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New Florida Gators Head Coach Billy Napier's Recruiting Track Record

An overview of new Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier's track record in recruiting

One of the biggest issues under the Dan Mullen regime at Florida was the recruiting, or lack thereof, throughout his entire tenure. When you play in the Southeastern Conference, you have to be able to recruit, and that simply wasn’t the case under the previous staff. 

Enter new head coach Billy Napier. 

When Napier was an assistant coach, he was known as one of the best recruiters in the country during his stints at Clemson and Alabama. Some of the most notable recruits he pulled for those programs were five-stars in offensive tackle Cam Robinson, receivers Calvin Ridley and Jerry Jeudy and quarterback Tajh Boyd to go along with countless other blue-chip prospects.

Since his introduction to the college football coaching ranks, Napier has recruited at an elite level everywhere he’s been. 

Originally from Chatsworth, Georgia, Napier got his start in college football as a graduate assistant for Clemson University in 2003. By 2006, he was coaching tight ends at Clemson and was also the recruiting coordinator. He was on Tommy Bowden and then Dabo Swinney’s staff until 2010. In that time, he was responsible for landing six blue-chip prospects across multiple positions including pulling the five-star quarterback in Boyd out of Virginia.

Fast forward two years, after being an analyst for one year at Alabama, then leaving to be the associate head coach and QB’s coach for one year at Colorado State, he returned to Alabama to be the wide receivers coach under Nick Saban. 

In that four-year time span, Napier was able to land 14 blue-chip prospects from all over the country including two five-star receivers in Ridley and Jeudy from the state of Florida. He's also credited with landing safety Hootie Jones, cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and Marcus Gilchrist, and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson among other top prospects.

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Although the Sun Belt doesn't attract very many elite recruits, Napier exceeded expectations on the trail at Louisiana too. The class before Napier's hiring at ULL ranked No. 121 (of 130) in the country, next year's ranking rose to No. 105 in his transition class, and it has since climbed to No. 77, No. 82, No. 69 and No. 77 in consecutive years.

Over the course of his career, Napier has been able to establish lasting relationships in several of the Gators recruiting hot spots such and Georgia, Texas, and Louisiana as well as the state of Florida. The Gators haven’t had someone that can really get after it in recruiting since Will Muschamp was at the helm, but it looks like those days may be over. 

We will have to see how Napier fills out his staff to truly determine how well Florida will do in recruiting under his leadership, but when the head coach is as tenacious a recruiter as Napier is, all signs point in the right direction.

The first order of business on the recruiting trail for Napier should be to prioritize the state of Florida. Too many times in the last five years teams like Georgia, Alabama, Clemson and even Ohio State have been able to dip into Florida and grab just about whoever they want. 

Of the top 50 prospects in the state over that five-year span, the Gators landed just four, which is something that desperately needs to change. While at Alabama, Napier recruited the south Florida area well and still has established relationships from the region, but adding assistants to his staff that have a track record in the Sunshine State will be important as well.

Outside of Florida, other states that should be prioritized are Georgia, Texas, North and South Carolina, and Louisiana, all of which Napier has a terrific track record of recruiting because of the previous stops on his résumé. In all honesty, you shouldn’t have to leave the southeast for the majority of your class if you’re doing things right at UF. 

If Napier is able to check off these boxes, the recruiting woes of the Gators could fade very quickly.

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