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Florida spotlight: Five prospects primed to have wild roads to NSD

James Cook
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

Whether it’s late-year commitment flips or some sort of Signing Day shenanigan, there’s never a shortage of intrigue when it comes to recruiting in the state of Florida. The 2018 cycle will likely match the wackiness of years past. And while it’s difficult to predict which prospects will provide the twists, we’ve taken a shot. Below are five of the Sunshine State’s most intriguing recruitments, accompanied by looks at what may happen next.

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The players: Georgia, Louisville, Florida State

The situation: The younger brother of former FSU star Dalvin Cook, James Cook was committed to Florida for roughly a year before backing off that pledge in this summer. He’s remains uncommitted.

What’s so intriguing?: For months, it was a forgone conclusion that Cook would follow his older brother’s footsteps. His build toward a de-commitment was slow. These days, it seems as though Georgia is his leader but it’s unclear why he hasn’t made things official. FSU is lying in the weeds here, as is Louisville, which has commitments from two of his high school teammates. UGA is the smart bet for now, but it won’t floor anyone if FSU makes a serious play down the stretch.

The players: UCLA, Georgia, Florida, others

The situation: Johnson has sort of become a polarizing figure in recruiting offices. Some coaches claim to be cooling on him, but it’s unclear if that’s truth or posturing. Florida was thought to be the frontrunner for some time, but that relationship has cooled for one reason or another. For now, Georgia is thought to hold and ever-so-slight lead.

What’s so intriguing?: Because Johnson is a five-star with enormous upside. The fact that certain coaching staffs are claiming to have cooled on him as a prospect makes his recruitment even more interesting. The final stretch of his recruitment and the college career that follows it will be fascinating.

The players: Kentucky, Louisville, USF, Cincinnati, Pitt, others

The situation: Watt’s recruitment has seen peaks and valleys, as nobody seems to be able to decide how they feel about him as a prospect. Teams seem to come and go in his recruitment.

What’s so intriguing?: Because his senior year could determine everything. Watt has incredible size and could play receiver or defensive back at the next level. Which one is the best fit depends on whom you ask. New schools could get involved down the stretch and everything could turn on a dime.

The players: Florida, Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Auburn

The situation: Petit-Frere seems to have serious interest in a number of schools and is as soft spoken as high-profile prospects come. Florida is thought to hold a slight edge, but nobody actually knows for sure.

What’s so intriguing?: Petit-Frere says next to nothing. He does few interviews. When he does talk to the media, he does so with coaching supervision. He speaks like a media-trained NFL veteran and avoids tipping his hand about pretty much anything. If he has a destination in mind, he’s skilled at cloaking it.

The players: Oregon, Florida State, Florida

The situation: Thompson is committed to Oregon but is likely to keep looking around – with an especially hard look at FSU and UF -- until Signing Day.

What’s so intriguing?: People had doubts – strong ones – when Thompson committed to Oregon over the in-state programs. Those doubts remain, but they seem to be fading. The distance is obviously the main factor fueling doubt. At one time, Thompson’s father was high on FSU. This is a situation to monitor, as it will either end with a massive recruiting victory for Oregon or a last-minute steal for the Seminoles.