Florida hopes to impress a large group of highly-touted prospects this weekend when they visit Gainesville to watch the Gators play Tennessee.
Florida enters the game with an eight-game winning streak over Tennessee, which only has four wins against the Gators in the last 20 years. Florida, which has a 1-1 record this season after losing to Miami on Sept. 7, needs another win against Tennessee to turn its momentum back in the right direction.
Florida could also use a boost in recruiting. The Gators are in fine shape with their 14 commitments for the 2014 class, but they’re still playing catch up to several SEC teams.
That’s why Florida has invited a long list of prospects to campus this weekend. The list of players expected to take official visits this weekend includes safety Jamal Adams from Lewisville, Texas, defensive end Lorenzo Carter from Norcross, Ga., linebacker Clifton Garrett from Plainfield, Ill., tight end DeAndre Goolsby from Derby, Kan., and wide receiver Speedy Noil and linebacker Gerald Willis III from New Orleans.
Five of the official visitors are ranked inside the Rivals100. Goolsby is ranked No. 168 overall by Rivals.
Other top prospects plan to take unofficial visits to Florida on Saturday, including running back Bo Scarbrough from Bradenton, Fla., and offensive lineman David Sharpe from Jacksonville, Fla.
How important will this weekend be for Florida? Rivals analyst Mike Farrell wrote he expects it to play a large role on the Gators’ signing class.
“I think this is a weekend that as National Signing Day approaches we’ll look back at this as one that was make or break for Florida. I think Florida leads for Adams and Carter; I think they are in the mix for Garrett and are probably long-shots right now for Noil and Willis, but they still need to impress them all. This is an atmosphere game; if the fans are out there booing the team because it struggles on offense or if they lose it could be a fall-apart situation for the group that will be on campus.”
Carter has named Florida his leader in the past but held off recently on calling the Gators his top choice. Carter told Rivals he doesn’t want to create speculation before he takes his official visits.
“It’s too early to name a leader,” Carter said. “I named (Florida) as a leader after my visit there. It was a great visit, but my leader would change after every visit if it was like that. So I just have to wait it out. It is a cluster of leaders with Georgia, Florida, and Bama.”
Florida has some ground to make up with Garrett, who’s favoring LSU and showing increased interest in Oregon. But he told Rivals he’s still open-minded despite LSU’s lead for his services.
“I just want to see who is going to (bring) that wow factor,” Garrett said. “Once I get on campus at these schools, I think I am probably going to get that feeling and know which school is going to be the one.”
Running back Joe Mixon from Oakley, Calif., has canceled his visit to Florida. Instead, the Gators will try to impress Scarbrough, who’s continued to show interest in Florida despite his commitment to Alabama.
“I’m pretty solid right now, but we’ll see what happens in the end,” Scarbrough told 247Sports last week.
Florida is in very good shape with two elite defenders who won’t be visiting this weekend: cornerback Adoree’ Jackson and linebacker Dwight Williams from Gardena, Calif. The Junipero Serra High School teammates are both favoring Florida, according to Rivals.
Zach Abolverdi of the Gainesville Sun called Florida’s chance of landing Jackson “outstanding.” He wrote in part:
“UF track coach Mike Holloway is a major player in Jackson’s recruitment and has already given the five-star prospect personal workouts. Holloway is the only track coach Jackson speaks with — or at least he was for a while — and he appears to be closest with the football coaches at Florida.”
Report: Tennessee leads for Malone
Wide receiver Josh Malone from Camp Station High School in Gallatin, Tenn., announced plans this week to take official visits to Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson and Florida State.
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