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July 11, 2014
Rivals250 Underclassman Challenge Targets
This Saturday many of the nation's top underclassmen will make their way to EverBank field in Jacksonville, Florida to take part in the Rivals250 Underclassman Challenge presented by Under Armour. With many Florida targets due to be on hand this weekend, Inside the Gators takes a look at who the Gator Nation should keep an eye on heading into the event.
Lone Commit On Hand
Baton Rouge (La.) University Laboratory School 2016 cornerback Tre Jackson is approaching the one year mark of his commitment to the Florida Gators. This weekend he is looking to showcase his talents on the gridiron and make a name for himself as one of the top defensive backs in his respected class. While in the area the 5-foot-8, 164-pounder also is planning to make a visit to Gainesville on Sunday or Monday to meet with the UF coaching staff. Though he hails from the Bayou State, Jackson's father, Jack Jackson, played for the Gators, so there doesn't seem to be any concern on him wavering down the road.
With the Gators already having their 2015 quarterback (Sheriron Jones) in the bag they will now most likely look ahead and start recruiting their guy in the Class of 2016. On Saturday the Gators will have two signal caller targets on hand showcasing their arm against some of the nation's elite.
One of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation will be on hand this weekend in Potomac (MD) Bullis School 2016 quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. Florida is one of the many teams that have offered this 6-foot-1, 182-pounder and is one of a few schools sticking out early on. Haskins also is planning to visit both Florida and Florida State while in the Sunshine State as well. This is when the Gators are hoping to impress Haskins Jr. in hopes of getting another possible visit during the season for a game. With already a stocked stable of quarterbacks at UF's disposal it could hurt the orange and blues chances here with Haskins Jr. likely hoping to play in college as early as possible.
Another top quarterback scheduled to be on hand is Frostproof (Fla.) 2016 quarterback Xavier Gaines, who picked up an offer from the Gators about a year ago. The likes of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, and others have also thrown their name into the conversation as well. The Gators haven't been much of a player here in the past, but with Florida moving to a more up-tempo offense under Kurt Roper perhaps the Gators can make a move and catch this young signal caller's attention.
The quarterbacks will have many capable pass catchers at their disposal this weekend with a stocked wide receiver roster that has a few UF targets sprinkled in as well.
Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat Catholic wide receiver Darnell Salomon could be perhaps the top wide out in the 2016 class and is looking to prove that in Jacksonville on Saturday. The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder holds offers from many of the nations most elite and has noted Florida as a school sticking out early on. Growing up Salomon was a UF fan and said the Gators staff is pitching him making an early impact. Alabama, LSU, and Miami are also schools that stand out as well.
Plant City (Fla.) wide receiver T.J. Chase is another guy that could be a candidate for being the top overall wide out in his class. The 6-foot-1, 174-pounder has picked up a who's who of college offers and grew up only a few hours from Gainesville. Early on there are no schools sticking out to Chase and he is thoroughly enjoying the recruiting process.
Another top wide out on hand this Saturday will be Citra (Fla.) North Marion wide receiver Freddie Swain. At this time the 2016 wide out has Miami with the slight lead over the Florida Gators with Alabama also in the mix as well. Swain grew up only a few minutes from Gainesville so the Gators definitely want to keep this 6-foot, 172-pounder close to home.
Another pass catcher who recently picked up an offer from the Gators Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep tight end Jacob Mathis will also be on hand. The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder grew up watching the Gators and is very familiar with the style of play they will employ this season. UCF, Miami, and Ole Miss have also extended offers early as well, but right now UF is likely the leader of the pack, but Mathis doesn't look like he is hoping to make a commitment anytime soon. An offer from Stanford could also be a game changer as well.
Buford (Ga.) 2016 tight end Isaac Nauta also has an early offer from the Gators, but doesn't seem to be a school standing out to him at this time.
The running back position will showcase two Florida targets hailing from the state of North Carolina. New London (N.C.) North Stanly 2016 running back Antonio Williams is committed to the Tarheels, but also picked up an offer from the Gators after camping at UF earlier this summer. Florida running backs coach Brian White was very high on Williams during his camp session at UF, so don't be surprised if the Gators to attempt to make a run at him down the road.
The other back on hand who has UF's early attention is Huntersville (N.C.) Southlake Christian Academy running back Robert Washington. Florida is one of about two-dozen schools to offer this 5-foot-10, 205-pounder speedster. Expect this top junior to be to make a stop in Gainesville while down in Florida for the weekend.
Along the trenches there should be many great match ups, with a duo from the Nation's capital as the headliners. Washington (D.C.) Archbishop Carroll offensive tackle Jauan Williams could possibly be the nation's number one offensive tackle for the class of 2016. He will also be joined by Archbishop Carroll teammate and 2016 offensive tackle Richard Merritt. Between the two of them they hold just about every major division one offer. The Gators pulled the trigger and offered both of them over this past spring.
Another highly anticipated offensive tackle that will be on hand is Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat Catholic offensive tackle Chidi Valentine-Okeke. The 6-foot-5, 307-pounder is new to the game of football but already holds offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, and Florida State. Though he is raw Valentine-Okeke has picked up the game of football quickly and is looking to test his skills in Jacksonville.
Those offensive linemen will have their hands full battling a number of top defensive linemen from around the country. The only early target the Gators will have in Jacksonville is Seabrook (S.C.) Whale Branch defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney. The Carolina big man has early interest in Florida State and Clemson at this time, but Florida defensive line coach Brad Lawing is hoping his connections in the Carolina's can play a factor here.
As is becoming the case at just about every big event across the country the Gators will have many defensive back targets on hand. Leading the pack is St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood athlete Saivion Smith. Florida was one of the first schools to offer this Bay area standout and like him at the cornerback position. Florida State is also a player here as well and he is looking to make a visit to Tallahassee sometime this summer.
A few other defensive backs to keep an eye on are Savannah (Ga.) Savannah Country Day School athlete Demetris Robertson and Irmo (S.C.) Dutch Fork athlete Stephen Davis Jr. The Gators have offered both stand outs, but don't seem to be a major player for either.
There will be other Florida targets on hand. Check in the Alley on Saturday for the latest and then return to the site and network over the next week for more in-depth coverage.