Mullen, Gators picking up momentum on recruiting trail

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Florida football coach Dan Mullen walks across the field during practice Tuesday at the Sanders Practice Fields on campus. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun]

As Florida coach Dan Mullen approached the lectern at media day last week, the day the Gators reported to preseasonl camp, social media was abuzz with the news Diwun Black had flipped from Ole Miss to Florida.

Formerly committed to Mullen while the head coach at Mississippi State, Black announced his flip in a commitment video directed and produced by Gainesville journalist Zach Abolverdi available exclusively on GatorSports.com, the Gainesville Sun’s sports website.

While Mullen can’t discuss specific recruits, the topic of recruiting inevitably came up among a slew of other subjects unrelated to the game itself yet ones that have surrounded the Florida program throughout the offseason.

“I think there’s a lot of excitement around our program, not just in — for this recruiting class but future recruiting classes,” Mullen said. “I think there is a lot of excitement around our program and the future that it’s headed.”

And it’s started to pay dividends for the Gators, as UF landed two prospects in the 2020 class following Friday Night Lights in Gainesville Eastside quarterback Anthony Richardson and highly touted defensive end Kedrick Bingley-Jones. While there have been several high-profile blunders and shortcomings on the trail, most notably on the West Coast, Mullen said UF’s best recruiting tool will be the team’s performance this season. Florida looks to rebound after a disastrous 2017 campaign that saw it struggle to win four games and led to an overhaul of the entire coaching staff.

“I think it’s something that’s going to continue to build when they see how we play on Saturdays, the type of offense and defense we play. There’s probably a lot of kids that haven’t seen our offense before,” Mullen said. “But they know what the Gator standard is and they know the academics. They know the history. They know the tradition. They know all about The Swamp, and then they want to see what our team, offense, defense, special teams is going to look like.”

And for those thinking Mullen expects the 2018 season to be one of growth rather than a competitive season? Well, nobody informed the 46-year-old Mullen that the Gators won’t compete for a national championship immediately. If Florida does live up to the internal expectations set by the head coach, expect many prospects committed elsewhere to re-consider their decisions.

“Trust me, I want to win with this year’s team. I expect to compete for a championship with this year’s team,” Mullen said, “but also I want to build a program, which is even more important, over the long term that’s a consistent winner and consistently competing for championships.”

41 COMMENTS

  1. A championship is not only the national championship. The East and the SEC are both championships, and competing does not mean winning either. What we need is massive improvement in play, that will result in both wins and better recruiting. Both come from much better coaching of the talent we already have, something the last folks never really did.

  2. I got me this here idear about how to cut down recruits crossing the law here at good ol’ UF. If a recruit gets in legal trouble the first year, the head coach and the recruit’s main recruiting coach will be fined 2% of their base pay, the second year 1.5%, the third year 1%, and so on. Besides that, in the case of the more problematical prospects, the latter’s family will be required to put up a performance bond of, let’s say, $100,000 to be forfeited into a general athletic fund should the recruit mess hisself up. Details to be worked out.

    • Most of the recruits can barely afford a pair of shoes. Good luck with a $100,000 bond. Coaches can only do so much. If you start fining a coach for bad conduct of a player you will not be able to get a good high school coach. This is the SEC not the Ivy League. If you go your proposed route then gator football to be like Vanderbilt or worse.

        • Yeah, but you still gotta watch him, CO! Leland has reached that stage in life where he’s just not going to take everything as seriously as he once did, hence the wit and humor. But folks should make no mistake about it, there’s an exceptionally well educated and rather intelligent mind behind all that — and just when you least expect it, he’ll come out with a pearl that bears serious, critical thinking. All in all, I keep my wife, the lovely Gator-3, updated daily on his musings!

          Brother, you weren’t kidding when you said you were dropping off the net for a while, CO. There’s a disturbance in the force without you!

  3. Recruits want to win, and they want to go somewhere that will help them transition to the NFL. Mullen and his staff have proven they can help players max their potential and achieve their dreams, and as the word gets around, the recruits will come.

    Getting an AD who understands what it takes in terms of facilities is also key. That will pay off down the road, but right now Mullen and his staff are their own greatest asset.

  4. it’s OK to hear about the momentum picking up on the recruiting trail, but momentum can’t play linebacker or QB. Latest USA Today ranking of the top 40 classes for 2019 shows the Gators with 11 commits, which is fewer than all but 4 other schools in the rankings. I have no doubt that by the time the early signing date in December rolls around, the class will have a much higher position, and improve even further from there to the National Signing day. Just don’t try to oversell “momentum” at this point. Go Gators!!

    • Just because players aren’t committed, doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of excitement behind the scenes and talk amongst the recruits. Diwun Black just tweeted a few days ago that some big commits were coming. There’s still a lot of top uncommitted players out there. The other thing is, verbal commitments as we all know, are non binding and a player can switch at any time until they sign the LOI. These reporters who cover recruiting obviously know far more than they’re allowed to say and definitely more than we do, so he may not be overselling. I have no doubt this will be a top 10 class once its all said and done.

      • I believe that too, Joe. But to key in on the one thing Dan is saying, “Just don’t oversell “momentum” too early. I think we all agree that it’ll be a Top-10 class in the end — but we’ve gotten a little over-pumped too, lately, and as Mveal reminds us, we still have some “fragilities” that we carry forward, despite Dan Mullen and crew.

  5. How nice is it to read these articles now that Coach Mc Eltrain Wreck has been fired and Coach Mullen has taken over… the manner in which he speaks and carries his self alone has me optimistic for a better season… The gap couldnt be further in the two… i used to find myself scratching my head and wondering just what in the hell i read when Coach Mc Eltrain Wreck spoke to the media… i often wondered if he even knew where he was or even knew how confusing and lost he sounded when he spoke about the team and what was going on at times in our beloved program!!! I CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT POTENTIAL RECRUITS WHERE THINKING!!! All i can say is i cant wait until the the team takes the field… Cant belive its less than 3 weeks away!!! LETS GO GATORS!!! LETS GOOOOO!!!

    • Pensacola that makes two of us that were confused as to what he was saying. Think how team must have felt. I watched many an interview with Mac only to think that I lost valuable time I could never get back. Good summation. Go Gators!

      • Agree X 2. I thought at first, “OK, he’s just laid back is all, that’s alright, he’ll get us back on track now”. Boy, was I ever giving him too much credit……it didn’t take but about half way thru his term that I began to realize that what I mistook for laid back was really absence of any clues at all. He wound up not only not getting us back on track, but he damn near destroyed the tracks as well.

        Other than that, I’m sure he’s a nice guy and a helluva football coach too.

        • Listening to Mac speak, I felt like the Aflac Duck in the TV commercial where he had listened to Yogi Berra talking in a barber shop and is walking out in baffled daze, pounding on his ears as if to say “What in the blue blazes was that I just heard?”. That’s also what I felt like reading any print interview with Mac. At least Yogi Berra was funny as well as a Hall of Fame player. Mac was neither.

      • I never understood the man from his first day–at the presser. I knew he was going to be a disaster. And later, when asked a simple question, would always talk in circles, causing confusion to everyone listening. Sometimes, I often wondered if the man had the mental capacity to keep a thought going to a question, much less lead a major SEC team.

    • I keep complaining about the way he used the term “and yet” incorrectly EVERY TIME! It almost drove me to insanity listening to his incoherent, nonsensical, gibber gabber. Say what you will about the Champ when he was coach, at least he stood there like a man and answered questions directly without sounding like a condescending little weasel who tripped into the SEC championship game. If he had put half the effort into coaching as he did avoiding trips to the dentist then…

      ….sorry, uncontrollable rant there. I’m all better now.

  6. It is really exciting to hear Mullen speak. His knowledge, experience, enthusiasm and vision for the future of Gator football all bode well for Gator fans and the players as athletes and as students.

  7. Sly, So I am not the only one repeating themselves about being glad McElwain is gone. By the way, I am so glad McElwain is gone and Mullen has arrived. Clown..ism vs. Professionalism with Mullen.

    • I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to stop making comments about how happy I am that Chester Cheetos Teeth is gone. Mostly because there are no words strong enough to describe how disastrous his tenure was. The thought of him getting a multi million dollar buy out keeps me up at night. He should have had to pay us back for the damage he’s done to the program. He made me long for the days of Zooker, that’s right, Zooker.

    • Rick (is it?)- They may agree with you, and I understand most fans do, but they don’t repeat it on just about every article like you do. It’s like hogging a conversation. It’s poor manners. How would you like it if Robbie or any journalist repeats himself everyday, on every article, several times a day in print? How would you like it if they incessantly told you their opinion and what you should believe? I’m sure you get all over him. I don’t know why you feel like you need to repeat yourself all the time. Maybe you just like to write the first thing that pops into your head. Maybe you feel you have to convince every last person on here to agree with you. Maybe you want to lead the lynch mob. Maybe you believe that if you repeat it enough times, it becomes true. Maybe you like arguing and want to antagonize those who disagree. I don’t know. I’m not a shrink. I do know that McElwain is LIVING RENT FREE in your head. If I hated McElwain as much as you do, I would want him out. Continuously bashing him would be the last thing I would want to do. But you go ahead. I know you will because this addiction is just like marijuana to a certain former receiver.

      If you want a fight and argument out of me, you are barking up the wrong tree. I’ll let you win every time because it’s not worth it. I say what I think and believe, and most of it is not mainstream. I think some folks could benefit from a bigger bubble. If it’s contrary to yours or their thoughts and beliefs, so be it. I could careless if I lose an argument on here. It has no value.

  8. If we return to our proper position among the elite teams in college football this year that’s great. I’d love it. If it takes more time that seems more likely but either way I want to get there and stay there!
    Imo it’s a weak link game. You need a strong leader on the field to shore up the weaknesses. I see things I don’t like including some police reports. But maybe im too hard-headed about it…can’t wait to see the tram on the field.

  9. Interestingly enough, if we look back a few years to Muscramp and listen in, I think we were all super excited because he did talk a big game, and brought excitement, but he never got it going, had dumpster fires everywhere and coddled the Defense way too much, without giving our Offense a second thought.

    McElThreat came along and we all were like, who? instead we all yelled in unison, “We have no idea what you are talking about, but PLEASE HELP US!!” He was not even in the correct universe, let alone the correct stadium.

    I truly believe that Mullen is the right man for the job and it is showing, so far. Let’s hope, again. Go Gators!

  10. The basics of football: blocking, tackling and conditioning with preparation.

    That is what we expect of any coach but especially the UF coach.

    We have big days ahead at the UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA.

  11. We need a lot more than “momentum” to get out of the mess we’re in. Utter disaster compared to the stellar job FSU is doing pulling in talent. Terrifying when you consider their roster is already twice as strong as ours. The rich get richer…

  12. With Urban twisting in the wind at OSU and prized OSU DE recruit Zach Harrison reluctant to commit to the Buckeyes before the situation there is resolved, we should be making a full court press on him. He’s the number four overall recruit in the country. He’s 6’6″, 260 lbs. and runs a 4.47 40. He will be a senior this year at Olentangy Orange HS. Their uniforms are identical to UF’s except their helmets say Orange instead of Gators. He has Jadaveon Clowney athleticism and will be graduating in December making him eligible for early enrollment.

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