With National Signing Day less that two weeks away, Florida fans are on the verge of shifting into full panic mode. The Gators are ranked 99th in the nation in recruiting by Rivals, have only eight commitments (all from three-star prospects) and their biggest targets seem to be leaning toward another school whose colors are orange and blue.
So, yes, the potential is certainly there for panic to set in.
But what UF fans really need to do at this tense time is take a deep breath, relax and let this scrambling, hard-working coaching staff do its thing and work this out, which it will. Jim McElwain will sign 20 to 25 players and this probably will end up being a solid class that won’t set the program back.
In other words, the Gators will have a class that’s typical of a team in a coaching transition. UF has been here before.
Steve Spurrier struggled with his first recruiting class in 1990. Urban Meyer did the same in 2005 and Will Muschamp repeated it in 2011. It’s a pattern and a reality in the sport that’s hard to escape.
In 2005, Meyer’s class ended up ranked 15th and had no five-star prospects. The highest-rated player was defensive back Avery Atkins, whose career was over after one season. Of the 18 players signed, 10 never were significant contributors.
In 2011, Muschamp’s first class pulled in the No. 12 ranking and included no five-star recruits. If you ranked this class now, four years later, it would not be in the top 50 in the nation. Of the 19 players signed, almost half (nine) have transferred.
So, what McElwain and his staff are going through right now is typical. Putting together that first recruiting class in such a short time is tough, risky business. It’s hard to do.
Recruiting is about relationships. If you’re the parent of a recruit, would you send your son to a coaching staff he’s known for two or three years, or to one he’s known for only two or three weeks?
This is what McElwain and his staff are up against as they scramble to put this class together. They’re not two or three months behind; they’re two or three years behind. And there is precious little time to try and catch up.
There’s a chance the Gators will not sign any of the five-star prospects that maybe were leaning to UF before the coaching change. But that’s OK. This coaching staff will put together a class that is solid — and that’s usually the best you can expect from the aftermath of a coaching change.
It will be a much different story a year from now.