For freshmen who hope to make an immediate impact on the football field, enrolling a semester early is among the best things they can do to help their chances of playing. They get a head start on learning the playbook, spend several extra months in a college strength and condition program, and of course, also get a chance to practice with the team in the spring.
The Gators currently have 21 commitments for their 2014 recruiting class, but nine of them enrolled early and are already on campus, including two 4-star and one 5-star recruits
Jalen Tabor, of Washington (D.C.) Friendship Academy, is one of the best corners in the country and will contend for immediate playing time with Florida losing two corners to the draft.
Davidson (N.C.) Day quarterback Will Grier is the highlight of this group on the offensive side. The 247sports composite has the 5-star Grier rated out as the third pro-style quarterback in the 2014 class, trailing only Texas A&M commit Kyle Allen and Stanford commit Keller Chryst. He is also considered to be a top 40 player this year, as well, turning down offers from Tennessee, Auburn and North Carolina to come to Gainesville.
Joining Grier is Cross City (Fla.) Dixie County's Duke Dawson, who is considered to be a top 20 cornerback this season. A 4-star on the 247sports composite, he opted for Florida over the likes of Alabama, Wisconsin, and Florida State.
While less heralded than Grier or Dawson, the rest of Florida's enrollees are no less important to their efforts for next season: Mount Pleasant (S.C.) Wando guard Nolan Kelleher; Casper (Wyo.) Natrona County tackle Taven Bryan; Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian Academy tackle Kavaris Harkless; Deerfield Beach (Fla.) running back Brandon Powell, Derby (Kansas) tight end Deandre Goolsby, and Tyler (Texas) Junior College tackle Drew Sarvary are all 3-stars on the 247sports composite, and all will be involved in rebuilding the offensive line. The Gators ranked toward the bottom of the country with 27 sacks allowed in 12 games, and produced a dismal 3.63 yards per carry last season. Sarvary, being a JUCO transfer, could play next season.
Still to come
The above six are already Gators, but come Feb. 5, Florida hopes to make it official with the rest of their class. Highlights from their remaining -- and currently non-binding -- commitments include Brooklyn defensive tackle Thomas Holley; Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade defensive tackle Khairi Clark; and the impeccably named Moral Stephens, a tight end from Perry (Fla.) Taylor County. Each is among the top 20 players at their position, although Holley and Clark carry 4-star ratings to Stephens' three.