GAINESVILLE, Fla. — There’s more where that came from.
Florida coach Dan Mullen was — in his words — swagged out Wednesday after signing a top-15 class and landing one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, Emory Jones.
Jones is one of five players landed by Mullen and his staff in the last four days, and all of them officially visited UF this past weekend.
“I’m excited about the athleticism that we’ve brought in and the flexibility those guys have,” said Mullen, who signed several recruits with the versatility to play multiple positions. “Then obviously it’s huge to get a quarterback, is a guy that kind of ends up kind of being a big leader for the class, as everybody looks at it, a leader for the future of the program, and we couldn’t be happier to have Emory coming in and being our quarterback for the future.”
That future had been in question throughout the month of December. The Gators had a commitment from 4-star quarterback Matt Corral, but Mullen was recruiting some other players at the position. One of them was Jones, who received his first scholarship offer from Mullen when he was at Mississippi State.
Corral’s flip to Ole Miss last Thursday left the Gators without a quarterback less than a week before the early signing period, but Mullen and new quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson wasted no time in getting Jones on campus. Mullen had rekindled their relationship and flipped him from Ohio State in a time span of 16 days.
With Jones on board, Mullen and his staff have an elite quarterback they can sell to recruits and build the rest of their class around. Top targets such as wide receiver Jacob Copeland and offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere now know what the future holds for Florida at the most important position on the field.
“We want quarterbacks that have great leadership,” Mullen said. “If you walked an entire freshman class into a room and I said, ‘OK, everybody, here’s a pen and paper, vote who’s going to be our one leader in this group.’ … Without them knowing each other, they’re all going to vote for the quarterback. That’s usually how it works, that they just assume that that guy is the leader.
“So now having him in place, I think over the next six weeks, and as other guys that we’re recruiting as it gets heated up here, they’re going to look and say, ‘Hey, the leader is already in place, and it’s a big-time leader at Florida.'”
That leader had been Corral, but his departure from the class marked the ninth de-commitment since the coaching change. Wide receiver Tyquan Thornton‘s flip to Baylor made it 10 on Saturday.
Mullen & Co. rebounded in a big way this week, securing commitments from Jones, Ole Miss WR transfer Van Jefferson, JUCO All-American offensive lineman Noah Banks and defensive backs Trey Dean and John Huggins. Mullen’s other additions to the class were kicker Evan McPherson and offensive lineman Chris Bleich.
Every recruit that Mullen signed Wednesday was committed to another school at the time of his hiring on Nov. 26.
“You know, in my office there’s three crystal balls of the standards and expectations of what this program is and what it represents. I think the quality of young men coming in are certainly going to help put us back on that path to having that type of program,” Mullen said. “Everything we’re doing, I think momentum from this day, the guy that we’ve got coming into us is going to help continue to build that foundation for us to get back to where we need to be as a football program.”