For those of you who thought we had rid ourselves of the National Signing Day drama for another year, you were wrong. Unfortunately.
Yesterday afternoon, after a morning in which they had lost out on a couple of big-name recruits to Auburn and former head coach Will Muschamp, Florida finally landed a big fish, hauling in a huge commitment from five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson of Glen St. Mary, Fla. New UF head coach Jim McElwain and his staff breathed a huge sigh of relief on its way to turning a potentially disastrous class into one that finished inside the Top 25.
That Top 25 comes with an asterisk, however, as Jefferson has yet to send his signed National Letter of Intent to the Gators. The lineman’s father, Leo Jefferson, confirmed as much to 247Sports.com. And, apparently, the dad is also the reason for the signed NLI not being sent to his son’s choice of schools. From a transcript of Gator Sports Network sideline reporter Brady Ackerman‘s radio interview this morning, courtesy of the same recruiting website:
“Now he’s going to be a Gator, but as of right now his letter of intent has not been received by Florida,” Ackerman said. “You say, well what’s the story there, Brady? There’s a lot of back story to this, so I’m giving you what people I know in Baker County in Florida, Macclenny just outside of Jacksonville, are telling me, Bill. Not what the coaches are telling me, not what I think that I know from the inside the University of Florida. This is straight from the folks I know at Baker County, and I know a lot of them.
“Apparently his dad is not allowing him to sign with Florida just yet. His dad, his mom, while live together don’t see eye to eye. The mom wants him to go to Florida. There’s a lot of Gators in Baker County. As you know, the proximity, Bill, is very close to the University of Florida. This kid wants to be a Gator and apparently his dad is not signing it. From what I understand, he’s 19, but I was also told a parent still has to sign it.
“That’s where the story ends for me right now. From the Florida perspective, they feel very confident that CeCe Jefferson will be a Gator and that he is a Gator, but from the legal standpoint, we kind of went through this yesterday with [Byron] Cowart down at Armwood, it’s not officially official, if you will.”
Cowart publicly committed to Auburn over Florida, but there was some uncertainty in the hours after his announcement before the nation’s No. 1 recruit faxed his signed NLI to AU. This Jefferson situation, though, is more reminiscent of Alex Collins.
In February of 2013, the mother of Collins, a touted four-star running back prospect at the time, reportedly confiscated her son’s National Letter of Intent. She wanted her son to sign with Miami, while he wanted to sign with Arkansas.
With the help of his father, Collins ultimately signed with the Razorbacks and is now one of the top running backs in the SEC.