Gators on the rise in Sports Illustrated’s All-American recruiting rankings

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On June 1, the recruiting dead period that began at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 finally came to an end. That meant that in-person meetings and official visits could resume, and the Gators quickly got to work on repairing a recruiting class that to this point isn’t particularly impressive.

Florida had a load of prospects on campus each weekend last month, hosting 29 in total. That resulted in four new commitments, which bumped the Gators up three spots in the Sports Illustrated All-American recruiting rankings from No. 25 to No. 22.

22. Florida (25)

10 Verbal Commitments

Florida surprised many on the recruiting trail in the first two weekends of the June window, with star-studded visitors and a commitment from Alabama native Shemar James. UF added skill position talent in the speedy Chandler Smith and Jamarrien Burt, as well.

James is clearly the headliner of this group. The four-star Mobile linebacker is the No. 145 player in the nation, per the 247Sports Composite, and he had an offer from the in-state Crimson Tide. James took an official visit to Tuscaloosa on June 4, but he committed to UF 16 days later.

Smith is a three-star receiver from Orlando who is a developmental prospect but has good size, while Burt, a three-star from Ocala, is a two-way receiver/defensive back. However, according to the scouting report on Burt from our own Jay Markle, his future with the team is likely as a defensive back, possibly at free safety.

The Gators also found their future kicker in five-star Maryland specialist Trey Smack, who will likely take over placekicking duties in 2022.

These additions aren’t the flashiest, and bigger fish are still out there — such as Walter Nolen, a five-star defensive tackle from Tennessee for whom many consider Florida to be the leader. The Gators’ class still ranks 24th in the nation according to the 247Sports Composite, and coach Dan Mullen will need to close out strong if he wants to put a stop to the narrative that the program is lagging behind in recruiting.

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