Florida Football: Ranking the Gators' Top 10 Recruiting Targets for 2015
Although we’re only a month removed from national signing day, the Florida Gators, like every other school in the country, are doing their homework for the 2015 recruiting class. It’s never too early to get a jump on these recruits in hopes of building the best class possible.
The Gators usually put together one of the more respectable classes in the country, with their 2014 class ranking ninth by 247Sports.com. There are plenty of elite players on their radar this season. You can expect them to focus on the defensive front, linebacker and, of course, offensive playmakers.
Florida will have its say with pretty much every top recruit in the country, but here are the 10 players they’re hoping to land more than any other.
10. Dexter Williams, RB
Running back Dexter Williams is still a little fresh to the Gator community, considering he just picked up an offer last month. But this kid can play the position and add some serious flash to the backfield.
Williams has good size (6’0”, 192 pounds) and deceptive speed (4.54-second 40-yard dash). He isn’t the fastest guy on the field, but he has great vision, makes sharp cuts and can go the distance by making a few guys miss. He’s an overall solid running back who looks to get the most out of all his carries.
Also, check out the 2:32 mark in the video, when he chases down a defender after an interception. There aren’t too many players who are going to give that type of effort.
The recruiting process is still wide-open for the young man, as he’s still receiving offers and seems to be leaning toward Ohio State at the moment, according to Alex Gleitman of 247Sports.
Still, don’t count Florida out just yet, with him being from the Orlando area and making his only unofficial visit to the campus in January.
Florida doesn’t necessarily need a running back, but Williams has a great chance to be the steal of this recruiting class if he commits.
9. Adonis Thomas, LB
There’s really not much Adonis Thomas can’t do, as he plays linebacker and wide receiver for his high school in Lawrenceville, Georgia. It’s pretty clear he’ll stick to the defensive side of the ball in college.
Still, his versatility shines there as well. Thomas has shown the ability to play outside and inside linebacker, as he’s comfortable dropping back into coverage and blitzing the quarterback. He has good instincts, is a solid tackler in the open field and has great hands given his experience playing offense.
Now it all comes down to the commitment.
Thomas is heavily leaning toward Florida, Georgia and Ohio State. But the first visit of his recruiting process was a stop to check out Florida’s junior day in February. And with the way Georgia misses out on so many in-state recruits, you have to like Florida’s chances.
The Gators will be looking to add several linebackers in the 2015 class, and there aren’t many who are better than Thomas. He brings a lot to the table and would be a great pickup, especially meaning his commitment would keep him off the rival Bulldogs.
8. Abdul Bello, OT
Abdul Bello was really a man among boys at the high school level. He stands in at 6’6” and weighs 295 pounds. Even with his massive frame, he’s one of the more athletic offensive linemen in this class.
Bello fires off the ball, plays with terrific pad leverage and always drives his guy backward. Watching him play is like revisiting the practice scene from The Blind Side after Michael Oher was given a pep talk from Sandra Bullock.
What should really throw you for a loop is that Bello is still new to the game of football. He’s a Nigerian native and spent his early years boxing. He just recently took on football and is still learning the ropes. With that being the case, it’s safe to say the sky is the limit for this young man.
The 4-star lineman is still picking up offers, as Alabama was the latest to extend its hand. However, Bello has already visited Florida twice and has established a bond with the coaching staff.
Florida needs improvement along the offensive line, and Bello could be the sleeper who ends up carving out a productive career.
7. Torrance Gibson, QB
Whether you’re a believer or not in Jeff Driskel and whether you think Will Grier is the savior, you can never have enough quarterbacks.
Just ask Notre Dame, a school that was considered loaded at the position, and the Fighting Irish are still searching for that guy. With quarterback being the most important position, it’s probably wise to add one each season just for insurance reasons.
Meet Torrance Gibson. He’s widely considered the best dual-threat quarterback in this class due to his off-the-chart athleticism. His mechanics are still a little raw, but there’s no question Gibson has the ability to be a star at the college level. His size (6'4", 200 pounds), mobility and field vision will make any coach drool.
All of those traits have Gibson one of the most recruited players in this class, so it’s not going to be easy for Florida. However, he is planning on making a visit, as he told 247Sports that offensive coordinator Kurt Roper calls him every few days. Of course, it helps that he’s from the Fort Lauderdale area.
Gibson will fit well in the spread offense, and although he isn’t the most polished passer, he would add the flair that this offense has lacked since some guy named Tim Tebow left the program.
6. Jeffery Holland, LB
The Gators didn’t land a single linebacker in the 2014 class, which makes getting Jeffery Holland that much more important. Forget the fact that he can play any linebacker position and has the athleticism to come off the edge; Florida needs Holland to add depth to the second level of the defense.
Holland plays running back and linebacker in high school, but his future is on the defensive side of the ball. His size, aggressiveness and speed make him a perfect candidate to lineup along the outside and get after the quarterback. Florida could certainly use that playmaking ability after finishing 10th in the SEC last season with just 19 sacks.
The 4-star recruit from Jacksonville, Florida, is weighing his options mainly between Florida and Auburn. However, he did grow up a Gator fan, according to Luke Stampini of 247Sports. He’s visited the school several times already, which includes most recently attending junior day in February.
His physicality and athletic ability make him the type of linebacker every elite defense would want on its side.
5. Byron Cowart, DE
Just by seeing the picture in the video, you can tell Bryon Cowart is one of those freakish players who come around only so often. A high school player shouldn’t be that ripped.
But I watch his film and one word just keeps coming to mind: violent.
He has a ridiculous jump off the snap, throws his defender out of the way and destroys the guy with the football. Play done with. The more I see of him, he becomes more and more one of my favorite players in this entire class. His quickness and relentless motor jump off the screen.
Cowart is from Seffner, Florida, and has mentioned in the past how the Gators are in the driver’s seat. He also made an unofficial visit last Saturday to catch the Florida-Kentucky basketball game, and his commitment may bring another elite defensive end along for the ride, according to Luke Stampini of 247Sports.
Florida is always looking to add depth to the defensive line. Getting Cowart to commit would keep the conveyor belt of defensive talent moving.
4. George Campbell, ATH
George Campbell is the playmaking receiver the Gators have somehow missed out on over the last few years. It seems like at the position ever since Percy Harvin left the program, they’ve swung and missed more than Adam Dunn.
Campbell is listed as an athlete who can play either side of the ball, but he’s likely going to be a receiver if he picks Florida. He has elite speed, athleticism and a knack for finding the ball at its highest point. He needs to add a little weight to his 184-pound frame, but that shouldn’t be difficult with his 6’3” frame.
The 4-star receiver from Tarpon Springs, Florida, formally committed to Michigan, but unofficially visited Florida in April of last year. Campbell stopped by campus last month in a visit he enjoyed, according to Luke Stampini of 247Sports.
He’s still looking at Florida State and North Carolina, among others, but the Gators seem to be the favorite at the moment.
It goes without saying how desperate this team is for offensive playmakers. Campbell is a player the coaching staff needs to land.
3. CeCe Jefferson, DE
CeCe Jefferson has been unofficially attending Gators games since 2012, and he’s followed that up with stopping by camp in June and the Friday Night Lights summer camp in July.
He even sat through the painful loss to Florida State last season, and even that wasn’t enough to change his opinion of Florida, according to Luke Stampini of 247Sports.
Florida is the team to beat when it comes to Jefferson, as it’s close to his home in Glen Saint Mary, and he has an established relationship with the coaching staff due to endless visits.
Jefferson also has the ability to see immediate playing time if he commits. Although listed as a strong-side defensive end, he fits that hybrid role of somebody who can line up all over the field and do a variety of different things. His athleticism is off the charts, and he really plays the game like his hair is on fire.
Once he irons out his technique and develops a little more discipline, we’re looking at a monster of a defensive player.
The Gators just hope he’s on their team and not playing against them.
2. Martez Ivey, OT
Elite offensive linemen are hard to come by, which is why it makes landing Martez Ivey so important to the success of the Gators' 2015 class.
The 6’6”, 280-pound young man from Apopka, Florida, is about as athletic as you’re going to find at the offensive tackle position. He gets out of his stance quickly and does a nice job of getting to the second level. He displays great power in run blocking and his ability to get downfield in a hurry would make him a valuable piece to Florida’s new spread offense. He also has the ability to play multiple positions.
It would truly be a shame if Florida missed out on Ivey’s services, especially with him spending much of his recruiting process with the program. Ivey unofficially visited the school in June, attended camp in July and took in the Tennessee and Florida State games last season.
It’s clear the Gators are the front-runners for this in-state tackle.
Ivey’s commitment would make him the cornerstone of the Gators recruiting class.
1. Trent Thompson, DT
Everybody and their brother is recruiting Trent Thompson, who is widely considered the best overall prospect in this class. The problem is it’s going to be extremely difficult to pry him away from his home state school of Georgia.
But hey, there’s always a chance, right?
Thompson made an unofficial visit to Florida in July 2013 during Friday Night Lights. At the time, Thompson mentioned that the Gators were his second favorite school behind, well, you guessed it, Georgia, according to Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports.
For somebody almost tipping the scale at 300 pounds, Thompson has an extremely quick first step and pursues the ball-carrier well. He’s still a little raw in his pass-rushing techniques and could add on a few more pounds, but there probably isn’t a higher ceiling in this class. The sky is truly the limit for Thompson, and I’m sure the Florida coaching staff would love to have him.
He’s still a long shot at this point, but he’s without question the top recruit the Gators are chasing.