Tuesday's Take: Florida's Recruiting Questions Have Been Answered
Pick your complaint.
Everybody had one at some point through the season and through this 2020 recruiting class for the Florida Gators. As coach Dan Mullen continued to add recruits and transfers to his future roster, there became less and less to complain about.
Now? From a roster make-up perspective?
There is none.
All of the questions are answered. All of the negative narratives are now positive. All position holes are filled.
Now, that doesn't mean every position is elite. I certainly would not qualify the Florida safety room as elite yet.
However, how could you be mad at flipping four-star Mordecai McDaniel from Tennessee just before early signing day in December? And it's not guaranteed yet, but UF is now the overwhelming favorite to snag the No. 2-rated safety in the country in Avantae Williams. If Williams were to somehow slip through the cracks of Mullen's grasp, I could understand safety complaints. But outside of that, what else could you possibly be mad about?
Anthony Richardson is a hometown kid for the Gators and fits Mullen's offensive almost laughably well. If Mullen were to create a quarterback in a lab, he would physically look quite a bit like Richardson. And in all likelihood, he's going to get plenty of time to develop, as Kyle Trask enters his redshirt senior season and Emory Jones enters his redshirt sophomore campaign.
This was one of the main complaints last year, and rightfully so. Last year's defensive line class for the Gators got somewhat saved last minute by Khris Bogle, when he realized he wouldn't play for multiple years at Alabama. However, it was still not a deep class at that position by really any stretch. And knowing Jabari Zuniga, Jonathan Greenard, and Adam Shuler would be leaving after 2019, it was a frightening thought.
However, defensive line coach David Turner has been as impressive as any position coach on the trail this cycle. Want more defensive line talent? How about UF's first composite five-star, Gervon Dexter, since 2015? What about poaching four-star Jalen Lee away from red-hot LSU? Maybe the No. 13-rated weakside defensive end in the country in Antwaun Powell?
What about the offensive line?
Outside of safety, the offensive line was Florida's least impressive group on the field in 2019. Fresh bodies that can run block had to find their way into this cycle for offensive line coach John Hevesy. So what did he do?
He got Issiah Walker, the No. 14 offensive tackle in the country. Then, he took a 6-foot-6, 335-pound mammoth of a man, four-star Joshua Braun, away from Georgia. Not to mention another two in-state linemen in Richie Leonard IV and Gerald Mincey.
Before the new year, I absolutely marked wide receiver as a point of concern for the Gators. Receivers coach Billy Gonzales seemed to have no momentum at all to get difference-makers at his position despite the absurdly efficient production from his 2019 group, as well as the chance to play early, as four of those guys left the program to graduation.
But better late than never: Reeling in four-star Xzavier Henderson was an enormous get for Gonzales. The brother of former Gators cornerback C.J. Henderson is the No. 11-ranked WR in the nation and was thought to be a Clemson lock just a few months ago. Add to that the transfer from Penn State, Justin Shorter, and it appears that Gonzales has changed the narrative.
Just two years ago, Shorter was the No. 1-ranked WR in the country. He has an enormous body at 6-4, 235 pounds. That size will present all sorts of mismatches on the outside for SEC defenders to deal with. This new-found depth in UF's WR room is nothing to complain about now.
The running back room could be a concern in a worst-case scenario - if it turns out that Dameon Pierce can't come even close to filling the void left by Lamical Perine and Miami-transfer and former five-star Lorenzo Lingard offers absolutely nothing. This would also assume that Malik Davis is as ineffective as he was in 2019, now that he has been healthy for a full year for the first time since entering college.
I find all of that highly unlikely.
Could one of those be the case? Sure.
But all of it? In Mullen's offense? That seems far-fetched. You have to think some of this, if not all, works in Florida's favor at that position. I can understand not being totally satisfied, but you have to be pretty pessimistic to have an overwhelming complaint about this RB room.
In no way am I saying that it wouldn't be ideal for Mullen and the Gators to recruit at a higher overall ranking that rivals the likes of Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State, etc. However, this is the Mullen way.
Recruiting Dexter when he was a four-star to have him then earn a fifth star while committed is like the most Dan Mullen thing of all time. He simply is not a flashy recruiter, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
What matters is when the roster has holes, he and his staff get them filled with depth and talent that they develop. He has proven that through two years now, and as he starts to garner more complete classes, that ceiling is raising for this program.