Published February 5, 2012 - 11:19am
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Biggest Needs: 2011 might not have been a success for most Florida fans, but considering that the Gators ranked 105th in the nation in total offense, 7-6 is not that bad. I think the reason the offense looked so bad is because it was a transitional year for Muschamp to install a more pro-style offense. It takes time to get that job done. The Gators lose QB John Brantley to graduation, but with injuries to Brantley, Driskel and Brissett saw some action this year. Staying in the backfield, the Gators lose RB Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. I don’t think losing these guys will be that big of a deal running in a new system. The Gators only lose Deonte Thompson out of the receiving corps, and they only replace one starter on the offensive line. They have a lot of returning players, and an addition of a few playmakers could really make a big difference.
Defensively I think Muschamp is going to benefit greatly from Urban Meyer’s holdovers. Meyer recruited one of the sickest defensive classes in his final recruiting season, and those guys will all be Sophomores and Juniors next year. Jaye Howard is the lone starter leaving the defense, and while he was second on the team in tackles for loss and sacks, I think he won’t be missed with the 2012 recruiting class. While the offense was not very good, the defense was a bright spot. Florida ranked 8th in the nation in total defense last year and it looks like next year they will only get better.
Needs Met: I think Florida filled just about every need with this class. Offensively Florida signed QB Skylar Mornhinweg, but I think he is destined for a redshirt. The Gators only signed one runningback, but at 6’2” 225 Matt Jones looks to be a big bruising back that Florida fans have not seen in a while. On the offensive front, Florida signed one of the top offensive tackles in the nation in D.J. Humphries, and they also signed a highly rated offensive guard in Jessamen Dunker. Both Humphries and Dunker are on campus already. Florida gave a huge boost to their receivers with just a few signatures. The Gators signed two receivers, and I think Latroy Pittman could be a playmaker next year. They also signed two tight ends, and Kent Taylor could be a key contributor next year.
Defensively Florida signed one of the greatest defensive line classes that I have ever seen. Florida signed three DT’s, and I expect JUCO transfer Damien Jacobs to contribute immediately. They also signed five defensive tackles, and two of them are the best in the country. Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler Jr. are both 5-star guys according to Rivals, and they both could come in and contribute next year. Florida signed four defensive backs, and look for Marcus Maye and Brian Poole to contribute some next year on special teams. Muschamp rounded out this defensive class with two linebackers in Antonio Morrison and Jeremi Powell, and this group gives the Gators a defense to be reckoned with for years to come.
Biggest Get: Jonathan Bullard. Any time that you go and get a 5-star out of state, it is a huge deal.
Biggest Miss: There are so many guys in Florida every year, it is hard to say which player is a big miss. I think that Florida could have added another runningback, or a serious offensive playmaker in this class. None of the offensive guys are really big- time impact players, but I think the guys in- house will be better than last year.
Opportunity Still Available: 5-star Stefon Diggs has not yet announced where he will be playing, and the Florida Gators are listed as one of his top schools. Diggs is a big time talent and would take this class from great to even greater.
Final Evaluation: 23 recruits that fill all of their needs is a great haul. Not to mention a stellar defensive class, and we all know it takes a defense to win in this league.
Final Grade: A+