5-Star RB Dalvin Cook
The Florida Gators lost their No. 1 recruit, 247 Sports composite 5-star running back Dalvin Cook, to in-state rival Florida State.
After being robbed of a blue-chip recruit during a down season, what will the Gators do now?
They'll look to pay it forward by setting their sights on pulling in a running back committed to another program.
Cook has been wavering on his choice for some time, which has actually given the UF coaching staff time to identify its contingency plan: Minnesota commit and 247 Sports composite 4-star Jeff Jones.
Just hours before Cook flipped his commitment to FSU, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweeted that Florida sent a scholarship offer to Jones.
Got a text from Washburn football coach Giovanni Jenkins. Washburn RB Jeff Jones, a soft #Gophers verbal, just got a Florida offer.— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) December 31, 2013
Cook committed to UF in early April but had taken several visits since that time, most notably to Miami (Fla.) and Florida State. As Florida struggled through the 2013 season, the chatter only grew louder about his potential departure.
Gator Chomps from Ermon Lane, Dalvin Cook and Quincy Wilson, but the U from Chad Thomas pic.twitter.com/jXiUPRm1uc— Luke Stampini (@LukeStampini) December 30, 2013
The Gators held out hope as long as they could for their prized recruit, but as his impending decommitment neared, they had to look elsewhere.
Luke Stampini of 247 Sports reported Monday that Jones would make an official visit to Gainesville. Jones is rated the No. 9 running back for 2014.
Gators unsure of Dalvin Cook, make a move for Minnesota RB commit Jeff Jones. http://t.co/VQijM9apw8— Luke Stampini (@LukeStampini) December 30, 2013
Jones and Cook are similar-sized backs and both are Under Armour All-Americans. Cook is listed at 5'11" and 190 pounds, while Jones comes in at 5'11", 196. Cook is the faster of the two and is a much more dangerous home run threat. Regardless, Jones would fit in well in the Florida backfield.
The Gators will bring back several experienced backs, including redshirt junior Mack Brown, sophomore Matt Jones, redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers and true freshman Kelvin Taylor. The foursome combined for nearly 1,500 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013.
Taylor was a composite 5-star from the 2013 class and saw his role expand greatly at the end of the season after Matt Jones suffered a season-ending injury.
Another running back to keep an eye on for Florida is composite 3-star Cortavious Givens. He could prove to be Plan C if Plan B, Jeff Jones, doesn't pan out.
But for now, the Minneapolis native and Gophers commit appears to be the top target for the Gators after the loss of Cook.