The Florida Gators have fallen out of the top 10 in ESPN’s rankings of 2023 recruiting classes. Orange and Blue’s entering class rank dropped from No. 9 to No. 11, largely due to the departure of Jaden Rashada of the Florida class.
The Gators had been hovering in the top 10 in the recruiting rankings since July, when a flurry of commitments created a buzz around Florida’s program and first-year head coach Billy Napier. This was a stark contrast from the end of June, when Napier wrote an open letter to the Gator Nation, asking for patience and trust in the process.
Napier was a fantastic recruiter at Louisiana, having the No. 1 recruiting class in the Sun Belt in all four seasons in charge. But he did not do this alone. The addition of top-tier assistants such as assistant head coach and defensive/cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond, co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Sean Spencer, and many more have had a massive impact on the recruiting pipeline. . Raymond is considered one of the best, if not the best, defensive back developers in the nation.
The Gators were able to sign most of their 2023 commitments during the signing period early in December. After the Rashada situation, the Florida quarterback situation began to look murky, with Jack Miller the only 2022 scholarship quarterback to remain on the roster. The arrival of Graham Mertz from Wisconsin creates some competition for the starting job.
Here’s what ESPN’s Craig Haubert had to say about the Gators’ inclusion in his latest class standings of 2023:
Billy Napier has tapped into the state’s talent with several Sunshine State pickups, assembling a strong secondary from that group. The Gators have added several ESPN 300 DBs, including CB Dijon Johnson, Ja’Keem Jackson and CB Sharif Denson, who has good feet and a tough, feisty demeanor. Aaron Gates, who stayed on even after committing to the previous team, is projected to the defense position and can be a versatile player with his quickness and ability on the ball. Eugene Wilson III, listed as an athlete, projects to WR and is a player who tests very well, which will translate to his game on the field. Adding more potential firepower to his passing attack is Aidan Mizell, a long target with great play speed. Knijeah Harris is a nice addition to the trenches, as he’s been a multi-year starter at IMG Academy and should be ready to compete for playing time. The Gators also turned around ESPN 300 OG Roderick Kearney, a powerful and flexible big man who could work his way up quickly at two depths, out of Florida State. It’s hard to win the SEC without being strong on the defensive front, and Collins leads a talented group of defensive linemen. Napier showed what he can do with a full cycle to work assembling one of the best classes in the country, but a late split with ESPN 300 QB Jaden Rashada still leaves a need under center.
The official national signing day is scheduled for February 1, with the majority of the class of 2023 deciding to sign up early and participate in spring practices.
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The story originally appeared on the Gators Wire