Florida Football Recruiting

Today's Take: A history of doing more with less

August 4, 2020
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While Dan Mullen has found immediate success on the field - becoming the first coach in NCAA history to lead his team to back-to-back NY6 Bowl wins – that hasn't necessarily translated into success along the recruiting trail.

In his first two full classes, by any metric you choose to use, Mullen has seen Florida get dominated by the likes of Alabama, Georgia, and LSU.

Even in this cycle, where the Gators got off to a hot start, UF still currently finds itself looking up in the 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings at both the Tide and Tigers. And though they are ranked ahead of the Bulldogs by four spots, that is simply a matter of quantity over quality, which sees Florida with a 25 point lead despite having more than double the amount of commits.

With little to no hope of actually out-recruiting that SEC trio, the Florida faithful finds itself in the position of hoping – and needing - Mullen and Company to out-develop and out-coach the competition.

Though the recruiting news of late hasn't been incredibly positive, there is however a ray of hope as far as the staff's ability to spot and develop talent is concerned.

Last week the NFL Network ran their annual countdown of the Top 100 NFL players.

Headlining the list of talent producers were the usual suspects Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. Those are teams that regularly finished inside the Composite Top 10 in team recruiting rankings – if not in the top five.

There was one very big surprise though.

Tied with Notre Dame at No. 4, with five players on the list, was Mississippi State.

Despite signing only two classes ranked in the Top 20 during his nine-year stint in Starkville, Mullen and staff produced five of the NFL's Top 100 players last year.

No. Class Name Stars
#92 2009 Darius Slay
#73 2009 Fletcher Cox
#63 2011 Preston Smith
#52 2013 Chris Jones
#46 2011 Dak Prescott

By comparison, though Florida regularly signed Top 5-10 classes in the same time frame, the Gators had zero players on the list.

Class MSU (*) UF
2009 18 (4) 7
2010 30 (5) 1
2011 41 (6) 11
2012 22 (5) 3
2013 24 (7) 3
2014 36 (7) 9
2015 18 (6) 21
2016 28 (7) 12
2017 29 (5) 11

(* Class ranking in the SEC West)

Back in the summer of 2018, before he coached his first game as the head coach of the Florida Gators, Mullen asked the fans in attendance at a Gator Gathering event to trust in the evaluation of the coaching staff.

“I always remember and I always remind our coaches of this, you got to trust your evaluation, you got to trust in you.”

History dictates that what he said is true.

According to MSU Bulldogs radio analyst Matt Wyatt - Mullen and staff have a knack for identifying and developing players.

“They are some of the best developers of talent in the country because they are so committed to the improvement of those guys,” said Wyatt. “They coach them hard. They're hard on them. They're hard on them in the weight room. That's one of the reasons guys develop, if you stick around you get better, or otherwise, you don't stick around.”

Part of the reason he had to make do with those who are thought to have ‘lesser’ talent coming out of high school is that Mississippi State isn’t exactly a recruiting powerhouse and to be fair, Mullen isn’t exactly thought of as top tier recruiter. 

However, at Missississippi State Mullen’s teams consistently finished ahead of their class rankings.

Those classes that on paper averaged a sixth-place finish in the SEC West Team Recruiting Rankings, on the field averaged a fourth-place finish in the SEC West football standings.

While at MSU, for the most part, Mullen and staff knew that they weren’t going to be able to go toe-to-toe with the big boys for top-end talent, and thus had to look for some diamonds in the rough to develop.

“I think the quality they deserve credit for here at State and elsewhere,” explained Wyatt. “They deserve credit for identifying players who have certain traits, whether it's height, speed or athleticism and seeing what they can be down the road if they develop, paired with having the guts to go out and sign those kids even though they might not be a four or a five-star and the fan-base might be throwing a fit that they're not going after some other kid.

“Dan Mullen said it early at Mississippi State and I don't think he was joking – he said we don't go by the recruiting services, we develop our own ranking for kids based on what we like. Look, say what you want, but the proof is in the pudding. They know what they want and they don't care what the recruiting services say, they go get who they want and then when they get them they develop them. These guys in the NFL kind of prove that they know what they are doing.”

At MSU he had to take that approach out of necessity.

However, at Florida, it was thought that he would have a better chance of building a team stocked full of better talent than was available to him at Mississippi State.

And, by inking the No. 9 rated class in each of the last two cycles at UF, he has already surpassed what he was able to do recruiting wise at MSU.

Now, will the same formula for success play out in Gainesville?

Will these Florida classes’ onfield success be greater than their class ranking?

While Mullen and staff have hotly pursued and missed on their fair share of highly sought after targets, they are still signing substantially better talent than they did awhile at MSU and until proven otherwise, two NY6 Bowl wins in the first two years earns this staff the benefit of the doubt.

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We Chomp Chat: Road Trip Wednesday with updates on Rucker, Langston, Slaughter and more

Today's Take: A history of doing more with less

3,198 Views | 12 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by Harold Walker
outofsight
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If we start beating the Dawgs regularly I will give him a pass on recruiting because it will be clear that he has an eye for getting who he needs.

We haven't beaten Georgia yet with Mullen.
UFChad14
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For them that think he will turn recruiting around with a great season, he finished last in the west in recruiting in 3 of his last 5 seasons after he built a proven winner.

He's 3 star Dan.

That's who he's going to sign we just got to hope he can win with them.
gatorbreath
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UFChad14 said:

For them that think he will turn recruiting around with a great season, he finished last in the west in recruiting in 3 of his last 5 seasons after he built a proven winner.

He's 3 star Dan.

That's who he's going to sign we just got to hope he can win with them.
The recruiting ceiling at Miss. ST. is limited. No coach is going to be a top recruiter with those facilities. Basing coach Mullens recruiting on his time there makes no sense whatsoever. Consider that it may take more than two years to change the recruits perception of a 4 and 7 dumpster fire in 2017.
EricN
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All the dire - the sky is falling - 3 star dan - etc. are getting beyond ridiculous.

Yes there are disappointments in missing on some recruits but WE ARE WINNING

Sheez. The comments are getting old - I will take winning over getting high profile recruits that don't give a damn about UF or the program

We are on the right path - I am confident in that
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
As is posted above, historically speaking, MSU is probably the 12th or 13th best program in the SEC, making their seventh place in the West recruiting race predictable.

The point of the table is to show that though they averaged a 6th place class in the team recruiting rankings, they averaged a 4th place finish on the field (they actually finished 4th each year but one, when they finished 2nd) - meaning they outplayed their recruiting ranking.

If he can do that well at Florida, his 2nd place finish in the East in recruiting would result in finishing 1st in the East on the field.
Swamp_Thing
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gatorbreath said:

UFChad14 said:

For them that think he will turn recruiting around with a great season, he finished last in the west in recruiting in 3 of his last 5 seasons after he built a proven winner.

He's 3 star Dan.

That's who he's going to sign we just got to hope he can win with them.
The recruiting ceiling at Miss. ST. is limited. No coach is going to be a top recruiter with those facilities. Basing coach Mullens recruiting on his time there makes no sense whatsoever. Consider that it may take more than two years to change the recruits perception of a 4 and 7 dumpster fire in 2017.


Actually it doesn't. Recruiters that recruit well come in and do so immediately.

Example A- UNC went 3-9 and then 2-9. Brown game in and went 7-6 his first season. He signed the #2 class in the ACC and he's trending towards a top 10 class with a 91+ average recruit rating.

There are plenty of other examples just like the one above.
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
Swamp_Thing said:

gatorbreath said:

UFChad14 said:

For them that think he will turn recruiting around with a great season, he finished last in the west in recruiting in 3 of his last 5 seasons after he built a proven winner.

He's 3 star Dan.

That's who he's going to sign we just got to hope he can win with them.
The recruiting ceiling at Miss. ST. is limited. No coach is going to be a top recruiter with those facilities. Basing coach Mullens recruiting on his time there makes no sense whatsoever. Consider that it may take more than two years to change the recruits perception of a 4 and 7 dumpster fire in 2017.


Actually it doesn't. Recruiters that recruit well come in and do so immediately.

Example A- UNC went 3-9 and then 2-9. Brown game in and went 7-6 his first season. He signed the #2 class in the ACC and he's trending towards a top 10 class with a 91+ average recruit rating.

There are plenty of other examples just like the one above.
UNC is in a much better position than MSU in both their standing in the ACC and in facilities. Having said that, Brown is definitely thought of as a better recruiter than Mullen.
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
To be clear, I am not at all saying that the way Florida is recruiting right now is good enough to take the next step based on development alone.

What I am showing is that based on his history (not an opinion, but facts), at MSU Mullen finished two places in the standings better than the recruiting rankings would suggest. If he can do that at UF, where the Gators are finishing second in the East in recruiting, it would result in first-place finishes in the East.

Having said that, there is a difference between overcoming marginally better talent put on the field by Arkansas and Ole Miss as compared to facing significantly more talented UGA.
Swamp_Thing
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Mark Wheeler said:

Swamp_Thing said:

gatorbreath said:

UFChad14 said:

For them that think he will turn recruiting around with a great season, he finished last in the west in recruiting in 3 of his last 5 seasons after he built a proven winner.

He's 3 star Dan.

That's who he's going to sign we just got to hope he can win with them.
The recruiting ceiling at Miss. ST. is limited. No coach is going to be a top recruiter with those facilities. Basing coach Mullens recruiting on his time there makes no sense whatsoever. Consider that it may take more than two years to change the recruits perception of a 4 and 7 dumpster fire in 2017.


Actually it doesn't. Recruiters that recruit well come in and do so immediately.

Example A- UNC went 3-9 and then 2-9. Brown game in and went 7-6 his first season. He signed the #2 class in the ACC and he's trending towards a top 10 class with a 91+ average recruit rating.

There are plenty of other examples just like the one above.
UNC is in a much better position than MSU in both their standing in the ACC and in facilities. Having said that, Brown is definitely thought of as a better recruiter than Mullen.


My point is a coach can come in and recruit well right away. The comment was that it's going to take more than 2 years, which Dan has had already, to change the recruit's perceptions of UF. Would you say UNC is a better place to recruit than UF?
Swamp_Thing
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Mark Wheeler said:

To be clear, I am not at all saying that the way Florida is recruiting right now is good enough to take the next step based on development alone.

What I am showing is that based on his history (not an opinion, but facts), at MSU Mullen finished two places in the standings better than the recruiting rankings would suggest. If he can do that at UF, where the Gators are finishing second in the East in recruiting, it would result in first-place finishes in the East.

Having said that, there is a difference between overcoming marginally better talent put on the field by Arkansas and Ole Miss as compared to facing significantly more talented UGA.


Also to note by that logic Florida has finished on average 5th in the SEC, therefore putting them at 3rd at best in the SEC, so you're looking at not making the SECCG or probably just getting beat in the SECCG.
SwampMagic
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The jury is out on him until he beats Georgia, makes the SEC championship game, and makes the college football playoffs.
Harold Walker
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It's clear that some fair weather Gators will complain at 0 & 12 or 12 & 0 ? There's a small group of 3rd year SEC coaches that have been to and won back to back NY 6 bowl games .
Year 1 there was no ex Gator player or coach with state of Florida high school experience on the staff . Coach Mullen took a swing that year for Cali and Texas prep talent. Unfortunately it was a swing and a miss.
Add K Ratliff,C Skalaski,Tim Brewster,Torian Gray and rate what's happened with their efforts .
We have to win the recruiting battle in Florida . G Dexter,J Marshall & C Collier + X Henderson suggest we're going in the right direction .
Who's won the portal transfer situation the last 2 years ? Matt Luke , 2nd year assistant at Alabama was named SEC top recruiter this year. Tim Brewster came from doing a great job at UNC. Assistants move and things change !
Hang in there Gators,mix a little positive in there w/your consistent doomsday , we're gonna be ok !!
Coach Dan & staff will do more with more , this year and beyond !
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