GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Gainesville economy isn’t the only thing negatively impacted by the rescheduling of the Florida-LSU game.
Another recruiting weekend has been lost with the Gators now traveling to Baton Rouge on Nov. 19. This game was the only one on the 2016 schedule that would draw top talent to The Swamp, which is evident by the expected visitors list for last Saturday.
As much as this hurts the current recruiting cycle, Florida will benefit from the resolution in a big way next season with four marquee homes games.
“We’ll be hosting recruits here back-to-back with (Texas) A&M, LSU, FSU and Tennessee,” Gators athletics director Jeremy Foley said Thursday. “Things always have a way of working out. And so what may not be ideal in the moment for the Gators is going to come back to us in spades a year from now.”
Here are the top five questions from this week:
By the game switching to LSU, how will that affect recruits who wanted to see a huge game in The Swamp?
This definitely hurts for the targets who’ve never attended a game. Now their only options are this weekend and the South Carolina game, which is suddenly an important recruiting weekend for the Gators.
It won’t generate the hype of an LSU matchup, but Will Muschamp is returning to The Swamp and it may be a sellout crowd since it’s the only game left after homecoming.
Some names who could potentially visit that weekend are 4-star wide receiver Henry Ruggs (Montgomery, Ala.), 4-star defensive end LaBryan Ray (Madison, Ala.), 4-star linebacker Rahyme Johnson (Los Angeles), 4-star cornerback Brad Stewart (New Orleans) and 4-star safety Devon Hunter (Chesapeake, Va.). None of them have been to a Florida game before.
Fortunately for the Gators, the core of their 2017 class is in place with 16 members, and by now the coaches know which recruits are most likely to join the commitment list. But a big win over South Carolina could make a positive impression on the aforementioned targets.
With LB Anthony Hines coming back this weekend, do we have a realistic shot with him? I think Randy Shannon is doing a great job.
It’s certainly a good sign that Hines was so quick to reschedule his visit to Florida. That shows serious interest on his part.
Right now Texas A&M appears to be the favorite, and a few Big 12 schools have been in the mix throughout his recruitment. Florida seemingly came out of nowhere when he announced his intentions to officially visit UF, but Shannon and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins are after him hard.
You’d think a linebacker as talented as Hines would be salivating over the Gators because they lose their top three linebackers after this season. He has a legitimate chance to start next year, and getting coached by Shannon is also appealing.
However, he’ll have other factors to consider with his decision, such as proximity to home (Plano, Texas) and where his parents want him to play. But simply by choosing to visit Florida out of the 90 schools that offered him, I’d say Shannon has a realistic shot at landing Hines.
What in your opinion are the pros and cons of the proposed early signing periods?
I’ve been a proponent of them since they were first proposed. It’s more beneficial for coaches and recruits than it is harmful.
Hundreds of prospects know where they’re going to college before their senior year of high school. They make early commitments and try to shut down their recruitment. If they’re good players, however, that process never ends.
And because it doesn’t, coaches have to continue monitoring and visiting their commitments to make sure other schools don’t poach them. But in most cases, those commits aren’t going anywhere anyway, and coaches waste time and energy that they could be spending on undecided recruits.
More than half of Florida’s 2017 class members would sign right now if they could.
The downside of an early signing period will be when a school fires or loses its head coach after the season. In my opinion, the NCAA would have to create a clause that allows prospects to rescind their letter of intent and reopen their recruitment if a coaching change occurs.
Is Florida recruiting WR Mike Harley? I have seen some of his film and he looks talented.
If the Gators can’t pull away Donovan Peoples-Jones from Michigan or Henry Ruggs from Alabama, I think they should take a long, hard look at Harley from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
I know he’s undersized at 5-foot-9, 155 pounds, but Harley was an absolute beast at Friday Night Lights and could not be covered by any of the cornerbacks.
The West Virginia commit has elite speed and elusiveness, making him an ideal slot receiver. Harley also plays at St. Thomas Aquinas with UF quarterback commit Jake Allen, so flipping him shouldn’t be hard.
He’s definitely someone to keep an eye on moving forward. Below are his mid-season senior highlights and junior highlights.
Do you think the success of Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine, as well as Adarius Lemons’ commitment, might scare off 2018 RB prospects?
There’s no doubt that some running backs will look elsewhere when they see Florida’s backfield in 2017. The Gators are stacked at the position, return all four players next year and bring in the state of Florida’s No. 1 back.
If that scares off some potential prospects, then so be it. That’s a by-product of good recruiting. The ones who aren’t afraid of competition will see that UF rotates its running backs and gives every player an opportunity to touch the ball.
Lemons recognizes that, and he’s talented enough to know that he’ll make the most of his carries. Florida’s top target for 2018, 5-star running back Lorenzo Lingard, has the same outlook.
“Coach Mac has the heart to put guys out there that are freshmen. I like how he called the running game … it seemed like a fit for me,” Lingard told SEC Country after visiting UF this season. “Coach Mac picks his rotation based off strengths and he puts players in to see if they get can the job done. It’s a positive move.”