• Ainslie Lee

Ugh, another 3-star? Not so fast!

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

Ugh, ANOTHER 3-star? Well, yes, and that’s not a bad thing.

You can almost hear the naysayers and dooms-dayers now: “Yep, it’s true. Old Dan got another 3-star recruit pledged to  the Gators.” The recent commitment of offensive lineman Jake Slaughter marked Florida’s tenth 3-star recruit in the 2021 cycle. And that’s OK – but first, a little about Slaughter.

In addition to his size and talents, Slaughter offers other plusses and potential opportunities for the Gators. Coming out of Trinity Catholic in Ocala, Slaughter plays alongside two equally as talented 2021 recruits.

Teammates Garner Langlo and Caleb Johnson each have three and four stars, respectively. The tandem has been committed to Auburn since May 15. Johnson is fielding an offer from Florida, while Langlo has yet to be recruited by Florida to date. Nonetheless, when you look at the trio of offensive linemen, they share one thing in common: They play for Trinity Catholic.

The importance of that sits with the coach at TC: John Brantley.

Brantley, a former state championship coach, Gator quarterback and father of Gatorade Player of the Year John Brantley IV, returned to Trinity Catholic this year after leaving coaching to go into private business, taking a few years away from coaching. And “JB III” is looking to pick up where he left off with his success in getting his players to the next level. So there is incentive for him to see his players in orange and blue – just like him, his All-SEC linebacker brother Scot and his son did.

But back to the 3-star thing…

Relax, would ya?

Florida fans love to gush about how well Mullen develops his players. And it’s true – he can. But in the same breath, said critical fans constantly question why Mullen “whiffs” on four and five-star recruits.

Not many 5-star recruits that go somewhere to be developed. Rather, they go somewhere where the leash is long, the rings are shiny and the NFL is on speed dial.

Look at the track record. Dak Prescott was a 3-star quarterback coming into Mississippi State. Under the guidance of Mullen, he faired alright.

The same can be said for Kyle Trask. I think everyone knows his story by now, and it’s just another example of why many people put very little credence in the so-called “star system.”

Those who do trust Mullen’s development skills have learned totrust him enough to pick his recruits, too.

Striking oil on the Palmetto Pipeline

The drama is building down south.

While Covid-19 continues to have its way with South Florida, another triad of recruits  works towards carving their way out… maybe.

Miami Palmetto is rich in talent this cycle. And three of its top products have Florida included in their short list.

Corey Collier Jr. has been one of Florida’s top targets since UF extended him an offer in October of 2018. Since then, Brian Johnson and Torrian Gray have been working tirelessly to recruit the 5-star safety. And on July 20, Collier hinted that their efforts were paying off.

After a long recruitment, Collier has his list knocked down to just three programs. Courtesy of Collier's Twitter

In a graphic posted on his Twitter, Collier announced that his final three consisted of LSU, Miami and Florida.

Florida should be fresh in Collier’s mind considering he visited Gainesville just before the recruiting shutdown. Meanwhile, Collier hasn’t even visited Baton Rouge and Miami, of course, is right in his backyard.

Collier is slated to make his decision on August 10, just four days after his teammate, Leonard Taylor, will make his decision.

Like Collier, Taylor also includes the Gators in his short list, alongside Miami.

Also with five stars, Taylor ranks as the top defensive tackle in the country, the second-best player in the state of Florida and the fourth-best player in the nation.

Ranked as the fourth-best player in the nation, lots of eyes will be watching to see where Leonard Taylor ends up on August 6. Courtesy of Taylor's Twitter

Taylor has also held on to Florida’s offer since 2018 and has kept the Gators high on his list. Nonetheless, three of the four crystal ball predictions on 247Sports have Taylor staying home in Miami.

Rounding out the triad is Jason Marshall Jr., another 5-star defensive back high on the Gators.

Unlike his teammates, Marshall has yet to announce a commitment date, although, he has hinted that his decision might come in August.

Back on July 17, Marshall dropped a “Top 5” on his Twitter. So far, the Palmetto product has narrowed his 28-team list to Alabama, Florida, LSU, Miami and Oregon.

Jason Marshall Jr. rounds out the "Palmetto Pack". Courtesy of Marshall's Twitter

Landing several of these Palmetto Triad stars would help build a pipeline to Miami and Palmetto, where talented football players seem to flourish.

Expecting all three to announce their commitment to Florida would be highly unlikely. After all, we’ve seen a lot of recruits opt to stay closer to home since Covid-19 became an issue.

At the same time, the possibility of a “package deal” situation might exist here. At the same time, remember that Brashard Smith, also a Palmetto product, recently flipped from Florida to Miami.

Regardless, with the Coronavirus lingering around, it seems recruits don’t see a point in waiting to make their decisions. And with that, recruiting is expected to really start heating up in the coming weeks. It could be a really hot August for the Gators.

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