Top 5 commits under Muschamp

40
1412
Vernon Hargreaves III starred as a true freshman for Florida in 2013. (Photo by Rob C. Witzel/The Gainesville Sun)

Following my feature this week on five-star defensive end Byron Cowart, he was named the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the new Rivals100.

asked Florida fans if they would consider him Will Muschamp’s biggest commitment should he choose the Gators. This also begs the question — who have been the biggest commits to this point?

Muschamp has signed a consensus top-10 class in the past three recruiting cycles, and there were elite players in each one.

Here are The Sun’s five best based on rankings, the importance of the pledges, how the recruitments played out and the production/potential of the prospects.

1. Vernon Hargreaves III, Tampa Wharton
Highest ranking: No. 1 CB and No. 2 nationally by Rivals
The skinny: Just one year into his collegiate career, it’s clear that Hargreaves is the best overall player Muschamp has signed since becoming Florida’s coach. He committed to UF the day before Friday Night Lights after visiting more than a dozen schools that summer. The consensus five-star recruit was the 2012 Class 8A Player of the Year, among other honors, and he continued accumulating accolades last season as a true freshman.

2. Dante Fowler Jr., St. Petersburg Lakewood 
Highest ranking: No. 2 DE and No. 16 nationally by 247Sports
The skinny: Jonathan Bullard and D.J. Humphries were higher ranked recruits in Florida’s 2012 class, but Fowler has proved to be the best of the bunch. He also went through a dramatic recruitment, flipping from Florida State to UF on signing day after months of flirting with the Gators. Fowler was named to the All-SEC second team in 2013, and ESPN’s Todd McShay currently projects him to go fourth overall in his 2015 mock draft.

3. Kelvin Taylor, Belle Glade Glades Day
Highest ranking: No. 1 RB and No. 8 nationally by ESPN
The skinny: His commitment was a big moment for Muschamp. It had been years since the Gators signed a true tailback with both talent and notoriety, and they got that in Taylor. He had a record-setting high school football career and planned to attend Alabama at one point in his recruitment. The Florida legacy showed his worth in the second half of last season, finishing the year with 508 rushing yards and on the freshmen All-SEC team.

4. Demarcus Robinson, Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County
Highest ranking: No. 5 WR and No. 52 nationally by Rivals
The skinny: Like Taylor, Robinson was a huge get because he brought a skill set to UF that hadn’t been seen at the receiver position in some time. His crazy recruitment was one for the ages, as he flip-flopped several times between Clemson and Florida before ultimately deciding on the Gators. After playing sparingly in 2013 and missing a total of three games due to suspension, Robinson is expected to break out in his sophomore season following a strong showing in the spring.

5. Treon Harris, Miami Booker T. Washington
Highest ranking: No. 3 dual-threat QB and No. 69 nationally by Rivals
The skinny: You could argue for Harris or Will Grier at this spot, but it has to go to a quarterback. It’s the most important position in football. Muschamp had to sign his QB of the future in this past class, and he inked two All-Americans. Who will win the job down the road is anyone’s guess, but getting Harris was a bigger deal. Landing Grier early and keeping him committed was impressive, no doubt. Harris, however, helped soften the blow of Tyler Murphy transferring and gave the Gators some momentum again in South Florida after losing Dalvin Cook. Also, they stole Harris from the national champions after going 4-8 and switching offensive coordinators.

Honorable mention: Jonathan Bullard, Will Grier, D.J. Humphries, Jalen Tabor, Gerald Willis III

40 COMMENTS

  1. I am totally confused how Robinson or Harris either one made this list. It clearly says production is taken in to consideration. That should clearly eliminate both of them. Especially Harris. He was not considered one of the top recruits in the country, may not ever play at Florida because of Will Grier, and has never saw the field for a college team. His signing wasn’t exactly huge news in the recruiting world. Just a dumb pick in my opinion. Why Grier wouldn’t be in that spot is puzzling to me.

    • LT,
      The list was based on “rankings, the importance of the pledges, how the recruitments played out and the production/potential of the prospects.” There are a few three- and four-star recruits signed by Muschamp who have contributed more to the team than Harris and Robinson. But I was only considering high-profile prospects of Cowart’s caliber for this particular blog. Like I said, you could argue either Harris or Grier for that last spot, but it needed to be a QB because of the importance of the position. Harris isn’t a five-star, but he was an Army All-American who started for the nation’s No. 1 high school football team and led them to consecutive state championships against some of the toughest competition in the country. Grier played for a private school against a bunch of cupcake teams, which is the knock on him. Personally, I think Grier has a better arm and can compete with anyone. But Harris, in my opinion, was a bigger recruiting victory for UF for the reasons I mentioned in the blog.

  2. I agree with Harris being selected because he’s a quarterback that seems perfect for the spread that the Gators are now running and was a recruit that FSU had in the fold and lost. A huge recruit that hasn’t panned out yet is Humphries. But saying an offensive lineman is a lock to be great is a risky proposition. Remember Seantrell Henderson, the next Anthony Munoz? He was drafted very late and was never came close to living up to the hype. I wouldn’t put Taylor on the list because he’s a legacy and it’s hard to credit Muschamp with his decision to become a Gator. I do expect him to be a great player, he is no longer a rookie and if the reports are true that he is quicker and faster than last season, it bodes well because he does have good instincts. I, for one, was being unfair to expect great things quickly from him because of who his father was. I don’t think he’s got the same physical skills of hid Dad, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be very good. Fred Taylor was a unique combination of speed and power that is rare. I agree with the list for the most part. Let’s hope tht guys like Taylor and Robinson can translate potential into results on the field this year.

    • ntcrze,
      You should check out the story I linked at “planned to attend Alabama.” It’s a long read, but if you go to the section about Taylor’s recruitment you’ll see that Muschamp definitely deserves credit for landing him. He was very serious about going to Bama.

  3. Zach, I think your list is interesting but maybe a bit at cross purposes. You need two lists: the five highest rated recruits and the five most productive recruits. That would leave Robinson, Harris and Grier off the second list and put the focus in that second list on the real success of Muschamp’s recruiting. So who then were the most hotly recruited five? Or highest rated when they arrived?

  4. Zach, don’t worry, the majority of us get your list. Some want to make it something that it’s not. I agree with your list and agree that Harris and Grier are both big gets. As for Taylor, those of us who follow recruiting know that Taylor wasn’t gift wrapped, based on being a legacy recruit. I remember being very concerned that he would go to Bamerville. Harris and Fowler were big, because we plucked them from the grip of FSU, who thought they had them in the bag. Harris was really big, considering that FSU had won the NC. So, don’t worry about those that can’t understand the basis of your list. Like I wrote, most of us get it. O_O

    • GIGator,
      No worries. It’s good to have some different opinions. In my earlier comment, I just wanted to give some context on the list’s criteria and why I felt Harris deserved to be on it. I could have easily made an argument for Grier or one of the other honorable mentions.

  5. I think the top three are solid choices. I would place Matt Jones and Jonathan Bullard ahead of Robinson and Harris.

    I think the more interesting question is who are the Five biggest recruits that Muschamp missed out on. Mike Davis (who flipped when we went after another running back) has turned out to be a stud at USCe. Stephon Diggs who was reportedly down to UF, OSU and Maryland is one of the most athletic wideouts in the country. Tracy Howard was reportedly leaning to UF and is now the best DB at Miami. Josh Harvey-Clemons was being pressured by his parents to come to UF but went to UGA instead. He has started since day 1. With Ermon Lane and Dalvin Cook you have an even five. Other names that come to mind are Darious Hamilton at Rutgers and Timmy Jernigan from Lake City who just got drafted by the Ravens.

    Zach, who would you list as the five biggest close call misses in the Muschamp era?

  6. Greenfield, I think UF was very fortunate to not get Harvey-Clemons. He was a headache at Georgia and Auburn’s unlikely trip to the National Championship game doesn’t happen without his bonehead play. Jernigan is not that big a deal because UF has done very well getting top defensive line recruits and you can’t get them all. As for the most crucial miss, we won’t know for a while, but it may have been the jackson kid who went to USC this year. You never know for sure, but if is a game-changer, that is something UF could use right now because it’s been a few years since one was around. He’s a guy that I’ll keep an eye on to see if the hype was warranted.

  7. I might add Jarod Davis to the list in terms if his early impact. But so far we’ve not seen loads if Champ’s recruits make a major impact. He had some talented guys in place on defense and upperclassmen at OL, WR and a few others on offense. Some developed really well and helped the team to an 11-2 outcome in 2012. But this year almost everyone playing will belong to Muschamp. Critical season for breakthrough success or the snipers will be full of venom.

  8. Stan, I agree that it’s too early to assume who will be the future QB. Your “assumption”, however, that there are underlying reasons why some expect Grier to be the future is ridiculous and I know exactly what you are insinuating. Why not, it seems to be the generic excuse for everything, these days. Grier has been a Gator for a long time and the hype that surrounded him has excited some fans. Harris came in at the last moment; hasn’t even practiced yet; while Grier went through Spring ball. We all got to see the talent that Grier possesses. Harris will get his chance and I am quite sure that he wouldn’t be at UF if that wasn’t the case. Is there a reason you don’t want Grier to win the job. Maybe you should do a little self-reflecting. You may just find that you are the one with issues.

  9. I salute my fallen Brothers and Sisters, who gave their lives so that we may be free. To those that I personally lost, while serving in Iraq and other places in the world, I will never let your memory die, as long as I live.

  10. GI Gator. Let me salute you as well on this weekend to remember. Thanks for your service, and thanks for sharing your thoughts about our Gators. Proud to have people like you as part of Gator Nation.

  11. it is a pattern by a small group of gator fans to prefer white qb’s. Grier did not look good during the spring and played terrible high school competition. I am causcasian but even recognize this. Chris Leak never got the props he deserved.

  12. I think this list is right on point. Some are arguing that production is lacking from this group (minus VH3) but who else has been productive??? Obviously it’s about potential & ranking and all 5 of these guys were on their way to another school (even Taylor) before Magic Muschamp did his thing.

    I’d go so far as to say that Harris might end up being the best of the bunch not only because we stole him from Free Seafood U but I already like his competitiveness and talent. I love Grier but Harris might take the job. I think many fans don’t appreciate that he QB’d the #1 HS squad in the nation.

  13. Stan, sure, there is racism in this world, on all sides; however, it’s wrong to accuse anyone of such without proof. Just because someone prefers a QB, who happens to be white, doesn’t make them a racist.

  14. I think a point was missed on why Harris is so important. His high school always sent player to FSU and Miami. When was the last time we got a recruit from there? This opens the door for more talent.

  15. Terry so liking someone who just happens to be white is racist? So I’m not allowed to like any white people? Isn’t that racist? Isn’t racist to accuse someone of being racist based solely on the color of someone’s skin without them saying or insinuating anything about race. So why don’t you guys just stop trying to race bait and shut the heck up. MLK would be ashamed of race baiters like you.

  16. @ Stan
    Because hes white. That’s what you wanted to hear, right? I think the reason fans seem to be leaning to Grier as the future QB is the fact that he is considered a star by just about anyone that has evaluated him and he set a ton of records. Treon Harris had lesser stats and is clearly not as polished of a passer as Grier is right now. But why talk football when you can just play the race card, right?

  17. LT nice try but Harris is a great dual threat qb and fits Roper’s style perfect. Grier struggled all spring and played very weak high school competition, Harris played the top teams nationally

  18. Terry you’re completely false. Grier performed better than ever in camps against the best high school players in the country. Grier took a team that just started varsity football like his sophomore year and took them to like 3 straight state titles. He was nationally awarded as player of the year. AND he performed very well in spring ball. He impressed in practice and looked good in the spring game. He threw a lot of passes that should’ve been completed but the receivers dropped them. Had one that was a freshmen mistake, but guess what Harris is a freshman too so he’ll make freshmen mistakes as well! You say Harris fits Roper’s system like Grier doesn’t. What does Grier not fit a spread system becaue he’s white? Now who’s being racist? But as LT said why woud you look at facts when you can play the race card. MLK would be ashamed…

  19. Terry, “Grier struggled all spring…” Really???? Who could have seen that coming? A kid who should have been going to his senior prom but instead was competing against elite collegiate athletes struggled in spring ball. A HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR struggled. Yep lets cut him loose. He clearly doesn’t have what it takes. let’s play the race card. Then all reasonable debate stops. BTW, I’m hoping Harris wins the backup job and Grier redshirts..

  20. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard in a long time. There will always be a “small percentage” of racist in every fan base in every corner of America. FYI, “white people” aren’t the only racist. You say with a small percentage of Gator fans, you have to play the race card. I strongly disagree. There is rarely a time when you “have” to play the race card. But you went straight to it. Someone said they preferred Grier and you immediately insinuated it was because Harris was black. You don’t know him or his motives yet you immediately insinuated he was a racist. Something tells e you’re the kind of guy that doesn’t play that card a “small percentage” of the time. Something tells me you play that card early and often. It’s what happens when one lacks sustenance or merit to their argument. It’s lazy and out dated. A very classless thing to do.

  21. As others have stated UF has a long history of white QB’s. This is true of several SEC and southern schools. Living in gainesville even as a white person, it is quite obvious the culture. Not like living in Miami or a diverse metropolitan city.

  22. one qb in the last 30 years who was never embraced by many gator fans- not like the all mighty danny weurfel- despite winning a national championship. Gotta at least give Zook credit for challenging some of the north central florida fanbase that we all love

  23. So should I play the race card about how few white running backs Florida has? Or receivers? Or linebackers? Or D linemen? Or cornerbacks? Or safeties? You’re argument is invalid and lacks substance.