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Recruiting: Florida Finds a Win In a World Of Losses

Dan Mullen was a happy man as recruiting news broke this week. Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd

Despite five months of a sports hiatus, there is still rivalries to be had and smack talk to be talked.

All of that was put on full display last week as Florida and Miami battled for three of the best recruits in the state – all of which hail from Miami-Palmetto High School.

To say Miami fans were optimistic about hauling in all three blue-chip recruits is an understatement.

Though the negatives of a global pandemic significantly outweigh the positives, in terms of college football recruiting, we’ve seen more and more prospects opt to stay closer to home. Because of this, Miami’s momentum on the recruiting trail appeared to be a force to be reckoned with.

That is until a Dan-Mullen sized road block emerged.

Florida made the short list for all three of the coveted prospects.

Five-star defensive tackle, Leonard Taylor, was set to decide between Florida and Miami. Four-star defensive back, Corey Collier Jr., would be making his decision between Florida, Miami and LSU. And Jason Marshall Jr., a five-star defensive back, had his list narrowed down between Alabama, Florida, LSU, Miami and Oregon.

Florida and Miami were the common denominator for the trio of Palmetto products. It’s no wonder it gave Gators fans and Hurricanes fans an opportunity to do what they do best – banter.

Former Florida defensive back Ahmad Black took to the fire on Twitter to point out that the Hurricanes didn’t have a player drafted in this year’s NFL Draft until the 140thpick. Meanwhile, schools like FAU and FIU had players taken before pick No. 140.

But for Palmetto’s Leonard Taylor, that didn’t seem of concern.

In an exclusive broadcast with CBS Sports, Taylor announced his commitment to Manny Diaz and the Hurricanes – a decision that didn’t come as a surprise.

Of the three recruits, Taylor presented the strongest crystal ball. And it was a crystal ball that was trending heavily towards the hometown Hurricanes.

Nonetheless, Taylor’s pledge to Miami packed a punch. Taylor, who ranks as the best defensive tackle in the country according to 247Sports, helped lift the Hurricanes to No. 8 in the 2021 recruiting rankings – jumping Dan Mullen and the Gators.

Being that the three studs are all teammates, the concern of a package deal was strong. Especially considering Brashard Smith, another Palmetto teammate, had committed to Miami prior to.

Unlike his teammates Taylor and Collier Jr., Jason Marshall Jr. hadn’t disclosed a date in which he planned on committing. So when he did, it shocked the recruiting landscape.

Like Taylor, Marshall’s crystal ball was trending south.

But on Sunday evening, in an understated Tweet, Marshall announced his commitment to the University of Florida.

Courtesy of Marshall's Twitter.

Marshall’s five-star ranking makes him the highest rated recruit for Mullen and staff in the 2021 cycle.

Marshall’s commitment also paved the way for more Twitter bantering to take place between restless college football fans.

Corey Collier Jr., the third and final of the trio, was set to announce his commitment in a similar fashion to Leonard Taylor.

CBS Sports had secured the exclusive announcement with Collier Jr. and his family for Monday.

Though Collier had shortened his list to Florida, Miami and LSU, it’s important to note that both of his parents were athletes at Florida State. His dad played linebacker, and his mom was a track and field athlete.

However, as encouraged by his parents, Corey Collier Jr. elected to pave his own path – even if it meant playing for a rival.

And though both Florida and Miami are considered rivals of Florida State, Collier picked the rival.

After announcing his commitment to Florida, Collier’s dad joined him in the Gator Chomp – something that came as a surprise coming from a FSU alum.

With Collier’s commitment, not only did Florida possibly convert a ‘Nole to a Gator, but it also fended off Miami from winning the battle for the Palmetto trio.

The competitive nature of society makes it so that we find a winner and a loser in everything. But it’s been hard to identify a winner in the midst of a global pandemic.

But last weekend, Florida won.

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