As Florida coach Dan Mullen approached the lectern at media day last week, the day the Gators reported to preseasonl camp, social media was abuzz with the news Diwun Black had flipped from Ole Miss to Florida.
Formerly committed to Mullen while the head coach at Mississippi State, Black announced his flip in a commitment video directed and produced by Gainesville journalist Zach Abolverdi available exclusively on GatorSports.com, the Gainesville Sun’s sports website.
While Mullen can’t discuss specific recruits, the topic of recruiting inevitably came up among a slew of other subjects unrelated to the game itself yet ones that have surrounded the Florida program throughout the offseason.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement around our program, not just in — for this recruiting class but future recruiting classes,” Mullen said. “I think there is a lot of excitement around our program and the future that it’s headed.”
And it’s started to pay dividends for the Gators, as UF landed two prospects in the 2020 class following Friday Night Lights in Gainesville Eastside quarterback Anthony Richardson and highly touted defensive end Kedrick Bingley-Jones. While there have been several high-profile blunders and shortcomings on the trail, most notably on the West Coast, Mullen said UF’s best recruiting tool will be the team’s performance this season. Florida looks to rebound after a disastrous 2017 campaign that saw it struggle to win four games and led to an overhaul of the entire coaching staff.
“I think it’s something that’s going to continue to build when they see how we play on Saturdays, the type of offense and defense we play. There’s probably a lot of kids that haven’t seen our offense before,” Mullen said. “But they know what the Gator standard is and they know the academics. They know the history. They know the tradition. They know all about The Swamp, and then they want to see what our team, offense, defense, special teams is going to look like.”
And for those thinking Mullen expects the 2018 season to be one of growth rather than a competitive season? Well, nobody informed the 46-year-old Mullen that the Gators won’t compete for a national championship immediately. If Florida does live up to the internal expectations set by the head coach, expect many prospects committed elsewhere to re-consider their decisions.
“Trust me, I want to win with this year’s team. I expect to compete for a championship with this year’s team,” Mullen said, “but also I want to build a program, which is even more important, over the long term that’s a consistent winner and consistently competing for championships.”