Will Muschamp on Florida’s 2011 recruiting class

By Adam Silverstein
February 2, 2011

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff received 18 National Letters of Intent on National Signing Day. The following are some key thoughts Muschamp divulged.

Opening statement: “Real pleased with the 18 signees for today. The Gators got better today. [I’m] excited about bringing these young men into our program in a short period of time. Recruiting is all about developing relationships and trust, and it’s tough to do that in a short period of time. Recruiting has changed so much over the years. You’re starting to recruit guys when you see guys coming their sophomore, junior seasons. You start recruiting. You’re building that relationship for a year, two and three years. And to come in – in the short term – we did a nice job of securing the class we had, which we had to re recruit all of those guys because of all of the changes, the mass changes with the staff. And our staff did a nice job of securing those guys. Just really pleased with what we had, and Urban [Meyer] and his staff did a great job with those guys that were already committed to the university. And then coming back and supplementing some other guys to our football team.”

On evaluating the 2011 class: “We’ll know about this entire class in two or three years, and I’m going to say the same thing next year. In two or three years, we’ll know about what kind of class this was. Not today. Today’s not the day to judge anything we do, and you can put that in your tape recorder because I’m going to say the same thing next year. Football’s a developmental game. We have an outstanding strength staff and an outstanding coaching staff. It’s our job, when we get these young men on campus, is to develop them on and off the field to be good football players and good citizens and good students of the University of Florida. And that’s what we plan on doing.”

On only signing 18 players: “We have a smaller senior class for next season. So I didn’t feel like at the end of the process, to make an emotional decision in offering guys that I didn’t think could play at, on or off the field, a championship level at the University of Florida. And I’d rather have held those scholarships to the next season to give our staff a whole year to evaluate and recruit. We could have signed 25 initials, and I held it at 18 there with some other possibilities. But excited about that, our signing class coming in. […]

“I was more interested in the quality of player and the character of the player that we’re going to sign at Florida as opposed to going out and signing a class of 25 and regretting three or four or five of those guys. That’s not what we were going to do. We were not going to make an emotional decision to go out and make an emotional decision and sign guys just to sign guys. That’s not the purpose of what we’re going to do. We got a small senior class, and we’re going to take those scholarships to next season when we’re going to sign a full class.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say about his class…after the break!

On taking over Meyer’s recruiting: “I had a week, really four days actually, three days. When I first took that job that Monday, Tuesday we had the press conference [and] I was unable to see any recruits. Wednesday, Thursday and a half day Friday to work on the midyear recruits because some of them had taken their visits to Florida and had never met me. So I had to get in those homes immediately and was seeing three and four young men during the day during that period and that time.”

On the early enrollees: “We have seven midyears that are in here: Jeff Driskel, A.C. Leonard, J [avares] McRoy, Mike Blakely, Pop Saunders, Clay Burton, and Kyle Christy. All of those young men are doing really well. Coming midyear is great from the standpoint of you’re getting way ahead academically, and you’re also getting way ahead from a football standpoint. You’re able to go through spring ball. Academically, it’s not as hectic. It’s not like you’re coming in the fall when the season’s going on and there’s an awful lot on your table. You’re able to have a slowed process. Going through the off season program, learning how to work, learning how to work at a championship level. And then getting in at spring ball and understanding the schemes and the different things we ask you to do. It’s huge to get a guy midyear, but they have to be totally into it because they’re not going to be able to go to prom. They’re not going to be able to do some of the things your senior year of high school, it’s a great time in your life. You have to be all in to want to do this. It’s an exciting time in their lives.”

On only signing four total linemen: “I feel really good about our football team on campus as far as the line of scrimmage. I really do. I wish we could have gotten a little more depth in the line of scrimmage, but I look at each player individually – not the class as a whole.”

On the secondary commitments: Really excited about bringing the guys we brought in. Of course, Marcus Roberson sent in his LOI in this morning. Was excited to him and got more length at the corner position. Loucheiz Purifoy is a very similar athlete, excited about him, great athleticism, ball skills down the field, man coverage skills. Outstanding athlete. Valdez Showers is a Player of the Year in Michigan. A guy, when you turn his tape on, he’s got great highlights as a running back. We’re going to play him at defensive back but as a bigger bodied defensive back. Shows all the critical aspects of being a successful player. Pop Saunders played some quarterback in high school. I really like recruiting defensive backs that have played quarterback because they have to make decisions. And the critical decisions you make on the back end sometimes can cost you a football game. I like the fact this guy has had to make decisions with the ball in his hands, and I really like his athleticism in the few days we’ve been able to watch some of the workouts. Chris Johnson from Trinity is a very physical player, in the box safety. He’s shown skills to play outside in the deep part of the field. And Jabari Gorman is a guy that’s been able to do a lot of things. Played some receiver down at Pace. He’s a very versatile player that can do a lot of different things. He can play nickel. He can play corner. He can play safety. But we recruited him as a safety to come in here and contribute for us.”

On wide receiver Ja’Juan Story: “You’re always concerned about wavering until you get that LOI in. Until you actually get that in nowadays, it’s always a concern. Ja’Juan is a bigger receiver. He’s a guy that’s going to be a tough matchup with a smaller corner. He’s a guy that can vertically stretch the field. He’s got great ball skills down the field, very athletic. Again, played quarterback mostly high school. He’s electric with the ball in his hands, but he’s a guy that’s shown really nice ball skills down the field.”

On fullback Hunter Joyer: “Hunter Joyer, we’re going to get back to more traditional as far as running two back runs. And he’s a young man that’s got a lot of lower body power, punch and explosion. He’s a very strong young man. He lives in the weight room, and we’re excited to what he brings to our football team from a toughness standpoint.”

On quarterback Jeff Driskel: “Jeff’s an outstanding player. He’s a very athletic, big quarterback that can really pin it. He’s got great velocity on the ball. He’s shown good leadership, good skills, and I’m excited he’s here mid-year. […]

“Jeff is an outstanding player first of all. Secondly the quarterback position is different than all other positions. From the standpoint of you got to have that guy that can pull the trigger, to manage the game, to convert third downs, to have leadership ability and affect other guys on the offense and in the huddle, on your football team and in the locker room. Past that, our numbers at quarterback aren’t very good.”

On early enrollees helping with recruiting: “Well, I think all of our players helped as far as that’s part of the huge recruiting process when a young man comes on a visit. They’re going to the first person they’re going to ask is the players. That’s part of the transition process that is hard. ‘What is Coach Muschamp like?’ ‘I don’t know. I’ve only known him for ten days.’ So that is part of the process that’s difficult in a transition standpoint of getting to know the players, the players getting to know us. And not just me, but the entire staff, position coaches, operations people. All of those things changed. So that was part of the process. That’s what you work through. Again, pleased with what we’ve got.”

On star ratings and class rankings: “You seen those guys that rate those five-stars? I don’t count stars. I watch the tape. I recruit. I don’t read the internet. I just put the tape on and I decide, from a critical factor standpoint, [if] this guy can fit in our program and be a good football player. [If] he’s got a good-looking transcript, he’s going to do things right off the field, [then] I’m excited about him being a part of our program. I didn’t turn on ESPN today and check out what everybody’s thinking. I’m worried about what I think more than what ‘they’ think.”

On upholding Florida’s scholarship offers: “They committed to the University of Florida. I work for the University of Florida, and I was committed to them. We want to honor that commitment. I think that’s the honorable thing to do. We offered the opportunity for all of those young men to have the opportunity to be committed to Florida.”

On disappointment for guys that did not commit: “No. Zero.”

On his linebacker class:Graham Stewart, I’m excited about him. He’s going to be a good football player. He has all the critical factors. We had him in camp; he has all the good measurable on him. He’s a very physical player, plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

On how much Meyer helped with evaluations: “When I first got here, Urban and I talked a lot about the recruiting class as far as where he thought things were. Not necessarily from an evaluation standpoint, more input on where he thought we were on the process. You either feel really good about a recruit or you know we’re behind in the game.”

On recruiting Texas: “The first thing we’re going to do is take care of the state of Florida. And then we play in the SEC, so we’re going to take care of our area. We’ve got a national brand at the University of Florida. So if there are players who have a genuine interest in the University of Florida, we will certainly reach out and see if we have what they are looking for.”

On finally being in Gainesville, FL and not on the road recruiting: “Every day is critical. It’s tough the way the calendar falls as far as the recruiting calendar. When a new coach comes in, you’re gone the whole month of the January recruiting. You’re out. You’re trying to build for your future and built to develop the depth of your football team. And yet you’ve got a team on campus who doesn’t even know who you are.”

20 Comments

  1. Woody Bass says:

    Good post… thanks for keeping us updated and getting all these details for us.

  2. I sure hope Muschamp can coach better than he can speak……I can tell he is a Georgia grad…..

  3. John S says:

    It does sound like he knows each player, and he has a vision for what he wants them to become. We did get some commitments from his efforts, so he did an alright job. Hopefully now he can get to work on the complete overhaul he discussed in his opening press conference and we can avoid the likely ugly spring game.

    Good luck to Muschamp and thank you to all the players who committed, we are all looking forward to getting to know you and follow your careers. Go Gators

  4. FISH-GATOR-59 says:

    Adam,
    Thanks for your coverage today. The live feed was very cool.

    I’m still excited for this class, the number #1 QB, FB with story and Blakely. Plus everyone is so down on Grant, but we picked up Stewart and he looks like a beast. Like WM said stars and rakings mean little, lets get some hard working kids on the field that want to play in the swamp. WM will kill it next year in recruiting anyway!

    • Gatorgrad79 says:

      FishGator – You are exactly correct – the stars will not mean a thing ultimately, if we don’t develop and utilize what we recruited. Looking back, the Gator class has been in the Top 5 nationally since 2005, which didn’t mean a thing last year, when our talent was grossly misused and, in some cases, squandered by inept coaching (not naming names – there is enough fault to go around).

  5. Ken says:

    I sure would love to have been a fly on the wall with the conversation between BOOM and Waisome

  6. Jesse C says:

    Now that the kiddie stuff is over… the actual coaching begins. I’m excited to see what our staff can do with all of the players on the roster. The O&B game may not be pretty but when has that really been a gauge to the season? As long as we have our act together by UT, we’ll have a chance for a good if not great season.

  7. Gatorgrad79 says:

    Adam, excellent job of coverage for GatorNation! Thanks.

  8. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    Interesting comments on the secondary guys we signed….we have loaded up on secondary the last few years and it should allow some good options with coverage schemes….my biggest concern is LB and OL…..we will need to stay very healthy in those two areas or we could have problems…and I am sure next years class will be very heavy in those two areas

    • gatorgrad79 says:

      Agree Drew – I have been concerned about our O-line since the Miami of Ohio game last Labor day…

  9. Mr2Bits says:

    I really think Boom is spot on with his perspective. I love the fact that he will never mention someone who didn’t pick UF. I also truly believe that he sees talent and knows he can develop it into a cohesive championship squad. I think Meyer and company’s philosophy was to bring in the highest rated players who could play immediately and if they couldn’t we’d never hear of them again. Meyer was not really a development kind of guy which looking back we can see. This was clearly evident with the stake driven between upper and lower class last year. Our freshmen came in looking to make waves but the upperclassmen felt entitlement and Meyer played favorites. Boom is wiping the slate clean and will let them battle it out on the practice field where only the best will see playing time.

    • Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

      I am not sure I completely agree with Meyer and development…look at the number from last years class who redshirted….players like Lynden Trail who might have great upside but need additional size or coaching….I think it’s hard to continue to pull in top classes when playing time isn’t part of the recruiting….I think Meyer came in and he could promise playing time those first 2-3 years because for one the current guys were not his recruits and honestly he got some special guys like Harvin and Tebow that would have played right away on probably any team and although Zook left talent he also left some attitude problems that opened up playing time for the young guys…..I think Muschamp will have to pick out his type players and they might not always be the 4-5 Star players but they will be the ones he feels he can build a championship team with

  10. ncgator says:

    It’s amazing how quickly some folks can ignore Meyer’s success and tear him to pieces now that he’s gone. Mis-guided philosophy, poor player development. I didn’t hear any of that when we were winning 2 NC’s. Meyer was all about winning and playing the best talent to achieve that end (Brantley being the exception). If you listened to Meyer’s news conferences, the entitlement mentality was coming from the underclassmen who thought they could waltz into Gainesville with their 5-star ratings, pick-up a helmet and start.
    Meyer was a great coach and a great recruiter. Throwing him under the bus now that he’s gone is just ridiculous.

    • Swampbabe says:

      Amen brother! Meyer did more for this program than any coach in recent history and in a shorter time. It was time for him to leave, no doubt, but no one should question his talent and accomplishments. Everyone is on the Boom bandwagon already and the guy has brought us ONE big name and has lost more than he has gained, including a huge loss in Drayton. That may not sound fair at this point to lay it all at his door, but niether is denying Meyer’s achievements in hopes that Coach Boom if the new messiah. Time will tell if he is a Messiah, or a Zook. I am hoping for the fomer rather than the latter.

      • Drayton was not a “huge loss” by any means, and his departure is not on Muschamp. Muschamp retained him; he left on his own. Same goes for Heater…I am of the belief he was offered to stay on just not as DC and decided to leave.

        • SC Gator says:

          I’m thinking the same thing on Heater. His track record is just too damn good for Coach Boom to not have wanted to keep him on. The fact that he didn’t must be because they couldn’t come to an agreement on what his roll would be.

  11. jay d says:

    Although it isn’t fair to rip the coach we praised for 6 years…I think there is some truth to parts of the development argument of players. After our 2nd NC….our team changed from a tough personality…to a we deserve personality…& I think a lot of our players are going to get a rude awakening come spring ball.. my praise will need to be earned by our new staff…but I do honestly believe..muschamp can turn this thing back around quicker than is predicted! Ohs alum boom!

    • Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

      He can turn it around quickly because there is talent everywhere…some suggested last years struggles might have indicated the talent is not as good as we think but I don’t agree….Meyer faced the perfect storm losing Mullen, Strong, Percy, Tebow, Spikes, Hernandez, Pouncey, Murphy, Major and others all in a two year span….not just talent but a lot of leadership…..this in the midst of health issues…probably the most amazing thing is us landing that incredible class last year which is what will allow Muschamp to hit the ground running next year!! Powell, Easley, Floyd, & Elam are all 5 stars who will be soph’s next year and if 2 or 3 of those become dominate forces this defense can be legit!!!

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