Florida Football Recruiting

On the Mark: Time to change the narrative on Mullen and recruiting

January 5, 2019
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FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
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Two days.

Well, actually less then 48 hours.

That's how long it took for Florida's class to go from simply meh to on the verge of being worthy of a Mick Hubert 'Oh my' type of exclamation.

All it took was two announcements; one a surprise, one not so much so.

In the roughly 43 hours between 8:28 p.m. Thursday evening when Arjei Henderson‍ pledged to Florida during the Under Armour Bowl broadcast on ESPN2 through 3:08 p.m. Saturday afternoon when Chris Steele‍ revealed that he was all Orange & Blue – the perception of the Gators' 2019 recruiting efforts, as well as perhaps Dan Mullen as a recruiter, changed dramatically.

During that time period Florida went from No. 17 to No. 15 to No. 11 in the 247 Team Recruiting Rankings Composite.

That is a far cry from where Florida was back in late July when the Gators came in at No. 37.

The worry then, and really perhaps up until this week, is that the knock on Mullen coming in was correct.

He wasn't a top notch recruiter.

The book on Mullen as far back as when he was the offensive coordinator at Florida - through his stint as the head coach of Mississippi State - was that while he was excellent dealing with the Xs & Os – he struggled when it came to acquiring the Jimmys and Joes.

To put it simply, he wasn't considered much of a force on the recruiting trail.

I am as guilty as anyone for not only buying into that notion, but doing my part to help promulgate it.

There is a reason for that.

Truthfully, he wasn't much of a recruiter when he was on Urban Meyer's staff at Florida.

I am one of the dinosaurs on the beat who covered the team way back then and while I can't speak on his time in Starkville, I do see a stark contrast in his outward behavior from his coordinator days to the here and now.

He used to come off as more distant, more standoffish, than he does today. Whether it is because he is more comfortable and relaxed or something that comes with age, I don't know. However, something such as his dancing on the sidelines during the opener – which is still all over social media - or the hat turned sideways, mugging for the camera in the locker-room after the Peach Bowl win...

...are things you would never outwardly see from him a decade ago.

Those type of moments resonate with young men.

It is in those moments that he doesn't seem so unapproachable, thus they feel more comfortable with him and thus more likely to want to play for him.

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At this point, not withstanding what eventually happens with Henderson and/or Diwun Black‍, Florida is a difference making defensive lineman and adding any prospect with a pulse at safety, from closing about as well as could have been expected this cycle.

This is after Florida finished with their highest star average (14 of the 18 - or 78% - signees rated as four-stars) in a decade after Mullen's strong finish last cycle.

Interestingly enough, though Ron Zook (No. 2) and Will Muschamp (No. 3) had much higher rated classes in their first full recruiting cycles, neither of them had as high a percentage of bringing in four-stars as Mullen does this time around.

This year Mullen is at 65% (15-of-23), while Zook was at 54% and Muschamp was at 61%.

As a side note, only 40% of Jim McElwain's first full class was rated as four-star or higher - while Urban Meyer signed 78%

What Zook and Muschamp did was brought in five-stars and top 50 prospects to help them earn those high class rankings, and offset some of their three-star reaches.

That is what Mullen needs to begin to do.

To this point he has proven to be an excellent game day coach, has surprised me with his program building acumen, and now that the recruiting is coming along, the one thing keeping Florida from taking the next step is to sign the kids considered the best-of-the-best.

The difference makers.

The Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin types.

Florida has yet to land a five-star under Mullen, but by the way things are shaping up in the the next two cycles, the wait shouldn't be much longer.

The Gators ascension to the top should be powered by in-state recruiting that should be greatly aided by the uncertainty in Coral Gables and the train wreck taking place in Tallahassee.

Where, speaking of coaches who were highly thought of as recruiters, Willie Taggart actually finds his Florida State Seminoles currently behind Florida in team recruiting rankings.

That may or may not change by National Signing Day, but one thing we know, if Taggart doesn’t have a talent advantage, he is in a world of trouble.

Is there anyone who saw him this year who believes that if the talent is equal, or maybe FSU is slightly behind, that he is going to actually out coach anyone?

Mullen on the other hand has proven to be a top 10 type of head coach. Now that the recruiting aspect is coming along, we’re about to find out what the ceiling is for Mullen at Florida. 

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On the Mark: Time to change the narrative on Mullen and recruiting

5,505 Views | 62 Replies | Last: 4 mo ago by Eric-UF
Titletown
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Why shouldn't he be compared to teams that are making the college football playoff? That's the standard isn't it?
Swamp_Thing
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Graylon said:

Dan will be fine in recruiting... He may not make the big splash like everyone wants... but they young kids and players respond to him a lot like how Dabo's players interact and respond with him.. Dan can interact with anyone... What I love about Dan is he takes his time.. He's patient and methodical.. he doesnt panic and deviate from his goal or plan, also not so stubborn to change or tweak when needed..

Most everyone expects Dan to do things like Clemson, Bama, Georgia, Ohio St... lets face it they are the standards of college football... Dan doesnt have to, to be successful... you cant rate or compare with stats or other programs, because of his kind of odd style.. Hes been proving me wrong since 2005..Unless he burns out I believe that Dan Mullen will stand the test of time..


So in your eyes Dan Mullen is some kind of transcendent coach that's going to do things completely different than they've been done at other Championship programs and be just as successful?
Graylon
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Yes I do... In my mind he already has... Who in the world goes to Miss St. and takes them all the way to #1... Dan didnt have Alabama, LSU, TEXAS A&M, OHIO ST. CLEMSON, GEORGIA talent or resources... One thing that people forget is that Dan Mullen while at Mississippi State beat Urban Meyer while he was in Florida in the swamp

The 2008 SEC championship game we didnt have Percy.. as the offensive coordinator he beat saban... the 2008 SEC championship game was a flashy game but it's very effective and we called and coached..the next year we had the same exact team and only scored 13 points.. No Dan Mullen

Felipe Franks.. what he did for this kid was magic...Not only did this kid have skill deficiencies he also lost his confidence and was emotionally volatile.... Through growing pains Dan fixed this kid by empowering him.. Dan saw all the guys followed Felipe and believed him.. Dan has given Frank's something that he feels is his... after seeing Felipe Franks reaction after the Michigan game it's going to take everything in the world to take it back from Felipe.. I really wish Dan were here for John Brantley and Jeff Driskel..

In my opinion I think there are only a hand full of coaches that could do this.. Dan doesnt do it in a big flashy way...

Dan Mullen is not a 15 ounce ribeye steak with a loaded baked potato.. Dan is more like a Kale salad with avocado and green tea..

I definitely see him as transcending..
Swamp_Thing
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Graylon said:

Yes I do... In my mind he already has... Who in the world goes to Miss St. and takes them all the way to #1... Dan didnt have Alabama, LSU, TEXAS A&M, OHIO ST. CLEMSON, GEORGIA talent or resources... One thing that people forget is that Dan Mullen while at Mississippi State beat Urban Meyer while he was in Florida in the swamp

The 2008 SEC championship game we didnt have Percy.. as the offensive coordinator he beat saban... the 2008 SEC championship game was a flashy game but it's very effective and we called and coached..the next year we had the same exact team and only scored 13 points.. No Dan Mullen

Felipe Franks.. what he did for this kid was magic...Not only did this kid have skill deficiencies he also lost his confidence and was emotionally volatile.... Through growing pains Dan fixed this kid by empowering him.. Dan saw all the guys followed Felipe and believed him.. Dan has given Frank's something that he feels is his... after seeing Felipe Franks reaction after the Michigan game it's going to take everything in the world to take it back from Felipe.. I really wish Dan were here for John Brantley and Jeff Driskel..

In my opinion I think there are only a hand full of coaches that could do this.. Dan doesnt do it in a big flashy way...

Dan Mullen is not a 15 ounce ribeye steak with a loaded baked potato.. Dan is more like a Kale salad with avocado and green tea..

I definitely see him as transcending..



So reaching #1 makes you transcendent? Oregon reached #1 in 2012, Gary Pinkle took Missouri to #1 in 2008. Franks was a 5* elite 11 QB. Has Mullen improved his play over what McDeathgate was doing? Absolutely, he's an outstanding QB coach, but that makes him transcendent? Riley has coached back to back Heisman QBs. Is he transcendent too?
I think Mullen is a great QB coach and playcaller, but he's not going to beat UGA, LSU, Alabama, etc. without similar talent. You could see him out coaching Smart this year, but how did that game turn out?
Eric-UF
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Couple things...
Quote:

The 2008 SEC championship game we didnt have Percy.. as the offensive coordinator he beat saban... the 2008 SEC championship game was a flashy game but it's very effective and we called and coached..the next year we had the same exact team and only scored 13 points.. No Dan Mullen
In 2009, there was no Percy....no Murphy....it was not the "exact" same team, not even close...not to mention that Alabama was also NOT the exact same team......

I get the overall point you are trying to make, not sure I completely agree with it, but let's not try and say that Mullen was the only difference between 2008 and 2009. Let's also not forget that in 2009, without Percy, that offense was rated higher than anything Mullen's offensive did and went undefeated during the season (first time ever Florida accomplished that), they just lost to a rock solid Alabama team in the SEC Championship game....before going on to set all sorts of offensive records in the Sugar Bowl.

Quote:

Yes I do... In my mind he already has... Who in the world goes to Miss St. and takes them all the way to #1... Dan didnt have Alabama, LSU, TEXAS A&M, OHIO ST. CLEMSON, GEORGIA talent or resources... One thing that people forget is that Dan Mullen while at Mississippi State beat Urban Meyer while he was in Florida in the swamp
Mullen is a great coach, complete agree and Mullen did some really good things at Mississippi State, but let's not make it into more than it really was. During his 9 years at MSU.....

  • (1) 10 win season in 2014, which is a great accomplishment for that school
  • (4) 8-4 seasons in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017
  • (2) 6-6 seasons in 2011, 2013
  • (2) losing seasons in 2009 , 2016

While that might be better than what MSU usually does, it is not a "transcendent" accomplishment.

Quote:

Dan Mullen is not a 15 ounce ribeye steak with a loaded baked potato.. Dan is more like a Kale salad with avocado and green tea..
Please do not every insult our coach by comparing him to Kale...


I agree that the future is bright, but let's not get ahead of ourselves....
Graylon
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Yes you're right we didnt have Louis Murphy or percy... in 2009.. but we still had David Nelson, Deonte Thompson, Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez, Carl Johnson, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps and Tim Tebow....we had a nice squad... At times we struggled on offense that year I believe because we didnt have the Mullen making the adjustments... Steve Addazio was dreadful those 2 years after Mullen left...

The best years of Mississippi state was when he was there and that's no accident. He was doing this at the time with the SEC West was Murderers Row. It didnt help when Texas A&M came into the conference.. imagine if Dan Mullen had the talent that LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M... finishing 8-4 at Mississippi St. on a consistent basis is exceptional... yes he had a 6-6 and couple losing season... that is expecting at Miss St. Even though I feel like Nick Saban is one of the greatest coaches of all time but if I had my choice I would choose Mullen if you give him the same talent... I don't think that saving is is Invincible is everybody says he is. I've said this even before the national championship game Monday

The reason I mention Dan Mullen with Kale and avacados and Green tea ( I forgot broccoli) hahahaha They're all good for you. You cant go wrong with it, it's not something Outback Steakhouse is going to advertise on television... lmao..

I know Dan is not perfect but I believe Dan can do more with less than others can do with most...

I'll be the first to tell you that he wasn't the first guy that I wanted. After I thought about it and look at what did at Mississippi St. I was really excited.. I was worried about his recruiting, but now I'm not worried about a thing..


Eric-UF
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Graylon said:

Yes you're right we didnt have Louis Murphy or percy... in 2009.. but we still had David Nelson, Deonte Thompson, Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez, Carl Johnson, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps and Tim Tebow....we had a nice squad... At times we struggled on offense that year I believe because we didnt have the Mullen making the adjustments... Steve Addazio was dreadful those 2 years after Mullen left...
Addazio definitely struggled in year 2, but I think that was more to do with Tebow leaving and Brantley, while good, not being Tebow. I would agree that Addazio is not as good as Mullen, but he did pretty good (at least according to the numbers) in 2009 (we did finish the year 13-1) and has been doing pretty good as HC at Boston Collage.

Quote:

The best years of Mississippi state was when he was there and that's no accident. He was doing this at the time with the SEC West was Murderers Row. It didnt help when Texas A&M came into the conference.. imagine if Dan Mullen had the talent that LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M... finishing 8-4 at Mississippi St. on a consistent basis is exceptional... yes he had a 6-6 and couple losing season... that is expecting at Miss St. Even though I feel like Nick Saban is one of the greatest coaches of all time but if I had my choice I would choose Mullen if you give him the same talent... I don't think that saving is is Invincible is everybody says he is. I've said this even before the national championship game Monday

I completely agree that given what he had, he did very well...but I would not take him over Saban...Saban is the greatest college coach of all time. He took LSU from a sea of average and pretty much put them on the map as a legit power house. Prior to Saban's arrival at LSU in 2000, the tigers had gone 124-99 from 1980 - 1999 with 10 losing seasons and only 2 Top 10 finishes (87 and 86). From 1989 - 1999, LSU had 8 losing seasons with a 58-65 record over those 10 years prior to Saban's arrival. He landed elite recruiting classes immeditely and got results quickly...To be able to turn that mess in to a National Champion in just 4 season was a miracle!

Then, he pretty much did the exact same thing at Alabama.
Quote:

The reason I mention Dan Mullen with Kale and avacados and Green tea ( I forgot broccoli) hahahaha They're all good for you. You cant go wrong with it, it's not something Outback Steakhouse is going to advertise on television... lmao..
Understood, now I understand....


Quote:

I'll be the first to tell you that he wasn't the first guy that I wanted. After I thought about it and look at what did at Mississippi St. I was really excited.. I was worried about his recruiting, but now I'm not worried about a thing..
Same here, not my first choice, but I am glad he is here!
Graylon
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Gary Pinkel and Chip Kelly were not playing in the SEC west...the year Mullen made it to number 1 he beat 3 teams that were ranked in the 10 in a row LSU, Texas A&m, and Auburn.... ( i could be wrong about them all being top 10 but I know at least top 15)Yes I agree that talent has to get better... Mainly the depth..

Yes i would say Lincoln Riley is transcending on offense.. All around not as good as Mullen... I dont recall Franks being a 5*.. if he was somebody should lose their credentials. It's very clear that he is not a five star.. I'm not going to trash Franks, Riley I dont believe could have done what Mullen did for him... Lincoln Riley's offense is predicated on timing and accuracy. Two things that Franks really struggles with.. Mullen has created an offense and a culture where he is putting EVERYONE DOWN TO THE WATER BOY in positions to succeed...

I don't necessarily think caliber athletes cost us against Georgia. The slow start with the Franks overthrow an interception and the Jordan Scarlett fumble cost the game... the depth at corner back hurt us... oh and it would have helped if Vosean would have decided to cover the tight end... hahahaha sloppiness cost us that game...


Look at the numbers that Tebow put up 2007.. Tebow was the first sophomore to win the Heisman I believe... that offense that year was ridiculous. A young defense is the only thing that cost us the national championship that year. In my opinion and I don't know much Dan Mullen is very transcending he hasn't had the opportunity to get the full scale athletes like an Urban Meyer, Nick Saban Dabo Swinney Pete Carroll or Jimbo Fisher.
MariettaGator
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Proper, not properly grammar usage.
Graylon
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My bad.. auto correct is a butthole on my phone lmao
EricN
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Well we got Manuel!

Now we need Davis (CB) and Bowman (RB) to jump in
Lilgator
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Do you want to change your outlook again @Mark Wheeler?
Lilgator
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How come you can't tag other members on this board like you can on other ones?
Swamp_Thing
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Graylon said:

Dan will be fine in recruiting... He may not make the big splash like everyone wants... but they young kids and players respond to him a lot like how Dabo's players interact and respond with him.. Dan can interact with anyone... What I love about Dan is he takes his time.. He's patient and methodical.. he doesnt panic and deviate from his goal or plan, also not so stubborn to change or tweak when needed..

Most everyone expects Dan to do things like Clemson, Bama, Georgia, Ohio St... lets face it they are the standards of college football... Dan doesnt have to, to be successful... you cant rate or compare with stats or other programs, because of his kind of odd style.. Hes been proving me wrong since 2005..Unless he burns out I believe that Dan Mullen will stand the test of time..


What does this even mean?!
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
Lilgator said:

Do you want to change your outlook again @Mark Wheeler?
I feel about the same. Coming in he wasn't thought highly of as a recruiter, and while he still isn't top tier, he isn't as bad as I thought.

There are some changes that need to take place though. What they are, I'm really not sure at this point.
Bill Sikes
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SORT14 said:

EricN said:

You may read them as excuses - I read it as confidence in what CDM is building.
I think jimbo and Kirby had a lot of buzz that helped them in recruiting and they are better recruiters than our staff. That's a given.
BUT, I still think when it is all said and done, we will have a top-10 class this year and a top-5 class next year.

I am patient and optimistic about the course and direction of the program.
Florida will be just fine in recruiting and more importantly, on the field. There is no reason to suspect otherwise. None.

Which earth dimension are talking about here? Because it sure as hell isn't this one.
I'm just a rando fan...
Bill Sikes
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Mark,


Landing Henderson (a guy the big time programs passed on due to off-field stuff) and Steele (a guy on his 3rd commitment who proved UF was only a temporary infatuation) does not merit an "oh my". Neither does landing the 11th, or even 9th ranked class. Yes, UF had the 37th ranked class over the summer, due to their own boneheaded recruiting plan. But as I told people then, and told people when they were 17th, there was no way the class would stay that low. There are only about 13-14 big-time recruiting programs each year, so it's almost impossible for UF to get down there.

Yes, people celebrated the #9 class, because it sounds good and because they don't understand what championship recruiting really looks like. But even that finish, which is historically sub-standard, was built on smoke and mirrors. The class has already endured heavy attrition, which Mullen now admits he knew would happen from the start.

Also, you said UF was a difference making DL and safety from closing about as well as could have been expected this cycle. Well, sure. Let's say they added 5-star DT Zacch Pickens and 5-star S Daxton Hill. The class score would've raised to over 292 and put UF in 3rd place nationally. And that sounds like such a simple addition. But adding 2 5-stars annually could keep 6-8 on your roster, depending on early departures. Even if only half then play at an All-SEC level, you've got at least 3 additional studs on the field at all times. That's a BIG difference.

But even if it wasn't, the statement still isn't true. One of the major rallying cries of those deflecting ratings-based criticism is that Mullen will "avoid roster gaps and recruit balanced classes"... and yet, with the departure of apparently undeveloped Malik Langham, Jaelin Humphries stands as UF's only big DL in 2 classes. Is it not ok to expect needs to be filled? What about the fact that the class has now only provided 3 top-100 prospects? What about the inordinate number of high-risk guys (who have already come back to bite UF 3 ways) or takes had few options (Syracuse was a major player for Wright)? No, 2019 could've been better in several ways, and the lack of elite prospects was only one of those.

Also, regarding your comparisons to Muschamp and Zook. Muschamp's 2012 class had 3 5-stars (2 of whom ended up as college all-americans), 13 4-stars, and 7 3-stars. Mullen had no 5-stars, 17 4-stars, and 8 3-stars last year. Zook's 2003 primadonna 5-stars included :

Andrew Caldwell
Chris Leak
Jarvis Moss
Joe Cohen
Chad Jackson
Dee Webb

He also had other overrated top-100s like:
Reggie Nelson
Marcus Thomas
Earl Everett

There's a reason these classes were rated higher than Mullen's 2019 group.


I could go on, but I won't for now. And I get that this is subjective opinion based on your perception of improvement. But Mullen finished almost exactly where I expected him to last year. So far, he's on track for very similar results. Now, that could very well change down the stretch. Things change. Systemic issues can be fixed. They're certainly (and finally) making a few secondary staff moves that could fix the disaster his initial staff created. But when looking for tangible evidence of pre-championship level recruiting, I'm not seeing it.... yet.
I'm just a rando fan...
upstateg8tor
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We all get it Bill ...we're not as smart as you when it comes to recruiting. Shame on us for feeling happy about good news every once in while.

upstateg8tor
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Are we gonna recycle every feel good article as an 'I told you so' moment every time something negative happens on the trail?
Bill Sikes
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upstateg8tor said:

We all get it Bill ...we're not as smart as you when it comes to recruiting. Shame on us for feeling happy about good news every once in while.


Shame on you for being so emotionally dependent on Gator football that reality triggers you.
I'm just a rando fan...
Bill Sikes
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upstateg8tor said:

Are we gonna recycle every feel good article as an 'I told you so' moment every time something negative happens on the trail?
Why would I need to do that?
I'm just a rando fan...
Bill Sikes
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Titletown said:

Why shouldn't he be compared to teams that are making the college football playoff? That's the standard isn't it?
No it is not. The standard is teams making it to the playoffs from the SEC.
I'm just a rando fan...
Eric-UF
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Bill Sikes said:

Titletown said:

Why shouldn't he be compared to teams that are making the college football playoff? That's the standard isn't it?
No it is not. The standard is teams making it to the playoffs from the SEC.


I would rephrase it a bit...

...the near term "standard" should be what it will take to win the SEC with the long term "standard" of it will take to win a National Title....you dont build your program to get to title games and lose.

Bill's point is valid because in the SEC those standards are very close....much closer than what it would take to win the ACC (which basicly requires you to beat 1 team).
---Go Gators!
peanut46
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DAN THE MAN!
upstateg8tor
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Ok. I'm ashamed
upstateg8tor
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Not according to some
Eric-UF
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upstateg8tor said:

Not according to some


I'm pretty sure even his most avid critics would agree he is a man.

---Go Gators!
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