High School Recruiting

National Signing Day live updates: Florida’s best players make their choices known

National Signing Day is officially back. While a lot of action took place during the three-day early signing period back in December, there are still announcements to be made and storylines to follow as some of Florida's top high school football players make their college decisions.

This live blog will update throughout the day as players make their decisions and colleges receive national letters of intents from their new student-athletes.

3:45 p.m.: The Gators landed their final two big targets in four-star offensive tackle Richard Gouraige and four-star defensive end Malik Langham. With those two, Florida has 18 players in its 2018 class, including 12 four-star prospects. The Gators’ class now ranks 15th overall according to the 247Sports composite ranking and fifth in the SEC.

2:35 p.m.: Four-star wide receiver Jacob Copeland, the 12th-ranked wide receiver and 69th overall prospect in the 2018 class out of Pensacola, signed to play with the Florida Gators. Copeland, who chose UF over Alabama and Tennessee, is Florida’s highest-ranked signee in this cycle and second top-100 prospect to sign with the Gators today, joining four-star wide receiver Justin Watkins (No. 89 overall). It was a needed get for the Gators, who had already missed out on three of their top targets in five-star offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere, four-star cornerback Noah Boykin and four-star offensive lineman Caleb Tannor. Florida can add a third top-100 prospect shortly if four-star offensive lineman Richard Gouraige out of Tampa stays true to his commitment. The Gators are also hoping to sign four-star defensive end Malik Langham, an Alabama native who is ranked as the No. 14 strong-side defensive end in the 2018 class.

12:15 p.m.: The Chaminade-Madonna Lions football team, fresh off a 2017 season thatfinished with a Class 3A state championship had 21 total signees including five football players who play college football in the SEC. Leading that group was four-star wide receiver Xavier Williams, who inked with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

“It feel great knowing that the long recruiting process is done and I’m now going on to bigger and better things,” said Williams, who had been committed to Alabama since Jan. 17. “ Just the family environment at Alabama and even with the coaching changes, the coaches that came in made me feel at home.”

Williams’ teammate and running back Shaun Shivers is on the opposite side of the rivalry after signing with Auburn. The two are well aware of the impending rivalry, but embrace it and enjoy the fact that they will face off against each other at the end of the next football season.

“We all knew we were going to have to branch off on our own, so me and Shaun can’t wait to play each other and I can’t wait to see these guys grow in college.” Williams said.

Shivers, a four-star all-purpose running back, signed in front of his entire family and cherished the moment of being with them on Signing Day.

“It feels great,” Shivers said. “I have a great support system and I just love everything about it.”

Shivers, who signed during the early period in December, said his recruiting process was always focused around the Tigers and their coaching staff.

“Auburn stood out from everyone else, everything about Auburn I loved it since day one when I stepped on campus.” Shivers said. “They’re looking forward to me coming in and contributing early.”

The Kentucky Wildcats also signed a trio from Chaminade-Madonna including wide receiver Marvin Alexander, receiver Akeem Hayes and defensive tackle Davian Hawkins. Alexander, a three-star recruit, said the feeling of continuing this road with his teammates is just what he wanted.

“It’s gonna be great, it’s just gonna be like old times and like nothing new for us so it’s gonna be a lot of fun,” Alexander said.

The Lions also had three-star offensive center Sebastian Saintlering sign with the University of South Florida. Sainterling said USF had long been the school he wanted to be at and his connection with the coaching staff made it the perfect destination.

“When I first got to Chaminade, coach Dameon Jones made us put five things on the board and one of them was what school do you want to go to,” Sainterling said. “USF was the school that I always wanted to go to and me going there now is a dream come true.”

-Tito Benach

Noon: As we hit the middle of the day, here’s a full recap of where the state colleges stand:

Florida State: The Seminoles have added 12 players so far on Wednesday to bring their class up to 19 members. The biggest names to sign in the last hour are four-star athlete Tre’Shaun Harrison out of Seattle and three-star defensive tackle Jamarcus Chatman from Rome, Georgia. Harrison is the No. 161 player in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite.

Florida: The Gators have added three players so far today in four-star wide receiver Justin Watkins, four star defensive lineman Andrew Chatfield and three-star offensive lineman Griffin McDowell. Watkins, the 89th overall player in the class, is the highlight so far. The Gators missed out on four-star defensive back Noah Boykin, who chose Notre Dame.

UCF: The Knights have added six players so far today to bring their class up to 19 players. Half of those signees on Wednesday were offensive and defensive linemen, a need first-year coach Josh Heupel has stressed over the past few weeks. The Knights still have a few targets out there — including Boyd Anderson's Avery Thornton and Dillard offensive lineman Devin Jordan — who very well could choose the Knights before the day is over.

FAU: Lane Kiffin has added three signees to Florida Atlantic's 2018 class on Wednesday. They are: Palm Beach Lakes three-star athlete Teja Young, three star offensive tackle Doug Johnson from Fort White in northern Florida and JuCo defensive tackle Marcel Southall.

South Florida: The Bulls have added just one player to their class so far today in Tyrone Barber, a three-star defensive tackle from Venice, Florida.

FIU: Florida International, which also signed the bulk of its class in December, added three-star defensive end Jason Mercier on Wednesday.

11:22 a.m.: Three Booker T. Washington players signed their letters of intent on Wednesday. Detron Holloway will stay in-state to attend Florida A&M. Tavaris Phillips will attend Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Terrel "T.J." Williams will attend Abilene Christian. All three players are defensive backs.

"I feel like I have big things ahead of me," Holloway said. "My work is still not finished and I need to compete."

Top recruit Jaquan Beaver did not sign, but indicated that the University of South Florida is a top consideration. Beaver will likely play strong safety in college.

"This is a great moment and opportunity for the student athletes," coach Tim "Ice" Harris said. "It's different this year with the early signing period and creates a type of waiting game for some."

Three Tornadoes signed early. Receiver Zahir Turner will attend FIU. Defensive back Jermaine McMillian is already enrolled at Central Florida and receiver Tyquan Thornton is already enrolled at Baylor.

Rodney Mompremier, Mantaveus Brown and Cedrick Walker Jr. did not sign and are weighing their options.

-Darren Collette

11:20 a.m.: Miami Central High had 16 players make their college decisions on Wednesday morning.

Star defensive back Davonta Wilson approached the stage to thunderous applause and announced his intention to go to Murray State in Kentucky. Wilson had previously intended to go to Colorado State but issues with the defensive coaching staff there caused him to re-consider his commit to the school. “The future’s going to be bright for that kid,” coach Roland Smith said. “Murray State is getting a steal.”

Besides Wilson, there were 15 other signees at the ceremony. Strong safety Michael Williams quarterback/wide receiver Seth McGill and defensive lineman Malik Edwards committed to Valdosta State. Offensive lineman Starreak Moncrieffe and kicker Angel Lopez both committed to University of Fort Lauderdale. Then Middle Georgia State University took three of Miami Central High’s finest: center Louis Williams, defensive lineman Jaelin Creighton and quarterback Tijuane Morton.

Cornerback Amir Augustin signed with Florida Institute of Technology, free safety Christopher Metayer for Florida A&M, offensive lineman Taurrian Stafford is going to Alabama State, wide receiver Zeryus Coleman is going to Bethune-Cookman and defensive lineman Jeremiah Youngblood will be going to ASA College. In a surprise move, Smith announced that defensive lineman Rollansky Darote would be attending Dartmouth College sans athletic scholarship. Defensive end Shawn Simeon video-called into the ceremony to announce that he will be attending Eastern Michigan University.

-Kylie Wang

10:35 a.m.: The Florida Gators missed out on the top offensive tackle in the 2018 class. Tampa five-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere signed to Ohio State over Florida, Alabama, Michigan and Notre Dame.

As for the latest signings to state colleges:

Florida received a national letter of intent from three-star center Griffin McDowell. He is the third player to join the Gators’ class today along with American Heritage’s Andrew Chatfield and four-star wide receiver Justin Watkins.

UCF added three-star wide receiver Ke’von Ahmad, who was choosing between the Knights and SMU.

The University of South Florida added its first signee of the day in Tyrone Barber, a three-star defensive tackle from Venice, Florida.

10:20 a.m.: The nation's top uncommitted high school football recruit has made his decision. American Heritage Plantation's Patrick Surtain Jr., a five-star cornerback ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2018 class according to the 247Sports composite, has committed to Alabama. He chose the Crimson Tide over LSU, Clemson and Miami.

“I picked Alabama because they win championships and I want to be a part of that winning culture.” Surtain Jr. said after his announcement.

He wasn't the only top player to make his college decision at American Heritage on Wednesday. Fellow five-star cornerback Tyson Campbell, the No. 2 corner nationally and the No.12 overall prospect in the state, signed to Georgia over Miami and Alabama. Four-star defensive end Andrew Chatfield signed to Florida over fellow in-state schools Florida State and Miami, while four-star defensive tackle Nesta Silvera held firm to his commitment to Miami despite a late push from Florida (and a Chucky doll in hand). Speedy four-star receiver Anthony Schwartz held firm on his commitment to Auburn.

Six additional American Heritage players signed their letters of intent today: running back Miles Jones (Nebraska), Zackary Zambrano (Princeton), Dyllon Lester (UCF), John Alyn (Columbia), Calvin Hart (NC State) and Jack Fris (Lehigh)

9:16 a.m.: Is it a sign of things to come? According to the Sun Sentinel's David Furones, American Heritage Plantation defensive lineman Nesta Silvera — a University of Miami commit — walked to the stage holding a Chucky doll, a symbol that has been passed along by Florida Gators defensive linemen over the last few years. American Heritage's signing day ceremony will be televised on ESPNU at the 10 a.m. hour. Things will become clear soon enough.

9:10 a.m.: Cardinal Gibbons had five more players sign on Wednesday morning in addition to the four it already signed early in December. Kicker Griffin Cerra signed with Southern Illinois, Evan Loesel signed with Columbia, Cam Stage with Bowling Green, Jordan Riggins with Morgan State and Ryan Saddler with Bryant University.

They joined the Chiefs’ early signees: Carlos Sandy (Illinois), Ron Hardge (Illinois), Max Worship (Vanderbilt) and Marquis Williams (Pittsburgh).

8:50 a.m.: And the Florida Gators received their first national letter of intent of the day from wide receiver Justin Watkins, a four-star receiver from East Ridge High in Clermont, Florida. Watkins is the No. 16 receiver in the class and the No. 89th overall prospect.

Meanwhile, FSU is continuing its hot streak early this morning, as the Seminoles have landed three more signees in wide receivers Warren Thompson, Keyshawn Helton and D'Marcus Adams. Thompson is a four-star prospect and the 28th overall receiver in the class. He committed to first-year coach Willie Taggart when Taggart was at Oregon and will follow him to Tallahassee. Helton is a 3-star receiver from Pensacola's West Florida Tech. Adams is a three-star prospect from Mainland High in Daytona Beach. The Seminoles now have nine signees today to bring their total class to 16 members. The Seminoles have just two more commits left to sign in tight end Camren McDonald (Long Beach Poly) and defensive end Chaz Neal (Zephryhills Wesley Chapel) in addition to a handful of targets.

UCF tacked on a fifth signee in American Heritage's Dyllon Lester, a three-star cornerback.

8:12 a.m.: A few college notes from the past half hour:

FSU is continuing to roll. They have landed six signees already, with the cream of the crop so far being four-star defensive end Malcolm Lamar from Armwood High in Seffner. Lamar is the ninth-ranked strongside defensive end in the class and No. 222 overall. He chose the Seminoles over Florida and Oregon. In addition, three-star running back Anthony Grant flipped from Tennessee to Florida State after a late push from the Seminoles. According to ESPN's Andrea Adelson, there were "loud cheers in the Florida State war room" when his LOI came in. FSU also received a letter of intent from four-star defensive tackle Dennis Briggs, who chose the Seminoles over Miami. This is the strong start FSU needed after signing just seven players during the early signing period.

UCF received two more national letters of intent as well. First was defensive end Landon Woodson out of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Second was Trey Green, a two-star defensive back from Glades Central.

News on the Florida Gators front has been quiet early, but their first signee should come in shortly. Four-star defensive end Caleb Tannor is expected to sign at about 8:45 a.m. and then a wave of should follow around the 10 a.m. hour. In addition to hoping to land one or two players from American Heritage, Gators commits Justin Watkins and Griffin McDowell are expected to sign in that time frame. Florida is also in contention for the nation's top offensive lineman in Tampa's Nicholas Petit-Frere (who will make his decision in the 10 a.m. hour on ESPNU).

Again, the 10 a.m. hour is when things should really start picking up. Stay tuned.

7:45 a.m.: A few notes as we get this thing started:

1.) The biggest news of the day from the high school perspective will come around 10 a.m. when American Heritage Plantation holds its signing day ceremony. Five of the biggest unsigned names — highlighted by cornerback Patrick Surtain — will make their college decisions at that time. The other big names from that class include cornerback Tyson Campbell, defensive linemen Andrew Chatfield and Nesta Silvera, and wide receiver Anthony Schwartz. The ceremony will be televised on ESPNU.

2.) A couple state colleges have already received their first national letters of intent. UCF has two in offensive lineman Lamarius Benson and defensive tackle Tyrese Black, both three-star prospects from Georgia. Florida State has received three as well, from four-star guard Christian Meadows, four-star linebacker Xavier Peters and three-star tackle Jalen Goss. Meadows had been committed to FSU since 2016 while Peters committed last week and chose the Seminoles over Kentucky.

3.) Live updates will come in on the high school front after schools make their announcements. Live updates on the state colleges (Florida, Florida State, UCF, Florida Atlantic, Florida International and USF) will come every 30 minutes to an hour depending on the volume of signings.

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