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Looking for linemen
The SEC is a line-of-scrimmage league and Florida coach Dan Mullen is well aware of it.
Having spent 14 years in the SEC as a head coach (Mississippi State, 2009-17) and offensive coordinator (Florida, 2005-08), Mullen has first-hand experience with the battles that take place in the trenches.
On National Signing Day, Mullen signed linemen on both sides of the ball to address needs at those positions.
“It’s huge,” Mullen said. “With the offensive line and defensive line … one of the things I’ve learned as a head coach is you never want to fall behind in that position. You want to make sure you’re going to succeed in this league, you have got to have depth on both sides of the line of scrimmage. … You’ll see as we move forward, we play a lot of guys. So to be able to play a lot of guys, you’ve got to have a lot of guys.”
The Gators now have 17 offensive linemen with the addition of Gouraige and McDowell. The pair of pair rushers gives them 14 defensive linemen for next season if Chatfield plays some end.
“Within the roster, we have our roster numbers that we keep with offensive and defensive linemen. You like to be at least 16 offensive and 16 defensive linemen just on the roster overall to be able to roll the guys through and keep that depth going,” Mullen said. “What you’ve got to watch is the big years. I think we have a bunch of senior offensive linemen this coming season.
“I think you’re always better balancing than trying to go sign five or six at any position in any recruiting class. To me, you’d kind of like to have that balanced recruiting class. I mean, I’d love to sign 22 guys each year, one at every single position.”
The line of scrimmage must be addressed by Florida in the Class of 2019. The Gators could lose as many as six offensive linemen and four defensive linemen after the 2018 season, including juniors Jawaan Taylor, Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga.
Rivals analysts on Florida’s class
Rivals.com national recruiting director Mike Farrell and national recruiting analyst Adam Gorney weighed in on Florida’s 2018 class Tuesday. Farrell — like SEC Country — gave the Gators a B grade.
“This class may ultimately judged by how quarterback Emory Jones pans out, but there are some other key additions here especially at the offensive skill positions,” wrote Farrell, who included Jones on his list of instant impact candidates. “I’m assuming his off week at Under Armour was an aberration and he’ll be competing from the start.”
Gorney feels that Florida had the most impressive recruiting class outside of the top 10.
“By average star ranking, Florida’s class is ranked seventh nationally so I’m not sure the Gators are getting the respect they deserve,” Gorney wrote. “Dan Mullen definitely isn’t getting the credit he deserves on piecing together an excellent class during a transition period. … A lot of the offensive skill players fit exactly what Mullen wants to do on offense and the defense is loading up again.”
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