GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida defensive line coach Chris Rumph is waiting to break out his flip flops.
He recruited well in his first cycle with the Gators, but he’s not comfortable with his group yet.
“My goal is to come to work in flip flops and sipping on lemonade,” Rumph said. “I need those players in order to be able to do that.”
Rumph signed a trio of talented linemen in the 2016 class, highlighted by 5-star defensive end Antonneous Clayton. UF currently has 14 players at the position and Rumph thinks 10 of them could be in the rotation this season.
Seven signees in the last two years has helped Florida’s numbers, but Rumph is looking for more.
“We’ve got to get bigger. We’ve definitely got to get bigger,” Rumph said. “Sometimes when you get bigger you give up some of your athleticism, athletic ability, but I still want both of them.
“I’m trying to change the room. I want bigger, athletic guys. We’re trying to build this team.”
SEC Network analyst Anthony “Booger” McFarland, a former LSU and NFL defensive tackle, said Florida has the No. 1 D-line in the SEC. But Rumph and his players have higher expectations.
“I want to build my room not only for the SEC, but I want to build it for the national championship. That’s what I want,” Rumph said. “I can’t say I want to build it for the East. I want to build it for the championship.”
Accomplishing that is not an easy task, even for a great recruiter such as Rumph. He knows first-hand that trying to project the potential of high school linemen is difficult.
“It’s a crapshoot,” Rumph said. “I had a guy (Alabama’s Quinton Dial) that never started a game and now he’s dog gone starting for the San Francisco 49ers and the guy who was starting in front of him is (working) 9-5. So, it just happens.
“I try to get it right … but we make mistakes. We got a system that we go by and we believe in it. We’ve had more right than we’ve had wrong, but at times we’re going to get some wrong.”
The Gators have four commitments for the Class of 2017, including the state’s No. 1 strongside defensive end, Zachary Carter. They’ve filled their needs at defensive tackle with 4-star prospect Fred Hansard and a pair of 350-pounders, Javier Edwards and Jordon Scott.
Rumph described what he looks for when recruiting the position.
“There’s some critical factors that you look for,” Rumph said. “You don’t want a lazy guy. I don’t want to be chasing a guy or fussing at him about effort. I want to know does he have some natural pass rush ability, does he strike, does he play with some toughness? Those kind of things.”
Unless otherwise indicated, rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.