How you all enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday and stuffed your faces.
We’ve reached the last week of the college football regular season, and it’s amazing how fast this year has gone by.
Fortunately for Florida fans, this coming weekend marks the end of one coaching era and what will soon be the beginning of a new one. It also means recruiting is about to heat up, as the contact period starts Sunday.
We’re about to see a lot happening with UF football program over the next couple weeks.
On to the questions!
How much will the outcome of the Florida State game affect recruiting? If it’s close or the Gators win, who will be the most affected? — @DevinLamarr
This is typically a huge game for recruiting. Both schools pursue a lot of the same prospects, and many of them use this matchup to compare the two programs.
This season’s game, however, probably doesn’t hold as much recruiting weight as in years past. Florida State is the defending national champions and in line for another title shot, while UF went 4-8 in 2013 and has a lame duck coach.
Recruits understand these programs are on different levels right now, and they don’t need this game as a measuring stick.
A loss by the Gators may be viewed as insignificant by some because they know change is coming to Gainesville.
The same can be said about a Florida win. Many recruits would take notice if UF pulls off the upset, but they’re not going to give the next coach brownie points for a game that Will Muschamp and his staff won.
If there are any recruits looking to take something from Saturday, it would probably be five-star defensive end Byron Cowart and wide receiver Ryan Davis. The close friends from the Tampa area want to attend college together, and both have UF and FSU near the top of their leaderboards.
To what extent would recruits be drawn to UF simply based on a heading coach search? Optimism or pessimism? — @CosgriffEmpire
That’s an interesting question. I think this coaching search creates more curiousity than anything.
A big-time hire would definitely garner some optimism and excitement, and it might even spark interest in a few kids who aren’t considering the Gators at this time. Until then, however, recruits are just intrigued about who the next coach will be and what direction he’ll want to take the program.
The majority of prospects, especially the elite talent, aren’t pessimistic about the coaching change. They understand college football is a business, and a lot of them say choosing a school is a “business decision.”
Cowart told me after Muschamp was fired that the Gators showed him they’re “serious about their football.” And he meant it in a good way.
How much thought is going into hiring a coach sooner rather than later to salvage a decent recruiting class? — @GStubbsUFGators
Jeremy Foley won’t rush his hire to salvage Florida’s 2015 class, but he keeps up with college football recruiting more than most athletic directors and wants the Gators to do well.
Foley sent a letter to all of UF’s commits last week, urging them to stick with their pledges and stay patient as he finds their future coach.
Foley plans to have the hire done by Christmas, but for recruiting purposes, it would be ideal if it happens around Dec. 8.
That would give the new coach and the assistants he decides to retain a full week to recruit before the month-long dead period begins on Dec. 15.
We know about the big time prospects, but what underappreciated prospects could UF land? — @tshoemaker2423
It’s hard to say at this point because we don’t know which lower-tier prospects the next coach will choose not to recruit and which new ones he’ll add to Florida’s recruiting board.
There’s also the possibly that some of his commits at his current school will want to join him at UF, especially recruits from the state of Florida.
Here are some prospects I could see the next coach making a priority: running back Jordan Cronkrite, wide receiever Tristan Payton (former UF and current USC commit), tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe, offensive tackle Fred Johnson, linebackers Darrien McNair (Mississippi State commit), Charles Perry (Miami commit) and Zedrick Woods (Ole Miss commit) and cornerbacks Mike Hughes and Jeremy McDuffie.
Keep hearing UF’s facilities are under par. Does this REALLY hurt recruiting or is it the least of our worries? — @ryan_grimaldi
Not winning games is hurting the Gators in recruiting more than anything. That’s the most influential thing that can attract prospects to a program.
UF is one of those schools with a strong enough brand name, academic reputation and NFL pipeline that facilities don’t matter as much.
I haven’t been inside any football facilities other than Florida’s, but I didn’t walk away from the tour I went on thinking UF’s weight room or locker room sucked.
Moreover, a few recruits have told me over the years that they like how Florida’s facilities are within walking distance of the campus, dorms, dining hall, stadium and practice field.
But I honestly don’t believe any kids make their decisions based on how nice or convenient a school’s facilities are. It certainly helps when they’re top-notch, but it doesn’t hurt a program that has as much to offer as Florida.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to leave your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below.