Florida’s two biggest areas of need

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Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com

Friend of Gatorsports Edward Aschoff stopped by the office on Thursday. You remember him, right?

Now plying for ESPN.com as an SEC blogger, Aschoff made this blog famous when it was called The Scout Leader. Naturally I wiped the slate clean and changed the name. I don’t need that kind of pressure!

Aschoff (pronounced ASH-off … notice the absence of hard “K” or “R” sounds) is hustling over to the bustle of the big city. But before leaving our little ‘ville, we had time for one more recruiting conversation.

Side note: I think he might enjoy recruiting even more now that he doesn’t have to work the trail. Just a hunch. Here’s Ed’s recent breakdown of SEC recruiting for those of you wanting an old fix.

Our topic, of course, was how the Gators are doing on said trail. We agreed Will Muschamp and Co., got off to a fine start and are very likely to fill some enormous holes on the offensive and defensive lines. But the greatest challenges lie with two positions — linebacker and wide receiver.

I referred him to my last blog breaking down UF’s depth chart and top prospects at linebacker. And I’ll do a similar breakdown of the wide receiver position next week.

What stands out is not so much a lack of available talent at these positions (though they were loaded in the Class of 2011) but the need for a new coaching staff to build its track record at Florida.

What Muschamp does with the defense and Charlie Weis does with the offense this fall will go a long way with recruits. Problem is, a great many prospects’ minds are already made up or at least narrowing down by then.

I have little doubt that Muschamp’s defense will eventually attract some of the top linebacker prospects in the nation. Ditto for elite pass-catchers wanting to play for Charlie Weis. It just might not happen in this recruiting cycle.

The Gators’ two biggest star coaches are already proving themselves as big fish in the recruiting world. Once they’ve turned a couple of three- or four-star prospects into impact college football players, then I think we’ll see them reel in the best of the best high school talents.

Like the nation’s consensus No. 1 wide receiver, Dorial Green-Beckham, who is 6-foot-6, 220 pounds and has a highlight reel that looks equal parts Calvin Johnson and Usain Bolt (against high school competition, however). Green-Beckham has been a known prospect since his sophomore year. He’ll have a top five by the time the Gators get into the heart of their 2011 season.

The timing is just a little off.

So Gator fans must hope (or knowing them it’ll be more like expect) their coaching staff gets the most out of some of the raw-but-talented players already on the roster. If a fresh face like WR Quinton Dunbar or OLB Dee Finley steps into the limelight, these coaches will have even more clout to go with their sterling reputations.

And the Gators will have a far better shot at a No. 1 recruiting class in 2013.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Lots of coaches have elite recruiting classes in their second year(first full recruiting year). I would think that with recruits looking for early PT so much, we’d have many prospects at ALL positions right now. At LB and at WR, I think a big problem is few elite players at those positions in FLA this year, which is rare.

  2. This year’s class will definitely be a top 3 or 4 anyway. We have 1 LB in this class so far (rated one of the best in Florida btw), and with the quality Florida LB’s sort of rare this year, I still expect 3 in this class. We’ll be fine there, as long as we bring in at least 3 – 4 next class. I really want that big, fast WR Green-Beckam. Kid’s is impressive. He’d be perfect for the SEC gridiron. We just need to concetrate mostly on LB’s, DT’s, and OL this year.

    • @Cali Gator – No one is writing off the class. I think UF has a good shot at a top 10 class, but not a top 3 or a No. 1 class. The point of this blog is that the Gators could have a hard time with the very best WRs and LBs. That should change in a year.
      @Gary – Jimbo Fisher still had to be a head coach for a season and show something on the field before hitting the recruiting jackpot. Schools like UF and FSU are going to do well regardless, but we’re talking about getting the best of the best here, and why I don’t think the Gators will do that at these positions this season.

  3. Maybe not in this article, but should we expect a turnaround like FSU…didn’t their head coach spend time behind Bowden as coach-in-waiting? Based on what I’ve seen he was head-coach-waiting-for-the-title…am I giving excuses to why Gators may suffer in recruiting wars?

  4. We should not be comparing Muschamp to Fisher, we should be comparing him to Meyer. Urban landed the number one class in his second recruiting class.
    Sounds like Muschamp is off to a slow start in comparison which is disappointing. I agree that it will improve but still…..

  5. I agree, Jeff! The coaches need some game tape to show the recruits how they would specifically fit in to the scheme. We”l be ok, though! We have lots of young talent and I expect UF to compete for the NC next year! I just hope we don’t have a bunch of Juniors leaving for the NFL next year!!! If we do, that will exacerbate the void!

  6. @Jimer, Exactly what I was thinking. Besides, who’s to say Florida won’t be in Dorial Green-Beckham’s Top 5? If we can get into his top five, and play really well this season, we might just land the next A.J. Green/Julio Jones, he would be virtually guaranteed PT.