Grading Florida's Assistant Coaches on the 2020 Recruiting Trail

Credit: FloridaGators.com

Donavon Keiser

As the 2020 recruiting class comes to a close, it's time to re-rank every Florida assistant on the recruiting trail for this past cycle, just as we did after the Early Signing Period in December.

Let's get to it.

Christian Robinson (LB)

ESD Grade: A+

Current Grade: A+

Robinson continues to be Florida's top recruiter and he has consistently reeled in many talented players to Florida. His biggest land was former Penn State commit Derek Wingo, as he secretly won over his family and Wingo himself to lock up a flip last summer. Wingo is widely considered Florida's most notable signee aside from Gervon Dexter, and his flip catapulted Florida's recruiting momentum, especially in South Florida. 

Robinson also assisted outside his own position group by helping land Jahari Rogers and Leonard Manuel, among others. Manuel's status is still unknown, as he is still committed to the Gators, but will not sign anytime soon as he is still keeping his options open. 

Robinson didn't have much of an effect between the early period and signing day but instead focused on the 2021 class as he made his rounds to multiple high schools throughout the southeast. 

David Turner (DL)

ESD Grade: B+

Current Grade: A

Fan-favorite defensive line coach David Turner cleaned up on the trail in his first season at Florida, landing four blue-chip recruits to add to his defensive line, the most recent being Princely Umanmielen, a four-star defensive end from Manor, Texas.

Turner also landed four-star talents Jalen Lee and Lamar Goods.

Although he didn't get a commitment from them personally, Turner was also tasked with preventing a Georgia flip from Dexter and continuing to recruit Tampa standout, Johnnie Brown.

The 2019 FootballScoop Defensive Line Coach of the Year topped the 2020 class with the addition of Princely Umanmielen, the only uncommitted player to sign to Florida on National Signing Day.

Turner grades out as an A, as this DL class is one of Florida's best in recent memory. The cherry on top of the class would have been the addition of Alabama signee Tim Smith, however, he decided to stick with his Alabama commitment at the last second, despite an immense push from Turner and the rest of the Florida staff. 

Billy Gonzales (WR)

ESD Grade: C

Current Grade: A

WR coach Billy Gonzales showed his recruiting ability after missing out on multiple targets including Sam Brown on Early Signing Day, as the veteran coach landed two top targets for Florida for the second Signing Day in February. 

Gonzales showed his recruiting prowess to finish the cycle by landing top WR target Xzavier Henderson and adding Justin Shorter from the transfer portal. 

Mosts analysts believed Henderson was on his way to Clemson prior to Early Signing Day, but he decided to stay home and play for the Gators after they lost four seniors to graduation. 

Gonzales also called his shot to land former five star Justin Shorter, resulting in him taking two visits and signing with Florida.

To wrap up the cycle with two of the top targets was a surprise to many, but it showed that Gonzales can put in work on the trail when he needs to. Gonzales sees the biggest grade jump, after grading out at a C on Early Signing Day, only to move up to an A after the addition of two outstanding receivers. 

Brian Johnson (QB):

ESD Grade: A-

Current Grade: A-

Brian Johnson has taken on a tough task, as the QB coach is responsible for locking down much of the Miami area. 

Johnson landed one of the most important prospects in the 2020 class in Anthony Richardson, as the Gators landed the Gainesville QB in early April after his de-commitment from the Gators in February. 

Richardson is a perfect fit for Dan Mullen's offense and to make matters even better, the 6-4, 235 lb. QB is currently on campus and practicing with the team as an early enrollee. This is invaluable for a quarterback as they get a six-month head start on learning the entire scheme. 

Johnson cleaned up the house in his dedicated area in South Florida as he assisted in the recruitment of offensive tackle Issiah Walker and athlete Marc Britt, whose status is still up in the air.

Although he is still committed to Florida, Britt is expected to sign on February 20th as he is down to Florida and Ole Miss. 

Even if Britt does end up elsewhere, Johnson accomplished his goals this cycle by filling his need at quarterback and helping the Gators win back South Florida, which will pay dividends in the 2021 class.  

Torrian Gray (CB)

Grade: A-

Current Grade: A-

Like Robinson, Gray also landed a stellar class for his position group and didn't do much after the early signing period towards the 2020 class.

Gray landed a number of elite defensive backs, including Avery Helm, Mordecai McDaniel, and Jahari Rogers. With some significant help from Assistant Director of Player Personnel Keiwan Ratliff, Gray also was gifted with a commitment from four-star Ethan Pouncey. 

Gray was also involved heavily in the recruitment of DE prospect Antwaun Powell, as Gray is the area recruiter for much of Virginia and the DMV areas. His Virginia ties were vital in Powell's quick commitment to the Gators this past summer. 

Larry Scott (TE) 

ESD Grade: B+

Current Grade: N/A

Now former tight ends coach Larry Scott was tasked with recruiting four-star athlete Damarcus Beckwith, but Scott was introduced with an opportunity to coach at Howard University shortly before Signing Day, a position he was announced to officially yesterday. 

With the loss of Scott, Beckwith ended up signing with the Tennessee Volunteers on National Signing Day. 

Florida is rumored to have replaced Scott with former UNC TE coach Tim Brewster, a recruiting icon in Florida that will bring years of valuable experience to the Gators. 

John Hevesy (OL)

ESD Grade: B

Current Grade: B

John Hevesy had a relatively quiet period between Early Signing Day and National Signing Day, as he was tasked with the impossible in flipping Sedrick Van Pran from Georgia. 

Van Pran stayed true to his word even after an official to Florida and sent his NLI to Athens, as many expected. 

Still, Hevesy added some incredible talent along the offensive line, including three tackles and one guard. Hevesy got a verbal from both OG Richie Leonard IV and OT Gerald Mincey in the summer, and also got a last-second flip from SEC East foe Georgia by landing OT Joshua Braun just days before Early Signing Day. 

Hevesy also contributed to the addition of Walker, with Johnson.

Ron English (S)

ESD Grade: B-

Current Grade: C+

Although English landed a rock-solid safety class this cycle, Florida missed on their biggest National Signing Day target in Avantae Williams. 

Williams was the No. 2 safety in 247Sports Composite Rankings, and ultimately chose the Miami Hurricanes instead of the Florida Gators.

Florida felt good about landing Williams since the end of the Early Signing Period, which makes the miss hurt that much more. Florida got Williams' last visit on January 24th and also landed his cousin Lorenzo Lingard as a transfer from Miami, but regardless, Williams is paving his own path by going to the Hurricanes.

Aside from missing on the No. 1 player on the board, English found a gem in Tre'Vez Johnson, a three-star defensive back from Jacksonville, Florida. Many were impressed with his skills after he camped at Florida in the summer, and Johnson stayed true to his commitment despite a late offer from Clemson. 

English was also responsible for Rashad Torrence II, who committed very early to the Gators and was one of the first prospects to commit to Florida's 2020 class. The heavy hitter had a great senior season at Marietta High School, and he should find his way onto the field early in a Florida uniform. 

Like Torrian Gray, English was also credited for landing Ethan Pouncey as well. 

Greg Knox (RB/ST)

ESD Grade: D

Current Grade: D+

Although Greg Knox assisted in landing Lingard from the portal, the RB coach still failed to land a high school running back for the 2020 class, despite having many chances. 

Knox started off the cycle by missing on coveted Lakeland running back Demarkcus Bowman and moved on to many other backs, but no avail. Florida had its chances to land running backs from Jaylan Knighton to Ja'Quavious Marks to Jahmyr Gibbs but came up short on all of them. 

Florida was also after Colorado signee Ashaad Clayton, but it seemed as the Gators decided to pass on heavily pursuing the talented Warren Easton back. 

Sure, Dan Mullen and Knox might stick to their board at running back, but missing on multiple options down the board is a serious issue. 

However, there is still a long shot at landing No. 1 RB Zachary Evans, as he has yet to announce a commitment after being released from his NLI that was sent to Georgia. Evans was unable to sign on Signing Day due to already sending an NLI, so he will announce at a later date. 

Evans is considering a visit to Florida and has already officially visited both Tennessee and Ole Miss. Technically, Evans is still a possibility for Florida, though it seems unlikely at this current point in time. 

There is much to be desired from Greg Knox on the recruiting trail, as Florida has failed to land its top target at running back since Knox has arrived in Gainesville. It is very concerning that Knox cannot pull talent from other schools like Miami, Colorado and Georgia Tech, as the Gators have a much easier sell than many of these schools that these prospects are choosing instead of Florida. 

Knox is credited with one signing as a secondary recruiter for Leonard IV, as Leonard is from Cocoa which is Knox's within assigned area. 

Final Thoughts

Although the Gators could have finished the cycle with a borderline elite class, Florida was left disappointed as they missed on their No. 1 remaining target in Avantae Williams on National Signing Day. 

However, the Gators still added a blue-chip talent in Umanmielen before the end of the day, which placed Florida at eighth in the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings. Florida filled many needs this cycle but missed on some elite targets that would have boosted the class even further in Tim Smith, Damarkcus Bowman, and Williams. 

Many of Florida's assistants carried their own weight throughout this cycle, and both Turner and Robinson did more than their fair share. Gonzales scrambled to fix his mishaps during the Early Signing Period, as he quickly turned a satisfactory WR class to an outstanding one with the addition of Shorter and Henderson. Johnson, Gray, and Hevesy quietly went about their business, adding quality pieces to their already solid rooms. 

English added some quality depth to a lacking safety room but missed on his No. 1 target on National Signing Day. Knox also struggled to find the right running back after missing on Bowman and ended up exhausting all his options by the time the class was over.   

Despite the negatives, Florida is still trending upwards on the recruiting trail. There is still some work to be done to take that next step that the Gators need to take to become a championship-caliber team, from very good to elite. The 2020 class brought in many phenomenal players that will contribute to the Gators for years to come and increased the blue-chip ratio significantly from where former coach Jim McElwain left it in 2017. 

It will be interesting to see how head coach Dan Mullen adjusts to get the most out of his coaching staff, especially after the addition of Tim Brewster. Adding more people to the support staff is a trend we saw throughout the last year, which clearly helped Florida on the trail in 2020. 

For Florida, the 2021 cycle will be telling in seeing where the Gators will go from here on out as a program. So far it has been excellent, and the Gators are building solid relationships early on with many high profile recruits. Florida has an excellent base to build on after this 2020 class, but they must capitalize on elite talent moving forward. 

Comments (1)
GatorsAreReady
GatorsAreReady

The Gators are a championship-caliber team as built. I may be in the minority, but I feel that 2020 will be the year.


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