So everybody can breathe again.
The first big day of the early signing period is over and Florida did fine. Not spectacular, but fine. Not Alabama/Georgia fine, but you sense that the day when the Gators can have a top-five recruiting class is coming and it may be as soon as next year.
It almost seems like a cliche to say that you shouldn’t worry about recruiting rankings — team or player — but know that the true/false portion of the test is over and we are breaking before the one essay question to finish up the test.
Florida could end up with a top-10 class. Might not. If Diwun Black gets his academics straightened out, that’s another four-star and probably jumps Florida up a few spots.
But here’s what stood out to me is that Florida has recruited the offensive line of the future with the last two cycles.
Dan Mullen has signed 11 offensive linemen in the last two classes. They may not have the sex appeal of a rush defensive lineman or a breakaway tailback, but we all know how important it is to not only have five guys you can count on but three or four more who can rotate in.
“The foundation of the team are the lines of scrimmage,” Mullen said Wednesday night. “It’s easy to build a program around that.”
Late this season, Mullen had great things to say about the development of the four guys he signed last year, four guys who played just enough to get some experience while not losing their redshirts.
And with Florida likely losing both tackles (some mocks have Jawaan Taylor a first-round NFL pick) and both guards — while there are some willing replacements who did see serious playing time this year — these two classes are going to have a lot to say about how effective next year’s offensive line is.
“It’s huge,” Mullen said of the seven-player haul Wednesday. “We’re going to need some of them to play right away. If you look at where we’re at, we’re going to need some of them to play.”
That’s one reason five of the seven are early enrollees. Offensive line coach John Hevesy will take the four from last year and the five he’ll have in the spring from this year and mix them in with the handful of experienced holdovers and try to come up with a line that can hold its own.
The offensive line was a huge area of need for UF. The numbers tell us the Gators addressed it.
Of course, as every coach will tell you, time will tell. But you’d rather try to find a working group with 16 guys on scholarship as Florida should have in 2019 than with the six scholarship linemen Jim McElwain inherited back in 2015.