College Football, Florida Gators, Recruiting

Florida Recruiting: Grading the Gators’ recruiting class after the early signing period

Florida's last 5-star signee, Martez Ivey at the U.S. Army All American game. (Used via creative commons license via GoArmyPhotos, link below)

Dan Mullen just completed his second early signing period as a head coach and at Florida. The Gators signed 17 of its 18 verbal commits and added three more 4-star signees as well.

This was clearly a good day for the Gators. Signing three blue-chip players from Lakeland High School is a real step forward for the program. Multiple ESPN personalities declared the Gators one of the winners of the day.

Yet after the day, Florida has 21 signees and is ranked 16th nationally. Ron Zook, Urban Meyer and Will Muschamp had classes nationally ranked first, second and third in their second recruiting cycle, respectively. Even Jim McElwain’s second cycle produced a class that ranked 12th nationally.

So clearly there is more work to do. This shouldn’t be a surprise. The class got off to a slow start and hasn’t really picked up since.

That doesn’t mean it’s a disaster. There are some really good players that became Gators today. But it does mean that we need to put it in context not only within the framework of Florida historically, but also within the SEC.

The Current Signees

What you think of Florida’s class thus far depends a lot on what numbers you use to break it down.

The Gators added 20 signees on Wednesday, of whom 12 are considered blue-chips (4 or 5-star players). If we add 4-star linebacker Diwun Black to the list and compare to other SEC programs, the 62 percent blue-chip ratio is tied with LSU for fourth in the conference.

4-star QB Jalon Jones headlines the class thus far. Jones switched his commitment from Mississippi State to Florida shortly after Mullen took the Gators job and hasn’t wavered since. For a team that has had so many issues over the last decade at the QB position, bringing in a high-level signal caller every recruiting cycle is an absolute must.

4-star linebackers Diwun Black, Tyron Hopper and Mohamoud Diabate (along with 3-star Jesiah Pierre) fill a real need for Florida. From 2015-2017, Jim McElwain signed 9 linebackers, none of whom were in the top-300 nationally. Last season, Mullen signed Andrew Chatfield (213) and David Reese (296) to the fold. Black (149), Hopper (151) and Diabate (167) add a much needed injection of talent at that position.

4-star defensive linemen Lloyd Summerall (237) and Jaelin Humphries (272) were brought in to bolster the defensive line. Again this was an area that was neglected under McElwain, as he only signed four top-300 players out of 13 signees. Summerall and Humphries join 2018 signee Malik Langham (314) to strengthen that unit. The numbers at that spot are still really thin as Mullen has not filled out the positional depth and missed on 3-star recruit Brandon Dorlus and 5-star recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Offensive line was clearly an area of emphasis as the Gators added seven players, four of them blue-chip recruits. After signing 4-star tackle Richard Gouraige (87) and 3-stars Noah Banks, Chris Bleich, and Griffin McDowell in 2018, Mullen added 4-stars Deyavie Hammond (174), Michael Tarquin (281), William Harrod (307) and Wardrick Wilson (368) along with 3-stars Riley Simonds, Ethan White and Kingsley Eguakun. The line has quickly gone from an area with zero depth to both a deep and talented unit.

This class is really solid. But as I mentioned, how you grade it likely depends on how you break down the numbers. While Florida has 13 blue-chip recruits, none of them are 5-star recruits or even top-100 recruits thus far. That could change with the additions of Chris Steele or Kaiir Elam, but as it stands right now, there is a dearth of top-end talent in this particular class.

That really shows up when you look at this class compared to the bump classes of previous Florida head coaches. Ron Zook had 12 top-100 players in his second class. Urban Meyer had 9, Will Muschamp had 6 and even Jim McElwain had 4.

Florida clearly has lots of quality players coming into Gainesville next season. But the lack of can’t-miss prospects is an issue.

SEC Comparison

Florida’s class currently ranks 6th in the SEC overall and as I mentioned earlier, is tied with LSU for 4th in blue-chip ratio.

Of course, LSU also signed three 5-star recruits on Wednesday, along with seven players ranked higher than Florida’s highest ranked player (Keon Zipperer, 136th nationally). Alabama has 15 players ranked higher than Zipperer and Georgia has 9 ranked higher.

This is an issue because Florida has to play Georgia and LSU every year, and hopes to face Alabama in the SEC Championship after beating the Bulldogs and Tigers.

This is also an issue because there are only 17 unsigned or uncommitted players ranked higher than Zipperer left. Now, Florida does appear to have good chances of landing Steele (40th nationally) and Elam (61st), but that still means a ratio of 15:2 versus Alabama.

I know it’s easy to discount recruiting services and claim that they are biased or that the Florida coaching staff has an innate ability to spot players nobody else does. The problem with that is it is not supported by the data.

The chart below shows the winning percentage in SEC games of every SEC team since 2012 (when Missouri and Texas A&M joined the conference) plotted against the average star ranking of every recruit the four years prior to that season. So for example, for the 2012 season, I looked at the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 classes and the “star score” is the average stars of all recruits for each school over that time period.

Star score vs. winning percentage in SEC games for SEC teams from 2012-2018. (Will Miles/Read and Reaction)

The data is pretty clear. To be an SEC Champion – at least in the modern era – you need elite recruiting. Every champion has had a star score over 3.57 and the average star score for a champion is 3.81.

The threshold just to make it to the SEC Championship game is less, as the average is 3.49. That is dragged down considerably by Missouri in 2013 and 2014 and I think most people would agree that was partly due to a watered-down East while the West was clearly the better half of the conference.

The average star score for the conference in that time-frame is 3.41 and so Mullen did a pretty good job leading Florida to a 5-3 conference record this year. That’s because Florida’s star score was 3.44 in 2018.

And regardless of how the 2019 class ends up, Florida’s star score is going to go up for 2019. That’s because McElwain’s first class at Florida featured a star score of 3.29 and 17 3-star recruits. With that coming off the books, and Mullen’s 2019 class currently with a star score of 3.65, Florida is likely to be around 3.52 in 2019.

But that still is an issue because of the other teams in the conference.

Star scores along with number of 5-star, 4-star and 3-star recruits in the last four cycles for SEC teams. (Will Miles/Read and Reaction)

Florida is still considerably behind Georgia, Alabama and LSU. The Gators also face Auburn next season in addition to the Bulldogs and Tigers. While Florida will likely have zero 5-star recruits on its roster, Georgia will have at least 15.

Yes, Justin Fields and Jacob Eason have transferred away from Georgia. But boy what I wouldn’t give for the problem of having the number one and number five recruits in the country transferring away from my school because the guy in front of him is better.

Why does star score matter?

The star score matters because it correlates with winning in the SEC. The chart above already showed how winning the conference correlates with recruiting, but it’s more than just that.

SEC win percentage broken down by star score. (Will Miles/Read and Reaction)

The star score also correlates with winning conference games. From 2012-2018, teams that have a star score greater than 3.80 (currently Georgia and Alabama) win nearly 90 percent of their SEC games. Just dropping that to 3.60 to 3.79 drops that winning percentage to 62 percent. That drops to 47 percent for teams between 3.40-3.59 (right where Florida is) and then even lower as recruiting tails off even further.

That is not to say that Florida will only win 47 percent of its SEC games next year. There is a ton of scatter in the chart above suggesting that there is a high variance in performance for teams in that bin. But if you wonder how the Gators could go from 10-4 and 9-4 in McElwain’s first two years (with SEC Championship Game appearances) to the 4-7 debacle we all endured in 2017, this is how. There is just a high variation in performance for teams that don’t have elite recruiting and a cap on their ability to actually win the championship.

This makes sense when we think about the 2017 season. That season started with the suspensions to Antonio Callaway, Jordan Scarlett and others. Then the team was decimated with injuries throughout the year. There wasn’t enough depth to make up for the suspensions and injuries and so the performance went downhill.

You don’t have to look too far into the past to see the value of elite recruiting depth. Last season Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench against Georgia to win Alabama the National Championship when Jalen Hurts was ineffective. This season, Hurts returned the favor in the SEC Championship game against Georgia when Tagovailoa went out with an ankle injury.

Grading the Class, Early Signing Period Edition

This stuff correlates to winning.

Yes, development is important. Florida isn’t remotely close to 9-3 and in the Peach Bowl without the improved play of Feleipe Franks. His play is significantly better this year, much of that attributable to Mullen.

Yes, in-game coaching is important. Kirby Smart may get criticized for his fourth-and-11 fake punt against Alabama (and rightly so), but anyone who watched him repeatedly choose field goals on fourth-and-short against Florida this season knew he eventually would cost his team in an important situation.

But recruiting is also important. Mullen has upped the talent level on the team, but it’s not where it needs to be to compete regularly within this conference.

In the coming days, you’ll likely read about Florida pulling all three players out of Lakeland and how that is a major coup for Mullen. You may also read about how Florida has signed a ton of depth up-front on the offensive line and shored up the linebacker position.

You may read about how Mullen and his staff can spot an undervalued talent better than anyone else and how they have plans to get the most out of everyone they’ve signed. And you may read about the dumpster fire that is Willie Taggart’s operation in Tallahassee and the currently 38th ranked class of the Miami Hurricanes.

All of those things may be true but they are mostly irrelevant to the stated goal of the staff. Dan Mullen came to Gainesville talking about the Gator Standard, specifically SEC and National Championships.

I’m not saying that he can’t do it. I’m not saying that he won’t do it.

What I am saying is that this class as currently constituted does not close the gap with Alabama, Georgia or LSU, the competition that will keep him from achieving his stated goal. In fact, that gap is widening even further.

That doesn’t diminish the quality of the players coming to Gainesville. It suggests that they need more help. Hopefully Mullen can get that help before the February deadline, but even with major reinforcements, this class is still going to be behind 30 percent of the conference.

The Gator Standard that Mullen so often cites was set by Urban Meyer, someone with whom he’s intimately familiar. Every single one of Meyer’s recruiting classes (12th, 2nd, 1st, 5th, 7th and 1st) will likely end up with a higher national ranking than the Gators 2019 class. None of Meyer’s classes was ever worse than 4th in the SEC, and they were first four times.

That is the blueprint for winning championships in the SEC. Urban Meyer followed it at Florida. Nick Saban appears to have perfected it at Alabama. Kirby Smart is trying to replicate it at Georgia.

To this point, Mullen has been unable to follow that blueprint.

Perhaps he’s going to prove to be an outlier. Perhaps he’s really that good. I certainly hope so.

But if you’re asking me to grade this class at this point, I have to give it a C. It’s a class full of good players, but it’s not up to the standard that has been historically necessary to win the SEC or National Championship.

Like it or not, that’s the standard at Florida.

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34 Comments

  1. Ric Schildwachter

    Great use of data to cut through the hype. Coach Mullen is doing a great job but we all know the momentum needs to continue to grow.

  2. JEFF LOPEZ

    WOW, what a great article clearly making the point that Florida is not going to win any championship without 5 star recruits!!!! I am tired of hearing how our coaching staff can develop players and they choose players that fit their system. The bottom line is you can’t beat teams with 5 star athletes with 3 and 4 star athletes, I don’t care how good of a coach you are!! We need to hire elite recruiters who can bring in the 5 star recruits. According to 247Sports our highest recruiter is ranked 50th!

    • Rj

      What you have to understand is high caliber players go where there is the best chance of moving to the next level. That’s where the player development of Mullen and his staff comes into play bro. Next if you look at our following classes 2020 and 2021 we already have too 5 class signees and 2 or so 5 star players. In my opinion and my opinion only the start ratings only matter for the draft. Tons of too end talent don’t always pan out or always stay healthy. I’d take a class of 15-20 4 stars with 3’s finishing it than a class with 1-2 5 stars and less 4 stars. Just my opinion but I think people invest too much emotion to the star rating.

  3. Scott

    I understand numbers but numbers do not show the whole picture when it comes to recruiting or even more do the situation that Mullen is in. You cannot realistically compare him to the other UF coaches due to his situation. He is following two 3 and out coaches. The recruiting pipelines had been shattered by the prior 2 coaches. In addition we could not even get into IMG due to the director. Whether you believe it or not, high school coaches hold weight as to where players go because they hold the confidence of their players. The Lakeland 3 is a huge accomplishment in restabishing that pipeline and the effects it has with surrounding schools. Mac only did well due to bring in a staff that had connections in and with the state of Florida, however that was part of the reason the team imploded whereas Mullen brought coaches that were familiar with his system. The difference was noticeable. Is Mullen a Saban or Meyer? Don’t think so, but to grade this class as a C shows that you know numbers but have no clue about recruiting and this will feed the morons that are already calling for his head due to recruiting. While Mullen was not my choice, I have been impressed by him so far. If this coach was also a three and out like the prior two, UF would become irrelevant for a very long time.

    • Will Miles

      All of this can be true, but it is irrelevant. There are very good players in this class. Mullen needs more very good players to beat Alabama and Georgia consistently. Those aren’t mutually exclusive ideas.

      • John Burton

        So..explain Dak Prescott as a three star and now playing in NFL? Or, Mullens 41st recruiting class from 2011 evolving into a unforeseen #1 ranking with Prescott in 2014?Data is nice to start an argument, but it’s still data. Look at Frank’s today, versus last year. What was the difference? Alas, sometimes data just can’t always measure, heart, determination, coaching, etc. Just ask Dak…

        • Will Miles

          5-stars make up 0.8% of the player population and have won 36% of the Heisman Trophies from 2004-2017 and have accounted for 24% of the first team AP all americans from 2015-2017. 3-star players make up 53% of the player population and have also won 36% of the Heisman’s and accounted for 29% of 1st team All Americans during the same time period. Nobody is arguing that a 3-star player can’t be great. What is being argued is that the probability of one being great is significantly less than a 5-star and that is backed up by the data. That matters a lot when you have a maximum number of players you can sign. The more highly ranked players you sign, the higher the probability that you hit on greatness, or even very good. You mention Dak, but against teams more talented than his in the west (Auburn, LSU, Bama, A&M), he went 4-7.

    • David mann

      Spot on

  4. artic foux

    good breakdown of the data. I would give the class a B-, / incomplete, there is still one more signing period in February. but we definitely need to sign more top 100 athletes to truly complete against UGA/LSU/ALA and this current group has none, thus the (-). in regards to “I am tired of hearing how our coaching staff can develop players and they choose players that fit their system.” have some faith in this staff friend, look at what they did with a soft/weak offensive line for 2/3 years prior and a QB that NOBODY wanted to start/play this year in only one year. now they have some good depth/quality O lineman to really work with.

  5. Mark

    Wow, you’re knocking a guy who has had to make up years and years of recruiting for two classes in just the past 12 months. 5 star Recruits take years of at home visits, school visits, high school head coach coach relationships to build. You don’t think he isn’t doing that now with 2020, 2021 class. Yes, he is. Looks like you are good at putting together spreadsheets but don’t know much about football. You give the class a “C”? Based on what? Positions of need, I give him an “A-“. Getting 20 high quality players (all but one commit to Florida) to sign their letter of content on the very first day of early signing period, which ESP happens to go on for 3 days…..I call that an “A+”. Look at almost all other teams are scrambling trying to get commits to sign or having to find other players to fill where these kids chose other schools. Mullen has 5 more spots that he can now take his time, pick and choose and work on a couple more DL & CB and we are finished.I give him an “A-” overall. I give you Will Miles and “F” for not knowing anything other than what computer spits out to you. Have faith in the process. Go Gators!

    • Will Miles

      I have faith in processes that actually deliver results that match historical norms.

      • Mark

        Let the record state that there are two different “Mark”s commenting here, and this attitude does not reflect the opinion of all of us!

        I’m a big fan of your writing and I would grade you and Mullen both at a B+ for this signing day!

  6. Andy A

    Great analysis. Facts are our friends. The comment earlier about hiring elite recruiters logically makes the most sense in terms of closing our biggest gap right now. There are no silver bullets. All work together to deliver championships.

  7. Chris Selbach

    Which comes first, 5 star recruits committing to a program which starts winning or great coaching that produces successful results & builds credibility as a good choice for 5 star recruits? The 5 star recruits chose to go with the proven elite programs this season. I noticed that this article conveniently omitted the current rankings for the 2020 and 2021 classes. Granted it’s very early, nevertheless it proves that Mullen is building trust and rapport with elite recruits and he’s not trying to a play catch up like he did with this class, but rather he’s in the lead pack with those classes. 2020 currently 4th and 2021 currently 2nd including a 5 star recruit’s commitment. On a side note, Polite was a 3 star recruit.

  8. Coolhand

    It is what it is. Thanks for showing numbers and everything. You have a job to do, and you did it. Congratulations! I’ll just sit back and try to enjoy better play than what we’ve seen in the past. If that keeps improving then so will the recruiting for UF. Especially if/when we start winning a lot and doing so consistently. Ultimately, we have no control of what goes on in coaching, recruiting, or especially the decision-making of others. I choose to stay positive and let the chips fall where they may.

  9. Chris Selbach

    Great article, I really enjoyed the data. How about analyzing where Mullen’s 2019 recruiting class was ranked back in March 2018 and where it is now, which is not the final rankings by the way. Based on the rapid ascent of this class after such a slow start, this class will be viewed as a success, with a B grade floor and B+ as its ceiling. Mullen missed out on landing 5 star recruits this season, but I highly doubt that it’s going to be his trend. Yes, it’s extremely early, but it’s important to note that Mullen’s 2020 class is currently ranked 4th and 2021 class is currently 2nd, which includes a commit from a 5 star recruit. This doesn’t mean either of these classes will finish that high, but you can’t argue with the fact that he’s light years ahead building these classes compared to where he started with this one.

      • Mark

        Will you be doing another comparison after the February signing day to show whether or not Mullen’s class improved post August 1st?

        I would be extremely interested in that article. It seems to me the class has improved significantly since then, but I know you said it typically doesn’t happen. Just wondering if Mullen deserves praise for beating the odds or not!

        • Will Miles

          I’m sure I will address it. And I believe the article said the average is around a 15% improvement in 247 rating from August 1 to February.

          • Mark

            I just looked at the recruiting statistics for the Gators class using the 247 sports composite and found the following results:

            Star Rating Pre 8/1 – 3.40
            Star Rating Post 8/1 – 3.83
            Player Rank Pre 8/1 – 506.2
            Player Rank Post 8/1 – 269.3
            Player Rating Pre 8/1 – .886
            Player Rating Post 8/1 – .913

            That seems like a significant improvement to me. That is great to see from Mullen! I know you said it was not likely according to the data (and your evidence was compelling), but Mullen should really be commended for beating the odds here. The same way he improved our offense from scoring 10-20 points against Kentucky and Mississippi State, he has improved our recruiting as the season went on (and that will only improve more if Kaiir Elam and Chris Steele decide to come to UF).

            I am pretty happy with how Mullen has closed (especially with Arjei Henderson being swiped from FSU out of left field) and he has made me more and more optimistic for the next few seasons of Gator football.

  10. Nostradamus

    The facts are the facts. Well done analysis. There is enough variance in the data to suggest that an outlier event could result in an SEC championship, but to consistently compete for one takes better recruiting than we’ve thus far seen from this staff.

    Begs the next question: what will Dan do to get to elete level recruiting?

  11. Athomas

    You say alot about 5 star recruits but they don’t always be what they are made out to be ….Meyer had probably the best #1 recruit s of all time but lost to Ga.,LSU,Ala….who had weaker classes according to the crap you are printing out to people….let the guys hit the weights and learn the coaches schemes and execute and we will see who wins the game…Cam Newton and a few good guys on both sides of the field won it all …. let’s see about next year … Mullen A- ……Go GATORS

    • Will Miles

      Meyer went 5-1 vs Georgia while at Florida.

      • Axios

        Meyer also faced Richt at UGA who had losing records against Zook and Muschamp.

        While I largely agree with your article, the points others have made around coaching are equally important/ valid. You can win with 3* recruits, though your job is much more difficult. Look at AU’s undefeated season with Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, and Jason Campbell in 2004. Been a while, but I’m pretty sure that team was lacking in “top rated” talent. Zook made similar mistakes. He went whale hunting. Either caught a 5* (Leak) or a 2* (McCollum). (I wrote an article for Gator Country detailing his recruiting failures not long after Zook was canned.)

        Mullen’s strategy of fitting guys to the system is appropriate, as is not taking class filler. A great example is to look at his defensive recruits leaving MSU. How many 4 and 5*s there? None? 2 guys will go 1st round in the draft. That speaks to 1) coaching 2) misses by the services which are common and will likely remain so 3) desire and growth of players.

        Bama, UGA, and Clem’s (and now A&M it seems) recruiting dominance has certainly made things more difficult for UF – esp since we haven’t had a QB in a decade. (Don’t undersell this point. A team simply cannot win without a QB that is at least serviceable. A Greg McElory type is as low as one can go) That said, adding guys like Steele, Elam, Fuller, etc can and likely will push us into the top 10. It’s too early to write this class off as a “C”, but everyone acknowledges there’s much more work to be done. Top kids go to winning programs. We need to win, which we really haven’t in a very long time.

  12. Kendall P Varney

    Wow! Lots of reaction to this article (as expected). Truth is, I suspect that you are spot on. Numbers don’t lie, but intangible (coaching and development) play a role as well. Mullen seems to be gifted with the skill set to identify, develop, and coach at a level which is higher than most of his peers. However he must close the recruiting gap that exists between UF and the SEC elite at least somewhat. I think we can all agree on that, and all hope that he is able to do so.

  13. Roland

    Really enjoy your star ranking analysis.
    The Gators have a coach and staff that knows how to coach a kid up. Guessing this means they are looking for the best players that fit their coaching style and that will respond to being “coached up” their way. Every year I suspect will be more focused on the fit of the incredible athletes Mullen brings in.

    My personal grade on almost every Gator class is A. They are the best group that wanted to be a Gator. I ask nothing more.

  14. Kristopher

    I wonder if Mullen’s time at Mississippi State has actually hurt his two initial recruiting classes. Kids know he was at State for nine years and had “a level of consistency” never before seen there but does that really impress highly talented recruits?Consistency isn’t as sexy to recruits as winning championships and having undefeated seasons (Urban at Utah, Frost at UCF). Without seeing results on the field, do they really believe that he can take his consistent program to UF and turn it into a championship program? Just because it’s Florida and he’s done it here before as an OC doesn’t guarantee anything. If the sexiest thing these recruits know about Mullen is he had a consistent above average team for nine years then I can understand why he would be slow out of the gates getting elite talent.

    Also, didn’t Chip Kelly have an unbelievable run at Oregon without top 10 or top 5 classes? Granted the PAC 12 is not the SEC.

  15. Craig Feinberg

    Will. There is a lot more to football than stars and yards per play( the two stats that you always hang your hat on). If you ever played the game you would realize that it really takes hard work, guts, and determination. That is what makes the game fun to watch. Not stats from your computer. BTW, how were your stats on predicting games last year? How well did you do in predicting this season’s success?Hmmm, maybe yards per play isn’t the only thing that matters?

    • Will Miles

      I’ve never said stars are the only thing that matters. I’m actually going to be writing separate articles about trying to measure coaching development and in-game coaching/strategy soon. This was an article about grading recruiting. Stars, rankings and the such would seem to be relevant.

      • Mark

        Looking forward to the articles about coaching development, that should be a good read.

        If you have time (or the interest to write it) I would be very curious to see numbers on Mullen specific numbers at MSU comparing his number of 5/4/3 star recruits and the number he put into the NFL compared against the last few UF coaches 5/4/3 stars and how many we put into the NFL here. Would be really fascinating and might give some insight into whether or not Mullen can be expected to turn lower star players into NFL quality players at UF.

    • Kristopher

      I don’t think Will solely relies on those two metrics (at least I hope not). I think he knows you need coaching AND high level recruiting which he’s mentioned in the past. The coaching aspect should be a foregone conclusion that Mullen “checks all the right boxes” and is a great to elite-ish coach. Now recruiting need to fall in line and the data shows (historically at least) where we need to be in recruiting.

      Zook could recruit and was a good man…just a terrible head coach. Rinse, wash and repeat with Champ. We need both and neither will bring us “back” if we only have one.

      Time will tell if Mullen can buck the historical FACTS and win big without top (5) classes.

  16. Chaz

    Looks like a good class, addressing some needs and creating depth in many areas, except for maybe the D-Line. I support these student athletes and appreciate they chose UF and want to be Gators. As for taking the next step to the elite levels, I think the UF staff needs to do a better job getting in early on 5* and high 4* prospects, focusing on top 100 players. Our facilities are in sore need of a facelift.

    I’ve heard on both the David Waters podcast and the Gator Country podcast that facilities aren’t a key factor in a recruit’s decision. I beg to differ. I believe when all else is equal, facilities can put a decision over the top. When you look at the top programs for recruiting this cycle (Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, Clemson, LSU and Oregon) each has a “Taj Mahal” of player delights and luxuries, a far cry from the merely average offerings at UF. I’ve looked closely at YouTube, interviews in locker rooms, etc, and the modern, well lit, glossy facilities at the the top programs I’ve mentioned above and I’m left with the impression that UF is woefully behind. Nice enough, OK, but far from the Taj Mahals of these programs I mentioned. It saddens me to hear that the new football facility has been pushed back to groundbreaking in 2020. We won’t see a finished product until at least 2022? Yes, it is impressive that the same architect for the Clemson facility will be involved in the UF project, but plans like this should have been finalized ten years ago when UF was winning the ’08 championship.

    I understand that at UF the emphasis is to develop ALL sports, that is why this program is in the running for “all sports” trophies and “all around” recognition. What is it – ? I think UF has 90 more SEC championships than the next SEC program. Impressive. The only athletic program to simultaneously hold the NC in both football and basketball, the only athletic program in the last several decades to have won the NC in football/basketball/baseball. SEC All Sports trophy for many, many years straight, with most years also a huge gap between UF and the #2 program. Great academics, etc. It is an impressive record. Nonetheless, this approach to develop all sports has left football woefully behind other programs that develop football first and foremost. Simply the realities of apportioning limited resources, and staying within budget. Other programs run large debts, but UF has elected to live within its means. Commendable.

    The word on the recruiting trail for years has been that the kids think that UF football facilities are average and at times shabby. I remember Steve Spurrier proclaimed after he returned from S. Carolina, “The place hasn’t changed a bit!”.

    It is sad to see our locker room. The design is straight out of the 90s. Even a high school (IMG) has a much nicer locker room than UF. Last night on SEC network I saw Texas A&M’s football locker room – my mouth dropped. (Do a Google Image search). I watch the SEC Film Room show on SEC network – wow even Tennessee has a gorgeous auditorium for film room analysis, even Ole Miss is better than UF. Wow – Kentucky’s is gorgeous. The player auditorium that they have at UF is a poorly lit, dank, white cinder block room that is nice enough, functional, but a far cry from the modern auditoriums I’ve seen at nearly every other program in the SEC.

    Bottom line, it saddens me that a Florida high school has better locker room facilities than UF. When the kids go on official visits, the differences must be apparent. I believe it is being used against us in recruiting. Sad that we have to wait until at least 2022 to outdo Kentucky and pull equal to Georgia, Clemson, and Alabama. But then again, will these programs leap forward once more while we are trying to catch up?

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