On a national signing day that saw five four-star studs fall Florida’s way, the early addition of a three-star offensive lineman from Georgia went almost unnoticed by those following recruiting in Gator Nation.
It’s a natural thing, really. When your national ranking is 1,464 on 247Sports and you’re rated the 146th best prospect in your state, you’re going to get overlooked, dismissed.
But there is one very important Gator who is extremely excited about Griffin McDowell coming to Gainesville.
Having recruited McDowell for the last two years when he was the head coach at Mississippi State, Mullen knows all about McDowell and what he can do. And he thinks he is a prime prospect for the future.
“He’s a guy that. … I’m a big believer,” Mullen said. “We had him in multiple camps, and so when you have the opportunity to have him in camps and you’re coaching and teaching him and seeing how he responds, then you get to watch him on film and his growth from his junior to his senior year, then you get to find out the competitive nature — he’s one of those guys. You do your homework and you know an awful lot about him, both as a player, as a person, as a student.
“He’s a player I always knew I wanted on my team. I mean, he wasn’t going to wrestle because of all the recruiting stuff, and then he’s going to the state wrestling meet. He’s got to compete. And those are the guys that I love.”
McDowell committed to Mullen and MSU last summer. That commitment held firm, even after Mullen made the move to Florida. But late in the recruiting process, Mullen reached out to McDowell to see if he was interested in coming to Florida. He was, and he did, flipping to the Gators after his visit to UF on the last weekend in January.
When the unknown McDowell announced his commitment on Twitter the next day, many were wondering if it was a mistake, if he even had a firm offer from Florida yet.
He did, and he accepted it.
Mullen is glad he did.
“After the dust settled a little bit (after Mullen took the UF job), I said, ‘Hey, is there interest?’ And he said, ‘absolutely,’ “ Mullen said. “It’s two and a half, three hours from his house, the opportunity to come here, stay close to home, be near his family and obviously come to the University of Florida.
“He was really excited about it. I’m real excited about him because you know so much about him. One of the things I think you get in trouble as a coach sometimes, all of a sudden you know so much about one guy, and then you just see like a quick highlight film of somebody else and you get all excited about this new guy that you don’t really know much about, and you know all the good and bad about somebody else, that you can fall for the new, quick, shiny five-minute highlight video.
“You’ve got to be really cautious as a coach that you do your proper research and you know exactly who you’re getting as a player, and with Griffin we know exactly who we’re getting.”
As Mullen showed at MSU, one of his strengths is player development. And he obviously sees something in this highly competitive kid from tiny Leesburg, Ga.