The Florida Gators have landed two huge commitments as four-star DBs Dijon Johnson and Bryce Thornton committed to Florida last week on Thursday, October 13. Johnson chose Florida over Ohio State, Alabama and Miami and Thornton chose Florida over Alabama. Proving that Billy Napier and his staff can recruit and win on the trail against some of the national recruiting juggernauts.
Johnson and Thornton's commitments add to an already great DB class for Florida that includes Sharif Denson, Jordan Castell and Aaron Gates. Johnson, a Tampa (Fla.) native is ranked the #100 overall player and the #10 cornerback in the country according to the On3 consensus rankings. Johnson originally committed to Ohio State April 17 but backed off that pledge in late July shortly after a multi-day visit to Gainesville for Friday Night Lights. Thornton, an Alpharetta (Ga.) native ranks as the #459 overall player and the #44 safety in the country according to the On3 consensus rankings.
When Johnson initially committed to Ohio State back in April, Florida wasn't one of the schools he seriously considered. Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and USC were some of the other schools that heavily pursued him. He took multiple visits to Columbus, and you could tell that the Buckeyes were the school trending for him. Even after his commitment, Corey Raymond never gave up and continued to stay in contact with Johnson. It’s a huge win for the staff as they continue to lock down the state of Florida.
Coach Raymond continues to show why he’s one of the best recruiters in the country. He was the key figure in landing Johnson after he decommitted from Ohio State. The relationship that Johnson has with Raymond is what ultimately what pushed Florida over the top and led to him committing. The Gators provide him with an opportunity to play early and often. He has the ability to take away one side of the field and make some big time plays in a defense that looks to need secondary help to this point in the season.
Standing in at 6-foot-1, 187 pounds, the Wharton High School star has the size and frame you look for in a defensive back. Johnson is the type of player that can come in and be an instant impact guy early in his career. He’s one of the best defensive backs in the country, and he adds to a Florida secondary that’s loaded with talented players. Billy Napier and his staff will continue to try and prioritize the state of Florida, with Cormani McClain being one of their top targets left on the board. They’re teammates with the 7on7 team South Florida Express, and pairing those two together would be an elite haul.
Dijon Johnson is a great kid, and an elite prospect with a very bright future. I believe he has a chance to be a special player and make a major impact both on and off the field whenever he steps on campus. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to earn a coveted All-American brick outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and become a first round pick in the NFL Draft before it's all said and done.
Patrick Toney deserves a lot of credit for landing Bryce Thornton. He identified him as a prospect when he first got to Florida and recruited him hard every day. Thornton had additional offers from Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Michigan, Miami and Florida State, but it ultimately came down to Florida and Alabama. This offers are far more indicative of his talent than what his ranking would suggest. He's a Georgia legacy, but ultimately decided to forge his own path.
Standing in at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, Bryce Thornton is smaller than most safeties, but he plays much bigger than his size. He's a two-way player for Milton High School (Ga.) and has great ball skills. He makes a lot of plays in the run game as well. What makes him such a unique player is his speed. Thornton has the ability to make plays from anywhere on the field.
Bryce Thornton is another standup kid, a great leader and someone that I believe has a very bright future as well. He's severely underrated as a prospect, and I expect him to receive a bump in the next rankings update. I believe he has a chance to make a major impact when he steps on campus. He makes his teammates better with his leadership and the way he plays the game.
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Feature Photo Credit: Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun