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Florida Football

The New Recruiters On the Block

February 6, 2019
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FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
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It’s a process so intense it requires a War Room. One day in the national spotlight wasn’t enough, so it got two. Coaching staffs and media outlets alike appoint full time jobs to the cause. College football recruiting has taken on a life of its own in recent decades and evolved in ways we’d once never imagined.

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For the Florida Gators, that evolution has brought about a wave that at its core is the simplest principal; let the players recruit. And as the 2019 class put on it’s finishing touches this Wednesday, they saw the fruits of their labor pay off.

Diwun Black calls himself the eagle in the sky.

“I’m watching everything out there, I’m talking to everybody.”

If Black—who officially signed with the Gators on Wednesday as a 2019 linebacker—saw a new prospect for head coach Dan Mullen’s squad pop up on his radar, he’d gather five quick facts about them then distribute. If it was a corner, he sent them to fellow 2019 commit, Jaydon Hill. A wide receiver might be sent to Dionte Marks.

“Each position group, I tell that person go get him, talk to him, tell him what’s up.”

Since Black first committed to the Gators back in August, he’s been on one mission; to put together one of the Gators best classes in years. It started with Hill.

“Florida was looking at [Jaydon] but they wasn’t looking at him hard until I showed them film at the Opening and they like ‘yea we want him bad.’ There like two or three I did like that. It was like a lineman everybody was tagging him in. I screen recorded film, sent it to [Mullen], he was like ‘oh yea we’ll look into him.’ Then they offered him.”

Jaydon Hill worked out as a positive for the Gators, but Mullen explains that having these student recruiters out face to face with other atheltes can help the coaches narrow their target list in more ways than one. 

“When these guys go to camps and a lot of times they will go to these all-star games and I'll ask, ‘tell me about this guy’ and I've, we have, more so than not, you eliminate guys than take guys, to be honest with you. Like, ‘Coach, that's not a guy that's going to fit in our program. That's not, his attitude his demeanor this is a guy that got in a lot of trouble, this is a guy that I don't know that we want around our team. This is a guy I have question marks about.’

“But it does work the other way, where I have guys that are at the all-star games and they say, coach, we should recruit this guy. One, he's interested. Because a lot of times you go these all-star games and you're looking and everybody's got offers from around the country, but they say, hey, this guy is really interested in us. Okay. Legitimately interested. Okay. And I ask why and he says, we really should recruit him, because of this, this and this.”

Adds Black, “I help the coaches a lot. Like Dan Mullen he’ll ask me who I got next or who I should go for, person I should not go for, he wants another school. Or person like I should get it; it works good a lot.”

For Mullen, having all of the guys—especially Black—out in the field recruiting was huge. 

“I think the guys make relationships, I think if you look at Diwun Black and the amazing job he, the positiveness of the person and the personality and how that can draw other people in—and Diwun's an amazing story, I can't wait to get him on campus for us—but I think he's got that personality that as they go recruit, people want to be around. So I think that is huge.”

The 2019 class also stood out by staying together, something that can’t be said a lot in today’s high stakes world of 100% commits who are still open to other schools. They have a group text and each new commit would be added as they came. If someone began to waver on their commitment, he’d alert the group and his classmates would have time to talk to him about it before anything was made public.

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It’s not uncommon for players to reach out to other prospects and talk up their schools, but this 2019 Florida class took up the cause with a zeal that is, well, uncommon.

“I knew that I was gonna sign with Florida and go to Florida so I talked up Florida, I wanted the best to come with me too,” explains Black.

“I want the best class so we can have a chance to win a national championship so therefore I had went out recruiting, trying to get the best players—[saying] I see that Florida offered you, come on home, let’s do something special.’—So basically when I got the players I wanted to commit, I told them to do the same thing I was doing so we could make the class bigger and better.”

The biggest pay off from this practice though won’t be seen for another year. Black says the 2019 class has made it a point to reach out to those in the 2020 class, encouraging them, checking in and answering any questions. Now those juniors have taken up the banner as well, taking it to new levels that rival the coaches who recruited them in the first place.

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The 2020 class decided if they were going to do this recruiting thing, they were going to do it right; so they got out a map. Each player gets an area that’s “his” so to speak. Defensive tackle Gervon Dexter‍ is responsible for Polk County. Defensive end Josh Griffis‍ is responsible for those in his IMG area. So on and so forth. If there are two players in the same area, they’ve worked out a diplomatic solution.

Jaquavion Fraziars‍, a Dunnellon native who had to give up the Gainesville-Ocala area to Leonard Manuel‍, explains.

“Between two people in the area that wanted the area, we flipped a coin to see who got it. It was a hard process, it was hard.”

And don’t move in on someone else’s guy.

Dexter once began talking to a prospect who was considered Fraziars' territory.

“I hit up the quarterback and he didn’t really like it,” laughs Dexter.

“He just said the same thing I always tell him, he told me to stay in my area.”

Dexter later returned the sentiment when Fraziars moved in on Dexter’s guy. 

 

Fraziars, to his credit, has more responsibility with which to keep up on a daily basis. As the self-proclaimed best recruiter in the class, his classmates “rewarded” him justly with the whole nation.

“I was talking smack. I was saying I was the best recruiter out of everybody and they gave me the job.”

How’s a junior from Dunnellon supposed to handle an entire country worth of recruits?

“I don’t know,” he says with an exaggerated sigh.

“I think I’m doing pretty good. I done made it to about as far as Texas; I think that’s alright…I went to Texas in January for the National Combine.

“[Getting out to California is] one thing I’m gonna have to figure out myself.”

And just like the class before them, the 2020 guys have realized their practice can help the coaches they’re committing to as well.

“It’s just building a better relationship with the coaches also,” explains Dexter.

“Like if we do get each player to commit I know we’ll all come together. Like for [tight ends coach] Coach [Larry] Scott, sometimes he come to me and I’m like ‘man what you up to?’ So I know it’s making it easier for him.”

Like the 2019 class, this class has a group text and Fraziars says everyone works to hold each other accountable. If someone begins to doubt or waver, they jump in and weigh the factors with them.

Fraziars feels it’s his duty, like Black, to point out guys as well.

“I told them about Latrell Neville‍, he's from Texas too, he a 2021 wide receiver; I told em about him and like two days after they offered him.”

Dexter is still working on his main guys and has experienced recent success with quarterback Carson Beck‍ decommitting from Alabama.

“I just tell him, I always tell him since he’s a [former] Alabama commit, I always tell him you see what happened to [Jalen] Hurts. I just tell him he don’t wanna really put himself in that type of situation and I told him that never happened at Florida and even with this year with [Feleipe] Franks, I just kept telling him that and continue to tell him that.

“I’ve just felt like [Florida] was the top, that was one of the top opportunities that I had and a lot of people think that Alabama is like one of the best schools or Clemson and I just believe that University of Florida is at the same standard so why should I have to leave to go to Alabama or Clemson when I can get the same right here in my home state in Florida?”

Dexter isn’t the only one who feels this should be a priority. Dan Mullen sees the mindset already developing in his recruits. 

“A bunch of guys, they get together and look and say, ‘hey, we are from Florida and we're going to go to the University of Florida. And we're going to represent the Gator Nation and represent this state and go make a statement’ and those guys kind of stick together and recruit each other and stay together, that's huge. That can help lead to championships and put the Gators back into national prominence as a team that competes for championships on a regular basis.”

As the 2019 class begins to shift from recruits/commits to current Florida student-athletes, the 2020 class (currently ranked 6th in the nation) will move into the spotlight that shines uniquely on college football recruiting. The coaches will get to work putting together a Top 10 finish and in a trend that has flourished out of Gainesville, they’ll be getting a lot of help from their boots on the ground; a class made up with as many recruiters as recruits.

 
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