Gator Chomps: Florida adds nation’s No. 2 recruit to visitors list Saturday

Hale McGranahan/SEC Country 5-star defensive end Xavier Thomas. GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida is scheduled to host the nation’s No. 7 and No. 12 overall recruits for the South Carolina game.

On Wednesday, the Gators added another 5-star visitor to the list to make for an even bigger recruiting weekend. Xavier Thomas, the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect for 2018, revealed his plans to visit UF. Will be my first time visiting the Florida Gators at the Swamp this weekend with their game against The Gamecocks this Saturday. 🐊🐊 — Xavier Thomas 1️⃣9️⃣ (@atxlete) November 9, 2016 Thomas is a 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end from Florence, S.C. He holds scholarship offers from 28 schools, including Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Michigan and Ohio State.

South Carolina is considered one of his top teams, along with the in-state Tigers. A win Saturday over the Gamecocks could help UF make a good first impression on Thomas.

The Gators could also benefit from defensive line coach Chris Rumph being Thomas’ primary recruiter. Rumph is a South Carolina native and the perfect point man for Florida’s pursuit of the U.S. Army All-American.

In addition to Thomas, UF will also host 5-star offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood and 5-star wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones for the South Carolina game. Thomas a key target

The Gators already have 4-star commit Zachary Carter (Tampa, Fla.) for 2017, but they want to add another edge rusher to the class.

However, that could prove to be difficult. Jarez Parks, a 4-star DE from Sebastian, Fla., named UF his early leader, but now seems more likely to sign with Alabama or Florida State.

Markaviest Bryant (Cordele, Ga.) and LaBryan Ray (Madison, Ala.) are Florida’s other top targets at the position, but they appear to be leaning toward Georgia and Alabama, respectively.

Florida has a great shot at Jordan Wright, a recently offered 3-star defensive end from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. His other top schools are FSU and Miami, and his offer list of more than 30 schools includes Alabama, Michigan and Southern Cal.

If the Gators end up with Wright, he would be a solid addition to their class. But they would need to land an elite edge rusher the following year, so getting some early interest from Thomas is a good starting point.