet another top player before the Dec. 15 signing day.

If the Seminoles and Coach Norvell can somehow land safety Kamari Wilson from Fort Pierce (Fla.)/IMG Academy in Bradenton, that sends the Florida State class up at least one notch. He’s a versatile player and could grow into a linebacker down the line.

Overall, Florida State is fortunate that the Gators and Hurricanes are assembling new assistant coaching staffs while new head coaches take over. Speaking of the Hurricanes, they are the most up in the air program from the state of Florida.

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Miami Hurricanes

Out with Manny Diaz as the leader of the program and in with now former Head Coach Mario Cristobal. He is a dynamic recruiter and one with roots in the city of Miami. He should do well with bringing talent to Miami, as noted within this article from Dec. 6 regarding his recruiting reputation. As for which player or players Coach Cristobal wants to sign, that’s really hard to say other than he needs to reel in some local talent overall, including one prime target.

Big-time defensive end recruit Shemar Stewart, a defensive end from Opa Locka (Fla.) Monsignor Pace has been a target of just about every program in the country, and he would give Miami’s recruiting class some juice regardless of whether he announced in December or waited for the February signing day.

For what it’s worth, Texas A&M is considered the team to beat by many, but Georgia, Ohio State and Miami are also in the mix. Stewart sent out the following tweet a few hours ago in reference to Miami:

Beyond Stewart, the Hurricanes did receive great news with the commitment of linebacker Wesley Bissainthe from Miami (Fla.) Central over the weekend, but before that the Hurricanes had not received a verbal commitment since Orlando (Fla.) Evans safety Markeith Williams pledged to the Hurricanes on Aug. 11.

Since Williams committed, Miami also lost the commitments of linebacker Justin Medlock from Manvel (Texas) High School and Trequon Fegans from Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson, who flipped to Alabama shortly after stepping away from the Hurricanes.

As of today, Dec. 7, the Hurricanes have just eight verbal commitments.

For UCF coverage and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. For more college football, UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!

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