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Florida Football Recruiting

Grading the Gators ESD Class: Good, but not good enough

December 20, 2018
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Normally The Day After Breakdown is reserved for Inside the Gators to look back on the previous day's football game. We're going to switch up somewhat today and use it to take a more in-depth look at Florida's Early Signing Class of 2019.

Keep in mind, there are six weeks remaining in this recruiting cycle, these are not the final grades - they are based upon the prospects Florida has signed to this point.

GRADING THE GATORS

POS COMMENT GRADE
QB For the offense he wants to run and what he was looking for this cycle, Dan Mullen getting Jalon Jones‍ is probably about as good a get as he could have possibly nabbed. Jones ins’t that highly regarded overall, barely coming in as a consensus, but he is probably a little bit better than his ranking. He has the tools (size, speed) but his arm looked a bit hit or miss during camp season. It will be interesting to see what Mullen and Brian Johnson can do here.   B+
RB When halfway through the cycle you believe you have the No. 1 running back in the nation - Trey Sanders‍ - in the bag and you are very much in the running for another top five back in John Emery Jr.‍ over the spring (before you stop recruiting him), on paper it is a little hard to get excited about Nay'Quan Wright‍. However, coming off a missed season due to a knee injury, Wright - who is a bit undersized - ran for over 10 yards per carry in South Florida. He doesn’t have great top end speed, but he has better than average acceleration and looks like he follows his blocks well on tape.  C
WR First off, much like the running backs above, this isn’t a big need for Florida. However, unlike running backs above, for whatever reason (perhaps years of a substandard passing attack) Florida was never really in on any elite receivers - other than perhaps Mycah Pittman‍. I think Dionte Marks‍ is better than advertised, but though he does some of the same things, maybe not on the level as Freddie Swain or Josh Hammond. Gators co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales is one of the staff’s better recruiters, but he couldn’t get any traction with big time receivers during this cycle. D
TE Before the season, when Florida took Lucas Krull late I was wondering what in the world were they thinking putting seven players at the position on scholarship. Well, what we saw is that Mullen loves to utilize tight ends in his offense - with six playing this season. With that being the case, and with three set to graduate, I would have thought two signees would have been a better number, but that didn’t happen. What Florida did get in Keon Zipperer‍ is a pass catcher who because of his speed can be a mismatch nightmare. However, he will have to get his blocking down pat. B+
OL With seven signees Florida certainly met their needs and more along the offensive line numbers wise. Going on the assumption that the Gators will lose four of five starting offensive linemen (all but Nick Buchanan) getting five early enrollees along the line was a home run and that in itself gives the group a bit of a higher grade. I like the tackle signees in William Harrod‍ and Wardrick Wilson‍ and UF has added size inside with Deyavie Hammond‍ and Ethan White‍. Maybe a little too much size as they will require work with Nick Savage to take off some bad weight.  B

OFF

 

Overall there is a bit of a talent infusion here, and needs were met for the most part, but Florida wasn’t able to get the elite kids position-by-position.  B
DT If Florida doesn’t knock it out of the park on NSD in February at this position, there could be some issues down the road. Jaelin Humphries‍ is a very good get considering he could have went anywhere in the southeast and Florida beat out Alabama, Clemson and Georgia for his signature. He did however miss half the season with an injury and there are still academic concerns - though he is on the right track in the classroom. He is going to be added to a group of good but not great interior defensive linemen. The Gators haven’t had a difference maker in the middle for several seasons. That needs to change.  D
DE/LB Mohamoud Diabate‍ doesn’t currently have ideal size, but he has the potential to be a 6-foot-4, 245 pound edge rusher in a year or so. Right now, he is the star of the class on the defensive side of the ball. The problem here is there is only one of him. Florida needs a serious influx of talent at end - at least one or two more in the late signing period. B-
LB Florida being able to hold on to Tyron Hopper‍ despite a late charge by Will Muschamp’s South Carolina Gamecocks was one of the keys to this being a successful last week of recruiting. I actually like Jesiah Pierre‍ more than the recruiting services do. I saw him camp at Florida in June, he was equally effective dropping into coverage as he was coming off the edge in pass-rush drills. B
CB This is a position that you have to keep in mind that there is still six weeks of recruiting remaining and Florida could still add an elite player or two. For now, seeing Chester Kimbrough‍ at The Opening in July, I was pleasantly surprised at how well he performed. Jaydon Hill‍ missed his senior season with a knee injury. How long does it take for him to recover and how well he actually recovers are the questions. The grade is based on who has actually signed, and this is a position where Florida can still make a splash. C
S If Trent Whittemore‍ starts out at wide receiver, the position he excelled at as a senior, that means Florida didn’t ink a single player at one of their most needy positions in the early signing period. F
DEF Because there are still six weeks remaining, this shouldn’t be seen as a doomsday type of grade. However, while Florida has added a couple of players who could turn into All-SEC type of performers, to whiff so badly at defensive tackle and safety is troubling. D
OVERALL Again, there are six more weeks of recruiting remaining, and these grades are based solely on current signees. Having said that, a No. 16 ranking in the 247 consensus is a blah type of result and not something we are used to seeing from a Florida head coach in his first full recruiting cycle. Putting the ranking aside, Florida landed some much needed help along the offensive line, got a quarterback who might be the most perfect match Mullen could have signed this cycle and added some potential playmakers on defense. Not all needs were met, some not at all, but there’s still time C+


DEFINING MOMENTS  

#5) Mullen gets his man
While visiting Florida a week before the Orange & Blue Debut, four-star quarterback Jalon Jones‍ decided to commit to Dan Mullen for the second time. His early commitment set it up so that not only did the staff get their main target from that very important position, but it allowed him to then be out front and center of the recruiting effort such as when he returned for four days in June and for Friday Night Lights in July. 

#4) Flipping Miami
No, this isn’t the name of some new home improvement semi-reality show on HGTV, it is what happened when Florida went after two long time Florida Gators fans - who just happened to be committed to Miami. On back-to-back days in early December UF ripped the heart and soul out of the Hurricanes when the Gators flipped offensive linemen Michael Tarquin‍ and Kingsley Eguakun‍.

#3)  California Dreaming
As I touched on in the Take Five: Recruiting at the Halfway Point one of the biggest storylines of the first half of the recruiting cycle and one of the most defining moments of the cycle overall was Florida’s miscalculation that they had more pull out west than they actually did. How much time was squandered chasing California dreams that never panned out. Yes, Florida is still in the running for Chris Steele‍ but even landing him wouldn’t justify all the time lost to over recruiting out west.

#2) Friday Night Lights Payoff
Up until Friday Night Lights in late July the new Florida staff had only gotten commitments from three four-star prospects (Wardrick Wilson‍ was a holdover) and the class at that point was nothing to write home about. However the relationships forged at FNL helped the Gators land three four-stars - Diwun Black‍, Chester Kimbrough‍ (who was dropped to three-stars after committing) and Mohamoud Diabate‍ - and really set them down the right path. Two of the three, Black and Diabate, are among the most public recruiters for Florida on social media.

#1) Landing the Lakeland Trio
This is both a reason for the Gator Nation to celebrate as well perhaps take a pause for reflection. Landing Deyavie Hammond‍, Lloyd Summerall‍ and Keon Zipperer‍  on signing day is a legitimate cause for celebration. They were all three coveted by some of the top programs in the southeast and it is to the coaching staff’s credit that they will be wearing Orange & Blue. Well, to their credit to a degree. I am all for the cheerleading to a point. However, to play it off as though landing three prospects from a pipeline school, smack dab in the middle of Gator Country is some sort of super effort, recruiting turning point, seems a bit off the mark. If UF landed three teammates from a school in Miami or Atlanta, then yes, celebrate the staff. This however should be more of what is expected from Florida, not something out of the ordinary. 

BY THE NUMBERS  ​​​​​

  • 50% - 10 of the 20 early signees are enrolling early.
  • 60% - 12 of the 20 early signees are from the state of Florida.
  • 13 -  Of the 20 early signees 13 are on offense.
  • 12 of the 20 early signees are rated as four-stars.
  • 17 - This is where Florida is ranked in the 247 composite team rankings.
  • 7 - Florida is ranked No. 7 in the SEC.
  • 14 - Florida’s 89.87 average ranking per signee is ranked No. 14 in the nation. Their 3.57 star average is also ranked No. 14 on Rivals.
  • 0 - Florida didn’t sign a single prospect inside the consensus top 100 prospects in the nation.

THE BOTTOM LINE

In his opening statement during Wednesday’s Early Signing Day press conference Dan Mullen used the word ‘good’ four different times.

That is about what this class amounts to at this point, ‘good’ but not ‘good’ enough.

To be clear, I think Mullen showed this year that he is an excellent coach - maybe even a candidate to be included in the top 10 when the many rankings come out after the season. He did a fantastic job of coming in, taking control and really starting the rebuild of the Florida football program.

He reminds me a bit of Steve Spurrier in that I think he has the potential to be a coach that if he were to switch sidelines, he would beat Florida with the other team.

I think if you would have put Mullen on the LSU or Mississippi State sidelines this season, they would have beaten Florida.

To me, he is that good of a game day coach.

I would give him an overall A to this point. 

What is stopping him from getting that ‘plus’ sign at the end though is recruiting.

Yes, I understand that he did more with less at Mississippi State. He won games at an almost 20% higher clip and his ability to develop talent helped turn some coal into diamonds.

However, he never won anything of consequence there and his record against ranked teams was atrocious.

Why?

Because he didn’t have the talent the big boys such as Alabama, LSU, Auburn, etc... had. Yes, he could pull out a game here and there, but on a year in and year out basis, you have to have talent to compete with programs who have talent.

That was why many were/are excited about his hire. If he could have MSU playing so far above their head, what could he do with Florida type of talent?

The problem being, to this point, he hasn’t signed Florida type of talent.

Talent in relation to those you play may not be the end all be all, but it is damn close.

Don’t believe me, look at the recruiting classes of the teams that play in the College Football Playoffs. Not just their ranking overall, but their ranking in relation to the teams they have to play on an annual basis. 

What you will find is that they accumulate talent at a higher level than the teams they play regularly. Yes, you can win a game for many other reasons, coaching, injuries, momentum, fluke plays or whatever, but more often than not talent prevails.

Look at this year’s Florida-Georgia game. Mullen out-coached Kirby Smart. However, Smart out talented Mullen.

That talent disparity - thus the overall edge to the Dawgs - isn’t going to end anytime soon unless Florida picks up the pace on the recruiting trail.

When there are 130 DI programs, being ranked No. 17 doesn't look all that bad. However, in being No. 17, there are five teams (UGA, LSU, FSU & TN) Florida plays regularly who are ranked higher, with UGA and LSU with significantly more talent.

Other than perhaps Nick Saban, when it comes to game day coaching, I think Mullen is head-and-shoulders above the rest. That means what he needs is at least equal talent. He is getting there compared to several of Florida’s annual opponents, but he is falling further behind against several others.

That talent disparity needs to be lessened if Florida is to win championships.

It may or may not happen this year. However, to this point Florida's Class of 2020 looks promising early on.

We’ll see how it plays out.

Grading the Gators ESD Class: Good, but not good enough

3,720 Views | 14 Replies | Last: 2 yr ago by surlygator
1bigg8rindade
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I said B- so is the same as C+

We can get to an A if we finish strong.
ausbran
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Problem is that none of these kids even know that Florida used to be a top program. They we're all 5-8 years old during the Urban era. I would also say it's safe to assume that most recruits wouldn't know who Steve Spurrier is.

It's just gonna take some time.
G8rJD
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What's Arkansas EVER done? They went 2-10 this season and they're killing it in recruiting...this is still a possible "selling" issue
Mark Wheeler
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G8rJD said:

What's Arkansas EVER done? They went 2-10 this season and they're killing it in recruiting...this is still a possible "selling" issue


Exactly. It's not hard to find an excuse if you're looking for one. When aas the last time Tennessee was relevant? They're coming off a losing season with a brand new coach and a worse built in recruiting territory but they are ahead of Florida so far.
Eric-UF
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Mark Wheeler said:

G8rJD said:

What's Arkansas EVER done? They went 2-10 this season and they're killing it in recruiting...this is still a possible "selling" issue


Exactly. It's not hard to find an excuse if you're looking for one. When aas the last time Tennessee was relevant? They're coming off a losing season with a brand new coach and a worse built in recruiting territory but they are ahead of Florida so far.
I get the point you both are trying to make, but let's not exaggerate it, Arkansas is not killing it. They are ranked 20th and already have 27 recruits...they are only going to fall further in the rankings as other teams add more talent in he next 6 weeks.

USC, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Arizona, and Miami all have 20 or less recruits right now are are likely to pass up Arkansas.

So, while I agree that our class is a little disappointing (one that will likely finish 10 -12), especially for a "bump class" ....it would be a DREAM class for Arkansas who will end up in the 25-30 range when all is said and done (which is pretty much where they always end up).
Mark Wheeler
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No doubt that it would be a dream finish for Arkansas, but Florida isn't Arkansas. The Razorbacks have one of the worst foot prints as far as recruiting territory in the SEC. Chad Morris is doing a h*** of a job over there. There are some kids I see on that commitment list that I am legitimately impressed that they pulled.
Mark Wheeler
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I'm not posting any of this to diminish Florida's class. They did OK. It is a good class so far. It's just not what we've come to expect on the first full recruiting class for a Florida coach
Eric-UF
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Mark Wheeler said:

I'm not posting any of this to diminish Florida's class. They did OK. It is a good class so far. It's just not what we've come to expect on the first full recruiting class for a Florida coach
I do not get the Narrative on Morris, he is going to end up with a class ranked in the 25-30 range and that is what Arkansas always does, he did not do anything to elevate the recruiting, he did what they always do....

With respect to Florida, I think there are 2 grading scales as I see it...there is the generic grade (a class ranked 10 would be a A-) and there is the "Florida" grade given the the stature of the program and the need to beat out rivals (which would be a B- for a class ranked #10...in a bump year after going 9-3).

Personally, I think you look at the roster and the need spots...there are still a lot of recruits on the board that can fill the CB and DL needs, but we missed on WR this class and overall while I think we end with 60-65% Blue Chips....aside from Steele and Zipperer, there are no elite recruits that we have or are pursing and this is my overall concern with this class.

Even with a class ranked #10...the best grade this class is going to get is a B+ in my opinion and that assumes we land Steele, Elam, and 2 more Blue Chip defensive lineman.
upstateg8tor
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I think the analysis is pretty spot on. Absolutely, we must recruit better. Especially with the current climate around Miami and Tallahassee. But I'm not going to harshly judge this current class, because 1) it's not complete...and 2) in DM's 9 years at MSU I saw him take the worst program, in the toughest division, of the toughest conference, in the most least desirable city and make them competitive.

We are not going to recruit at UGA & Bama levels every year. We just won't. We don't have the underground network that they have and never will. But you don't need to recruit like that every year to be in contention either. The Clemson model works and is proven ... recruit elite QBs and a dominant LOS, then surround it with speed. But for all intents and purposes you have to have a top 5 class every 2-3 years and live in the Top 10 the rest of them in order to be an anual Playoff contender.
herlihy22
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Mark Wheeler said:

I'm not posting any of this to diminish Florida's class. They did OK. It is a good class so far. It's just not what we've come to expect on the first full recruiting class for a Florida coach
Right Mark. You can come out and say it. Or I will say it for you. Its just not that impressive of a class so far. Its ok. Not terrible. Just ok. Nothing against the kids coming in. They are Gators now and I hope they all turn out to be superstars and I will be cheering my ass off for them the whole way.
herlihy22
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To Me, you have to be ranked in the top 10 nationally to get a b grade at florida for recruiting, You have to be in the top 5 to get an A grade in recruiting. This is UF and thats the way it is and the way it should be. Settling for anything else is stupid with all the talent in Florida and Georgia.
herlihy22
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upstateg8tor said:

I think the analysis is pretty spot on. Absolutely, we must recruit better. Especially with the current climate around Miami and Tallahassee. But I'm not going to harshly judge this current class, because 1) it's not complete...and 2) in DM's 9 years at MSU I saw him take the worst program, in the toughest division, of the toughest conference, in the most least desirable city and make them competitive.

We are not going to recruit at UGA & Bama levels every year. We just won't. We don't have the underground network that they have and never will. But you don't need to recruit like that every year to be in contention either. The Clemson model works and is proven ... recruit elite QBs and a dominant LOS, then surround it with speed. But for all intents and purposes you have to have a top 5 class every 2-3 years and live in the Top 10 the rest of them in order to be an anual Playoff contender.
What do you mean we just wont recruit at GA and Bama levels? What is to Stop us?? It can be done. Dont kid yourself and say we cant do it year in and year out. Ive seen things get wound up in Gainesville and what can be brought in. Most of us have. Dont talk about underground this and that. Get out there and sell your ass off and CLOSE. Get the guys here.
herlihy22
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To me, I kinda sensed a little disappointment when Dan was talking about the class. He was straight forward. He said it was good like he had too but he didnt seem legitimately exited. Kind of like he just thought it was just ok like most of probably think too. There were definitely some misses. We difitely need the two CBs to sign and get MAR and get Fuller and Pickering.
surlygator
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Well done and spot on.
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