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February 16, 2014
10 Top Targets: Out-of-state
Each year, Inside the Gators kicks off the next year's recruiting class by taking a look at the top targets both in and out of the state of Florida. With the Class of 2014 in the books, Florida is turning its attention toward next year's recruiting cycle by hosting yet another Junior Day this coming weekend. With that in mind, it's time to look at ten top out-of-state prospects who will most likely be some of Florida's most prominent targets in 2015.
With the amazing amount of in-state talent this recruiting cycle, Florida shouldn't have to leave the state border much this time around. However, when they do, these following 10 prospects will definitely be among the Gators top out-of-state targets.
Note: The below list is the opinion of ITG and not the coaching staff of the University of Florida. The prospects are listed alphabetically and are not the top 10 targets, but rather 10 targets worth keeping an eye on from out of state.
Inside the Gators: 10 Top Out-Of-State Targets
6'5, 241-LB COLUMBIA (TN) CENTRAL TIGHT END JACKSON HARRIS
Why He Is Included: Florida picked up a couple of solid tight end's in the Class of 2014, but will need to add at least one more if not a couple of more bodies for depth in 2015. Jackson will be a coveted prospect in this recruiting cycle because of his hands and route running combined with his big size that helps with blocking. Last year the Gators did a good job of adding receiving tight ends to their arsenal, but would hit a homerun if they could grab a commitment from Jackson who can both catch and block.
Schools Involved: Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt
The Skinny: Florida is one of the many schools to recently offer Jackson. The Gators have been in talks with this three-star for some time now and had a chance to host him over this weekend for their first time. Time will tell where things go with Jackson and the Gators. He is seeing his stock soar as of late on the recruiting trail. The one thing helping the out-of-state schools at this time is that Tennessee has yet to offer and it is unknown if an offer from the Vols will be a game changer or not.
6'6, 224-LB SARDIS (MISS) NORTH PANOLA ATHLETE WILLIE HIBBLER
Why He Is Included: Hibbler has a big body and long arms that he can use to be a real red zone threat at the next level. The Gators would use Hibbler in many different ways if they were able to land him, making him a nice toy for the Gators to add to their offensive arsenal. You can expect his offer list to expand vastly over the next several months.
Schools Involved: Florida, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss
The Skinny: An offer from the Gators instantly put them tied at the top with Ole Miss, the school he is committed to. Hibbler is planning to visit Gainesville for the Gators next Junior Day on February 22nd, which will be his first time on campus. It looks like the Gators may have a chance to flip Hibbler from the Rebels, but you can expect the homestate Rebels won't go down without a fight.
6'2, 225-LB CINCINNATI (OHIO) ST. XAVIER LINEBACKER JUSTIN HILLIARD
Why He Is Included: Hilliard is the Nation's No. 1 rated linebacker in 2015 and boasts well over 40 scholarship offers. After striking out at the position in 2014, the Gators are going to need to add a few linebackers this recruiting cycle and have done a good job of getting on Hilliard's radar early on.
Schools Involved: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas A&M, and USC
The Skinny: Hilliard has taken visits to schools closer to home such Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa and will next look to visit schools farther away from his home base. Gainesville appears to be the Rivals100 members next stop, but there is not set date at this time, but will likely be sometime this spring.
6'2, 279-LB ORANGEBURG (SC) WILKINSON DEFENSIVE END ALBERT HUGGINS
Why He Is Included: Huggins has been a big name prospect, on everyone's radar for a few years now. He is one of the most relentless pass rushers in this recruiting class and comes from a state that produces top tier defensive linemen year in and year out.
Schools Involved: Clemson, Georgia, and South Carolina
The Skinny: As of today, Florida is a team on the outside looking in for this Rivals100 member, but that could change if he steps foot on campus for a visit. UF defensive line coach Brad Lawing has a long standing relationship with Huggins and has been his lead recruiter. Florida is banking on Lawing ties to the Carolina's and the fact he has been recruiting Huggins from the very start of his recruiting process.
5'10, 160-LB NEW BERN (NC) CORNERBACK MIKE HUGHES
Why He Is Included: Hughes is an athletic, quick footed corner who can be counted on to blanket the opposing teams game changing wide out. Back in January Hughes had a very good showing at the Army Bowl Combine in Texas and has started to pick up more and more offers. The state of North Carolina has been good to UF in the past and the Gators can only hope to have their success continue with this four-star defensive back.
Schools Involved: Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina
The Skinny: Hughes says Florida was his "dream offer" and continues to speak highly of the Gators. He last visited over the summer for the Gators Friday Night Lights Camp and is high on the Gators' board. At this time Hughes has failed to name any concrete leaders, but always says Florida is a school sticking out.
6'5, 205-LB LOUISVILLE (MISS) WIDE OUT DONTEA JONES
Why He Is Included: After failing to land several top targets this past recruiting cycle, the Gators are looking for top wide outs along the recruiting trail, and Jones is one of the ones the staff is highest on. His big frame makes him a red zone threat and his long legs give him an extra burst on the outside. Florida is going to be passing the ball a lot more with their new offensive scheme and has a need for able-body pass catchers.
Schools Involved: Florida, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss
The Skinny: Early on Jones says Florida is the team out in-front. UF wide receiver coach Joker Phillips has made a few stops by the four-star's high school, and is a coach he talks with frequently. Though Florida seems to be in a good spot right now, there still is a long time to go and there are serious doubts that Jones will leave the state of Mississippi.
6'2, 307-LB GLADEWATER (TX) DEFENSIVE TACKLE DAYLON MACK
Why He Is Included: The Gators don't have as big of a need along the defensive line as they have in years past, but because of their history of producing players at the position, Florida will always be in the running for some big names. Mack is familiar with the UF football program and likes the defensive scheme run by the coaching staff. Mack says he is solidly committed to Texas A&M, but is openly talking with other schools and says he will take visits.
Schools Involved: Auburn, Florida, and Texas A&M
The Skinny: Though the Gators just recently offered this Rivals100 defensive tackle, he's been in talks with defensive line coach Lawing for some time now. Mack grew up watching the Gators and plans to visit Gainesville sometime this spring. Mack may by solid to the Aggies at this time, but is keeping the door open for other schools.
6'2, 188-LB STEPHENVILLE (TX) QUARTERBACK JARRETT STIDHAM
Why He Is Included: Stidham is the Nation's No. 1 rated dual threat quarterback in 2015, so there is no denying his talent. He is a wide receiver turned signal caller who is starting to fine-tune his game. The Gators are going to need a quarterback that can run and throw and would love to add another Rivals100 member at the postion to their arsenal to go with the two Florida landed in the 2014 cycle.
Schools Involved: Alabama, Baylor, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech,
The Skinny: The Gators have recently come to the table with an offer, but have been recruiting Stidham for the last few months. Florida hadn't been a real player in his recruitment previously, but seems to have set themselves up with being able to secure a visit possibly this summer, but nothing has been set in stone. Traditionally, it is hard to land a top tier quarterback the cycle after adding two highly rated quarterbacks.
6'4, 215-LB LAWRENCEVILLE (GA) CENTRAL GWINNETT LINEBACKER ADONIS THOMAS
Why He Is Included: Thomas has the ability to play all of the linebacker spots for Florida. The fact he can be utilized in so many different ways will put him on the field early and is the reason he is so coveted by UF. The Gators are going to need to land a few linebackers in 2015 and have set themselves up to be in a good position for Thomas going forward.
Schools Involved: Florida, Miami, and Ohio State
The Skinny: Florida really impressed this four-star when they hosted him for one of their recent junior days and has been one of the schools recruiting him the hardest. The Gators are known for their defense and Thomas is all too familiar with the Orange and Blue's current scheme. Florida head coach Will Muschamp has been personally recruiting this four-star, which shows just how important the coaches think he is.
6'4, 293-LB ALBANY (GA) WESTOVER DEFENSIVE TACKLE TRENTON THOMPSON
Why He Is Included: Thompson being named the No. 1 overall player in 2015 speaks volumes as to why he makes this list. The five-star big man has visited UF a couple of times in the past and have been a school he's named among his top schools. Florida has recruited well over the last few years picking up talented big men and would love to land this monster for their interior defensive line.
Schools Involved: Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, and Tennessee
The Skinny: The in-state Bulldogs were one of his first offers and have been the team to beat here for a while now, with Auburn recently becoming a serious player. Florida maybe a school he is mentioning, but the Gators still have an uphill climb ahead ahead of them if they are to land this Peach State defender.