The Florida Gators, coming off of their most successful draft classes (seven players sent to the NFL) since 2017 when the team sent eight players to the NFL via the draft, should have something to be excited for moving forward.
A program's success hinges not only on on-field performances but also on what happens following the team's seasons - getting players to the NFL via the draft or otherwise is pivotal for recruits and for getting players to buy-in.
Those same sentiments were shared recently by Gators head coach Dan Mullen. Mullen spoke with reporters on Monday via a Zoom conference call, addressing many topics, including his excitement over just the sheer amount of talent that has recently been sent to the NFL, and what it means for the program as a whole.
All 11 players the Gators sent to the NFL were hard workers, dedicated to their craft and had one goal which is to get to the NFL, or at least have an opportunity to do so, Mullen suggested.
"Now they’re looking at these guys going to the NFL, what are they doing to get there? Well, hey, you know what? These guys worked hard, they practiced hard, they did the right thing, they carried themselves the right way, had a great attitude within the program," said Mullen. "I think that shows a lot for the young guys in the program, if I do that and listen to the coaches and follow the program and buy all in, I’m going to have success."
This much was obvious. The Gators led the draft with the lion share (3) of wide receivers to the NFL via the draft last week. It also happened to be the most receivers Florida has had drafted in the first seven rounds of the NFL Draft, and the most receivers sent via the draft period since 1978.
Most of the accomplishments come via their own merit, however, Mullen's program, in particular, allowed them all to flourish, illustrating that there is, in fact, a method to his madness, not only for the program's success but the players' success as well. Mullen feels even the four that were almost immediately signed following the draft will have success as well.
Josh Hammond (Jacksonville Jaguars), Tommy Townsend (Kansas City Chiefs), Adam Shuler (Arizona Cardinals), and David Reese II (Carolina Panthers), have all gone to teams with situations that allow them to succeed and have a legitimate shot at making the roster come August.
"And you look, we didn’t have a huge senior class, but to have that many of those guys gone and to have the opportunity to go play is really special.”
Players are buying in, and after such a successful draft, it appears many should be able to as well. Recently, the Gators landed in the top-teams list for a variety of 2021 and 2022 recruits, including a five-star cornerback, and a four-star wide receiver/athlete.
Mullen shares the same vision and believes that this should be just part of the reason a player wants to join the Gators moving forward. The method is working, and there's plenty of other factors to decide from including academics.
“Well, I think players are looking here, in just two years we have the program built to this level where we finished in top-10 in football the last two years," said Mullen when asked how the draft could impact potential recruits looking to join the program. "We’re the only top-10 football team that’s a top-10 academic school, as well, and we’re producing an extremely high number of NFL talent, so I mean to me it makes a lot of sense to come to Florida."
It appears the future of the program is bright, and a lot of the success can be pointed at simply by looking at the talent sent to the draft. There is a method to the madness, and it appears to be working.