As much as it hurt Florida’s offensive staff and wide receivers when coach Aubrey Hill resigned Friday, his loss will be felt most in recruiting.
Though some have raised questions regarding Hill’s coaching abilities, few doubt his recruiting skills.
Born and raised in Miami, Hill joined the Hurricanes in 2008 as the receivers coach and quickly became a force in his hometown along the recruiting trail. UM named him its recruiting coordinator in 2010 and he was hired by UF coach Will Muschamp for those same responsibilities in January 2011.
The biggest recruit Hill landed for UF was Kelvin Taylor, the top 2013 running back in the country according to ESPN. But Hill didn’t dominate South Florida as much as he did with the Hurricanes and primarily recruited receivers during his UF tenure.
In the 2012 cycle, Hill helped keep Latroy Pittman on board and convinced Raphael Andrades to sign to Florida the night before NSD. This year he played a big role in the commitments of 2013 receivers Rodney Adams, Ahmad Fulwood, Marqui Hawkins and Chris Thompson.
The latter three remain 100 percent committed to the Gators, but Adams and offensive lineman Rod Johnson (who was recruited by Hill) have re-opened their recruitment.
However, they were actually “open” before Hill’s resignation and are in a situation similar to former UF linebacker commit Dillan Lawson. A source told the Sun both have grades issues and didn’t meet some of the academic requirements set forth by Florida’s coaching staff.
Though Adams and Johnson have expressed interest in several schools, the common official visit they’ve scheduled is to West Virginia — which has very low academic standards.
In speaking with Rivals.com on Saturday, Adams admitted he’s thinking about decommitting and Johnson said he’s “not much” of a UF verbal. But the reality is these two were on the verge of being dropped by the Gators and are using Hill’s departure to save face.
Excluding Vernon Hargreaves III and two of the four ensuing 2013 commitments, Adams and Johnson were the only members of Florida’s class that didn’t attend Friday Night Lights. Looking back now, the surprising additions of Thompson and offensive lineman Octavius Johnson make much more sense.
One UF commit who seems to be truly wavering as a result of Hill is 2014 receiver Ryeshene Bronson. Hill was his main recruiter and Bronson told the Sun he’s now “80 percent” committed.
But offensive coordinator Brent Pease was also a key factor for Bronson and he will wait until Florida hires a new coach before making his final decision. Bronson visited Gainesville with his mother on Friday night for Florida’s practice.
Moving forward, Hill’s absence will certainly hurt the Gators with 2014 prospects such as Bronson. But over time, UF should have no trouble reestablishing itself in South Florida.
“I think short term this does hurt them a little bit, especially since they’re trying to get in early with the 2014 kids down in those areas where he was heavily involved,” said 247Sports.com recruiting analyst Chris Nee, who has been covering recruiting in the state of Florida since 2006. “He was the face of that relationship and it’s now been kind of severed. But long term, we’re talking about the University of Florida. I don’t think it will have any drastic effects. They’re going to find somebody who is an effective recruiter with great ties to that area or another talent-rich area.”
Nee believes the new receiver coach doesn’t necessarily need to have ties to South Florida.
“If you can find somebody who fits what coach Pease does as an offensive coordinator and they are from that area, then that’s an added bonus,” Nee said. “But if you find a guy who is an effective recruiter and you put him in a new area, yes he’ll have ground to make up and yes it will take time for him to become known. But if he’s a good recruiter, he’ll get the job done. It just might take him a little while to get the inroads built.”
Fortunately for UF, one of its current coaches has already started construction.
Like Hill, Travaris Robinson was born and raised in Miami and is 10 years younger than him. In fact, Robinson is Florida’s primary recruiter in the Miami-Dade area while Hill had recruited the surrounding counties.
Muschamp said he will be the recruiting coordinator this year and handle Hill’s assigned areas. With Robinson and Muschamp tackling South Florida together, the former defensive backs should have things covered pretty well.
“I think coach Robinson is a guy who can definitely make a big impact down there,” Nee said. “He’s an excellent football coach and kids loving talking to him and playing for him. There’s a lot of commitments in Florida’s class already who chose Florida due to their relationship with T-Rob. So he’s a guy that if you’re looking for somebody on that current staff to immediately go down there and make an impact, he’s on the top of that list. I think he and Muschamp can weather this short-term storm that’s going to come from losing coach Hill.”
Should Adams and Johnson part ways with the Gators, here are some other prospects at their positions to keep an eye on.
Alvin Bailey, 5-11, 175, Seffner, Fla./Armwood
Stacy Coley, 6-1, 173, Oakland Park, Fla./Northeast
Marquez North, 6-3, 2o5, Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek
Laquon Treadwell, 6-3, 183, Crete, Ill./Crete Monee
Levonte Whitfield, 5-9, 176, Orlando, Fla./Jones
Taj Williams, 6-4, 170, Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln
Ander Bodkin, 6-5, 291, Marianna, Fla./Marianna
Tyrone Crowder, 6-2, 315, Rockingham, N.C./Richmond County
Kenny Lacey, 6-6, 270, Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe
Joe Fennell, 6-5, 310, Fort Myers, Fla./South Fort Myers
DeVondre Seymour, 6-6, 290, Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett
Laremy Tunsil, 6-6, 295, Lake City, Fla./Columbia
Photos by Gatorcountry.com