Florida's recruiting future
Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 5, 2011 at 10:55 p.m.
Only one season into his head coaching career, there are still plenty of unknowns about Florida's Will Muschamp.
But here's one thing we do know: the man can flat out recruit.
He has a track record. He was successful at Texas, successful at Auburn, successful at LSU. And he's having success at Florida.
After holding UF's 2011 recruiting class together on short notice last winter, Muschamp is building a top-five recruiting class for 2012. The Gators already have 16 commitments and the class is ranked No. 8 in the nation by Rivals, with UF in a favorable position for several other elite prospects that are still on the board.
Now that the regular season is over, Muschamp's full attention is on recruiting and trying to fill some of the holes on the current roster — mainly a lack of depth on both lines of scrimmage and the lack of playmakers on offense, especially at wide receiver.
With UF currently at less than 70 scholarship players on the roster (and that number will drop below 60 with the departure of the seniors after the bowl game), this is a critical recruiting year for Muschamp and the Gators.
“I think we've got good talent, and we've got good young talent,” Muschamp said. “I remember two weeks ago looking at the two-deep (rosters) in the league and we had 15 freshmen and sophomores starting in our top 22, more than anybody else in the SEC.
“Over 70 percent of our roster is freshmen and sophomore, and those are the guys that are primarily making most of the plays. But we've got to gain depth. We're too thin on the line of scrimmage to win in this league.”
The overall lack of players on the offensive and defensive lines can be traced to attrition and what could be considered incomplete recruiting efforts in those areas in the last four recruiting classes.
In 2010 and 2011, the Gators signed only two offensive linemen each year. Over the past four years, UF has signed only 12, with two of those players never being a factor. Byran Jones left school after a year and David Young's chronic bad knees have kept him from contributing. Both were part of the 2008 class.
The numbers are also low on the defensive line, where the Gators have signed only 12 prospects over the last four years — six tackles and six ends. Of the 12, only eight remain on the team (Omar Hunter, Earl Okine, Kedric Johnson, Dominique Easley, Sharrif Floyd, Leon Orr, Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook). The only remaining defensive tackles from those four classes are Hunter, Easley and Orr.
An overall lack of numbers also is a problem at wide receiver. The Gators have signed only 13 in the past four recruiting classes, and only seven are still on the team — Frankie Hammond Jr., Omarius Hines, Stephen Alli, Andre Debose, Quinton Dunbar, Solomon Patton and Ja'Juan Story.
Attrition has been a major factor. Of the 86 prospects the Gators signed over the past four years, 24 are no longer on the team. The 2008 and 2010 classes have been hit particularly hard, losing nine players each.
In his effort to rebuild Florida into an elite program, Muschamp has a lot of work in front of him, and it starts with the 2012 recruiting class.
“We've got a long way to go and we're going to get there,” Muschamp said. “I have a clear vision for what we want to do and how we want to do it.
“I'm more excited than the day I was hired about where we're head, because I know where we're headed. And I told our football team (after the loss to Florida State), we're going to be fine.”