Early look at what UF needs in Class of 2013
Published: Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 6:26 p.m.
As we have seen in recent years, recruiting season never ends. Take Florida, for example. The day after National Signing Day last week, the Gators picked up two commitments for the recruiting class of 2013, bringing the total to four already.
In this ongoing process, college coaches like Will Muschamp are always looking ahead — poring over the depth chart, projecting needs, crunching scholarship numbers, building the next recruiting class.
While Muschamp and his staff were putting the finishing touches on the 2012 class last week, they were also building the foundation for the 2013 class.
One relates to the other when it comes to the numbers.
UF's current recruiting class stands at 23. Even if it increases by one or two in the next few days, it will leave the Gators shy of the NCAA limit of 85 overall scholarships. If the class stays at 23 and there is no attrition between now and the fall (which is very unlikely), the Gators will have only 80 scholarship players on their roster in 2012.
So, that means the Gators will have room for a full class (25) in 2013?
With only 11 scholarship seniors on the roster, that would put the Gators (without any attrition) only 16 scholarships below the 85 cap at the end of the 2012 season. That would leave Muschamp looking at a relatively small 2013 recruiting class (maybe as few as 16).
Even if there is attrition (including a handful of juniors departing for the NFL), the 2013 class figures to be one where Muschamp and the Gators are going to have to be selective (and precise).
Because recruiting season never ends, we figured this would be a good time to project where the Gators might be heading with their 2013 class:
Departing seniors: None.
Returning scholarship players: Jacoby Brissett, Jeff Driskel, Tyler Murphy and Skyler Mornhinweg.
Projected needs: With Brissett and Driskel both being juniors in 2013, the Gators would like to sign an elite quarterback, but that may be a tough sell with four scholarship QBs already on the roster, including one probable redshirt freshman (Mornhinweg).
Departing seniors: Mike Gillislee.
Returning scholarship players: Mack Brown and Matt Jones.
Projected needs: The Gators will be dangerously thin at the position in 2012. The situation becomes even more dire with Gillislee graduating after the year, leaving only two scholarship tailbacks on the roster. The Gators would like to sign as many as three tailbacks in 2013. UF can offer early playing time, and the state of Florida is loaded with top tailbacks, including Greg Bryant, Kelvin Taylor and Ryan Green.
Commitments: Adam Lane.
Departing seniors: None.
Returning scholarship players: Trey Burton and Hunter Joyer.
Projected needs: In a pro-style offense, the fullback position is an important one, and the Gators have only two scholarship fullbacks on the roster. The Gators will need to sign one or two in 2013.
Departing seniors: None.
Returning scholarship players: Jordan Reed, A.C. Leonard, Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson.
Projected needs: Even though the Gators signed two of the nation's top tight ends in 2012 (Taylor and Thompson), they'll try to add two more because Reed will be a senior in 2013. This has become a go-to position in the UF passing game, and it needs to be well-stocked.
Departing seniors: Frankie Hammond Jr. and Omarius Hines.
Returning scholarship players: Stephen Alli, Andre Debose, Quinton Dunbar, Solomon Patton, Ja'Juan Story, Raphael Andrades and Latroy Pittman.
Projected needs: The general rule is you like to have at least 10 scholarship wide receivers on your roster, especially if you spread the field with four and five wide receivers. This will be a huge area of need in 2013, with the Gators looking to sign a minimum of four.
Departing seniors: Xavier Nixon and Sam Robey.
Returning scholarship players: Nick Alajajian, Chaz Green, Tommy Jordan, Jon Halapio, Matt Patchan, Ian Silberman, Trip Thurman, Kyle Koehne, Jonotthan Harrison, Jessamen Dunker and D.J. Humphries.
Projected needs: Despite signing only two offensive linemen in each of the past two years, the Gators are OK here in 2012 with 13 scholarship players. But this year's team will have two seniors and the 2013 team will have six, so it's vital to start building for the future with the 2013 recruiting class. The Gators need to sign five, maybe even six.
Departing seniors: Lerentee McCray and Earl Okine.
Returning scholarship players: Clay Burton, Kedric Johnson, Ronald Powell, Tevin Westbrook, Jonathan Bullard, Bryan Cox Jr., Dante Fowler, Alex McCalister and Quinteze Williams.
Projected needs: This was a huge area of need in 2012 and the Gators filled it nicely, signing five prospects, including two of the nation's elite defensive players (Bullard and Fowler). Unless there is significant attrition, this will not be a priority recruiting area in 2013.
Departing seniors: Omar Hunter.
Returning scholarship players: Dominique Easley, Sharrif Floyd, Leon Orr, Damien Jacobs, Jafar Mann and Dante Phillips.
Projected needs: Playing in the SEC, this position is always a recruiting priority. The Gators could be down to four scholarship tackles if Easley and Floyd have big junior seasons in 2012 and decide to enter the NFL Draft. If that happens, tackle would be the biggest position of need for the Gators in 2013. Defensive tackles are like tailbacks in the SEC. You can never have too many of them.
Commitments: Caleb Brantley.
Departing seniors: Jon Bostic.
Returning scholarship players: Gideon Ajagbe, Neiron Ball (if he is cleared to return), Jelani Jenkins, Chris Johnson, Darrin Kitchens, Graham Stewart, Michael Taylor, Jeremi Powell and Antonio Morrison.
Projected needs: The Gators will be looking to add depth and size to the linebacker positions, and they're off to a strong start with two of the top linebackers in the state already giving their pledge to Muschamp. UF likely will try to sign at least three linebackers in 2013.
Commitments: James Hearns and Daniel McMillian.
Departing seniors: Jeremy Brown.
Returning scholarship players: Loucheiz Purifoy, Cody Riggs, Marcus Roberson, Valdez Showers, Jaylen Watkins, Willie Bailey and Brian Poole.
Projected needs: Following back-to-back good cornerback recruiting classes, the Gators are in good shape here. UF's 2013 target likely will be two.
Departing seniors: Josh Evans.
Returning scholarship players: Matt Elam, Jabari Gorman, De'Ante “Pop” Saunders, Marcus Maye and Rhaheim Ledbetter.
Projected needs: UF is not quite as set here as at corner. There's a chance Elam could head to the NFL if he has a big junior season in 2012. Whether Elam stays or goes, the Gators will try to sign at least two safeties in 2013.
Departing seniors: Place-kicker Caleb Sturgis.
Returning scholarship players: Punter Kyle Christy and kicker Austin Hardin.
Projected needs: With available scholarships lower than usual, it's doubtful the Gators will sign a kicker or punter in 2013 — unless there's someone really special out there.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com