Not one for excuses, Muschamp excited for full year of recruiting

Will Muschamp: Recruiting Day
Will Muschamp: Recruiting Day

Florida head football coach Will Muschamp talks to the media about his class of recruits on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.

New Florida coach Will Muschamp isn't into making excuses.

He made that clear during his National Signing Day news conference Wednesday when talking about the short amount of time he and his staff had to recruit and re-recruit.

Sure, he acknowledged the task was tough — they had little more than a month to haul in its first recruiting class at Florida — but Muschamp didn't use that as a reason for any difficulties he encountered.

To put Muschamp's introduction into recruiting as Florida's head coach into perspective, he had just three days after he was hired to get into the homes of Florida's early enrollees and didn't have his entire staff on the recruiting road until the middle of January.

Muschamp also had to leave the comforts of Texas, a territory he helped dominate with the Longhorns as their defensive coordinator, and return to the Southeast, Florida's feeding ground. While many prospects in and around Florida's recruiting area weren't very familiar with Muschamp, he said his previous relationships with high school coaches there helped him adjust.

Recruiting in a different area wasn't so much the issue, rather developing those relationships that nowadays can take years.

"I don't feel the difficulty (of recruiting in a new area) as much as the different situations of building those relationships," Muschamp said.

Miami Booker T. Washington offensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator Tim Harris Jr. saw Muschamp's efforts at developing relationships in person and was impressed.

In charge of four-star defensive tackle Elkino Watson's recruitment, Harris Jr. said Watson, who signed with South Florida, had developed a strong relationship with former members of Florida's staff, especially former recruiting coordinator Stan Drayton. But Watson was very impressed by how Muschamp and his staff continued to pursue.

Harris Jr. said Muschamp made sure Watson was a top recruiting priority when he took over for Urban Meyer.

"When Muschamp first got the job, (he came) down that next working day that he was able to come down, he was at Booker T., meeting him in person," Harris Jr. said. "That goes a long way to see the newly hired head coach on his first day on the job visit you at school."

There were certainly some prospects Florida missed on, but Muschamp was pleased with his first haul. He was able to bring in seven early enrollees, including the nation's top quarterback in Oviedo Hagerty's Jeff Driskel. He received commitments from four new players to give the Gators 18 on Wednesday — the same amount Meyer had in his first class.

Another obstacle Muschamp faced in his first recruiting period as a head coach was having his assistants getting out and meeting prospects. With offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in the NFL playoffs, precious time was missed on the recruiting trail.

Weis' Kansas City Cheifs were eliminated on Jan. 9, while Quinn and the Seattle Seahawks made it until Jan. 16. Those playoff appearences looked good on paper, but they cut into travel and talk time, as neither coach could conduct off-campus contacts or activities without first passing the NCAA's Coaches Recruiting (Certification) Test.

Still, Muschamp found positives from having his two coordinators showcasing their work on national television.

"Charlie and Dan were both in the playoffs, and that's great for them. It's great for publicity for us (for recruits) to know what kind of football coaches they are," he said.

"Really, Dan was on the (recruiting) road for about a week and Charlie for two. That's the way it goes. I'm not complaining."

Now, Muschamp's coaching team is assembled and a new season of recruiting begins. The time restraint is no longer a factor, and Muschamp and staff get to start fresh with a new batch of blue chips.

Muschamp will work his new and old relationships and will come equipped with the selling power of 161 years of coaching experience — 52 of those in the NFL — 17 BCS bowls and five Super Bowl rings his staff owns.

"This is a staff that is very accomplished in their expertise as far as their profession is concerned both in the collegiate level and in the National Football League," he said.

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