Florida football is in the midst of its first full recruiting class under new head coach Billy Napier and his staff with the goal of getting the Gators back into the national spotlight. Riding on the heels of Dan Mullen’s tenure — a time that saw both a good deal of success as well as some humiliating defeats — the surest way for the new regime to change the course of the floundering program is on the high school recruiting trail, where Napier has proven his value previously with the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
The thing about recruiting, though, is that there are often dozens of schools chasing coveted blue-chip preps, making the competition tough. Further exacerbating the issue is the nascent name, image and likeness law that has allowed the injection of a massive amount of money into collegiate sports. Selling a young student-athlete on your institution is a completely different game than it was several years ago — literally — especially now that that money is all in the open.
Fortunately for Gator fans, top recruits from around the nation have frequently mentioned Florida when considering their preferred destinations. Take a look below at the 10 top players at each of their respective positions in the 2023 recruiting class according to ESPN, including a handful of Florida targets with links to Gators Wire’s latest coverage of those prep prospects.
Quarterback: Arch Manning
ESPN 300 rank: 1
Manning has been one of the most talked-about recruits in the class, given his uncles are Peyton and Eli, his grandfather is Archie and his father is Cooper Manning. He has kept a low profile, though, and the family has intentionally allowed him to stay out of the spotlight to just be a kid.
Manning doesn’t have a commitment date announced yet, and his coach has said he is still open to the process and wants to take his time to evaluate each program. He doesn’t need to rush a decision, as every program would have a spot for him if he wanted to commit.
Running Back: Richard Young
ESPN 300 rank: 11
Young is a 5-foot-11 and 195-pound back from Lehigh Acres, Florida, and is the No. 1 running back overall.
He is considering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas A&M, and is still going through the process. He took visits to Florida and Georgia in March, then visited Alabama in April and Oregon at the end of the month into the beginning of May
Wide Receiver: DeAndre Moore Jr.
ESPN 300 rank: 17
Moore had been committed to Oklahoma since last September, but decommitted in January. He is a teammate of ESPN 300 quarterback Malachi Nelson and ESPN 300 receiver Makai Lemon, both of whom committed to USC after they each decommitted from Oklahoma.
Tight End: Duce Robinson
ESPN 300 rank: 44
Robinson is the No. 1 tight end in the class as a 6-6, 230-pound recruit out of Pinnacle High School in Phoenix. He is being recruited to play both football and baseball and is highly regarded in both sports.
He hasn’t released a top list yet, but USC, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and a handful of other schools are mentioned with Robinson. The Trojans and the Dawgs seem to be the two that are mentioned the most, however.
Offensive Line: Francis Mauigoa
ESPN 300 rank: 5
Mauigoa is the No. 1 offensive tackle in the class and a five-star prospect from IMG Academy. He’s a 6-6, 325-pound tackle, and has taken recent visits to Michigan State, Florida and Miami.
He released a top 13 in March that consisted of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Miami, Oregon, LSU, Penn State, Ohio State, Hawai’i, USC and Michigan. He hasn’t narrowed his list any further since.
Linebacker: Anthony Hill
ESPN 300 rank: 4
Hill is a five-star prospect out of Billy Ryan High School in Denton, Texas. He’s a 6-2, 230-pound outside linebacker and has had nearly every major program after him.
It appears Alabama, Miami, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M and USC are schools that have made a big impact on him, though, and should be in the mix for his final decision. He took a visit to Texas A&M in April and is supposed to visit USC in June.