Florida head coach Jim McElwain suffered his first significant recruiting setback Monday when 4-star defensive back Chauncey Gardner decommitted from the Gators. A seven-month pledge officially ended when the in-state standout tweeted his intentions:
Gardner, a 5'11", 170-pound junior at Cocoa High School, is among the most coveted 2016 prospects in the Sunshine State. He created a verbal pact with former Florida coach Will Muschamp in June, flipping from Miami in the process.
The Hurricanes landed a commitment from Gardner in 2013 shortly after his freshman year. Now he could be looking for a third collegiate program, though the Gators remain "high" on his list.
Gardner, an impact varsity player since 2012, enjoyed his finest season this past fall. He recorded 49 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions according to MaxPreps.
Rated 11th nationally among cornerbacks in 247Sports' composite 2016 rankings, Gardner also does damage with the ball in his hands. He averaged nearly 10 yards per carry as a junior en route to 303 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Gardner tallied 29 receptions for 503 yards and five scores during the past two campaigns.
His commitment showed signs of wavering in September when he tweeted a top-five list. Aside from Florida, that collection included Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Florida State, per Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com.
Auburn could also potentially become a program to watch as things progress. The Tigers hired Muschamp as defensive coordinator in December, so there's obvious familiarity there for Gardner.
Gardner may not have ruled out a reconciliation with the Gators, but he clearly opened the door to explore other possibilities 13 months shy of his national signing day.
Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.