Pulling in back-to-back top-10 college football recruiting classes, Dan Mullen and his staff have clearly strengthened the Florida roster. But has it reached the status of a championship roster?
The question was posed to Mullen on Wednesday.
“We’re certainly getting there,” he said. “None of these guys have even had a college practice, so it’s hard to say about the guys we signed today, how that affects things. We’ll see how they develop.
“I certainly think we expect to go compete for championships, and we’re building the roster to be able to go do that. And we want to do that on a consistent basis, not just one year to the next.
“We’re building the program. We’re going to our second straight New Year’s Six game. We have an opportunity to finish two straight top-10 seasons. We’re not very far off. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re not very far off. We’re headed in the right direction to start being right there to compete for championships.”
Don’t sleep on this guy
Mullen has come up with a new signing day tradition, naming a sleeper in the recruiting class. Last year, it was Ja’Markis Weston, a big, fast receiver from Clewiston. This year, it’s Tre’Vez Johnson, a speedy defensive back from Jacksonville.
Johnson is rated a low three-star prospect by Rivals and 247. But Mullen and his staff don’t pay attention to the recruiting service rankings. In their evaluation of Johnson, the Gators think they’ve pick up a potential future standout.
“Let’s see how that plays out,” Mullen said with a smile.
Mullen’s first sleeper, Weston, played in two games and redshirted this season. He’s expected to be a major contributor in the 2020 season, a potential playmaker.
Some Texas talent
One defensive back in the class who won’t be considered a sleeper is Jahari Rogers, a four-star cornerback from Arlington, Texas. An early enrollee, he could push for immediate playing time at the depth-shy corner spots.
“He’s really interesting,” Mullen said. “He was a high school quarterback up until this year. Really athletic, playmaker with the ball in his hands on offense. He played defense this year for the first time, had a lot of success. And you saw him continue to grow and get better doing that.
“He’s just a phenomenal athlete, all-around athlete, plus a high-character guy. So you get excited about guys like him. I’ve had a lot of success with guys that are just great athletes. They do everything for their team. I love guys who do everything for their team. That means the coaches trust them. The teammates trust them. They’re great football players, and they usually end up having a lot of success in college.”
The Gators signed two defensive backs from Texas. The other is three-star prospect Avery Helm from Missouri City, Texas.
The new Freak?
Lake Wales defensive tackle Gervon Dexter is the highest-rated player in the class and somewhat of a physical freak at 6-foot-6, 294 pounds.
In his senior season, he recorded more than 100 tackles, which is almost unheard of for a defensive tackle.
“He’s a really good player,” Mullen said. “He has size and athleticism. He walks in a room and you can see this guy has been blessed with certain athletic skills.
“But he reminds me a lot of (Kansas City Chiefs’ standout DT) Chris Jones, who I had at Mississippi State. I hate comparing guys to each other until we go see how they work. But just as a physical, just as tall, long and really athletic, (that’s who he reminds me of).”
Bleich to Syracuse
Former UF offensive guard Chris Bleich did not spend much time in the NCAA transfer portal before finding a new school. He’s enrolling at Syracuse, he announced on Twitter on Wednesday night.
Bleich started eight games as a redshirt freshman this season. But, due to a family issue back home in Pennsylvania, he entered the transfer portal after the Georgia game, looking to move to a school closer to his family.