Mullen firing up new touch to Florida recruiting

Florida coach Dan Mullen. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

It’s become commonplace in NCAA Division I football for coaches to put a unique spin on the recruitment trail.

Such is the case for Florida coach Dan Mullen.

On Saturday, Mullen and the UF coaching staff will host their first “Gator Grill Out”, an invite-only cookout featuring many prospects in the 2019 and 2020 classes who are high on Florida’s recruiting board.

Unlike traditional recruiting events, which often emphasize scouting, camps or campus tours, Saturday’s event aims to give the coaching staff an opportunity to interact with players and their families in a seemingly stress-free and delicious locale.

While the list remains fluid, the Gators are expecting to host a contingent of top prospects, including St. Thomas Aquinas defensive backs Jordan Battle and Jaden Davis, five-star defensive back Chris Steele, four-star defensive ends Lloyd Summerall, Derick Hunter and Nathan Pickering, Lake City wide receiver TJ Jones, Miami commit Jesiah Pierre and UF commit Dionte Marks.

And several other highly recruited prospects have indicated their status as a game-time decision for the weekend’s festivities, including top Florida targets such as defensive back Tyrique Stevenson, safety Brendan Gant, No. 1-ranked running back Trey Sanders and defensive back Kaiir Elam.

Hunter, a Ft. Myers native who has taken multiple visits to UF throughout his recruitment cycle, said he is intrigued by the event and believes it can only help Florida’s chances to land the highly recruited defensive lineman.

“It’s really interesting,” Hunter said of Saturday’s event, “and it can do a lot (for my recruitment), just to see all of the other recruits come together like this.

“Might even be some teammates in my future there.”

The new changes to the NCAA’s recruitment rules — players can now take official visits in the Spring, making recruiting a year-around endeavor — has programs across the country looking for new and exciting opportunities to host prospects, but the Gator Grill Out’s conception is far from the first time a UF head coach has introduced a fresh idea upon arriving in Gainesville.

Urban Meyer’s introduction of “Friday Night Lights”, an event which continued under the following head coaches and seems set to continue under Mullen, has been replicated by numerous programs since its inception in 2005, seeing as it helped recruit multiple five-star prospects — including a quarterback named Tim Tebow — to Florida.

Will Muschamp’s event came in the form of junior days, and he later added a 7v7 tournament in his final offseason in Florida.

Finally, Jim McElwain made Friday Night Lights his prime attraction, while making sure to add more camps and clinics as the rules became more lax. Those events should be here to stay at Florida under Mullen, and this weekend will tell if the Gator Grill Out becomes a mainstay on campus.


    • I’m taking an opinion similar to TA below, G………….we’re coming out of a big hole and these are impressionable youngsters we’re talking about. Your point is taken tho…not exactly hind tit, but not where we were accustomed to being either. If Mullen can pull this year off with mostly last year’s team and a bit of his own recruiting, we should start to ascend pretty quickly in rankings on the field. That’s what it’s going to take to get recruiting back up to Florida standards. Year by year, it won’t take eternity, and we’ll be on top again before you know it. Keep your chin up bud….but also keep your objectivity just like it is!

  1. Playing well on the field will help. Not many big time recruits are quite ready to commit to a program that went 4-7 last year. Make Gator Football Fun Again and the recruits will come. In the meantime, focus on building/repairing relationships.

  2. The program is badly broken, but now well on the road to repair. With a change at the top, and the timely announcements about facility upgrades, the recruiting will slowly come. It will take more time but the program will catch up

    • Yes that’s exactly what Urban Meyer said when he left Florida. ” The program is broken”. I would love to ask him what exactly he meant by that. I think he broke the program when he retired for health reasons and then came back for a year before bolting to Ohio State. It still has yet to recover. Personally I think it all started when they kicked Cam Newton off the team for what now seems to be a lesser offense than some guys that are still on the team now did. You have to wonder how things may have turned out if he had stayed with the Gators. Would we have won another national championship and kept the ball rolling? I guess we will never know. Hopefully Mullen is the coach who can finally restore the program to championship caliber. Give him a few years and we will see. I wish him the best.

      • Urban laid out the health reason so he would be clear to bolt for Ohio St but then it became apparent the Jim Tressel departure was going to drag out two more years so Urban laid an egg in Gainesville for one, then used the health issue again to get out, hung out at ESPN till the Tressel crusification was done and then took his dream job at Ohio St. It just wasn’t bad enough for the POS to leave a program that treated him like a god, he had to gut it on the way out.

      • The decline in UF football started with Dunlap’s DUI the week of the SEC championship game vs Bama in ’09. That’s when Meyer lost control of the program imo. Too much success…we couldn’t handle it. We’ve only had one quality season since that time and it was in ’12 under Champ. Sometimes you need some bad times to value the good ones.

      • Rob1962 Newton wasn’t kicked off the team, he was suspended from the team until the charges were dropped after he completed a pre-trial diversion program. He decided on his own to transfer cause he was facing expulsion for 3 instances of academic dishonesty. He decided to transfer to save face.

  3. I think old Mullen has it rolling along, the truth is in the pudding though. I don’t expect too much this season, but we have to win some recruiting battles if we are going to start winning on saturdays…

    • Dr. Chuck Mullen has already won a few recruiting battles in his first class. He beat out Bama and FSU for Emory Jones, Clemson for Gouraige, FSU and Bama for Copeland, Miami and FSU for Chatfield, and Bama and Auburn for Langham. If he can do that after a 4 win season, then he should have no problem improving on that with a decent first season.

  4. I’m a Nole, but I would like to see the Gators respectable again, not good enough to beat us, but really good.

    If a few blue chips fall his way, I think he could push close to a top 10 finish and with your favorable schedule could get momentum going to reach a top ten 2020 class, but if he doesn’t pan out as the head coach, you’re at risk of losing an entire generation of talent like we did in the 2000’s, so he’s got to go to war on the recruiting trail these next two years.

    Good luck!