Mullen hopes he’s found his guy in Emory Jones

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Dan Mullen, the new head coach of Florida football, talks with the media during a press conference about the recruits signed in the early Signing Day, in a the south end zone team meeting room of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Florida’s offense has made its official pivot toward a new philosophy and a new style under Dan Mullen. It happened around noon Wednesday, when Heard County (Ga.) quarterback Emory Jones announced in Atlanta that he is a Gator.

Mullen has found his man, a four-star, dual-threat quarterback whose skill set seems an ideal fit for Mullen’s offense and where he wants to take it at Florida.

“Obviously it’s huge to get a quarterback, a guy that kind of ends up being a big leader for the class. As everybody looks at it, a leader for the future of the program,” Mullen said. “And we couldn’t be happier to have Emory coming in and being our quarterback for the future.”

Jones appears to have everything Mullen is looking for in a quarterback. He’s got a big arm, he’s athletic, he can run and he can extend plays with his mobility.

And then there’s the biggest QB attribute of all.

“He’s a winner,” Mullen said. “It starts there, of somebody that has that mindset. He even sent me a text about 10 days ago. He said, ‘Hey, you know what, when all is said and done, I’m your man, I’m going to help you win championships at Florida.’

“When you see a text like that, that’s what I want to see out of my quarterback, someone that has that confidence and that expectation, not worried about what jersey number or worried about a lot of the other stuff that goes on in recruiting. He’s someone who’s worried about coming in and doing what it takes to win.

“So, he checks all of those boxes. Obviously he’s got a strong arm. He’s got the size and the athletic ability to improvise. He can run, but he can also improvise and extend plays, and he does have a cannon for an arm.”

Jones’ flip to Florida from Urban Meyer and Ohio State was the highlight of a successful first day of the early signing period for the Gators.

In only a little more than a month, Mullen and his staff not only held UF’s committed class together, but added two highly rated prospects Wednesday — Jones and four-star defensive back Trey Dean, who also is from Georgia (Hampton).

The Gators signed 13 prospects, including two four-star running backs (Iverson Clement and Dameon Pierce), two four-star tight ends (Dante Lang and Kyle Pitts), three highly rated defensive backs (Dean, John Huggins and Randy Russell), two offensive linemen (Noah Banks and Chris Bleich), a top linebacker (David Reese) and the nation’s No. 2 place-kicker (Evan McPherson).

Mullen and his staff will fill out the class over the next six weeks leading into National Signing Day on Feb. 7.

They’re certainly off to a pretty remarkable start considering how little time Mullen and his assistants had to put this foundation together heading in to the early signing period.

“Exciting day for us today. I’m really pleased with how today went,” Mullen said. “I thought our coaching staff did a great job. Usually you have a new staff coming in, you’re kind of under crunch time, and that’s when signing day is in February.

“For the December 20th signing day, I think our guys did a fabulous job working, getting to know these kids, getting out there, developing the relationships, finding out the things we needed to find out that the guys fit, what the expectations within our program are as we’re bringing them in here. I’m really proud of all our assistant coaches, how they worked.”

Only a few days earlier, many in Gator Nation seemed ready to step out on the ledge when longtime four-star quarterback commitment Matt Corral backed off his official visit to UF and promptly switched his commitment to Ole Miss.

Mullen certainly didn’t panic. Over the last few weeks, Jones had emerged as the Gators’ No. 1 QB target. Mullen and Jones already had a relationship. Mullen was the first to offer Jones a scholarship three years ago when Mullen was the head coach at Mississippi State. When Mullen took over the head job at Florida, the two reconnected.

“I think it was him reaching out to me,” Mullen said. “I think we were both kind of looking and feeling everybody, and he was feeling out his situation and we were feeling out our situation. I think that was his word to me of, ‘Hey, I can’t wait to get you in the house and sit down and let’s see if this works for both of us.’

“I think the familiarity we had with each other really made it easy because he knew what he was getting with us and we knew what we were getting in him.”

Mullen said Jones has a clear understanding of what he’s stepping into. Expectations at Florida, especially for the starting quarterback, are traditionally off the charts.

Mullen said Jones can cope.

“He’s not just coming to play quarterback, he’s coming to play quarterback at the University of Florida, and there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that,” Mullen said. “It’s the history of the position here, and you have to find somebody that can handle the responsibilities of not just the quarterback position for the football team, but the quarterback at the University of Florida, which is something special.

“His comfort with us and our comfort with him, I know that he is somebody that can handle that, that can handle that scrutiny, handle that pressure, handle those expectations. And, really, not handle it, but thrive on it, and that’s what he was looking for is to be the quarterback at really the premier quarterback school in America.”

Jones is one of eight early enrollees. He’ll have a chance to start competing for the starting role with UF’s three other scholarship quarterbacks — Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Jake Allen — in the spring.

Jones hasn’t been promised anything, other than the chance to compete.

“The opportunity for him graduating early and going through spring practice will give him a chance,” Mullen said. “But I’ll be honest with you, there are a couple quarterbacks on campus that are going to have something to say about that because they’re going to have a competitive edge to them as well.

“I think that that mindset, the competitiveness at the position, is certainly going to elevate the play of all of the quarterbacks.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.

37 COMMENTS

  1. Great get and first recruiting effort for Coach Mullen and staff. As Coach Mullen points out, I also appreciate that he’s here to win and will do all the little things it takes to prepare.

  2. There are several additional points to the recruiting of Emory Jones: 1) Scott Stricklin hit a grand slam by hiring a HC with SEC experience; 2) Dan Mullen was an absolute genius to hire Brian Johnson as the QB coach (at the time of the hire, it didn’t make sense to some of us in Gator Nation); and, 3) Dan Mullen just proved to the doubters that he IS a heck of a recruiter!

    • #1 and #3 – I totally agree with. I don’t buy all of this recruiting rating stuff anyway. sounds like we got a good kid, but lets see. I still think it will take at least 3 years to restore the gators to be a national championship contender, between the 10 credit card scholarships wasted, the macelwain first class that had some holes, and this one is going to be hard to be elite as well. I don’t disagree with #2, just don’t know 100%.
      I’m happy as long as the fans will understand not to expect miracles.

      • Fair enough, mveal, as usual for your commentary, and nicely balanced optimism. Here’s something I read in this article, though, that may be small but it was big to me when I read it. “…I’m your man…..I’m going to help you win championships at Florida”. That’s almost precisely what Chris Leak said when he signed on all those years ago, and I think we all know what happened after that. Been waiting to hear something like that from a QB recruit for a long time now.

      • Mveal credit card thing is over what’s happened to those caught in it will process out it’s in the past now let it stay there and move on, that Horse is dead now, we have a live one now in the Mullen era let’s move on to better things

        • McVeal is right, we are going to feel the loss of those scholarships for several years, so it ISNT over. We cant go and get them back. Plus i get ticked at anybody who has more to say than just their opinion and starts telling others what to say and do.

          • Roger that, daz. Jacob doesn’t tick me off, but mveal makes a good point just the same, and the open question remains, what happens c those scholarships and the players who have them right now? I’ll admit to not being the brightest knife in the microwave, or something like that, but that needs to be sorted out pretty damn soon.

    • You’re right about 3 years away from NC contention, but that is if Mullen does everything right and some luck. That would mean we have a decent season in 2018 and and good season in 2019, along with great recruiting those years, leading to a great season in 2020. That’s pretty much best case scenario. Remember, it’s not like when Meyer took over after Ron Zook’s good recruiting.

      • Patrick, I’m in your corner. I think at least 8-4 and a good bowl win in 2018, followed by at least 9-3, or better yet, 10-2, in 2019 will upgrade recruiting to the point that by 2020 we’ll be knocking on that door and most likely there by 2021. Or some variation there-of, just including my estimate of the numbers in case Mike-the-Engineer is following! (kind of come to grudgingly believe that he’s got a point by using numerics when possible).

        • Gator-6…. don’t forget we have to play UGA while they are currently hot, LSU who is always a thorn in our side and USC with an always solid Muschamp defense. Mullen will need to compete for the SEC East hopefully sooner than later. Go Gators!!!

  3. Great great great! Thrives on high expectations! This is the guy! I seriously doubt you will ever hear him comparing himself to Tom Brady on the basis of his ability to throw interceptions!!!

  4. Excellent signing of Emory Jones. A plus start on balance of signings. Be very interesting to see the fill pieces between now and Saturday morning. Then February on the horizon. Mullen mentioned a possible 2nd QB. What about 3* QB Wyatt Rector 6’4″ 220 QB/FB/TE /Wildcat. or 3* QB Cordel Littlejohn 6’4″ 190 QB/WR/Wildcat ?
    Missed on a few Tuesday who will the #2 QB Dual Threat ??

    • Watched Wyatt Rector play against Vanguard his team didn’t score. I don’t think that is a good option for us trying to rebuild a program.

  5. Strong start to this recruiting class. Great job coaches! Looking ahead, it would be really helpful to know the fate of as many members of the “Knucklehead Nine” as possible before the remaining scholarships are filled in February. If any of those (besides Callaway) are dismissed or decline the opportunity to return next season, what would be the state of those scholarships? Would UF be able to replace any of those openings in addition to the 12 currently remaining scholys? It would sure help the depth needed to compete in then SEC.

    • Great comment, Adrian. I just laid a big public egg on Jones, ate the humble pie, but I like your attitude just the same. So what? Who knows, stranger things have happened….not many….but they have.

  6. Mullen has much experience recruiting and coaching in the SEC and he is an offensive mind. Great start to the recruiting season and Jones coming on board certainly should help get some recruits interested. Now the staff can focus on the four main positions of need. Also excited to see the gators fill out their coaching staff. Perhaps the early signees will draw interest from some top assistant coaches. Go Gators!

  7. Great and even better he will need to earn his job by competition. I also hope that he understands that his leadership should extend to the community as well. Be like Tim at least somewhat and your future will be a success no matter what else happens.

  8. Good job coaches and support staff for a big successful recruiting day! Gator Nation sends a big “welcome aboard” to all our new signees. Gator ship has been taking in some water as of late. With Coach Mullen at the helm we’re going to right this ship and return to playing Florida football! Go Gators!

  9. I could not be bothered to revisit earlier articles, so…

    THE SKY IS FALLING!!! THE SKY IS FALLING!!! THE SKY IS FALLING!!!

    Oops; never mind.

    You know who you are.

  10. Robbie, if I understand correctly, Jones missed about half of the season in 2016. Therefore, the Gators have gotten a QB who could have been ranked MUCH HIGHER.

  11. I know it’s been a while since Mullen been to fla, but telling Jones the qb expectations are high, I think the past few qb and coaches have soften that up a little. Hope Dan can let Toney try out the position again also, Dan has an eye for playmaker talent.

  12. Clearly, DM is a better HC and recruiter than many realized (ESPN et. al); and Emory Jones, a great QB, will naturally recruit other great players. I’M PROUD OF WHAT DAN MULLEN HAS DONE IN LESS THAN A MONTH!

  13. I previously said that landing Jones was (and is) huge. Shifting focus, what about Jake Allen? I think he also brings a lot to the table, yet we have not heard anything about him (by former Coach Mac or Coach Mullen). Time will tell, but I predict he will definitely be in the mix this year.

    • Damn good question, Glen. We found out the hard way this season about depth at QB, and there’s a couple of redshirts still sitting there without any mention at all that I’ve heard.

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