How Florida’s regime change impacts in-state recruiting for 2019 class
We are tackling the best question supplied by Florida fans each day. If you’d like to submit a question, tweet to Zach Abolverdi here. Check out our question of the day every Monday through Friday. Go here to see our previous answers.
Zach, why are a number of our in-state recruiting targets already committed to other programs, some without even a Florida offer? Is that a consequence of the regime change or different process used by other schools?
— Tim Lucas (@TRL362) March 7, 2018
A few of Florida’s in-state targets are committed elsewhere, but not a lot.
College decisions already have been made by just five of the top-30 recruits in the Sunshine State, according to the 247Sports composite. A pair of them — Georgia DE commit Nolan Smith II (Savannah, Ga.) and Missouri WR commit Shamar Nash (Memphis, Tenn.) — are out-of-state players who attend IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Another prospect is 5-star cornerback Akeem Dent (West Palm Beach, Fla.), who pledged to the previous Florida State staff last summer and remains “strongly” committed to the Seminoles under new coach Willie Taggart. He is the cousin of former FSU wide receiver Greg Dent (2010-12).
Miami WR commit Jeremiah Payton (Neptune Beach, Fla.) and Alabama DB commit Brendan Gant (Lakeland, Fla.) are the others in the top 30. Florida has offered a scholarship to each of those 30 in-state recruits and, again, 25 are still undecided.
So there’s no cause for concern, but the regime change did set the Gators back in the 2019 class. Even with a national brand like Florida and a well-known coach such as Dan Mullen, it takes time to form relationships and get recruits on board early in the process.
It’s no surprise that three of the five aforementioned players are committed to Alabama (Gant), Georgia (Smith) and Miami (Payton).
All of those schools boast established head coaches who are also coming off very successful seasons and have been killing it on the recruiting trail for the past year. In Alabama’s case, it’s been much longer than that.
With two trips to the SEC Championship Game and a couple years of building relationships, former Florida coach Jim McElwain and his staff landed commitments from six of the state’s top 22 recruits in the 2019 class before their junior seasons.
Mullen, unlike McElwain, was already a household name in the state and around the SEC upon taking the Florida job. Once he puts together a successful season and starts rolling in recruiting, the Gators will have no trouble securing commits early and often from the state’s top prospects.