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Best Guesses on Filling Florida's Top 10 Recruiting Needs I

Just over one month into the 2018 recruiting cycle, with the next Junior Day still over a week away, Florida currently stands with two public commitments. The bad news is the Gators are ranked No. 38 in the Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings. The good news is UF has almost 11 months, including an entire football season, to turn things around.

Here is an in-depth rundown of the 10 biggest remaining needs that have to be filled along with a dream candidate and a current best guess.

PART I (10-6)  

REMAINING NEED #10 - DEFENSIVE END

Why is it a Need: The Gators have compiled a solid arsenal at the defensive end position over the last couple of cycles, but need to continue to add more firepower. In the SEC one can never have enough pass rushers. The key for the Gators at this position is to add elite players along with their solid depth.

Dream Signee: Five-star defensive end Xavier Thomas

Yes he has named Florida as an option. Then he narrowed it down to Clemson and South Carolina, but then after that has taken other visits. Despite having family that still lives in the Gainesville area and the fact that his mother went to the University of Florida, the Gators just don’t seem like a major player here. The Gators likely will remain in touch, but Thomas seems more locked in with the two programs mentioned above - but he seems to enjoy the attention he receives from recruiting, so additional visits certainly aren't out of the question - even if he seems like a pipe dream at this point.

Current Best Guess: Four-star defensive end Malcolm Lamar

This in-state defender hasn’t come right out and named the Gators his leader, but he’s made every indication that Florida is the team to beat for his commitment. Growing up Florida was the dream school for Lamar, and he was even moved to tears when he learned the Gators offered him. There is no set timeline for a commitment, but Florida is in incredible shape.

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REMAINING NEED #9 - CORNERBACK  

Why is it a Need: Florida signed a great class in the secondary during the 2017 cycle, landing a couple of top-flight cornerbacks. However, they weren't able to land their very top targets (Shaun Wade and Elijah Blades). The Gators have a commitment in hand from Divaad Wilson, but he is still keeping his options open. The goal for UF this cycle is to continue to add elite players at the position that can translate early on the field. Think of quality over quantity.

Dream Signee: Five-star cornerback Patrick Surtain

The nations top cornerback is at the top of many teams wish list, including the Gators. After Surtain visited earlier this spring with a couple of teammates, he moved Florida into his top five. And though he lists UF among the schools sticking out to him, the smart money for now seems to be on him heading out of state for college. LSU has been named his outright leader with his extensive family ties to the state of Louisiana.

Best Current Guess: Three-star cornerback Sevyn Banks

Florida has several targets on their cornerback board that are looking strongly at the Gators, but as of today the most likely one for now seems to be Banks. He is the younger brother of current Gator safety Marcell Harris, and he has been to Florida’s campus numerous times already. After missing his Junior season with an injury, Banks is fully healed and ready to show the world he’s back and better than ever. Many schools have already been impressed with him this spring, which shows by his numerous offers he picks up daily.

REMAINING NEED #8 - DEFENSIVE TACKLE 

Why is it a Need: Even after the big score in the last cycle, this is a position that has been one of the thinnest on the Florida roster. Yes, the staff took a step in the right direction in the 2017 class signing three four-star tackles, but they will need to come close to duplicating that feat this cycle.

Dream Signee: Four-star defensive tackle Rick Sandidge

This is one of the top defensive tackles in the country, and Florida has attempted to get in the thick of it with him by visiting his school a few times to see him. For now it seems likely that Sandidge will stay somewhere in the Carolina’s as those are the schools he visits most frequently. The Gators should be hosting him on campus sometime soon during his spring break. This will be his first ever visit to UF, so the Gators will be looking to make a strong impression.

Best Current Guess: Four-star defensive tackle Jordan Davis

This one really is a guess. At this time there really isn’t a solid name to throw out at this position that Florida is the odds on favorite to land. Part of that is how well the Gators did at the position in the last cycle and the other part is there aren't a lot of top kids at the position in state this cycle. It doesn't hurt that Florida has landed two prospects from his high school in the past, with the most recent coming last cycle.

REMAINING NEED #7 - SAFETY

Why is it a Need: While Florida added some talent in the last cycle, they weren't able to land a couple of their top targets at the position and now the Gators will graduate Marcell Harris and Nick Washington after this season. There will be some holes to fill on the depth chart with their loss. The Gators have added some talent at this position over the last several recruiting cycles, but need to continue to keep their numbers up. The Gators could stand to bring in some top end talent at this position in 2018.

Dream Signee: Four-star safety Nadab Joseph

This LSU commit recently scored the top SPARQ time at the Nike Camp in Miami. He is big as well as athletic and would fit well into the Gators' defense. Florida has been recruiting Joseph hard, and are one of the handful of schools he has continued to talk with.

Best Current Guess: Joseph

The Gators need to continue to push Joseph in order to flip him, and they have made some progress here. Florida had built a strong relationship with Joseph back when Geoff Collins and Torrian Gray were on the staff. Since then the Gators have hired Corey Bell, who is a former head coach at Joseph’s high school. This tie to the Gators should give the staff some juice in this recruitment down the line. At this time he maintains his commitment to LSU is at 82-percent.

REMAINING NEED #6 - TIGHT END

Why is it a Need: Even with the success Florida has had at putting tight ends into the NFL, the Gators just haven’t been able to land the prototypical player at the tight end position since graduating Jake McGee - who was a transfer in. The Gators will return two upperclassmen in DeAndre Goolsby and Cyontai Lewis, but have been lacking a tight end that can impact in the blocking game as well as the passing game. This is a position that took a step back last season so there is a need to add some additional talent.

Dream Signee: Three-star tight end George Takacs

This in-state tight end is the definition of what Florida wants at the position in that he can block as well as catch. The staff offered Takacs last summer after he worked out during one of the Gators camps and has continued to recruit him hard. The Gators have tight ends coach Greg Nord as well as head coach Jim McElwain in constant contact. Having the head coach in touch this much shows how much he is wanted in Gainesville.

Best Current Guess: Four-star tight end Judge Culpepper

Florida is currently in great shape for this Tampa native and Gators legacy. He’s yet to name any leaders, but Florida is a school he continues to visit consistently and he says they factor high in his recruitment. This is yet another tight end that can catch as well as impact in the blocking game as well. The one thing that should be noted is Culpepper could also play defense at the next level as well.

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Rick Sandidage
Rick Sandidage