Billy Napier said all the right things at his introductory press conference at Florida. He came off as genuine but spoke of a plan. That plan revolved around a methodical approach to his first signing day. He even warned that the quantity of players brought in would be on the lighter side.
While that held true, there were a few eleventh hour surprises for the Gators on National Signing Day.
Despite signing just nine players, Florida rose from No. 79 in the recruiting rankings to No. 50. More importantly, the new head coach recognized there was work to be done before the February signing period to improve further.
Florida entered the day with seven verbal commitments and have received letters of intent from six at the time of publication. Additionally, the Gators added a five-star and two four-star prospects to the mix. In all, Florida has signed six blue-chip recruits in the 2022 class.
But what does it mean?
A strong closing to the early signing day means a few things for the Gators.
It should scare the hell out of Kirby Smart and the other coaches that typically poach whatever in-state prospect they want. Gone are the days of lazy recruiting from the Dan Mullen and Jim McElwain eras.
What Billy Napier has accomplished in two weeks as the head coach at Florida is nothing short of incredible.
It started early on Wednesday when Naples, FL native Devin Moore, a four-star safety, chose the Gators over Notre Dame, where he had been previously committed.
The next move came from the nation’s number two ranked safety, Kamari Wilson. The IMG Academy prospect chose the Gators over Georgia. After nearly a decade of being mostly shutout by the nation’s premier prep academy, Napier sent shockwaves across the country by landing Wilson.
But, the Gators weren’t done. In the evening, Mobile, AL native Shemar James, a 4-star LB who recently released a final two of Alabama and Georgia, announced his commitment to Florida. James had been committed to the Gators, but backed off in October.
Sure there were a few misses. CB Julian Humphrey stayed true to his pledge to UGA, DL Shone Washington followed suit, committing to the Bulldogs as well. The night concluded with OL Julian Armella signed with Florida despite his promise to “shock the world”.
Overall, Billy Napier made as positive a first impression as the head coach of the Florida Gators. Florida is better on the offensive and defensive lines and the defensive secondary than they were twenty four hours ago.
And finally, Florida’s rivals know that the Gators aren’t messing around on the recruiting trail anymore.