Florida among The Athletic’s ‘most surprising’ classes of 2023

The 2023 recruiting class is Billy Napier’s first full recruiting class as the head coach of the Florida Gators. With early signing day come and gone, The Athletic’s College Football Staff have given their thoughts on the 2023 class, with Manny Navarro listing the Gators as the most surprising class of 2023.

Florida’s 2023 class truly came together over the last six months. In June, the Gators missed out on Jaden Rashada, a top quarterback prospect from California, after he chose Miami (Florida) over the Orange and Blue. The miss was the final straw for a fan base that was still jaded from close to a decade of missing out on top prospects. Napier then released an open letter to the fan base, preaching patience and understanding as he reconstricted the Florida football program.

What followed was an incredible July and August that saw the bulk of the 2023 class announce its commitment to the program. But that’s not where the recruiting stopped. After Gators had plenty of highs and lows on the field, Napier managed to flip Rashada in November, the highlight of the Gators’ 2023 recruiting class.

Here is why The Athletic’s Manny Navarro said the 2023 Gators class was the most surprising:

Critics knock Florida coach Billy Napier for not finishing with a top-10 ranked class, but those people are not very bright. Of the 20 high school players Florida signed, 18 are blue-chip recruits (11 more than the previous cycle). Only Alabama (96 percent) and Ohio State (95 percent) had a better blue-chip percentage than the Gators’ 90 percent in this cycle. Considering Florida finished 6-7 with losses to Vanderbilt, rival Florida State and the whooping Oregon State put on them in the Las Vegas Bowl, that’s a pretty good haul for Napier. It probably could’ve been a lot worse.

A blue-chip recruit is a recruit who is considered to be a four or five-star prospect by the major recruiting services (On3, 247Sports, Rivals, ESPN). Since Navarro published this piece, the Gators have added Caden Jones, an All-American offensive lineman, giving them 21 players in the 2023 class. Jones will be signing his national letter of intent on national signing day, which falls on February 1st.

There is still time for the Gators’ to bring in more players for the 2023 class. They have also been active in the transfer portal, as over 25 players from the 2022 team have left the program via the portal or the NFL draft. With so many roster holes, it wouldn’t be a shock to see a lot of first-year players get some playing time in 2023.

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