Catch your breath, Gator fans–could Florida finish like Ole Miss last year?

TreonHarrisPossibleFlorida

As Florida continues to fly up the national recruiting rankings, it makes one wonder …

Almost exactly one year ago today, Ole Miss had a nice recruiting class. Solid. Certainly something to be proud of.

By early February, the Rebels had added five more blue-chip recruits who were instant impact contributors this past fall. Four of those five attracted freshman all-american honors of some sort.

Now, we’re not saying Florida has that kind of finish ahead of it between now and national signing day … but it might. The Gators have a few things going for them:

1) Unlike several other SEC schools, they have a few spots remaining (21 commitments are on board as of Friday morning … of course this seems to be changing by the hour, or the minute). And of course, kids decommit all the time in January, possibly opening up more room.

2) The team had a terrible 2013 season, leading recruits to believe they could see the field immediately in 2014–especially at the skill positions. Hey, Vernon Hargreaves did it.

3) Florida’s staff might actually be planning a full-blown youth movement, because two to three losses by November–with upperclassmen playing–would likely spell the end of this regime. But two to three losses with a bunch of freshmen might buy the staff more time.

Now that five-star Jalen Tabor has come aboard and defensive tackle Gerald Willis shocked a lot of people and chose Florida over LSU last week, we’re starting to see a trend … a buzz. Friday’s pickup of RB Brandon Powell, a Miami commitment, was another nice addition. Granted, the Gators have lost two players in the past week … Dalvin Cook and Chris Lammons … but one could argue that getting Tabor and Willis were both more important pickups than losing Cook, and Lammons is nullified by having Tabor. There’s no doubt Florida’s class is in way better shape this week than it even was last week.

RELATED: Five-star DB Tabor now on board with Florida

Also, keep a close eye on Florida State four-star QB/ATH commitment Treon Harris over the next few days/weeks.

Remember this quote Florida QB commit/signee Will Grier gave Saturday Down South in mid December after backup QBs Tyler Murphy and Max Staver both transferred?: “I think Coach (Will) Muschamp now wants to sign another athlete type of quarterback, a guy who could play quarterback but also play another position–so that we have some kind of depth. We’ll go from there and fight and we’ll be fine.”

RELATED: Florida QB commit Will Grier talks about QB transfers

That’s Harris, in a nutshell. He could provide needed depth at quarterback behind Jeff Driskel and Grier, while also being an immediate weapon in other spots. Since Jameis Winston is firmly entrenched up at Florida State, Harris–who committed to the Seminoles in July before Winston blew up–is looking to take visits to Florida, Auburn and Miami in January. Keep in mind, Harris is a Miami native–but current Florida WR Quinton Dunbar is also from Miami Washington H.S., and one can imagine Dunbar’s been in Harris’ ear.

Kids are fickle. They want to be part of a movement. When they see other recruits jettisoning, they tend to think about doing the same. When they see other blue-chippers flocking to one school (like Ole Miss last year), it tends to have a gravitational effect on other top recruits. What’s going on at Florida might be enough to keep Ermon Lane and J.C. Jackson solid, who knows? Both have wavered of late. With a new offensive coordinator on campus, one has to wonder, but getting Tabor, Willis and Powell in the past week can’t hurt. Momentum is huge in recruiting, especially in January and that first week in February.

Could this buzz help with longshot targets like Lorenzo Carter or Adoree Jackson? Or could the Gators wrestle Bo Scarbrough away from Alabama, with the promise of early stardom–as opposed to possibly sitting on the bench at Alabama? Definitely a stretch with the aforementioned prospects, but then again, who knew that Laremy Tunsil would leave FSU’s and Florida’s backyard to go to Ole Miss of all places? Again, he was inspired by the buzz.

More realistic targets might be guys like Damian Prince, a five-star offensive lineman from Maryland who has Florida as his last official visit this month–which can sometimes be an indicator of things to come. Junior college four-star WR and former Tennessee commit Eric Lauderdale is another one who is realistic. Or how about a darkhorse, vastly underrated WR Isaiah McKenzie, who impressed at the Under Armour Game and will probably earn his fourth star from the recruiting services in a matter of weeks. Oh, and he was just offered by Florida a few days ago … and his last visit is to see the Gators. Hmmmm.

It seems like it could be one of those kinds of finishes for Florida … and the program needs the positivity. A month from now, I have a feeling Florida fans are going to be rather stoked about how things are going.

COMMENTS

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  • I guess it’s possible that Florida could land several more top recruits. But I don’t think you can compare what Ole Miss did and what Florida might do. I say that because it’s not uncommon for Florida to land top recruits, it’s actually uncommon for them not too. Even though they had a horrible year, I don’t see them not bringing in top recruits. While a lot of people don’t really know much about Ole Miss, they have always done ok in recruiting. It’s not uncommon for them to bring in a top 25 class. But last year was just amazing if you where an Ole Miss fan. To get so many 5 and 4 star recruits was just unheard of at Ole Miss. The great news is that it wasn’t a fluke that they had so much success and now Ole Miss is actually winning recruiting battle against teams like Alabama and LSU. While there are still a lot of ignorant fans out there that think Ole Miss won’t ever compete with top tier teams, they have another think coming. Ole Miss over the past few decades hasn’t been great, but Ole Miss use to be one the best teams in the country year in and year out.

    • Not exactly meaning it in that way, ArmyGuy … meaning more along the lines of a flurry of top-flight talent coming board. More the pace of it than anything else. While some classes in the SEC are effectively all done, Florida has room to add players, and I don’t think they’re going to have to settle for riff raff.

      • Oh ok, gotcha. I see what your saying. But it seems like Florida is losing recruits faster than they can replace them right now. With Lane just de-committing, i personally do really see them making a huge jump. But then again it is Florida we are talking about. The team I think that could make that big push is LSU. Even though LSU didn’t get some of the kids they wanted during the Under Armour game, they still have a good chance at landing several top recruits. I know they are going after a couple of Ole Miss’ top recruits in Breeland Speaks and Rod Taylor. LSU really doesn’t have a chance to flip Taylor, but Ole Miss might be in for a fight for Speaks. But I just don’t see him flipping at this point.

        • Who knows for sure … I just have a feeling about this year’s group. I think Florida’s going to finish rather well. Lane hurts the most, easily. Lammons and Cook are at positions where Florida has strengths (as long as they aren’t injured) but Lane would have been a game breaker this fall, so that hurts.

  • funny is mizzou plays well without the top recruitsWhats