Television is becoming the wave of the future for recruiting, especially for Florida.
No, it’s not the “Gator Nation” ads or even the Gatorade commercials, which actually are a great recruiting tool because they are shown during pretty much every major sports event that’s broadcast on TV. The subtle secret to UF’s success the past few years has been with all-star games.
NBC has aired the U.S. Army All-American Bowl since 2001 with great success. To counter, ESPN created the Under Armour All-American football game in 2008.
After placing zero players in the first two U.S. Army bowls in 2001 and 2002, UF has had 31 players in the game. In the two years that the Under Armour game has been around UF has placed eight guys in there. For those counting at home, that’s 39 Gators in nationally televised all-star games in seven years. That means you’ve had to look at an average of just over five future Gators’ mugs per game.
“These games are pretty cool,” said Olney, Md., Our Lady Of Good Counsel linebacker and Gator prospect Jelani Jenkins following Sunday’s Under Armour game. “You get a chance to play in a big stadium, in front of a big crowd on ESPN. You can’t beat that.”
The next step is to get more players to commit during the game. The likes of Chris Leak – the first one to publically commit at one – and Brandon Spikes. More recently, Jon Bostic and Xavier Nixon pledged to the Gators in front of a live, national audience. Getting a couple more to do this, and UF will get closer to becoming as Hollywood as USC.
Well, maybe not, but it’s a start.