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Want to be Elite? Bulk Up the Trenches

With just six weeks left until National Signing Day, the Florida Gators currently own the No. 10 overall recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

With only a few remaining spots in the class, there's limited upward mobility in terms of the final class ranking. But, the positional needs between now and February 3 are representative of Florida's needs moving into the 2022 class cycle: talented players in the trenches.

Kyle Trask may have covered it up a bit, but the Gators' big guys up front struggled in 2020, and Florida's rushing attack suffered as a result. In an offense that is likely to become more run-heavy in 2021 with Emory Jones at quarterback, improved offensive play is crucial if Florida wants to become a national title contender. Improved play is more within reach with improved recruiting.

Florida's 2021 OL class currently has one four-star and two three-star commits. There is one remaining target in Fairfax, Virginia, in five-star tackle Tristan Leigh. Leigh, long expected to sign with Oklahoma on early signing day, was on campus for the Florida-LSU game in early December. Not signing on December 16th, as was expected, could be a positive sign for the Gators. If Florida can add Leigh, he would be not only the highest-rated player in the class, but also fill a major positional need.

On the defensive front, the Gators' defensive tackle depth was tested in 2020 with Kyree Campbell out early in the year. On the recruiting trail, they didn't do much to address those depth issues. There are two signees in three-star players Desmond Watson and Christopher Thomas, but neither are inside the 247Sports Top 300 players, despite top programs going after Watson, especially.

Defensive tackle is a position that needs heavy in-game rotation to be successful. Although there are two good signs in former five-star Gervon Dexter entering his sophomore season and Zachary Carter possibly returning for his redshirt senior season, the Gators are expecting to lose both Campbell and Tedarrell Slaton. Florida should look to add a DT prior to the close of this 2021 cycle, and it should be a focal point of Coach Dan Mullen's staff leading into next year.

Luckily, the secondary is the strong point of the 2021 class. Recruiting and transfer portal success has created a reserve of offensive talent at the skill positions. The way that the Gators take the next step on the field, and on the recruiting trail, is to get better at the line of scrimmage. That's what will take Florida from being in SEC championship contention, to being a major player for the national title in 2021 and beyond.


Photo Credit: Jordan Herald/@JordanHerald5/UF Football

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