Perception vs. Reality: Recruiting edition
It’s time to look at key questions across the SEC recruiting trail during the dead period:
Perception: Florida’s incoming class of 8 very weak
Last in the SEC in recruiting at the dead period, Will Muschamp hasn’t left Jim McElwain much to work with on the trail in Gainesville … or has he? The Gators currently have received a pledge from one four-star prospect (Derrick Dillon, ATH, Franklinton, La.) while the rest are ranked as three-stars or lower. McElwain spent his first full week on campus traveling around the Sunshine State while taking the time to introduce himself with Florida’s commitments. He got a late start and this class, if the recruiting season ended now, lacks potential stars.
Reality: Several five-stars eyeing McElwain, Gators
By Florida standards, there’s no doubt work to be done prior to signing day, but just look at the possible in-state five-star commits still remaining on the board: Martez Ivey (OL, top overall player); Byron Cowart (DE, top player at his position); CeCe Jefferson (DE, fifth-best player in nation). If McElwain was able to sway at least two of those players in his direction, Florida’s class would improve dramatically. There’s still time to salvage an underwhelming class and the Gators staff is working hard to do so.
Perception: Spurrier’s comments on his future damaged Gamecocks
Four-star cornerback Mark Fields became South Carolina’s sixth decommitment of the Gamecocks’ 2015 class on Tuesday, the biggest blow to what was expected to be one of the top hauls in program history. He’s also the third player to mention Steve Spurrier’s recent admission of staying in Columbia ‘2 or 3 seasons’ as a reason for worry. The 69-year-old Head Ball Coach will have a chance this week to clear up those words after practice during media availability, something he must do to protect the remaining assets in this year’s class.
Reality: Verbal commitments are just that, not binding
Thanks to the onslaught of recruiting coverage that really kicked into high gear during the early 2000s, we know every element running through a prospect’s brain during his recruitment and sometimes, that’s not a good thing. Players are often pressured to commit early, sometimes more than a year out from National Signing Day, before taking visits elsewhere to determine best fit. In the social media age, nothing’s a secret and fans often receive too much access to a player’s itinerary. We must remember, these are 17 and 18-year-old high school seniors with a huge, life-changing decision ahead of them.
Perception: QB Murray signing forces Hill out at Texas A&M
Five-star quarterback commit Kyler Murray is the gem of this year’s class for the Aggies, a player who has been compared to Johnny Manziel and one that will compete for playing time in Kevin Sumlin’s scheme the first day he steps on campus. Where does that leave another former heralded recruit now buried on the depth? We’re talking about Kenny Hill, a once dynamic passer during his first six starts this season before a three-game skid and off-the-field issues cost him his job. Since Kyle Allen appears to be 2015’s immediate starter, it appears Hill is the odd man out with the arrival of Murray.
Reality: Expect an open battle during spring practice
Position battles aren’t often decided during the spring, but Hill could pass Allen on the depth chart with a solid six weeks if he shows an increase in maturity as well. Murray recently said he will not enroll early at Texas A&M, choosing to play baseball in the spring before graduating. In theory, that helps both current quarterbacks who are already familiar with Sumlin’s offense. It’s not likely that a true freshman comes in and learns a complex scheme — despite running it in high school — when he’ll be forced to battle two players with an expansive knowledge of what the Aggies are trying to do offensively.