It has been a long process for many of these recruits. Going through two years of COVID-19 restrictions made it more difficult to be seen. Through perseverance, many Central Florida high school football players still found a way to be recruited.
Here’s a look at some of the top recruits from the greater Central Florida area and where they decided to sign to play college football during the first day of the early signing period.
The top prospect on the board overall is Gabe Dindy from Lakeland High School. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound defensive end had a plethora of offers from programs across the country including Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State and many more. In the end, he felt like College Station, Texas is where he should be. He grew up in the small town of Kinder, La., so that little west Louisiana town is honestly not that far from Texas A&M. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Dindy.
Staying at Lakeland High School, cornerback Nasir Bowers inked with Toledo and defensive end Keahnist Thompson decided to stay in-state and play for UCF despite offers from Miami, Florida, Alabama and Texas.
Across town at Lake Gibson High School, running back Jaylon Glover is another talented player from the city of Lakeland. He originally committed to Utah and stuck with his pledge on National Signing Day.
“Just the family vibe,” Glover said about his reason for picking Utah. “Coaching staff was great. I enjoyed it. The biggest thing for me was stability. Throughout the process, I was looking for somewhere the coaching staff was stable. It’s a winning team.
“Coach Kyle Whittingham has been there over 25 years, and when I told him I was thinking, I told him when I was committing, ‘Are you going to see me through (my time at Utah)?’ He told me he would see me through.’”
Glover spurned offers from traditional in-state programs like Florida and Florida State, as well as South Carolina among others, to head West and sign with the Utes.
Another Lake Gibson product stuck with his commitment as well. Sam McCall will call Tallahassee home now. He was committed to Florida State for quite some time, but had visited other schools including Florida, the school he originally decided to commit to. He had over 30 scholarship offers.
In one of the more wild recruitments of the last couple weeks, safety Kamari Wilson finally decided on Florida after originally picking Georgia. The young man is originally from Fort Pierce on the Treasure Coast of Florida, but just finished up his playing days at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Another IMG product, Jihaad Campbell, decided to switch from Clemson and sign with Alabama. Campbell is originally from New Jersey before playing his last season of prep football in Florida. He backed off his Clemson commitment after Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables decided to accept the Head Coaching position for the University of Oklahoma.
Another switch at IMG Academy that went back to October included massive 6-foot-five 330-pound offensive tackle Aliou Bah going from Florida State to Georgia. Although he had other opportunities, he stuck with the Bulldogs.
Moving to Tampa, Iowa State lost Berkeley Prep wide receiver/running back Xavier Townsend to UCF. He had decommitted from the Cyclones on Sunday and made his decision known early this morning to sign with the Knights.
Another Tampa area player decided to head out West. Offensive lineman Trent Ramsey turned down offers from numerous programs including SEC West school Mississippi State and signed with California. Ramsey played for an up and coming program in Carrollwood Day School.
One of Ramsey’s teammates at Carrollwood Day School would be defensive lineman Brandon Cleveland. The talented player was a one-time Miami commitment before switching to North Carolina State. Despite programs still looking for talented defensive lineman like Cleveland late in the recruiting process, he’s sticking with the Wolfpack.
Hillsborough High School standout running back Jordaan Bailey went against the SEC pull, much like Ramsey, and signed with Pittsburgh. This past weekend he visited Mississippi State. He’s one of the fastest and best playmakers in the Tampa area.
Heading over to the middle of the state, the Tennessee Vols landed one of Florida’s top defensive tackles in Jordan Phillips from Ocoee High School on the west edge of Orlando. He committed early but many programs like UCF had tried to flip him for a long time. He’s sticking with Rocky Top.
Another Orlando prospect made a switch. Track star and wide receiver Chandler Smith decommitted from Florida in early December after Dan Mullen was fired by the Gators. Now he will suit up for the rivals from Athens, Ga. and play for the Bulldogs of Georgia.
Another Orlando player, Demario Tolan of Dr. Phillips High School, had been committed to LSU since the summer. With the coaching change in Baton Rouge to Brian Kelly, there was speculation about Tolan’s landing spot. He visited Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee within the last month, but even the coaching change was not enough. He decided to stick with the Tigers and he’s headed to the bayou.
Perhaps the strangest situation happened with top-notch wide receiver recruit Jayden Gibson. The Florida Gators commitment did not see eye-to-eye with new Head Coach Billy Napier and he’s alleged 15-minute workout video that he wanted from all recruits. Gibson took an official visit to Oklahoma this weekend, and that was the visit that sealed the deal. Gibson is a Sooner.
For UCF coverage and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. For more college football, UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page.
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