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

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 Team Recruiting Rankings. The good news is UF has almost 11 months, including an entire football season, to turn things around.


* Notebook: Florida coordinators discuss direction of each side of the ball

* Tuesday Football Practice Insider Report

* Best guesses on filling 10 biggest recruiting needs part-one

* Practice set to resume - Five offensive storylines to follow


* Fruhmorgen will transfer to Florida

* The Transformers: Looking at Gators who have reshaped their bodies

* Alley Insider: Note on a Florida offensive lineman

* Redshirt Report: Stone Forsythe

* Trask looking to make most of opportunities at quarterback this spring


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 II (5-1)    


Why is it a Need: This is a position the Gators have rebuilt over the last several recruiting cycles by bringing in top end talent. Florida likely will be losing their best receiver, Antonio Callaway, after this coming season so there is a need to restock in 2018.

Dream Signee: Four-star wide receiver Mark Pope

This four-star Miami native is setting up to be the top wide out in the state of Florida for the 2018 class. The Gators have gotten him on campus a few times in the past and also signed two of his Southridge teammates this past cycle as well. The Miami Hurricanes have come on strong here in the last several months and are seen as the team to beat. The Gators are in the mix as well, but have some work to do.

Best Current Guess: Four-star wide receiver Jacob Copeland

The Gators were one of the first big schools to pull the trigger and extend an offer to Copeland. Since then he’s been a consistent visitor on campus and has built a strong relationship with numerous members of the staff. Copeland has yet to name any kind of concrete leaderboard, but the Gators factor highly in his recruitment, if not the team to beat.


Why is it a Need: The Gators have had a ton of success recruiting at this position since the arrival of Jim McElwain with two four-star backs in each signing class. However with Mark Thompson heading into his senior year and the chance of Jordan Scarlett leaving early for the NFL the Gators will need to continue their trend of bringing in top backs.

Dream Signee: Five-star running back James Cook

Since the arrival of JaJuan Seider in Gainesville, the new Gators assistant has been working hard to flip Cook from Florida State. Despite his longstanding commitment to the Seminoles Cook is still keeping his options open. In fact just a few days ago he released a top eight, so this could be an interesting recruitment to follow with 11 months left until signing day.

Best Current Guess: Four-star running back Asa Martin

I am going to go a little bit on a limb here and pick Martin despite the fact that he’s only visited once with his IMG teammates. However Martin recently did say the Gators were one of the schools recruiting him the hardest with Sedier leading the charge. Martin will be taking a visit to Florida this coming weekend with his mother, and expect the Gators to really roll out the red carpet. There is still a lot to play out here, but early on here the Gators have some buzz.


Why is it a Need: The Gators have started to build back up their numbers along the offensive line compared to how bad the position was at McElwain’s arrival. Offensive tackle is still a spot the Gators could continue to add depth at. One of the Gators top offensive lineman Martez Ivey will be a junior next season, making him eligible to leave for the NFL Draft if he chooses, so the Gators will need to be ready to fill some big shoes possibly along the line.

Dream Signee: Four-star offensive tackle Dylan Wonnum

The Gators are always looking for bodies that can see the field early and Wonnum is one of the best in the country. Florida has hosted this four-star on campus already and seem to be in this race early on. Florida is selling this Peach State big man on the chance to make an impact early and it seems to have his attention. There is still a long way to go in this race, but this is one worth Florida fans monitoring.

Best Current Guess: Four-star offensive tackle William Barnes

Despite claiming no read leaders at this time, the Gators are in great shape to land this in-state four-star. He’s visited Florida’s campus more than any other school and he’s built a great relationship with multiple members of the staff including new offensive line coach Brad Davis, who Barnes has taken a liking to. Florida and North Carolina seem to be in the best place currently, with Barnes looking to take his recruitment the distance. As long as he continues to visit Gainesville the Gators are in great shape.


Why is it a Need: The overall depth at this position isn’t in as bad of shape as it has over the last couple of years. However, there still isn’t anyone proven at the quarterback position on Florida’s roster with transfer Luke Del Rio, Freshmen Kyle Trask and Felipe Franks, and finally 2017 signee Jake Allen. The Gators will be rolling with one of those guys this season, but need to look into adding an elite signal caller into the mix for the future.

Dream Signee: Four-star quarterback Justin Fields

The Gators offered this four-star signal caller last month and have been pushing for a flip since the beginning of the year. Fields has been committed to Penn State for a while now, and is saying all the right things about being solid there. However we hear the Gators and a couple of other schools have remained in contact with Fields, so the door isn’t completely shut.

Best Current Guess: Four-star quarterback Joe Milton

The Gators just offered this in-state signal caller, and have been evaluating for several months now, talking with Milton a couple times a week. The Gators are hoping to see Milton more this spring to see his arm live and how he does reading defenses and processing an offense in his head. The Gators were the dream school for Milton growing up, so this offer carries weight. Milton is looking to make a commitment sometime soon, so there Gators are sitting pretty here.


Why is it a Need: With departures of several veteran players looming, the Gators have a big need to fill at this position. Florida has some young talent behind guys like Nick Washington and Marcel Harris, but need to add depth at the position, with one elite guy that can see the field as a true freshman. The Gators did a good job filling their need at cornerback last cycle, and in 2018 safety is the spot in the secondary that needs to be addressed.

Dream Signee: Five-star safety Tyreke Johnson

With the Gators looking to bring in elite talent at this position none come better than the nations No. 1 rated safety. Living roughly 45 minutes away from Gainesville, Johnson has been able to visit Florida’s campus many times in the past, with his most recent visit falling just a couple of weeks ago. On that visit Johnson was able to meet with new defensive backs coach Corey Bell, and the two seem to be hitting it off. The Gators are selling Johnson on the chance to play early and move around in the secondary at both safety and cornerback. Florida is in the mix here, but have other schools like UCLA, USC, Alabama, Miami, and Georgia in play as well.

Best Current Guess: Four-star athlete Amari Burney

Florida could still land Johnson, as the Gators factor very high in his recruitment, but to be realistic there's a much better shot with the four-star Burney. After visiting Florida a few months ago, Burney left with a top two of Florida and Ohio State with a summer commitment in mind. He’s listed as an athlete, but projects as a safety at the next level with his ball skills and speed. Look for Burney to visit both Florida and Ohio State this spring before his looming decision.


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James Cook
James Cook (Nick Lucero /