This story first appeared in Chomp, our Gators football newsletter. Subscribe here.
Hey there, Gators fans.
We’re sending this week’s edition of Chomp earlier than usual because we have some good news — and bad news — on the recruiting front...
🙂 A commit & 2 misses over the weekend 🙁
The good news first: Local standout Gavin Hill committed to the Gators on Saturday.
The defensive lineman from Buchholz High School in Gainesville is a four-star player in the 2023 recruiting class, according to the 247 Sports Composite.
Now, the bad news from over the weekend: Highly-recruited quarterback Jaden Rashada made his college decision on Sunday, pledging to Miami over Florida and a couple of other Southeastern Conference schools. And there are conflicting reports over a reported name, image and likeness deal.
The 247 Sports Composite rankings have Rashada from — Pittsburg, California — as a four-star player and the No. 7 signal-caller in the country in the 2023 class.
In the latest Gators Breakdown episode, host David Waters breaks down both commitments and recruiting overall for Florida, which now has eight verbal commitments in its 2023 class.
It’s also worth mentioning that offensive lineman Roderick Kearney — who David had among his top four Jacksonville-area recruits — committed to Florida State following his official visit to Florida this past weekend. The 247 Sports Composite lists Kearney from Orange Park High School — who plays at a position in need for the Gators — as a four-star player. He is the area’s top-rated recruit in the class of 2023, coming in at No. 115 in the On3 consensus rankings.
😞 Bad recruiting news continues
And the bad recruiting news continued Monday when Grayson Howard, another top local recruit in the 2023 class, committed to the Gamecocks.
Howard, who David also included in his top area recruits, chose South Carolina over Florida, which had been heavily recruiting him.
The linebacker from Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville is a four-star player, the 247 Sports Composite shows.
🐊 New Gators adjusting to life in Gainesville
Transfers and freshmen have just arrived at the University of Florida, and you can hear from a few of them through the Gator Collective about adjusting to life in Gainesville.
In another episode of Gators Breakdown, David previews a recent Twitter Spaces with some of the newcomers.
They include junior wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, who transferred from Arizona State, freshman linebacker Shemar James, freshman wide receiver Caleb Douglas and freshman kicker Trey Smack.
📄 Napier sends a message to fans
Head coach Billy Napier on Friday sent a message to the Gator Nation, thanking fans for their support so far during his tenure at Florida so far and providing more details of his vision for the program.
“We want to take this opportunity to thank you for the tremendous amount of support you have shown our entire organization, team and our families since our arrival in Gainesville,” Napier wrote. “We recently had the opportunity to visit various cities across Gator Nation during my first spring speaking tour, and all we can say is that each day we are more and more excited to be part of the University of Florida.
“Our fans’ passion is evident and unmatched.”
Napier talked about the benefits for Gators players — like the GatorMade program, which seeks to develop student-athletes beyond the field — and how NIL will be a strength at Florida.
“We are working on creating a new future through a journey that emphasizes discipline, toughness, detail, accountability, integrity, and most importantly, teamwork,” Napier said. “Our mission is to make a life-changing impact on our players and for them to experience success in life as a result of their time in our program. We want to promote their education and encourage them to not only get a degree, but to be engaged, network and develop relationships.”
In addition, Napier gave an update on the 140,000-square-foot standalone football facility. He said they’re getting ready to move into the James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Training Center this summer.
He described the $85 million facility as a “game-changer.”
On the football field, Napier wrote, the goal is to play a brand of football that creates a great sense of pride among players, coaches and fans.
“One thing we have learned in the past six months is that Gators are resilient and passionate. In all kinds of weather,” Napier said. “I can assure you that no one has higher expectations for what we want to accomplish than me.
“This will be a team effort. All of us, no matter what our role is, can make a positive impact in the success of our program. From our students cheering their loudest on Saturdays at The Swamp, to our boosters, alumni and everyday fans: We all must have a championship approach in all that we do.”
✉️ 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.