Recruiting SDS: Judging Florida's slow start in recruiting is complicated

Discussion in 'Main Sports Forum' started by Omar's Coming Yo!, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. Omar's Coming Yo!

    Omar's Coming Yo! Gator til the grave

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2016
    Messages:
    1,554
    Oxbucks:
    $310
    Ratings:
    +877 / -391
    https://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/f...low-recruiting-start-and-why-its-complicated/

    Dan Mullen hasn’t even taken the podium at his first SEC Media Days as Florida’s head coach, let alone coached his first game, and already there is noise in the system in Gainesville.

    Fans and writers alike are on edge about Florida’s sluggish start to the 2018-2019 recruiting cycle, with many already moving past “on edge” and into full-on “panic mode.” Rival fans have taken to calling Florida “3-Star U,” with one notable podcaster comparing the notoriously poor recruiter Jim McElwain favorably to the affable, engaging Mullen.

    There were rumblings from as early as the spring, when Florida hosted several big names without securing commitments or future official visits. The rumblings became louder in late June, when longtime Mullen 4-star DE target Nathan Pickering opted to commit to the in-state Mississippi State Bulldogs instead of the Gators, despite a lengthy recruiting relationship with the Florida coaching staff.

    The rumbles turned to roars last week, when a pair of consensus 4-stars long considered Florida leans — Jahleel Billingsley (Alabama) and DB Chris Steele (USC) — committed elsewhere. The Gators also lost former 4-star WR commit John Dunmore, the Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade product, who committed to Penn State. Another 4-star WR, Mycah Pittman, appears set to buck his mother’s wishes and pick Oregon over Florida.

    There’s no question that’s a tough few weeks for the Gators, who currently sit at No. 31 in the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings for 2019 (behind Duke!). But is it a cause for panic? And what exactly is behind Florida’s slow recruiting start?

    Fan is short for “fanatic,” and reason and facts aren’t often considered when it’s easier to just pile on the panic bandwagon and criticize the new Florida coaching staff, who are tasked with rebuilding a program that for the second time in less than a decade has a broken culture to go along with personnel issues.

    But even fanatics aren’t entitled to their own facts, and the facts of Florida recruiting are these.

    First, it isn’t all doom-and-gloom
    Mullen signed the best transition class in Florida history last fall, rescuing a class ranked in the 20s with a host of signing day commitments, including coveted 4-star QB Emory Jones, who chose Florida over rival Florida State, and 4-star WR Jacob Copeland, who ended years of Gator recruiting futility in Pensacola by picking Florida over Alabama.

    Mullen’s 2019 class, with 4 top 300 players currently committed, also rates comparably, at this point in the cycle (early July), to Gus Malzahn’s second class at Auburn (4 top 300 commits), Mark Richt’s second class at Miami (4 top 300 commits), and Willie Taggart’s second class at Florida State (5 top 300 commits). It is also twice as good, as of July 11, as Jim McElwain’s second class was at this point (2 top 300 commits), which seems to suggest that at the very least, Mullen isn’t making McElwain look like “Bear Bryant on the trail.” And while Mullen’s second class certainly behind Urban Meyer’s second class at Florida as of July (10 top 300 commits), it isn’t terribly behind Kirby Smart’s pace (6 top 300 commits), although it is entirely fair to suggest that Florida needs a quality Friday Night Lights event this July to bolster the class, stem the negative flow of publicity and build momentum for the fall.

    Further, while the losses of players like Steele, Pittman and Dunmore seem permanent, Pickering and Billingsley are among the players who have openly indicated they’ll take recruiting visits, giving Florida at least a chance at recouping those losses. And even with Dunmore gone, there are a host of analysts projecting 4-star WR Elijah Higgins, a 6-2 221-pound NFL prototype, will commit to Florida before the end of the month.

    Second, Mullen is also dealing with a host of structural challenges his rivals simply don’t face.

    To begin with, he inherited a program that has had two 4-win seasons in four years, and hasn’t fielded an offense ranked in the top 50 nationally since most recruits were in elementary school. The Gators stitched together two 10-win seasons this decade, but did so on the shoulders of elite defenses, and even in the seasons when Will Muschamp recruited well, Florida’s classes tended to be unbalanced, with a high-number of blue chips (4- or 5-stars) on defense, not offense.

    Florida’s roster contains 36 blue-chip recruits, only 3 of whom were consensus 5-star players. That’s more blue-chips than at SEC East rivals South Carolina (23) and Tennessee (34), but it’s well-behind Georgia (61) and FSU (56). Much of that is due to unbalanced classes under Muschamp and the general aloofness of McElwain, who deferred much of Florida’s recruiting process to associate head coach Randy Shannon. But some of it is about success on the field too, according to one longtime SEC assistant.

    “Kirby inherited a 10-win roster at Georgia, and schematically, they didn’t want to reinvent much offensively, which people forget,” the SEC assistant told me. “That meant Kirby could go and target certain areas where he felt upgrades were critical, notably on the offensive line and on the defensive perimeter. But Smart also knew Richt already had a roster that was close. It’s why he waited on that job. Dan gets a 4-win culture and probably an 8-win roster. Those challenges are almost entirely different, and that’s before you discuss scheme.”

    Another challenge Florida faces is consistent coaching turnover, which impacts recruiting in two ways.

    The first is the obvious one. It’s hard to play catchup against other staffs when they’ve cultivated longstanding relationships with kids. The usual rebuttal to this is that “other staffs in transition manage to do it.” But another longtime Power 5 assistant says it’s more complicated than that.
     
    • Omar's Coming Yo!

      Omar's Coming Yo! Gator til the grave

      Joined:
      Oct 6, 2016
      Messages:
      1,554
      Oxbucks:
      $310
      Ratings:
      +877 / -391
      At Florida, you want to recruit against everybody. You go into a living room and sell Florida, but you’re doing it in a place where Dabo (Swinney) has been, where (Nick) Saban has been, where Kirby Smart is or Clay Helton,” the Power 5 assistant told me last week. “That’s fine, but then even if you catch up relationship-wise, you’re behind culturally, you aren’t winning. So, the most interested kids may make you wait.”

      The second challenge of consistent turnover is the more fascinating one, and far less talked about. Not all staffs want to recruit the same kids, especially when there is dramatic scheme change, which there certainly is at Florida as it moves away not just from McElwain’s pro-style offense to Mullen’s run-dominant spread, but also from Shannon’s vanilla 4-3 to Todd Grantham’s Pittsburgh 3-4.

      That poses significant recruiting challenges that are compounded by the relationship issue, according to Florida-based national recruiting analyst Corey Long, who for over a decade has covered college football and recruiting for the New York Times, ESPN and Saturday Down South, among other publications.

      “Mullen and this coaching staff have a plan and they are going after the players they are comfortable with and feel like they fit into the scheme and the culture,” Long told me last week. “Maybe they will look to fill the ‘top end’ of the class during the season and get some bigger names in before the first signing day, but for now, it’s about crafting their target list.”

      Long is sympathetic to the criticism among some writers and fans alike, however, that Florida doesn’t seem to have a specific recruiting strategy established yet under Mullen. He says a good amount of that has to do with turnover.

      “I think the problem with four coaches in just over eight years is they have four different players (they have targeted),” Long said. “Gator football was different under McElwain than it was under Muschamp and will be different under Mullen. McElwain’s staff, headed by Randy Shannon, was very active in South Florida whereas Mullen’s staff doesn’t seem to be recruiting as much there. So where will their in-state focus be? Tampa? Orlando? Jacksonville? The Panhandle? What about out of state? Are they strong in Georgia or better along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi JUCOs? They need to figure out where they can establish significant inroads at and start aggressively recruiting in those areas.”

      Long’s point here is supported by the reality that Florida is one of only 8 Power 5 programs that have had four head coaches since 2010. The others? Pitt, Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, Oregon, USC and Arkansas. Of those nine programs, only Florida, USC and Oregon are considered bluebloods, and both Oregon and USC hired their fourth coach (Cristobal and Helton, respectively) from within their prior staff. Of the nine, Pitt made the largest recruiting improvement from a transition class to second class, when Pat Narduzzi improved Pitt from 46th to 30th in 2016. The difference? Pitt won 8 football games under Narduzzi after a losing season under Paul Chryst.

      Winning matters, according to the Power 5 assistant.

      “Helton and (Mario) Cristobal already had ideas as to who they wanted to recruit, and an offer list they didn’t need to reshape. That allowed for immediate momentum. Helton had to win more games, but USC was never in a situation like Florida where they had multiple losing seasons. Mario is at a program that has been to a College Football Playoff Championship. He and (Willie Taggart) made the offer list. Mullen’s situation is a lot more like Dabo’s was at Clemson, even though Dabo came from (Tommy) Bowden’s staff. Dabo had a different idea about how he wanted Clemson to play football. Clemson hadn’t won a conference title in forever. They had to win. It took awhile to sell that to kids.”

      Long is less sure.

      “In the era of the Early Signing Day period, there’s not really wait-and-see,” Long said. “I just think there’s too much turnover and coaching changes in the past few years to establish a consistent pattern of recruiting. The target list in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 classes changed with the coaching change, so there are kids that the Shannon-led group of assistants were targeting over the next three years that Mullen’s staff has decided not to pursue and in turn they have a whole new group of targets, some brought over from their evaluations while at Mississippi State. That and the schematic changes just means they start from behind.”

      Still, it’s Florida, the Power 5 assistant told me. Kids will respond if Florida plays better football.

      “I don’t know if it happens in this class,” the assistant said. “But the way they are upgrading things, the whole package of tradition and facilities and the NFL pipeline and academics: maybe it’s a longer rebuild, like Clemson. But Dan will get it built, if they let him.”
       
      • 78

        78 Dazed and Confused
        Lifetime Member

        Joined:
        Jun 9, 2014
        Messages:
        12,062
        Oxbucks:
        $7,672
        Ratings:
        +13,635 / -387
        Omar's had shock therapy.
         
      • GatorStud

        GatorStud Score Points, Be Happy
        Lifetime Member

        Joined:
        Jun 13, 2014
        Messages:
        2,912
        Oxbucks:
        $460
        Ratings:
        +2,400 / -13
        So, it's the patience young grasshopper theme... :whew:
         
      • Jbossgator8

        Jbossgator8 Senior Member
        Lifetime Member

        Joined:
        Jun 11, 2014
        Messages:
        2,653
        Oxbucks:
        $752
        Ratings:
        +2,042 / -171
        So what do YOU Omar think about Mullen and UF?? What W/L records will we have the next 3 years under Mullen??
         
      • Gator Fever

        Gator Fever Senior Member

        Joined:
        Jun 13, 2014
        Messages:
        20,802
        Oxbucks:
        $1,879
        Ratings:
        +5,910 / -110
        Talk about pumping sunshine and making excuses on what is a big issue right now. The bottom line is if Mullen ends up with some crappy #14 nationally and #6 or so in the SEC recruiting class he failed to do his job in recruiting - no way to spin the reality of that. Other big schools with those same type circumstances have coaches getting good 2nd classes.
         
        • Omar's Coming Yo!

          Omar's Coming Yo! Gator til the grave

          Joined:
          Oct 6, 2016
          Messages:
          1,554
          Oxbucks:
          $310
          Ratings:
          +877 / -391
          It all depends on his recruiting.

          IF his recruiting stays like it is currently
          8-4
          7-5
          7-5

          IF he lands balanced top 10 classes:
          8-4
          9-3
          11-1
           
          • Swamp Donkey

            Swamp Donkey Ox is a Poor Man's JBoss
            Lifetime Member

            Joined:
            Jun 9, 2014
            Messages:
            38,867
            Oxbucks:
            $19,022
            Ratings:
            +43,231 / -1,503
            Yes. You shouldn't be landing recruits yet, unless you are Muschump 4.0 at Tinerc or Urkel at Clowntown.

            And the new Cowbell coach. Or the interim at probation Ole Piss.

            Somehow THEY are landing recruits. It is so weird.
             
            • oxrageous

              oxrageous It's Good to be King
              Administrator

              Joined:
              Jun 5, 2014
              Messages:
              18,283
              Oxbucks:
              $11,161
              Ratings:
              +26,108 / -328
              Don’t cut and paste entire articles. Paste a snippet and show a link.
               
              • gatorplank

                gatorplank Well-Known Member

                Joined:
                Jul 28, 2017
                Messages:
                230
                Oxbucks:
                $203
                Ratings:
                +215 / -45
                Very level headed and reasonable article.
                 
                • T REX

                  T REX Well-Known Member
                  Lifetime Member

                  Joined:
                  Jun 24, 2014
                  Messages:
                  9,134
                  Oxbucks:
                  $1,777
                  Ratings:
                  +6,172 / -406
                  [​IMG]
                   
                  • Like Like x 2
                  • Dislike Dislike x 1
                  • List
                  • BMF

                    BMF Bad Mother....
                    Lifetime Member

                    Joined:
                    Sep 8, 2014
                    Messages:
                    9,567
                    Oxbucks:
                    $5,580
                    Ratings:
                    +11,042 / -135
                    I'm tired of these excuses. We have half the class committed, many of the blue-chip recruits we've been hard after are committed elsewhere....and sooner or later perception becomes reality. For the future of the program, Mullen needs to land 12 or more blue-chip players in this class. So, as it stands we're probably going to land 11 to 13 more commits, meaning at least 8 of them needs to be 4-star or better.
                     
                    • LongTooth

                      LongTooth Senior Member

                      Joined:
                      Feb 4, 2015
                      Messages:
                      2,026
                      Oxbucks:
                      $1,143
                      Ratings:
                      +1,909 / -41
                      The only honest part of this fluff is the acknowledgement of the gap in blue chip talent between us and UGA/FSU.
                       
                      • TheDouglas78

                        TheDouglas78 Well-Known Member

                        Joined:
                        Jun 12, 2014
                        Messages:
                        10,231
                        Oxbucks:
                        $2,305
                        Ratings:
                        +5,501 / -83
                        If we hit mid November and we are still higher than 10th in the ranks with a couple of blue chips.... then we are in for another long few years. If the product on the field improves the recruiting should as well. But with the early signing period we have to show early returns.
                         
                        • LongTooth

                          LongTooth Senior Member

                          Joined:
                          Feb 4, 2015
                          Messages:
                          2,026
                          Oxbucks:
                          $1,143
                          Ratings:
                          +1,909 / -41
                          That's .... not going to happen.

                          Not this year.

                          If there is zero movement among players who aren't already solid to us after FNL, then there has to be admission that something is very, very wrong with their approach to recruiting at this time.
                           
                        • soflagator

                          soflagator Senior Member
                          Lifetime Member

                          Joined:
                          Sep 4, 2014
                          Messages:
                          4,463
                          Oxbucks:
                          $4,375
                          Ratings:
                          +9,034 / -34
                          I agree with this. It's concerning, and I think we're naturally going to see the negative given the past several years. Meyer's 2006 class didn't really start to take the shape of a #1 class until late summer, even into the season, so I'm hoping that we can gain a ton of momentum over the next few months. But he also had a completely different type of staff and we were only a few years removed from our last top-3 class. This is different.

                          I think the lack of success thus far only ramps up the pressure on this season, which is not ideal. If we were loading up, and had recruiters really selling kids on UF, then I think we could get away with a mediocre, even slightly bad season. As it is, I'm not so sure. At this rate, we may need to win several of our underdog games just to try and reassert ourselves and stop the momentum of those rivals. I still prefer having a coach who can recruit, as opposed to a recruiter who just happens to have the HC title. But he's going to have to do a REALLY good job in the coaching department if this is an indication of the recruiting side.
                           
                          #16 soflagator, Jul 13, 2018
                          Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
                          • gatorplank

                            gatorplank Well-Known Member

                            Joined:
                            Jul 28, 2017
                            Messages:
                            230
                            Oxbucks:
                            $203
                            Ratings:
                            +215 / -45
                            I think that article carries more credibility than your typical article since it is based on input from a college coach. However, I'm sure the flocks of keyboard recruiting coordinators on GCMB might disagree.
                             
                            • Gator Fever

                              Gator Fever Senior Member

                              Joined:
                              Jun 13, 2014
                              Messages:
                              20,802
                              Oxbucks:
                              $1,879
                              Ratings:
                              +5,910 / -110
                              Yep and the article that showed where you stand at the beginning of August is a pretty good indicator if you have any chance to have a top class in recent years is totally misleading even though it shows the hard facts.
                               
                              • cover2

                                cover2 I've grown old
                                Lifetime Member

                                Joined:
                                Jun 12, 2014
                                Messages:
                                1,479
                                Oxbucks:
                                $1,483
                                Ratings:
                                +4,415 / -4
                                A ten year slide isn't going to turn around overnight. I'm of the opinion that Mullen can and needs to do better on the trail, but I'm also of the opinion that our brand has been damaged by a variety of ill-contrived moves (and some not made, like facilities upgrades). It's a steep and slippery slope back to the top as we stand now.
                                 
                                • G8trwood

                                  G8trwood Well-Known Member
                                  Lifetime Member

                                  Joined:
                                  Nov 29, 2015
                                  Messages:
                                  614
                                  Oxbucks:
                                  $370
                                  Ratings:
                                  +653 / -8
                                  Is the head coach or the individual position coaches/recruiters more important ? I can definitely see the old dude (unless a legend) not making connections like the younger dynamic coaches. Just curious as to our greatest need in personnel on the trail.
                                   

                                Share This Page

                                The Box

                                Help

                                You don't have the necessary permissions to use the chat.

                                • About Us

                                  Our community sprung up when the Gatorsports message board was shut down in the summer of 2014. We pride ourselves on offering Gator-biased, yet critical discussion among people of all different backgrounds. We are working every day to make sure our community is the best Gator message board you will find.
                                • Like us on Facebook

                                • Buy us a Zima!

                                  The management works very hard to make sure the community is running the best software, best designs, and all the other bells and whistles. Care to buy us a non-alcoholic Zima? We'd really appreciate it! Just click the "Donate" tab at the top of the page.