Let’s forget for a second about the 2022 season. Nobody in Florida is doing well. Followers of SotU are quite familiar with the Hurricanes struggles. FSU and UF opened with nice wins against LSU and Utah, respectively, only to fall out of the top 25 rankings. The UCF Golden Knights might be the only content program sitting at 6-2 and a No. 25 ranking in the AP Poll in their last season before moving to the Big XII.
Fans are already looking towards next year, and we’re just under two months away from the December early signing day. Most of the nation’s top recruits are publicly committed, but there’s still quite a few uncommitted prospects out there. Here’s a run down of where the state of Florida schools’ 2023 recruiting classes currently stand.
No. 7 - FIU Panthers
Total Commitments: 6
Current Rankings: Rivals (unranked); 247Sports (117); On3 (129)
Our list begins with Miami’s cross-town rivals. Head Coach Mike MacIntyre was once coach of the year for the Colorado Buffaloes, but he’s never been known as a stellar recruiter. The best class he put together for the Buffs was 2017 with the No. 35 class according to 247. Typically, Colorado had two and three star recruits with a class ranking in the 60s or 70s.
This FIU class only has 6 current commitments and is near the very bottom of the 2023 class rankings in FBS football. Their highest rated recruit is three star prospect Jaheim Buchanon, an interior OL from Lehigh Acres, FL whose other FBS offers came from the service academies.
No. 6 - USF Bulls
Total Commitments: 7
Current Rankings: Rivals (unranked); 247Sports (107); On3 (115)
To see USF this low is a bit startling considering that the Bulls were competing as a ranked program not all that long ago. Then again, USF is 4-25 under Jeff Scott, the former Clemson OC who took over for Charlie Strong, Miami’s current LB coach. With an atrocious record three seasons into Scott’s tenure, it’s tough to be bullish on the Bulls.
This is a pretty steep drop for USF, which signed classes ranked around No. 70 in the nation the last two seasons. Connor Knight, a three star defensive lineman who also received offers from Miami and FSU, is one of the few bright spots of this class.
No. 5 - FAU Owls
Total Commitments: 12
Current Rankings: Rivals (90); 247Sports (82); On3 (80)
There has been a bit of a falloff from Lane Kiffin to Will Taggart on the recruiting trail. Kiffin’s classes were typically ranked in the 60’s and 70s, whereas Taggart’s last two classes were ranked 84th and 106th according to 247. This year has been a stronger start, and FAU is in a better position to get back towards the top of the Conference USA rankings.
Taggart has had his greatest success recruiting three stars in South Florida, especially Broward. St. Thomas Aquinas RB Xavier Terrell and Dillard WR Arthur Jenkins currently headline the class and both are top 200 players in the state.
No. 4 - UCF Golden Knights
Total Commitments: 11
Current Rankings: Rivals (57); 247Sports (58); On3 (39)
UCF’s 2023 recruiting class is headlined by their highest ranked recruit in program history:
4⭐️ #UCF commit @Johnwal60517678 is a MAN amongst boys in the trenches!!— Elite Empire Athletes™ (@EliteEmpireATH) September 17, 2022
These are the type of players the #Knights must have on the roster heading into the #Big12 next season @Kowboy_Football ⚔️ @UCF_Football pic.twitter.com/XhaiAWQcRG
Kissimmee DL lineman recruit John Walker is a high 4 star, top 100 player in the nation who picked hometown UCF over finalists Miami and Florida. UCF better keep finding these caliber of recruits if it hopes to stay competitive in the Big XII, a move that happens next year.
No. 3 - Florida State Seminoles
Total Commitments: 15
Current Rankings: Rivals (24); 247Sports (19); On3 (17)
You wouldn’t know it considering that FSU missed a bowl game last year, but the Seminoles have consistently produced classes nationally ranked in the 15-20 range the past few years. The 2023 class seems poised for a similar ranking.
Hykeem Williams is the crown jewel of this class. The Fort Lauderdale (Stranahan) wide receiver is a Rivals five star prospect who had Miami and Texas A&M as his other finalists. Williams was evidently unimpressed with the Aggies and Canes since he committed to FSU shortly after attending the Miami v. Texas A&M game. Reports are that Cristobal is still recruiting Williams, but thus far he seems stuck to his commitment - he was raving about his trip to Tallahassee last weekend.
Defensive end Keldric Faulk and offensive lineman Lucas Simmons are the other top 100 players according to at least one recruiting service. The good news for Canes fans is that, aside from Williams, FSU hasn’t really beaten out Miami for any elite prospects. Lamont Green Jr., a four star edge rusher from Gulliver in Miami, is really the only other highly rated prospect that’s picked FSU over Miami.
No. 2 - Florida Gators
Total Commitments: 22
Current Rankings: Rivals (10); 247Sports (9); On3 (9)
Billy Napier is admittedly an excellent recruiter and he’s going to pose a big challenge for Cristobal in the years to come. Napier currently has commitments from 8 recruits ranked in the Top 100 by at least one, major recruiting service.
Napier is having a bit more success recruiting for the defensive side. Defensive lineman Kelby Collins, Isiah Nixon, and Will Norman as well as defensive back Dijon Johnson are the defensive core of this class, while wide receivers Aidan Mizell and Eugene Wilson II highlight the offensive recruits.
A glaring omission for the Gators’ class is five star prospects. While this is a deep, 22 player class of three and four star prospects, Florida is lacking any of the most sought after recruits in the nation. Fortunately for Miami, the Gators are also having trouble piercing South Florida for the top recruits. All of Florida’s four star, in-state prospects are from Orlando (Mizell, IOL Roderick Kearney, DB Ja’Keem Jackson, and S Jordan Castell), Tampa (Johnson, Nixon, Wilson III), or North Florida (CB Sharif Denson).
The one victory Napier had in South Florida is Miami Northwestern receiver Andy Jean, but like FSU commit Hykeem Williams it looks like Cristobal hasn’t called off the chase for Jean who attended the Miami v. Texas A&M game.
I will be attending the university of Texas A&M Vs university of Miami game Saturday September 17th.— iam_j80 (@1typeandy) September 15, 2022
No. 1 - Miami Hurricanes
Total Commitments: 20
Current Rankings: Rivals (7); 247Sports (8); On3 (8)
The Hurricanes are the only program in the country to currently have two prospects with a consensus five star rating across every major recruiting service. Miami out recruited Florida for CB Cormani McClain’s pledge, while OT Francis Mauigoa was a summer commitment that started a chain of elite prospect commitments this past June and July. Maiugoa is Miami’s first five star offensive line prospect since Seantrel Henderson while McClain is Miami’s most decorated CB recruit in its history. McClain released his own Miami hype video shortly after his announcement last week:
But this is far from a two-person class. Edge rusher Jayden Wayne also has a five star rating from Rivals, and QB Jaden Rashada and LB Malik Bryant are high four star prospects which some recruiting services rank in the top 50 in the nation. Notably, Bryant and McClain live in Central Florida and were thought to be heavy Florida leans at the time of their commitments. Either would currently be Florida’s top rated recruit had they committed to the Gators.
Also unlike FSU and UF, there are still quite a few elite prospects out there giving serious consideration to the Canes. Those prospects include: five star OT Samson Okunlola (95% likelihood to Miami per On3); four star edge rusher Rueben McCain (64% likelihood to Miami, with 30% likelihood to now head coach-less Auburn); four star CB Damari Brown (90% likelihood to Miami); and four star WR Christopher Johnson (96% likelihood to Miami). The Canes are also a long-shot finalist for five star ATH Nyckoles Harbor who is also an All-American caliber track athlete.
SotU will do a deeper dive into Miami’s recruiting class as we get closer to the December early commitment date, but the bottom line takeaways for Canes fans at this time are:
- Miami is getting multiple elite prospect commitments for the first time in a long time.
- Miami is beating in-state rivals Florida and FSU in most of their recruiting battles, especially amongst the highest rated prospects (Hykeem Williams the one exception).
- None of Miami’s recruits, from top to bottom, have decommitted despite the rough results on the field (McClain reportedly said “I think I can come in and start at Miami,” and other recruits are likely having similar thoughts).
- This class is still growing, and Miami fans shouldn’t be surprised to see several more highly rated prospects commit and potentially push this class into a top 5 national ranking. Cristobal is also continuing to recruit other committed prospects, and was successful just last week flipping three star LB recruit Kaleb Spencer away from Oklahoma.
This puts Miami atop the state of Florida recruiting rankings with only a few months left in this recruiting cycle.