Photo: Knijeah Harris; 1 credit
With the 2023 recruiting cycle now officially underway, the Florida Gators are looking to make some big moves on the track with a new coaching staff in place led by head coach Billy Napier.
Having previously broken down some offensive tackle prospects you need to know, AllGators takes a look at the early targets that have emerged on the Gators’ roster along the interior offensive line, as well as the prospects worth watching for a potential offer.
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Knijeah Harris, IMG Academy (Florida)
Harris is a prospect who has been courted by the Florida program since the last coaching staff, but the IMG product said that since Billy Napier and his army took over, the love has grown.
A Sunshine State native of Port St. Lucie, Florida, Harris is familiar with the Florida program and has had contact with a number of UF coaches on and off the field. Offensive line coaches Rob Sale and Darnell Stapleton are at the forefront of recruiting Harris, but so is defensive analyst Jamar Chaney.
Harris visited Gainesville on March 5 with a number of IMG teammates and came away impressed. The Gators coaching staff loves his versatility to play both guard and center and has the size to do it at 6-foot-3 and 327 pounds.
Florida will be a top program for Harris until the very end, but it will by no means be easy. The Gators will have stiff competition for the talented inside lineman as programs such as Miami, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Ohio St and Texas push for his services.
IMG Academy is a school that the Florida program had struggled to recruit and hadn’t landed a prospect from there until Kamari Wilson recently. Billy Napier was keen to say they needed to be better there and it looks like he’s following through on that, with Harris being one of many players Florida is signing.
Roderick Kearney, Orange Park (Florida)
Just a month ago, Kearney didn’t hear much from the Florida staff, but that seems to have changed as the 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman has scheduled a visit to Florida on Friday.
Kearney is a versatile prospect who can play any position down the line. In fact, last month Kearney was named OL’s Most Valuable Player from the Under Armor camp in Miami, where he worked as both a guard and a tackle.
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While Florida appears to be playing a bit of catch-up with the top-notch trench monster, expect them to push from now on to try and make sure the Sunshine State native stays home.
Kearney posted a top 12 from Michigan, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State, UCF, Miami, Arkansas, Rutgers, Tennessee, State from Penn and Cincinnati as well as Florida on Feb. 28, but he has since received offers from LSU, Oregon, Clemson and North Carolina. Kearney already has a who’s who of offer lists and the Gators will face fierce competition throughout his process.
Tommy Kinsler, Catholic from Trinity (Florida)
From nearby Ocala Trinity Catholic HS, Kinsler has had the Gators ahead of his rookie since Dan Mullen and his team were in Gainesville and that hasn’t changed since Napier came to town.
Kinsler is a prospect who currently plays tackle for his high school team, but looks more like a top-tier guard at 6-foot-6, 330 pounds. He is a bit rough in his technique but has the framework and the tools to become an imposing OL at the next level.
Kinsler currently has 15 offers from schools like Florida State, Maryland, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and UCF, among others. But being from Ocala and growing up as a Gators fan, you have to think he’s Florida to lose at this point.
Clay Wedin, Carrollwood Day (Florida)
Wedin, a 6-foot-6, 290-pound prospect from Tampa, Florida, is someone who wasn’t really drafted by the last staff, but has changed under Napier.
Wedin visited Florida in January and while he has nothing set in stone for a return trip to Gainesville, he said AllGators that he is in constant contact with assistant offensive line coach Darnell Stapleton.
Wedin is someone who has held the Florida program in high regard since getting his offer and comes from a very Gator-friendly area in Tampa. While the interior offensive line may not be a huge need in this class and the number of prospects taken may be smaller compared to other positions, expect the Gators to be in this recruiting until at the very end.
Sam Pendleton, Reagan (NC)
Pendleton is a prospect that was offered by the Gators earlier this month. That offer came from inside linebackers coach Jay Bateman, and while it might seem odd for an LB coach to offer an OL, it makes sense given Bateman’s ties to the area.
Pendleton has a previous relationship with Bateman, who was at UNC last year as the defensive coordinator for the Tar Heels. Pendleton is from Pfafftown, NC, a town just an hour and a half from Chapel Hill.
While schools like Clemson, NC State, and NC seem to be at the top of Pendleton’s list due to their proximity, staff in Florida are working hard to try to get Pendleton to come in for a visit so to throw his hat in the ring.
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