GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Calm down, Gator Nation.
For fans concerned about the recruiting impact of Lane Kiffin and Charlie Strong, just stop it. A sector of the Florida faithful went into panic mode Monday following Florida Atlantic’s hiring of Kiffin, which came on the heels of South Florida luring Strong back to the Sunshine State.
Fans are worried about UF coach Jim McElwain and his staff now having to recruit against Kiffin and Strong along with Jimbo Fisher (Florida State) and Mark Richt (Miami). While the latter two coaches certainly create competition for in-state talent, Kiffin and Strong will not.
Both should do very well at their respective schools and bring in the best prospects those programs have ever seen. But the overwhelming majority of high school football players in the state of Florida aren’t about to start choosing FAU and USF over FSU, UF or Miami. Ain’t happening.
That goes for top-tier talent all the way down to those coveted 3-star recruits. Most kids with a committable offer from any one of the Big 3 schools won’t say no thanks just to go play for Kiffin or Strong. Now, there may be some lower-tier prospects who live close to Boca Raton or Tampa and feel they’ll have a more meaningful careers at FAU or USF.
Take, for example, Ben Knox. He was a 3-star offensive lineman from Deland, Fla., who committed to the Gators in the Class of 2014. However, after being pursued heavily by South Florida, he felt the Bulls had a bigger need for him and made the switch. Knox is now at a junior college, and UF still signed six linemen in that recruiting cycle.
If we’re going to look at Knox’s decommitment as a loss for the Gators, how much did it really hurt them? He was ranked the nation’s No. 46 offensive tackle, according to 247Sports.
On the flip side, 4-star running back Jordan Scarlett (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) committed to FAU as a junior because his high school coach became an assistant on the staff. But eventually, as his recruitment got serious, he flipped to Miami before choosing Florida over Florida State at the end of his process. Kiffin or Strong would not have changed where Scarlett ended up.
Their hires will actually hurt out-of-state schools more than the Big 3. Programs such as Arkansas, Kentucky, South Carolina and others will have a harder time coming into the state of Florida and recruiting prospects who typically pass up offers from FAU or USF to attend an SEC program.
So back away from the ledge, Gators fans. Kiffin and Strong are not about to steal the recruits you want. Alabama and Ohio State are the type of schools you have to worry about.
3 Florida targets shut down their recruitments
In an exclusive interview with SEC Country, 5-star offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood (Pensacola, Fla.) said he has decided to sign with Alabama after his official visit to Florida.
Two more 5-star prospects that UF was trying to flip also shut down their recruitments Monday. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) and cornerback Shaun Wade (Jacksonville, Fla.) both announced they will stick with their commitments to Alabama and Ohio State, respectively.
Jeudy chose the Crimson Tide over Miami and Florida, while Wade went with the Buckeyes over Alabama and Florida. Gators coaches conducted in-home visits with both Jeudy and Wade this month, hoping to sway them into taking one last trip to UF before the dead period. Both declined.
Next Chapter…..?? pic.twitter.com/IQVV64h3G8
— JJ⁴ (@jerryjeudy) December 12, 2016
— shaun wade (@shaunwade2017) December 12, 2016
Miami teammates win state title, visit Gators
Florida commits Jake Allen and Marco Wilson weren’t the only Florida commits who won state championships this weekend.
Cornerback Shawn Davis and tight end Kemore Gamble, teammates at Southridge High School in Miami, won the Class 8A state championship Saturday with a 14-10 over Dr. Phillips.
Following the game, Davis and Gamble traveled to Gainesville for their official visits to UF. Both prospects will enroll early on Jan. 4.
— shawn davis (@MT6_Shawn) December 12, 2016
It feels good to be official in the swamp ?? pic.twitter.com/EoRHjsj5uh
— |HUMBLE| (@kemoregamble15) December 12, 2016