Photo by: Ann Abner

The Florida Gators are off to a fast start in the 2021 recruiting cycle. Florida has received seven verbal commitments from prospects about to enter their sophomore year of high school. Among those seven, only one hails from outside of the Sunshine State.

The lone out of state commitment is from Charlotte, NC native Philip Abner. Abner is a 6’, 200 lb southpaw who has touched 90 on his fastball, which puts his velocity in the top 1% of rising sophomores.

Abner’s early commitment came only a week after receiving an offer from head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. Abner stated that he wanted to end the recruiting process and “once Florida offered, I knew it was the place to go.”

Due to new NCAA rules, Abner has been unable to form a relationship with much of the staff at Florida, but O’Sullivan’s reputation certainly preceded him. Abner is “looking forward to junior year so I can really establish a great relationship with (Coach O’Sullivan),” and also expressed interest in making a trip to Gainesville.

Abner is the #71 ranked player in the 2021 recruiting cycle, and is the #8 LHP on the board according to Perfect Game. Abner attends Covenant Day and helped the Lions to a 16-11 record as a freshman.

In addition to his fastball, Abner is working with pitching coach Rick Suarez on developing a slider while still perfecting the command on his changeup. He stated that he is out doing drills and throwing on a daily basis. Abner specifically mentioned throwing to his father during many of those sessions.

While we highlighted O’Sullivan’s success of recruiting the top players in the state of Florida in our last feature, it should be noted that when he does look outside the state, he hasn’t had many misses. And the Charlotte area isn’t foreign to the UF coaching staff either.

Fellow Charlotte native, Jackson Kowar helped lead the Gators to the College World Series and was selected in the first round of the MLB Draft in June. Abner says that although Kowar didn’t play a major role in his choice, he did have conversations with Kowar and his father. Kowar told Abner that it was the best decision he was ever going to make.

Abner’s penchant for shutting down the best teams has earned him the nickname ‘Giant Killer’ amongst friends and teammates.

It’s no secret that the Gator Nation has been spoiled with pitching talent recently, with five pitchers selected in the first round of the MLB Draft in the last three years (including two in 2018). The recruiting of Abner prior to his sophomore year only proves that O’Sullivan and company know exactly what they are looking for to keep the tradition alive in Gainesville.

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