What Marcus Lewis' Decommittment from Florida Means for Gators, 4-Star CB

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2014

Credit: 247Sports

Washington, D.C., cornerback Marcus Lewis, a 4-star prospect and one of the top 125 overall players in the 2015 class, decommitted from Florida Monday afternoon.

Lewis committed to the Gators only a few months ago—April 15, to be precise—and announced his decision with a tweet that said he was "grateful for the opportunity" UF had granted him:

For Lewis, the move means a reopening of his recruitment to a wide-ranging group of schools. Big Ten powers Michigan (72 percent) and Ohio State (7 percent) make up the entire non-Florida portion of his 247Sports "Crystal Ball," but other big programs such as Miami and Oregon are also hot on his trail.

Michigan is definitely the front-runner, though, and in truth, that might have been the case even before this announcement. Lewis named the Wolverines his favorite during a visit to Ann Arbor this weekend, per Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports (subscription required), which helped explain the spike in his Crystal Ball numbers.

But that doesn't mean he's going to stop looking. What Lewis realized, more than anything, during his time at the BBQ at the Big House was that he needs to take more visits before making an informed decision.

"I just chose to open up my recruitment because I want to take official visits," Lewis told Ryan Bartow of 247Sports (subscription required) Monday afternoon. "I want to make sure I make the right decision and do what's best for me and my family."

In addition to Michigan, Lewis listed Oregon and Miami as his other two favorites and alluded to UCLA and nearby Maryland as other schools he plans on considering now that he is uncommitted.

For Florida, losing Lewis is a pretty big blow.

He was the second-highest ranked prospect in its 2015 class, and although it is still in the running for a number of top-125 prospects, he fit a positional need with blue-chip talent.

The Gators' new second-highest ranked prospect, Derrick Dillon, is listed as an athlete at 247Sports and is capable of playing cornerback, but he projects more naturally as a wide receiver, where he played (and looked pretty good) at The Opening in early July.

Per 247Sports, the next three pure cornerbacks that Florida is targeting are 4-star prospect Micah Abernathy and 3-star prospects Jalen Julius and Carlton Davis. No member of that trio ranks as highly as Lewis, and the Gators do not have even one percent of the predictions on any of their respective Crystal Balls.

Fortunately, the cycle is young, and increased focus on those players might alter their recruitment. Plus, lower-priority targets such as Justin Martin (a solid JUCO player) and/or Jeremy McDuffie could come into play. Better Lewis leave now than five months from now.

Nov 9, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (1) defends Vanderbilt Commodores wide receiver Jordan Matthews (87) pass during the second quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY

More importantly, cornerback is a position of strength in Gainesville. It is lacking a bit in the current recruiting cycle, but the Gators' active roster is well-stocked.

Vernon Hargreaves III is only a sophomore and already looks like a potential All-American, and Jalen Tabor and Duke Dawson both looked ready to contribute after enrolling this spring.

"[Tabor] and Duke Dawson both have been a quick study as far as the corner position is concerned," said head coach Will Muschamp of his pair of true freshmen, per Jeff Barlis of ESPN.com. "Both of them are going to be really good players."

Florida's 2015 class was hurt by Lewis' departure, but Hargreaves, Tabor and Dawson provide a unique buffer. No team ever wants to lose a player so good, but if any one could afford to, the Gators might have been it. All three of those players are underclassmen.

Plus, again, the recruiting cycle is young.


Note: All recruiting info refers to the 247Sports composite rankings.