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Recruiting: Who are the big names going to the Gators, Hurricanes, Seminoles and more?

Jonathan Tully
Fort Myers News-Press

In some circles, Wednesday is as big a day as the national championship — and it's where the building blocks for a title can come from.

Let's take a look at the state's Division I football programs on Early Signing Day, and who the big targets were for each:

Florida Gators: Jason Marshall leads the way

JASON MARSHALL JR.

Miami Palmetto cornerback Jason Marshall is so far the Florida Gators' most prized signing of Wednesday. Marshall is ranked as the second-best cornerback coming out of high school this year by 247 Sports. Bonus for UF: They also got Marshall's high school teammate, Corey Collier, who is the nation's sixth-ranked safety. 

In addition, Florida has pulled in two solid quarterback prospects — Carlos Del Rio-Wilson, the No. 11 QB out of Cartersville, Ga., and Jalen Kitna, a three-star prospect from Burleson, Texas, and the son of former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna. The Gators also snared the country's No. 1 junior college linebacker, Diwun Black, who originally signed at UF in 2019 and stuck with his commitment.

According to 247 Sports, the Gators have reeled in 14 four-star recruits to go with Marshall, the lone five-star recruit. Currently, the Gators have the No. 8 class in the country for 247 Sports, while ESPN has them at No. 7.

Live updates:Gators football national signing day

More:Meet members of Florida's 2021 signing day recruiting class

Florida State Seminoles: Big needs on the defensive front could be filled

The Seminoles signed five players listed as defensive ends, including two — Shambre Jackson from Orlando Boone and Patrick Payton from Miami Northwestern — who are listed as four-star prospects by 247 Sports.

More:FSU's 2021 Early Signing Period class addresses some needs, others left to be filled

They grabbed three other four-star prospects: cornerback Omarion Cooper from Lehigh Acres; cornerback Hunter Washington from Katy, Texas; and offensive tackle Rod Orr from Gadsden, Ala.

More:Lehigh 4-star CB Cooper stays true to FSU, 3-star LB Chaney to Wisconsin

Currently, the Seminoles' five four-star prospects have them as the No. 31 team in 247 Sports' ranking, while ESPN has them at No. 28. 

More:Early Signing Period updates for FSU football

Miami Hurricanes: Pair of five-star prospects has them rocketing up rankings

Florida may have a higher-ranked class right now, but the Hurricanes have a slight edge in one area today: five-star recruits. They have two to the Gators' one, according to 247 Sports.

Both are also local: defensive tackle Leonard Taylor from Miami Palmetto and safety James Williams from Fort Lauderdale American Heritage. Both are listed as the nation's No. 1 recruits at their positions, making this a red-letter day for the 'Canes.

Miami Hurricanes: Manny Diaz celebrates a signing class with a distinctive South Florida flavor

Miami also picked up three four-star wide receivers: Romello Brinson from Miami Northwestern, Jacoiby George out of Plantation and Brashard Smith from Miami Palmetto.

All told, the 'Canes' class is currently rated the 12th best according to 247 Sports, with Taylor, Williams and 10 four-star prospects. ESPN has them at No. 11.

More:Hurricanes looking to add to solid recruiting class ranked just outside of top 10

UCF Knights: Solid class brings local talent, even international flavor to Orlando

Though the Knights didn't pull in any five- or four-star prospects, they did very well in the three-star range with their 19 recruits.

Among the players who signed for UCF on Wednesday were Venice offensive lineman Ethan Mort, Riviera Beach Suncoast cornerback William Wells, IMG Academy Bradenton defensive tackle Anthony Hundley and Altamonte Springs Lake Brantley running back Anthony Williams.

But the Knights also brought in talent from Arkansas (highly considered linebacker Cole Joyce from Bentonville), Arizona (dual-threat QB Mikey Keene from Chandler) and even Germany (offensive lineman Leander Weigand).

This helped give UCF get ranked No. 62 by 247 Sports and No. 57 by ESPN.

USF Bulls: Team's 18 signees include a slew of Florida players

Of the 18 players South Florida have signed so far, 15 are from the Sunshine State. 

Among them are St. Augustine High wide receiver Dequan Stanley, Vero Beach linebacker Devon Hicks, Tallahassee Chiles star Jalen Herring and Jacksonville Trinity Christian linebacker C.J. Ross. 

According to 247 Sports, the Bulls have the nation's No. 66 recruiting class, while ESPN has them ranked at No. 61.

FAU Owls: Willie Taggart hopes 13 is lucky for his team

Florida Atlantic coach Willie Taggart is hopeful that the 13 players he was able to sign for the Owls on Wednesday will be a good-luck omen.

Among the signees were Willie Ford, a prized tight end from North Carolina whom Taggart was able to get away from North Carolina State and Boston College, and Courtney McBride, a defensive end from Georgia.

Florida Atlantic Owls head coach Willie Taggart with his team before a 24-3 win over the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners in Boca Raton on October 31, 2020. [JEFF ROMANCE/palmbeachpost.com]

According to 247 Sports, the Owls have the nation's 72nd-rated class.

More:Florida Atlantic coach Willie Taggart hopes 13 is lucky number

FIU Golden Panthers: Recruiting stays close to home

All five of the players the Golden Panthers signed on Wednesday were from within Florida, including two from the Miami area.

Running back Katravis Geter and linebacker Gaethan Bernadel are both from nearby schools, while two more were from just up the coast: Tight end Keegan Davis is from Port St. Lucie's Treasure Coast High, while defensive end Travonte O'Neal is from Vero Beach.

This helped FIU become the No. 94 class nationally, according to 247 Sports.