Wednesday marked the beginning of the early signing period and the first day that players in the 2022 recruiting class were able to sign letters of intent to join their chosen schools. Florida was certainly behind the eight ball heading into the day, as its 2022 class ranked outside the top 75 nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite.
Coach Billy Napier, who was officially introduced as UF’s next head coach on Dec. 5 after Dan Mullen was fired with one week left in the regular season, only had 10 days to evaluate prospects and make decisions regarding the class, and in spite of that, the Gators had a very good day, all things considered.
Here’s a full rundown of how early signing day played out for Florida and a preview of what’s next in this recruiting cycle.
Five-star safety Kamari Wilson (IMG Academy via Fort Pierce)
Four-star linebacker Shemar James (Mobile, Alabama)
Four-star defensive lineman Chris McClellan (Owasso, Oklahoma)
Four-star safety Devin Moore (Naples)
Four-star offensive tackle Tony Livingston (Tampa)
Four-star defensive lineman Jamari Lyons (Melbourne)
Three-star offensive tackle David Conner (Deerfield Beach)
Three-star offensive guard Christian Williams (Missouri City, Texas)
Three-star kicker Trey Smack (Severna Park, Maryland)
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It was a good day in general for Napier, as he managed to add four-star defensive back Devin Moore in the morning and also brought linebacker Shemar James back into the fold. James was originally committed to Florida but left the class in October and was a Georgia lean leading up until signing day.
But the biggest victory included another player that was coveted by the Bulldogs: five-star safety Kamari Wilson. He becomes the first five-star player from IMG Academy to ever sign with the Gators, and he’s the No. 28 overall recruit in the class.
Wilson was considered a Georgia lean up until this past weekend, when he took an official visit to Florida. That Napier was able to lock him up in such short time is nothing shy of impressive, and it provides Napier with an elite prospect to build the class around heading into the regular signing period.
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Though Florida’s class is still not in great shape following early signing day, it’s hard to find much fault in the way the day played out for UF. The Gators signed all but one of the players currently committed, and no commits signed elsewhere. Adding three blue-chip prospects without losing any that were already in the class is about as good as you could hope for.
However, it could have been an even better day if the Gators could have convinced four-star cornerback Julian Humphrey to rejoin the class, as well. Humphrey and James decommitted within days of each other, and Humphrey pledged to Georgia shortly after.
Florida made a late push to bring him back, reoffering him on Tuesday morning, but he wasn’t swayed and signed his letter of intent with the Bulldogs. Humphrey’s signature would have taken the day from great to fantastic, but regardless, it’s not a surprise that he stuck with his commitment to UGA.
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247Sports: No. 50
Rivals: No. 47
ESPN: No. 63
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
247Sports: No. 14
Rivals: No. 14
ESPN: No. 14
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After getting some momentum in their favor, Napier and his staff will look for a much bigger haul on National Signing Day on Feb. 2. This class only has nine signees currently, and there’s certainly room to add a lot more. The staff will also be able to evaluate players more fully by then, as Napier even pointed out during his opening press conference that the team may not sign many players during the early period.
One committed player, three-star offensive lineman Jalen Farmer from Covington, Georgia, did not sign on Wednesday. He will wait until signing day in February instead, but Florida should still be in good position to land him if it wants to as he’s set to take an official visit in January, per the Gainesville Sun’s Zach Abolverdi.
One player to keep an eye on before National Signing Day is Jennings, Louisiana, running back Trevor Etienne. The younger brother of former Clemson star and Jacksonville Jaguars first-round pick Travis, the younger Etienne will announce his decision, which is likely to be between Florida, LSU and Clemson, on Jan. 8.