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.
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.”
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.