HomeSportsFlorida Gators Offer Full Football Scholarship To an 8th Grader Who Has Yet To Step Foot on a High School Campus

Florida Gators Offer Full Football Scholarship To an 8th Grader Who Has Yet To Step Foot on a High School Campus

by Suzanne Halliburton
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Yes, college football recruiting is intense, particularly in the SEC. And the Florida Gators are getting a big jump on (checks notes) the class of 2026.

Gators coach Dan Mullen offered a scholarship to eighth-grader Julian Lewis. The quarterback who goes by the nickname of “JuJu” comes from Carrollton, Ga., the heart of SEC country.

Like most recruits working for a scholarship, Lewis uses social media to post his thoughts on the process of picking schools. Fans love these recruiting morsels — Lewis already has more than 17,000 Instagram followers. And there probably were thousands cheering for the Florida Gators who high fived the Lewis news. The young quarterback posted a gallery of snaps on Instagram, Wednesday, showing Tim Tebow, scenes from campus and a sold-out Swamp, plus the Florida Gators mascot.

Lewis captioned the gallery: “#AGTG. Blessed to receive my 1st Offer from The University of Florida‼️#KeepWorking.” Juju has studied the recruiting vernacular and posted info like a seasoned prospect. He even knows the social media acronyms. AGTG means All Glory to God. No doubt, his scholarship offers will pile up, but probably not until he’s in the ninth grade, maybe the 10th.

Lewis Didn’t Commit to Florida Gators

Now, keep in mind, Lewis didn’t commit to the Florida Gators. He announced that he’d picked up an offer. He told 247sports that Dan Mullen himself called to tell him that they’d love for him to be a Gator.

“It was big,” Lewis told 247Sports. “I’m blessed. I’m happy right now.”

Outsiders, we do have some context for you. Offering eighth graders is rare, but it isn’t far fetched. Tate Martell, who was a five-star quarterback from Bishop Gorman High School in Vegas, committed to Washington when Martell was in the eighth grade. That was back in 2015. Martell also committed to Texas A&M before he changed to Ohio State. He transferred to Miami and now plays for UNLV.

Lane Kiffin, who now is the head coach at Ole Miss, probably shrugs at what the Florida Gators are doing. When he coached at Florida Atlantic, he offered the 11-year-old son of former USC quarterback Matt Leinart. He also offered a sixth-grader who happened to be the son of noted quarterback trainer Steve Clarkson. And he wooed Kaden Martin when he was in the seventh grade. Kaden’s dad is Tee Martin, the quarterback who led the Tennessee Volunteers to the national championship in 1998.

The Florida Gators aren’t the only school trying to recruit Lewis. Juju posted a photo from a recent Georgia game. And earlier, he posted a photo of himself wearing an Alabama jersey.

It’s also good to get ahead of the game. Quinn Ewers, who was considered the top quarterback prospect in the country for next year’s class, decided to graduate early and skip his senior high school football season. He signed with Ohio State and is now with the Buckeyes. Ewers did so to take advantage of a new NCAA rule that allows players to benefit financially from their name and likeness. A source told ESPN that Ewers already has a sponsorship deal worth $1.4 million.

So the Florida Gators and Dan Mullen know that there’s no waiting around in college football recruiting.