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Chomp: Florida keeps 2 top-100 recruits away from Georgia, raids Dawgs’ staff

File photo (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) (Frederick Breedon, 2018 Frederick Breedon)

This story first appeared in Chomp, our Gators football newsletter. Subscribe here.

While the Gators are currently ranked 50th in 247Sports’ 2022 team recruiting rankings, they were still able to make a splash on the first Early National Signing Day.

Florida signed nine players:

  • Tight end Tony Livingston (Tampa, Florida)
  • Offensive lineman Christian Williams (Missouri City, Texas)
  • Offensive lineman David Conner (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • Kicker Trey Smack (Severna Park, Maryland)
  • Defensive tackle Jamari Lyons (Viera, Florida)
  • Cornerback Devin Moore (Naples, Florida)
  • Safety Kamari Wilson (Fort Pierce, Florida)
  • Defensive tackle Chris McClellan (Owasso, Oklahoma)
  • Linebacker Shemar James (Mobile, Alabama)

“I think when you look at this list of players and you see height and length, you see verified speed, I think you see functional movement, character, high production, competitive spirit. I think this is an intelligent group that comes from really good people, great communicators. I think they’re wired right, if that makes sense, and they’re team-first people,” Napier said at his news conference Wednesday.

Wilson and James, both top 100-recruits, were surprise signings.

James committed to Florida in June and then backed off his pledge in October before recommitting. 247 Sports has him as the No. 7 linebacker in the class of 2022. Rivals lists him as a five-star recruit. He chose Florida over Georgia and Alabama.

247 Sports has Wilson as a five-star recruit, the No. 2 safety in the nation and fifth overall recruit in Florida. Wilson, who was considered to be leaning toward Georgia, is coming from IMG Academy, and it’s a promising sign that Napier was able to secure Wilson’s National Letter of Intent, as the Gators have traditionally struggled to recruit from the football powerhouse in Bradenton, Florida.

“I think Kamari made a life-changing decision,” Napier said. “I think that this fan base, this alumni group, this is the type of guy that you rally around here that chose the University of Florida, decided to stay in this state, and a guy that I think is going to go about it the right way and represent this place the way it should be represented.”

You can read more about the newest Gators on Florida’s National Signing Day website.

The Gators’ 2022 class also includes interior offensive lineman Jalen Farmer, who Swamp247 reports has chosen to wait to sign during the traditional National Signing Day in February.

Napier said he’s excited about what’s next.

“I love evaluating. I love recruiting. I think it’s kind of the competition in the off-season, and certainly although we’ve been going at it here for just a few days, it’s been a lot of fun with this jump man and this Gator on my shirt,” he said. “We’re going to add to this group. We’ve got a lot of work left to do here with plenty of room. We’ve got to keep building here, and I think it’s important for us to realize this is going to happen one day at a time and one person at a time.”

In this episode of Gators Breakdown, host David Waters and Will Miles, with Read and Reaction, take a look at the newest additions to the football team.

And in the latest episode, David joins Gators Breakdown listeners for a call-in style chat to discuss Napier’s signing day splash.

🐊 Napier’s staff grows

Napier continues to fill out his staff.

Most recently, Katie Turner was tabbed as Florida’s assistant athletic director of recruiting strategy after spending two seasons at Georgia, where she worked as the Bulldogs’ director of recruiting operations. Prior to her time in Athens, Turner, an Alabama grad, served on Napier’s staff at Louisiana as the director of football on-campus recruiting from 2018 to 2020.

Another notable hire since our newsletter is veteran defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, who left LSU for Florida. He will serve as the Gators’ cornerbacks coach and assistant head coach for the defense. He spent the last 10 seasons at LSU, where he was a three-year starter from 1989 to 1991, and also served as the program’s recruiting coordinator the past two years.

READ MORE: Florida signs veteran secondary coach Raymond away from LSU

Darnell Stapleton has also joined Napier’s staff and will coach the offensive line. Stapleton spent the 2021 season with Napier at Louisiana.

Jamar Chaney is returning to Florida, this time as defensive analyst - inside linebackers/outside linebackers. Chaney, a Florida native who played linebacker at Mississippi State, spent the 2019 season as an assistant director of player personnel for the Gators. The last two seasons, he was on the Bulldogs staff as a senior defensive analyst.

Keary Colbert was announced as wide receivers coach. He spent the last six seasons at his alma mater, USC.

➡️ Gators entering transfer portal

In addition to staffing moves, there have also been moves on the Gators roster, with a few notable players entering the transfer portable.

Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reports that quarterback Emory Jones plans to enter the transfer portal but will play in the Gasparilla Bowl.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Jacob Copeland and linebacker Mohamoud Diabate have both entered the portal. Edge rusher Khris Bogle entered the portal and has since committed to Michigan State. And offensive tackle Gerald Mincey committed to Tennessee after entering the portal.

Here, you can see a list that GatorsWire has compiled of Florida players who have entered the portal.

🏟️ Carter opts out of Gasparilla Bowl

Defensive end Zachary Carter has opted out of the Gasparilla Bowl to begin preparing for the NFL draft.

He made the announcement on social media, thanking his coaches, teammates, family and Gator Nation.

FULL STORY: Carter opts out of Gasparilla Bowl vs UCF

The Gators (6-6) will play UCF (8-4) in the Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 23 in Tampa. Another Gator who will not be playing is quarterback Anthony Richardson, who Gatorsports.com reports will miss the game after undergoing a procedure on his right knee.

🏀 Gators men’s basketball team splits games

The Gators men’s basketball rebounded from a loss to previous winless Texas Southern with an 85-55 win last Wednesday over North Florida.

Colin Castleton had a career-high 26 points, along with eight rebounds.

But the Gators fell again when they lost to Maryland 70-68 Saturday in the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational.

Next up: The Gators play South Florida on Saturday in the Orange Bowl Classic in Surfside. Tip-off is at 1 p.m.

✉️ Send us your Gators thoughts & questions

David and I want to hear from you. Do you have any thoughts or questions about the Gators football program? Agree or disagree with something we’ve said? Let us know here, and we’ll share our responses to your questions.

🎙️ Listen to more Gators Breakdown

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About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4Jax in March 2016.