Florida football recruiting: Gators hit hard as fourth 2019 signee departs

By Adam Silverstein
July 6, 2019
Florida football recruiting: Gators hit hard as fourth 2019 signee departs

Image Credit: ESPNI

The Florida Gators’ much-heralded Class of 2019, which wound up ranked No. 9 nationally in the 247Sports Composite following National Signing Day, has been hit hard with defections and is now down four of its most talented signees. Four-star offensive lineman Deyavie Hammond announced Saturday that he did not pass the NCAA clearinghouse to be academically qualified to attend Florida and play football for the Gators; he will instead attend junior college this semester.

“To my dismay and My supporters over the course of my football career. I did not qualify for the NCAA and I will not be attending the University of Florida,” he wrote on Twitter. “… I will be attending a JuCo for the next two years. … Saddening as the situation is I will forever cheer gator nation.”

Hammond was ranked as the 242th overall recruit in the Class of 2019 and becomes the fourth prominent Florida signee to leave the program before ever playing a down for the Gators. Four-star cornerback Chris Steele (No. 42 overall), four-star linebacker Diwun Black (No. 151) and four-star quarterback Jalon Jones (No. 306) are the others who were either unable to enroll (Black, an early signee) or left the program after arriving (Steele, Jones).

How big of a hit has Florida taken from these departures? Consider that its class would be 15th if the rankings were rerun today (that’s without Steele and others being added to USC’s haul as well as adjustments for other teams).

What’s worse? The departures from the class may not be over.

Four-star wide receiver Arjei Henderson (No. 140), four-star OL Wardrick Wilson (No. 372) and three-star WR Dionte Marks (No. 489) are still not enrolled and are hoping to do get cleared for fall after being unable to make it in for the Summer B semester.

There is no sugar-coating these developments for the Gators. There is no circumstance in which a team of this caliber should have a class with five prominent signees facing academic qualifying issues, and both the coaches and recruiting staff should have done a better job when targeting players this cycle. The eventual transfers of Steele and Jones are more happenstance, particularly Steele who by all accounts was homesick in addition to whatever unfortunate circumstances he experienced by rooming with Jones.

The sliver of good news is that Florida is off to a hot start in the Class of 2020, which is already ranked ninth nationally with five months to go until the early signing period and seven until National Signing Day.


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