Come to Papa: Three In-State Defensive Backs Commit to Florida Gators Over Father's Day Weekend
Though it’s an industry composed of college towns, the world of recruiting is the true “city that never sleeps” when it comes to college football.
Appealing to teenagers is tough—just ask their parents. But the feat of appealing to high school football players becomes even harder when competing with other Power 5 programs. Everyone is looking for the same thing: a crystal ball in their direction, or better yet, a commitment.
Dan Mullen and his staff in Gainesville saw their efforts pay off last weekend after reeling in three commitments in four days.
Beefing up the defensive backfield, the Gators added Kamar Wilcoxson, Dakota Mitchell and Jordan Young. And despite their similarities, each of them have their own stories and will bring different qualities to The Swamp come 2021.
Perhaps the most coveted recruit of the trio, Wilcoxson is no stranger to the Gators. The four-star cornerback has flip-flopped more than a Floridian family marching through Publix.
Wilcoxson’s June 19th-commitment marked his third time committing to the Orange and Blue.
Gators Territory recruiting reporter Joseph Hastings told GatorBait that Wilcoxson’s interest in Florida has always been strong.
“With Kamar, there has always been a strong level of familiarity with him and the staff,” Hastings says.
“They are his dream school, Florida was the first one to offer him and he just feels comfortable with the coaches… Florida is ultimately home and where he wants to be.”
Despite the newfound confidence in his decision, it wasn’t always like that for Wilcoxson, who committed to UF for the first time in November of 2018.
Wilcoxson’s initial decommitment came during Florida’s woeful offseason last spring. Wilcoxson was one of a number of Florida commits to reopen his recruitment following the episodes involving Jalon Jones and Chris Steele.
However, the second time committing back in July of 2019 came as a surprise. Even for insiders like Hastings.
“With the second [commitment], he told me straight up he didn’t want to commit,” Hastings recalls. “But it just happened that way.”
Ten months later, Wilcoxson once again reopened his recruitment.
The IMG Academy product spent a short time committed to Tennessee this spring.
“The Tennessee commitment was weird,” Hastings admits. “But it was during a time when it felt like everyone and their grandmothers were committing to them.”
However, that short stint ended in June after he crushed the hopes of the Volunteers as he fell back to his first offer and recommitted to Mullen and the Gators.
“To the University of Florida, the school I’ve dreamed of playing at since I was a kid, let’s ride,” Wilcoxson wrote in a Twitter post. “I’m blessed to be committed to the University of Florida for good. My recruitment is officially over.”
Ranked as the 16th best safety in the class, despite being recruited by Florida as a cornerback, Wilcoxson is set to bring his ball-hawking play style to Gainesville in 2021.
Though Mitchell’s recruiting road has included a lot less twists and turns when compared to tentative teammate Kamar Wilcoxson, Mitchell has still been around the block.
The composite three-star safety committed to LSU back in March. However, take it with a grain of salt. The Tigers were coming off of a historic, championship-winning season.
What Ed Orgeron and the Tigers did in 2019 is attractive to any high school recruit. But according to Hastings, the addition of one of Mitchell’s former teammates could have influenced the Winter Park native’s decision to join the Gators.
“He hasn’t come out and said it directly, but former teammate Ethan Pouncey being on the Gators certainly played a factor,” Hastings told GatorBait. “I also think there was a sense of urgency to commit because he is seeing the writing on the wall that UF is taking a lot of DBs and wanted to secure his spot early.”
Additionally, Mitchell is a member of the RatPak 7-on-7 team. Former Florida Gator, Keiwan Ratliff, is at the helm of the team and could have given Mitchell a sense of familiarity with his Orange and Blue likings.
Before committing to the Gators, Mitchell listed Florida, Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Oklahoma in his top five.
But as 4:03 p.m. on June 18, the in-state defensive back had decided on Florida.
“I’m staying home,” Mitchell wrote on Twitter. “1000% committed to The Swamp.”
Unlike Wilcoxson and Mitchell, Jordan Young’s commitment to Florida last weekend marks his first time committing to a program.
While the three-star safety out of Tampa lacks the juicy recruiting drama thus far, he doesn’t lack notable offers.So far, Young has fielded offers from Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Arkansas, West Virginia and Ole Miss, among others.
Florida’s defensive backs coach, Torrian Gray, has kept Young on his radar since early 2019. And on June 7, 2019, Florida finally extended an offer to the Tampa native.
However, it wasn’t until June 21 that Young responded.
Taking to Instagram Live, Young, who calls himself “The Warden”, announced his commitment on a live video stream. He later took to Twitter to solidify his decision.
“Thanks to my family, friends, and everyone who stood by me through this process,” Young wrote. “With that being said, I will be furthering my education and developing my talents at the University of Florida.”
Stacking the secondary
New additions, Wilcoxson, Mitchell and Young, join Clinton Burton Jr. as 2021 defensive backs committed to Florida. But like Joseph Hastings said about Mitchell, there’s a common notion that the Gators aren’t done adding to their secondary.
Down south, Jason Marshall Jr. and Corey Collier Jr. make up a highly touted tandem at Palmetto High School in Miami.
Marshall is a five-star, blue-chip corner with a field of 28 offers. 247Sports ranks Marshall as the third-best corner in the nation and the seventh-best overall recruit in the Sunshine State.
As of April, Marshall has named Florida, Alabama and Clemson in his top three.
Collier, on the other hand, is rated as a four-star safety.
And though he listed Clemson, Florida, FSU, Georgia, LSU and Miami in his top six, most analysts see Collier trending towards Tallahassee to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Nonetheless, the tentative addition of Wilcoxson, Mitchell and Young add depth to Florida’s defensive secondary -- an area of the field that is always talented for the Gators, but not always deep.