Three-Point Stance: Florida's bright future, Harold Perkins, Texas
Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Cole Patterson dives into three Mid-South-related recruiting topics with college football fully underway this weekend, including why Florida still has an exciting future under Billy Napier, how good Harold Perkins will be and what this season could mean for Texas.
1. FUTURE STILL SEEMS BRIGHT FOR GATORS
It wasn't the start to the season that Florida drew up, getting pushed around by Utah to open the second season of the Billy Napier era. But, because of the way the program is recruiting, it's still too early for Gators fans to be in all-out panic mode.
As it stands right now, the Gators have the No. 3 recruiting class in the country according to the Rivals national rankings. And a bulk of that is from the Mid-South region.
Willis (Texas) quarterback DJ Lagway leads the way, and there is optimism that he could be the player that Napier builds his program around as soon as he steps onto campus. Fellow Texan Xavier Filsaime is an elite safety on the cusp of five-star status.
Mississippi four-stars Jamonta Waller and Kahnen Daniels, along with Louisiana Rivals250 prospect Wardell Mack, also help shape an impressive foundation for the incoming class in Gainesville. There's still a lot to be excited about, even if the Gators could be in for a rough season.
2. WHAT'S NEXT FOR HAROLD PERKINS?
Harold Perkins finished just outside five-star range for Rivals in the 2022 recruiting cycle, landing at No. 34 overall. It didn't take long for Perkins to show why he probably should have had that coveted fifth star during his freshman season at LSU.
Perkins quickly emerged as one of the elite defenders in all of college football throughout his initial year in Baton Rouge. He gets after the quarterback at a high level, defends the run and is one of the best at getting sideline to sideline, an element of his game that was evident on the high school level.
Now, expectations are even higher for the former Cypress (Texas) Park phenom. He and his LSU squad will look to build on the success that the Tigers enjoyed during Brian Kelly's first season, starting with a difficult season-opening test versus Florida State on Sunday evening in Orlando.
Perkins taking yet another step would go a long way in LSU potentially winning the Southeastern Conference.
3. MAKE OR BREAK FOR TEXAS?
Texas has several things lining up for a big campaign this fall. Quinn Ewers is back and healthy, ready to lead Steve Sarksian's offense in Austin. Weapons like Xavier Worthy, Georgia transfer AD Mitchell, tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders and five-star freshman Johntay Cook are all that disposal for the offense.
The defense returns Jaylan Ford at linebacker and added five-star Anthony Hill, among the rest of the talent for defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski to unleash this upcoming season. Texas opens the season with Rice before taking on Nick Saban and Alabama - led by former Longhorns commit Jalen Milroe - in Week 2. That will reveal a lot about how much noise Sark and Texas can make in 2023.
Anything less than double-digit wins would leave a bad taste in the mouths of Texas fans. Especially considering it's the program's final season in the Big 12. A strong season could add even more juice and momentum ahead of its move to the SEC.
A disappointing campaign, however, could raise questions about soon the Longhorns will be able to compete in its new league. There seems to be a lot on the line down on the 40 Acres.