While Florida’s performance at home against South Carolina was extremely embarrassing, recruits don’t seem to be running for the hills, like Gator fans.
Florida’s south end zone stands were full of top recruits, who by the end of the game looked bored to death. No one can blame them for having such a bad host Saturday night. With the exception of Andre Debose’s touchdown on the opening kick, there wasn’t much for the recruits to get into.
But the sun actually did rise Sunday in Gainesville and recruits seemed to be pretty happy with their visits even if the game wasn’t what they expected.
There are plenty of reasons for recruits to be mostly unaffected by Florida’s blowout loss. For one, these kids look at how Florida played and think they can come in and immediately contribute. No matter how how true or untrue that might be, recruits look at terrible performances and think there’s a real shot at playing. Looking at Florida’s performance, however, that could very well be true.
Another reason is that a lot of the guys who came in for the visit didn’t grow up die-hard Gator fans. Before they actually enroll, fanhood isn’t a major factor. Most guys look at recruiting as a business decision before anything else. Seeing how young Florida is, recruits understand that this team is going to have growing pains.
For the official visitors, the trip wasn’t all about the game, it was about interacting with the coaches and getting to see what Florida’s program is all about. This season is a wash, but kids know what Florida has done in the past. All teams have rebuilding years, and this a major one for Florida. Recruits know that.
Here’s what some guys said Sunday:
Cape Coral Island Coast defensive end Aaron Lynch: Lynch was one of the big fish hanging out in Gainesville for his official visit. He looked pretty bored after the game, but that was when South Carolina was celebrating. Lynch stayed pretty quiet Sunday, but did say in a text message that his visit “went great.” He’s down to Florida and Florida State and should decide soon.
Plant City offensive tackle Jordan Prestwood: Prestwood spoke with Rivals.com about his visit and said that while the game didn’t go as he expected, he now has Florida and Florida State even at the top of his list. Prestwood said Florida’s loss didn’t affect him at all, but what did was how much one of his family members enjoyed the trip. “Everything was good, but the highlight of the weekend was probably how much my mom enjoyed it,” Prestwood told Rivals. “That was the best part of it for me. It’s really important for me that wherever I go that my mom really enjoyed it.” He and Lynch are pretty good friends, so one could have an influence on the other when it comes to a decision.
Gators fullback commit Hunter Joyer: Joyer said he enjoyed his time in Gainesville but was disappointed in how Florida played. Joyer said it seemed like recruits in the stands were enjoying themselves. After the game, the recruits went into the locker room and talked with Coach Urban Meyer. Joyer said the coaches made it clear that Saturday’s game wasn’t an accurate portrayal of Florida’s program. “It just didn’t go their way and (Florida) didn’t play well, but everything will be fine,” Joyer said.
Gators cornerback commit Valdez Showers: Showers watched the game back at home in Michigan. Showers said Florida’s team is just young and that it looks like players aren’t on the same page, but expects that to change next year. He agreed that after Debose’s touchdown, Florida didn’t have any juice whatsoever. “They started off off with a lot of intensity,” he said. “They needed to put a big hit on the quarterback and running back and they didn’t. The offense failed to put up the points.” When asked if he heard the boos from Gator fans during the game, Showers said he didn’t, but also wasn’t bothered by it. “Fans are fans,” he said. “They pay their money to see a good game or the team they want to win. They are entitled to their opinion.”
Gators athlete commit Clay Burton: You could see Burton was making the rounds with recruits in the stands. He was trying to talk to as many guys as he could. (The recruits) “all seemed to be loving it,” he said. Though the game didn’t go the way he wanted either, Burton said the fans really made the environment special.” The atmosphere was crazy, but they just didn’t play well enough to win,” he said.
Gators offensive line commit Chase Hounshell: Like Showers, Hounshell watched the game from home in Ohio. And like Showers, he wasn’t too upset with Florida’s performance because he understands how young the team is. He’s still very solid with his commitment and said he only expects things to get better for the Gators. “They are just young,” he said. “The experience and flow will come. I’m not worried about it at all.”
Gators wide receiver commit Ja’Juan Story: Story was in the stands Saturday and said in a text message that his visit was “Awesome.” Story is a solid commitment to Florida and is a guy who with maybe a year of work will be someone an offense like this will need if he can really utilize his speed with the size he has.
Gators 2012 wide receiver commit Latroy Pittman: Pittman has been one of the more critical recruits when it comes to talking about Florida’s offense, but no one can really blame him for his honesty. He knows what he sees. With that said, he’s still a very strong Florida commitment. He and 2011 quarterback commitment Jeff Driskel have become really close and Pittman said he’s excited to get on campus and work with him. As for Saturday’s game, he was there and said he enjoyed his time with the other recruits and the staff, but said Florida’s team is very young and has a hard time getting anything going, but expects things to change next season. “It’ll be better next year,” he said.