Florida recruiting: Gators make headway with latest round of official visitors

Florida-Florida recruiting-Emory Jones

Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of the latest Florida recruiting news, tales from the trail and perspective on what it all means for the Gators.

Florida hosts 6 official visitors

The Gators had a half-dozen recruits in town this past weekend, including top 50-overall prospect and 4-star quarterback Emory Jones.

The Ohio State commit made surprise trips to Florida and Florida State on Friday and Saturday, respectively. SEC Country reported Sunday that the in-state rivals have now emerged as the front-runners.

Ohio State pursued and landed another quarterback (early enrollee Matthew Baldwin) for the 2018 class after Jones chose not to shut down his recruitment in late October. Alabama no longer expects to flip Jones, per an SEC Country source.

Jones plans to make a final decision this week and will sign his letter of intent Wednesday before enrolling in January. The Elite 11 finalist isn’t the only recruit that Florida made headway with over the weekend.

The Gators made a move for 4-star safety Trey Dean, another early enrollee who will sign Wednesday. Dean de-committed from Tennessee on Dec. 7 and Florida has emerged as the favorite to land his pledge.

“It was a great weekend,” Dean said of his official visit to UF. “I learned a lot of stuff about the new coach, Dan Mullen. He’s going to push me hard on and off the field.

“He recruited me at Mississippi State. While I was committed to Tennessee, that was the only school that really kept trying to come get me. So I know the coaching staff pretty well.”

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound defensive back said Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Oregon and UCLA are his finalists. Dean will announce his decision at 1:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

“I gotta think of all the visits I’ve been on the past three weeks and just weigh my options,” said Dean, who also visited Alabama and Kentucky this month.

Noah Banks was another Florida target in town last weekend. The junior college offensive tackle from Iowa Western Community College was offered by the Gators during his visit.

“It was almost breathtaking. Everybody from my hometown has been texting me,” said Banks, who attended West Florida Tech High School in Pensacola, Fla. “I enjoyed the visit a lot. … Just seeing everything that they have was really big.

“One of my favorite parts was just the whole atmosphere here. It’s the University of Florida. They’re the best at everything. So that was awesome.”

The 6-foot-7, 305-pound Banks is currently committed to Arkansas, but now has Florida and Texas offers on the table. He visited the Longhorns prior to his UF trip.

Banks will make his final decision Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET. He has a strong relationship with Gators offensive line coach John Hevesy and thinks Mullen will win big at Florida.

“Coach Mullen, what he was able to do at Mississippi State with the lack of recruits that he probably got, imagine what he could do at a place like Florida where you have the option to get any 5-star you want,” Banks said. “Honestly, I would be stupid not to think that Florida is about to be a really good team.”

UF landed a commitment Sunday from former Florida State defensive back commit John Huggins, who was a top target for Gators defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Huggins pulled the trigger after his trip and will sign with Florida on Wednesday.

The Gators also locked up 4-star linebacker pledge David Reese on his weekend visit. Reese plans to sign Wednesday as well, but he and Huggins are both summer enrollees.

Ole Miss wide receiver transfer Van Jefferson was Florida’s sixth official visitor, but he’s not doing interviews at this time. He will announce his decision this week and has also visited Louisville and Michigan.

Top-100 cornerback Brendan Radley-Hiles and 4-star WR Tyquan Thornton were scheduled to visit, but neither prospect made it to campus. Radley-Hiles visited Florida State instead, while Thornton flipped to Baylor.

Miss a previous Gator Chomps notebook? Find every daily recap of Florida Gators recruiting right here.

The post Florida recruiting: Gators make headway with latest round of official visitors appeared first on SEC Country.

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