UF's top-rated 2013 class
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 7:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 7:52 p.m.
In this uncertain year of the flip in college football recruiting, not only did Will Muschamp manage to hold onto all of Florida's committed prospects, he managed to add two more top-flight players on National Signing Day on Wednesday.
The result is another highly rated class for the Florida Gators, who announced the signing of 28 players.
“It says a lot about the young men, first of all,” Muschamp said, when asked about being able to hold together his class during the high-pressure closing weeks of the process. “Secondly, our staff staying on them and understanding that crazy things get said right before signing day. Sometimes you can sway people pretty easy.
“A lot of time when you're recruiting a young man, it's a commitment or it's a reservation. You make reservations at a Marriott, but you change and go to the Hilton.
“Unfortunately, some people make reservations, not commitments.”
The Gator Inn is full following signing day. The 26 players who committed to UF earlier followed through and signed with the Gators. Two more prospects — defensive tackles Jay-nard Bostwick and Jarran Reed — signed with Florida on Wednesday.
“I'm proud of our staff,” Muschamp said. “Today's a culmination of a lot of hard work, effort, sometimes two or three years put together on a young man. You come down to signing day and you sit at that fax machine until that thing (a national letter of intent) comes through.
“You hope it's signed right, it's date and all that kind of stuff.”
No problems in that regard Wednesday. A long national signing day came to a promising end for the Gators, who appeared to fill their most pressing needs.
They needed wide receivers, and they signed five, including Demarcus Robinson, a former Clemson commitment and four-star prospect who is already on campus and expected to challenge for immediate playing time.
They needed help in the secondary, and they signed four defensive backs, including the nation's consensus No. 1 cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves III.
They needed linemen on both side of the ball, and they signed five offensive linemen and seven defensive linemen (four tackles and three ends), including two junior college tackles (Reed and Darious Cummings), who could provide instant depth and playing time.
They needed linebackers, and they signed four, including early enrollees Alex Anzalone, a former Notre Dame commitment, Matt Rolin, a former South Carolina commitment, and Daniel McMillian.
They wanted to add a dynamic tailback, and they signed a potential one in Kelvin Taylor, another early enrollee who is the state's all-time leading high school rusher and the son of former Gator great tailback Fred Taylor.
Like all schools, the Gators didn't sign every top prospect they targeted, but Muschamp seems pleased with his third UF recruiting class.
“We had a deep signing class this year, which means you have to have a larger board as far as the numbers are concerned at each position,” Muschamp said. “Which also has to be very appealing at some positions.
“We signed five wide receivers. Those are five guys that want to come in here and compete, because sometimes when you get some numbers you start getting guys looking at that depth chart and numbers, and they aren't real sure about coming and competing for the Gators.
“We want guys that have got a lot of confidence that they can come and play in the SEC and play in The Swamp and play at the University of Florida.”
Muschamp said the Gators not only targeted top players, they went after high-character guys who might be less likely to back out of a UF commitment and sign somewhere else.
“This class is very balanced,” he said. “It's a high-character class with toughness. All of the position criteria we looked for as far as size and speed and all the off-the-field things we're looking for.
“It's a very committed class. A lot of these guys were guys that have been committed to us a long time and never took other visits. There wasn't a lot of flash in their recruiting process, and that's the kind of guys you want.
“Certain guys may not be a good fit in your locker room, and you just move on and recruit the right kind of guys. You look at the transcripts. You see the character, and that's where we're headed.”
In the year of the flip, the Gators managed to hold on to their committed players, many who made their pledge to UF many months ago. UF, however, did enjoy some of the benefits of the year of the flip.
The Gators signed five players who had been committed to other schools at some point — Robinson, Anzalone, Rolin, Reed and linebacker Jarrad Davis (Auburn).
“These guys have to go through a lot,” Muschamp said. “You see guys going back and forth. There is a lot of pressure on these young men to make decisions with the different factions pulling them different ways.
“You've got to respect that.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.