Even if coaches aren’t on high school campuses or inside the homes of prospects this time of the year, recruiting is still on their minds. Other than a couple of current commitments, Florida didn’t have many big-time recruits in its end zone for the opener against Charleston Southern. Still, coach Urban Meyer and his staff were trying to impress the big fish who weren’t in attendence.
Saturday was the first time since Meyer came to Gainesville four-plus years ago that a true freshman didn’t start on either offense or defense, but that didn’t stop the Gator frosh from making an impact.
Sixteen freshman played significant time for the Gators, including an all-freshman offensive line for most of the second half. Sure, it was against a team that had no chance of beating the defending champs, but it sends a message. Of those 16, eight were true freshman. Kids who were just in high school less than a year ago. And this wasn’t just fourth-quarter garbage time. This was end-of-the-first-half and all-of-the-second-half time.
Freshman offensive lineman Xavier Nixon said getting the young guys out on the field early definitely helps in recruiting. He remembers sitting in Florida’s South End Zone a year ago and seeing a ton of underclassmen getting playing time. He knows that any recruits watching Florida’s game Saturday had to be impressed.
“They’re probably thinking the same thing I was thinking about when they put freshmen in the game: I have a chance to play coming out of high school to play as a freshman,” he said. “You have to keep that thought process going.
“When they see that, they think that they can come in and play and some of them will come in and play.”