The one 5-star recruit Florida football can’t afford to lose in 2021

Dan Mullen, Florida Gators. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Dan Mullen, Florida Gators. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

If Florida football lands Leonard Taylor, it would be quite the pickup.

Florida football needs to win as many recruiting battles as possible.

By doing so, the Florida Gators will close the gap on the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC East, as well as assert their dominance over the Florida State Seminoles and the Miami Hurricanes in the Sunshine State. Florida could have a top-10 recruiting class in 2021 but has yet to procure a five-star’s commitment. They are on the precipice of two, including defensive tackle Leonard Taylor.

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The Miami Palmetto High School standout is 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds. According to the 247Sports Composite, Taylor is the No. 3 defensive tackle in the country, the No. 6 player from Florida and the No. 29 overall player in his class. Taylor’s high school teammate in cornerback Jason Marshall is the No. 31 player in the 2021 class, who also has a five-star 247Sports rating.

Taylor has 20 official offers but is looking pretty strongly at Florida, the hometown Miami Hurricanes and the Gators’ SEC East rival Tennessee Volunteers. Florida defensive line coach David Turner is his primary recruiter, who has netted the Gators another five-star defensive tackle before in Gervon Dexter. Offensive assistant coach Brian Johnson is Taylor’s secondary recruiter.

Florida head coach Dan Mullen may be more of a quarterback whisper than anything, but he knows he has to recruit better than he did at his previous post with the Mississippi State Bulldogs if he ever wants to play for SEC Championships. Do Mullen and his staff have what it takes to land Taylor and Marshall as the headliners of their 2021 recruiting class?

A Florida football recruiting class with five-star recruit Leonard Taylor could net the Gators a top-10 class in the nation.

One would think if Florida gets Taylor’s commitment, the Gators will end up with Marshall’s commitment, too. Both are leaning heavily towards Florida, but this looks to be the only school both Miami Palmetto standouts would play together. While Taylor is also looking at Miami and Tennessee, Marshall has his eyes on the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers.

Though landing either Taylor or Marshall would be extraordinary gets for the Gators, there are a few reasons Florida needs to prioritize Taylor over Marshall, all things equal. First, if Taylor doesn’t go to Florida, he’ll either play for an in-state rival in Miami and help Manny Diaz get things right in Coral Gables or he’ll get play for a division rival in Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee. You can’t have that.

Second, if the Gators want to beat the likes of the Georgia Bulldogs and the LSU Tigers annually, they’ll need to continually get tougher in trenches. Having a tremendous defensive back talent would be wonderful, but games are won at the line of scrimmage and not outside of the numbers. Lastly, you simply cannot leave top-flight talent from Miami leave the state on your watch.

Both of these guys will flourish in Todd Grantham’s defensive system. However, one would think Grantham would need to start getting in on their recruitment a little bit. It seems like Johnson is doing the bulk of the work here, but he’s never netted a five-star in the 247Sports Composite before, let alone two. If he does help procure both commitments, what a recruiting cycle for him!

Taylor could be the catalyst to also help secure Marshalls’ commitment to playing for Florida football.

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