GAINESVILLE, Fla. — I put out some early projections for Florida’s 2017 class on Wednesday, three months from National Signing Day.
It didn’t include any 5-star recruits, which upset many fans. I see all your tweets and emails. But in the response below, I explain why there’s no need to freak out about it.
Here are the top five questions from this week:
Why aren’t we getting more interest from 5-star prospects when we are improving but in need of talent?
Unless you’re Alabama or Ohio State, the last two national champions who happen to have the best coaches in college football, it’s hard to land 5-star recruits.
There’s only 30 or so every year and they’re spread out across the country. You have to be able to recruit nationally and pluck prospects from anywhere you please.
UF is not there yet under Jim McElwain, even though his program is on an upward trajectory. It will take an SEC title or a national championship for the Gators to regain that appeal.
If you’re Florida, you hope that you can get one or two of the 5-star prospects in your state. In McElwain’s first class, the Gators got a pair of them.
Last year, there was only one 5-star recruit from Florida, and his brother played for the Buckeyes. This year there are five prospects from the Sunshine State with a 5-star rating.
Trevon Grimes, an Ohio State WR commit, grew up two hours away from OSU in Indiana. Auburn offensive tackle commit Calvin Ashley is from Orlando but attends high school in Washington, D.C.
Then there’s wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (Deerfield Beach), offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood (Pensacola) and cornerbacks Stanford Samuels III (Hollywood) and Shaun Wade (Jacksonville).
Wade is originally from Alabama and looks like he could flip from Ohio State to the Crimson Tide, while Samuels is an FSU legacy who committed to the Seminoles.
So in reality, Jeudy and Leatherwood are the only true Floridians that UF had a shot with this year, and both committed to Alabama over Florida. The Gators finished in second place … it happens.
The coaches are still trying to flip Jeudy and Leatherwood, but look, they can’t land every recruit. They beat out Alabama, Auburn and host of other schools for CeCe Jefferson and Martez Ivey in 2015.
There’s no doubt that 5-star prospects are important and help win championships, but they don’t define a recruiting class. And every school not named Alabama or Ohio State is only in the mix for a few of them in each cycle.
Have you heard details on how Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask are developing? Are Franks’ mechanics improving?
Kyle Trask, or “The Great White Hope” as I like to call him, has played well in practice and built on the strong spring he had. He’s put together some really nice drives with the third-team offense and still throws the best ball on the team.
The key for Trask is just continuing to take reps. It’s been well documented that he was a backup quarterback in high school, so he needs all the experience he can get and also has to gain confidence to be an SEC starter.
I’ve heard Franks has actually passed Trask on the depth chart and would have come into the Tennessee or Vanderbilt game had Austin Appleby gone down. Franks has a cannon for an arm and has been “slinging it” in practice, I’m told.
He was behind Trask in the spring, but by the end of fall camp Franks had improved immensely. He did not have a QB coach or an offensive coordinator at his high school, so he’s benefiting from the coaching at Florida.
Starter Luke Del Rio certainly hasn’t run away with the job this season, so both Franks and Trask will be in contention for it next year.
Do you see another possible de-commitment out of the recruits that we have committed?
At this time, I think Jordon Scott will be only one you see spurning UF.
Kadeem Telfort, a 4-star offensive tackle commit from Miami, put out a top 5 on Monday and plans to visit all five schools, including Florida. Miami is the only program that’s a threat, but I think the Gators keep him in the fold.
Kadarius Toney, a 3-star athlete commit from Eight Mile, Ala., also released a top 5 in July but told SEC Country his commitment to UF is solid.
“It couldn’t be stronger,” Toney said. “Everything is Gator with me. I’m not really entertaining other schools.”
As silly as it seems for commits to name their top 5 schools, they’re mostly just seeking attention and setting themselves up for some free trips. A couple more members of Florida’s class might take official visits, but I don’t expect the Gators to lose anyone else.
What’s the biggest position of interest for us this class? Many think DB but some fans think offensive line. Your opinion?
It’s definitely defensive back. The Gators will lose three potential first-round draft picks in safety Marcus Maye and cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson. That’ll be five first-rounders in two years, which speaks to the talent of Florida’s secondary but also decimates it.
UF is trying to reload the position in this recruiting cycle by bringing in at least six defensive backs, many of whom might start next season as true freshmen. If Florida adds 4-star prospects C.J. Henderson and Brad Stewart, it could be the deepest cornerback class in school history.
Some fans don’t want to hear it, but offensive line is just not one of the top priorities in this class. The Gators still need to sign at least a couple linemen (and good ones) to keep their numbers up with two seniors in 2017, but they return all 15 players at the position next year.
Are any of the linebacker prospects for 2017 physically game-ready for next year with possibly all 3 starters departing?
Unless the Gators can land Anthony Hines, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker, they won’t be relying on any incoming recruits to start at the position.
UF commits Ventrell Miller and James Houston both have the size, but they’re more likely to serve in backup roles and on special teams as true freshmen.
Look for Florida’s starting lineup next year to be David Reese in the middle and Kylan Johnson and Vosean Joseph on the outside.
Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.