It’s been a disappointing decade to be a Florida Gators football fan, with nearly as many losing seasons (two) as 10-win campaigns (three) since 2014.
With the Gators coming off consecutive 6-7 seasons, it’s easy for fans of the blue-and-orange to get nostalgic about the school’s run of success under coaches like Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, who led the program to its three claimed national titles in 1996, 2006 and 2008.
Still, there’s no doubt plenty of talented players have suited up for the Gators of late, with 12 players drafted over the past two years.
That talent hasn’t translated to very many wins on the field for Florida, though 2023 could be the year Gators fans have longed for.
Oddsmakers at BetMGM Sportsbook have Florida at +12500 to win the program’s first title in 16 years, ranking behind SEC powers Georgia (+300), Alabama (+600), LSU (+2000), Tennessee (+3000), Texas A&M and Ole Miss (+5000 apiece), as well as Auburn (+8000).
FloridaBet.com wanted to see how the highest ranked recruits over the last 10 years, as determined by 247Sports.com, fared during their time in Gainesville.
There is no legal Florida sports betting. The state’s current wagering plan has been in legal limbo for more than a year.
Florida Top 10 Recruits Since 2013
Martez Ivey (OT, 2015)
- Recruiting Ranking: Five stars/.9991 overall
- Years: 2015-2018
- Stats: 2 solo tackles
- Accolades: Two-time 2nd team All-SEC (2017-2018), Freshman All-SEC (2015)
Vernon Hargreaves III (CB, 2013)
- Recruiting Ranking: Five stars/.9980 overall
- Years: 2013-2015
- Stats: 121 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 10 INTs, 2 fumble recovered, 1 forced fumble
- Accolades: Two-time 1st team All-American (2014-2015), three-time 1st Team All-SEC (2013-2015)
CeCe Jefferson (DE, 2015)
- Recruiting Ranking: Five stars/.9952 overall
- Years: 2015-2018
- Stats: 123 tackles, 34.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections, 2 fumble recovered, 1 forced fumble
Jalen “Teez” Tabor (CB, 2014)
- Recruiting Ranking: Five stars/.9925 overall
- Years: 2014-2016
- Stats: 104 tackles 11.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 8 INTs, 3 TDs, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble
- Accolades: Two-time 1st Team All-SEC (2015-2016)
Kelvin Taylor (RB, 2013)
- Recruiting Ranking: Five stars/.9897
- Years: 2013-2015
- Stats: 486 carries, 2,108 yards, 23 TDs; 24 catches, 179 yards
- Accolades: Freshman All-SEC Team (2013)
Gerald Willis (DT, 2014)
- Recruiting Ranking: Four stars/.9831
- Years: 2014 (UF), 2015-16 (Miami)
- Stats: Florida: 14 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 1 fumble recovery, 1 forced fumble; Miami: 19 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections
Antonneous Clayton (DE, 2016)
- Recruiting Ranking: Four stars/.9823
- Years: 2016-18 (Florida), 2020-2021 (Georgia Tech)
- Stats: Florida: 11 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 1 sacks, 1 fumble recovered; Ga. Tech: 9 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks
Tyrie Cleveland (WR, 2016)
- Recruiting Ranking: Four stars/.9810
- Years: 2016-2019
- Stats: 79 catches, 1,271 yards, 8 TDs; 1 kickoff return TD
Chris Steele (CB, 2019)
- Recruiting Ranking: Four stars/.9782
- Years: 2019-2021 (USC)
- Stats: 94 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 3 INTs, 12 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (CB, 2016)
- Recruiting Ranking: Four stars/.9774
- Years: 2016-2018
- Stats: 161 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 9 INTs, 3 TDs, 12 pass deflections
How Florida’s Top Recruits Fared
Of the 10 highest rated prospects that signed with Florida since 2013, only three wound up being named to either the first-or-second All-SEC teams.
Of those three, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III had the best run in college as a two-time first-team All-American and three-time All-SEC team selectee.
Unsurprisingly, Hargreaves was also one of the highest picks of any Gator since 2014, going to Tampa Bay with the 11th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Linebacker Dante Fowler is the highest pick out of Florida, going to the Jaguars with the third pick in the 2015 draft, while tight end Kyle Pitts was taken with the fourth pick of the 2021 draft by the Falcons and defensive back C.J. Henderson went to Jacksonville with the ninth pick in 2020.
Other first-round draft picks out of Florida since 2014 were defensive tackle Dominique Easley (29th overall in 2014 to New England), offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (24th overall in 2015 to Arizona), defensive back Keanu Neal (17th overall in 2015 to Atlanta), linebacker Jarrad Davis (21st overall in 2017 to Detroit), defensive tackle Taven Bryan (29th overall in 2018 to Jacksonville), wideout Kadarius Toney (20th overall in 2021 to the New York Giants) and defensive back Kaiir Elam to Buffalo with the 23rd pick in the 2022 draft.
The only year where the Gators haven’t produced a first-round pick was 2019, when Florida had five players taken, but none before offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor with the 35th pick.
Average Recruiting Class Ranking Since 2014
Where Florida’s Top 10 Recruits Rank Overall
Among five traditional power programs, the Gators’ recruiting prowess lands them in the fourth spot when it comes to average rankings of their top 10 recruits at .98765.
Florida trailed Alabama (.99746), Georgia (.99615), Ohio State (.99369), but came in ahead of Texas, which finished at .98641 since 2014. In terms of the average rank of its class, however, Florida trailed the Longhorns.
Whether the Gators' success off the field on the recruiting trail will someday get the Billy Napier-coached team back in CFP contention remains to be seen.
For now, Florida fans can rest assured the talent coming into Gainesville is still top-notch, even if the end results aren’t up to the standards coaches like Spurrier and Meyer put in place.