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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Gators football ends Early Signing Day with top-15 recruiting class

Florida signs all 20 of its commits

<p>Florida Gators alternate white football helmet.</p>

Florida Gators alternate white football helmet.

The Florida Gators end early signing day with the 12th-best recruiting class in the nation, according to 247Sports

The Gators signed all 20 of their commits Wednesday, including 18 four-star recruits and two three-stars. Florida’s recruiting improved under UF head coach Billy Napier. His 12th best ranking for this year’s class is an improvement over Florida’s No. 17 ranking in 2022, his first season with the Gators. 

The Gators finished with the fifth best class in the Southeastern conference finishing behind Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee. 

The Gators will also add two transfers, with former Louisville defensive lineman Caleb Banks and former Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz set to join the team. Banks is a former three-star recruit, and Mertz played in all 12 games for the Badgers this past season.

Among Florida’s new signees, quarterback Jaden Rashada is the Gators’ highest-rated prospect, according to 247Sports. Rashada is a top-10 quarterback nationally and was formerly committed to the Miami Hurricanes before flipping to the Gators Nov. 10. 

“He’s a junkie; he loves the game,” Napier said. “I’ve just been very impressed with him in his approach.” 

Rashada threw for 3,055 yards and 32 touchdowns in his senior season. He will look to take over as the new starting quarterback for Florida after Anthony Richardson declared for the 2023 NFL Draft. 

UF added three other top-100 recruits — defensive lineman Kelby Collins, wide receiver Aidan Mizell and defensive back Dijon Johnson — alongside Rashada.

Mizell has the potential to become a vertical threat in the Gators’ offense. He has elite speed and will also run track at UF, Napier said. 

Working to get Collins to commit to UF was an uphill battle, Napier said. The Gardendale, Alabama, native was the No. 6 defensive lineman in the country and chose Gainesville over in-state schools Alabama and Auburn. Collins finished his senior season with 20.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.

The Gators added defensive backs Ja’keem Jackson and Sharif Denson to help bolster Florida’s secondary. Both Jackson and Denson will be versatile pieces with high ceilings, Napier said.

On the offensive side of the ball, Florida signed three wide receivers, three offensive lineman and a running back. Running back Treyaun Webb will join sophomore Montrell Johnson Jr. and freshman Trevor Etienne to form a promising running back room. 

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UF’s highest rated offensive lineman recruit is Roderick Kearney. He initially committed to the Florida State Seminoles June 26 but flipped to the Gators Oct. 24. 

“I would argue Roderick Kearney’s film is some of the most impressive in the country,” Napier said. “He’s got an edge about him.”

Including Collins and Banks, Florida received a huge boost on the defensive line adding four other four-star defensive linemen: Kamran James, T.J. Searcy, Will Norman and Gavin Hill. 

Florida also signed four-star linebacker Jaden Robinson, who scored a defensive touchdown seven weeks in a row, Napier said.

The Gators’ 2023 recruiting class finished with its highest average rating, 92.34, since the team’s 2010 recruiting class that ranked best in the nation. 

Contact Jackson Reyes at jacksonreyes@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @JacksnReyes.

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Jackson Reyes

Jackson Reyes is a UF journalism senior and The Alligator's Fall 2023 Sports Editor. He previously served as Digital Managing Editor and was a reporter and assistant editor on the sports desk. In his free time, he enjoys collecting records, long walks on the beach and watching Bo Nix.


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