football Edit

A pair of UF targets, nearly a handful of signees set to play in UAAA Game

Next week, a plethora of high-profile football prospects will be taking the field one last time to showcase their skill sets before beginning their collegiate careers.

The Under Armour All-America Game will be played this upcoming Thursday, while the All-American Bowl is going to be held a couple of days later.

Two priority targets for the Florida Gators and nearly a handful of signees will take the field in the UAAA Game, which will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando (Fla.).

GatorsTerritory has a full preview of which noteworthy players for UF fans will be strapping up the pads on Thursday.

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A pair of Rivals100 targets will be on the field next Thursday

Florida's top remaining target on defense in the 2020 cycle is undeniably Rivals100 prospect Avantae Williams.

Just over a couple of weeks ago, Williams made the decision to reopen his recruitment after having been committed to Oregon for nearly a year. The move to back off his pledge to the Ducks was not necessarily a surprise as programs like Florida, Georgia and Miami were pushing hard to flip the top-ranked safety on Rivals.

Along with the trio of schools listed above, Ole Miss has emerged as a potential landing spot for Williams. With Lane Kiffin now at the helm, the Rebels are putting themselves in contention for recruits like Williams and Henry Parrish, both of whom are priority targets for the Gators.

Ole Miss is making a late run for his services, but Williams staying in the Sunshine State or heading to Athens to team up with the Bulldogs are more likely scenarios at this juncture.

As for Florida's pursuit of him, Williams has yet to schedule his official visit to the Swamp next month. His last visit to Gainesville, to our knowledge, was back in the summer for their Friday Night Lights event on July 26.

There are a couple of important factors that could eventually lead to Williams winding up at UF. For one, close proximity may play a key role in his recruitment as Florida's campus is just under two hours away from where he currently resides.

Also, the Gators have been searching for a top-tier safety to bolster their secondary, and the opportunity for Williams to play early is certainly present.

This one will come down to the wire, but I believe Dan Mullen and company still hold the slight edge here.

Although Washington tweeted on Dec. 17 that he would not be signing early, there is still the possibility that he signed his Letter of Intent last week and will announce his decision at Thursday's game.

From my recent conversation with David Hill, the five-star's mentor and coach at Desert Pines, Florida was still in the mix for the Washington Sweepstakes as of a couple of weeks ago.

Since then, however, the Gators have seemingly fallen to the bottom of the pecking order in Washington's recruiting process. Georgia is the apparent favorite with Alabama and Tennessee behind them, while Miami also remains in the running as well.

Florida not being in legitimate contention until the very end for Washington is a little bit of a head-scratcher given the use of Kyle Pitts in their 2019 campaign. The tight end had an extremely successful season that saw him lead the Gators in both receiving yards and receptions, and Pitts currently has the third-most receiving touchdowns on the team.

Washington is an inch taller and around 16 pounds heavier than Pitts is, but they possesses a similar skill set and incredible athleticism for their size and the position they play. With one year to sit behind Pitts and learn the offense, UF certainly had good selling points for Washington to join the program.

UF has not been officially eliminated, but they appear to have a slim shot at bringing in another top-20 overall senior on board in this class. There are nearly a dozen FutureCast predictions in favor of Washington ending up in Athens.

Several UF commits will be strapping up the pads for the UAAA Game as well

Two of Florida's most notable 2020 signees that will be representing the Gators on Thursday are Ja’Quavion Fraziars and Gervon Dexter.

Both of these players were Florida’s longest commits by the time they signed their Letter of Intents just over a week ago.

For Dexter, the UAAA Game will present him an opportunity to add his fifth star in the final rankings update on Rivals.

Dexter, the No. 68 overall prospect in the nation, finished his senior campaign with 125 total tackles (103 solo), 18 sacks and seven caused fumbles. Couple that with a strong performance against some of the elite offensive linemen in the country and Dexter will put himself in a position to earn the coveted fifth star.

As for Fraziars, he will also have an opportunity to increase his standing in the rankings next week. He currently sits at No. 230 overall on Rivals, though Fraziars was, at one time, the 194th-ranked recruit earlier this year.

Wide receivers heavily depend on quarterbacks to some extent, but a productive day catching the ball for Fraziars could lead to him cracking the top-200 once again.

Last year, UF signees Mohamoud Diabate and Tyron Hopper made significant leaps after participating in the All-American Bowl. Diabate rose over 150 spots in the rankings, while Hopper climbed over 50 spots when it was all said and done.

Jahari Rogers is the Florida signee in this cycle that I believe could receive a big bump after showing out at an All-American game.

Throughout his senior season, Rogers was hindered by the lack of throws quarterbacks made to the receivers he was covering. As a result, the 11th-ranked cornerback on Rivals rarely had an opportunity to record pass breakups and interceptions.

Checking in at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Rogers is a phenomenal athlete with 4.4 speed. When describing his skill set, Louisiana/Texas recruiting analyst Sam Spiegelman labeled Rogers as an “agile runner in space” and a DB who can break on routes to cause pass deflections.

While there will be an adjustment period for Rogers at the next level, I believe he can stand out from the competition on Thursday and make a case for being a Rivals100 prospect in the final rankings.

A late addition to Florida's 2020 class will be making his way to Orlando tomorrow in preparation for Thursday's game.

Mordecai McDaniel made the decision to end a nearly four-month long commitment to Tennessee on Dec. 13 and announced his pledge to the Gators on the same day, which was less than a week before he signed.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder will be a necessary addition to a safeties group that struggled at times this past season. McDaniel is also expected to get reps in at special teams with UF as well given his playmaking ability when returning kickoffs or punts.

As for his current ranking, McDaniel is the 7th-ranked player in Washington (D.C.) and the 32nd-ranked safety on Rivals. He is one of the highest-ranked safeties among those at the position without their fourth star.

Getting into the Rivals250 would be a giant leap, but earning another star on his Rivals profile is certainly within reach if he performs well next week.

Note: Four-star prospect Issiah Walker will not play in the UAAA Game due to an unspecified injury. Antwaun Powell and Ethan Pouncey are also out with injuries as well.

Stay tuned to GatorsTerritory.