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Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff completed its 28-member 2013 recruiting class on National Signing Day. Below are the most notable quotes from that session as well as player evaluations made by other members of the coaching staff.
“I’m really proud of our staff. Today is a culmination of a lot of hard work, effort, sometimes two-and-a-half, three years put together on a young man and you come down to signing day and you sit at the fax machine and hope that thing comes through. I hope it’s signed right and it’s dated and all that kind of good stuff. Recruiting is all about building relationships. We’ll know about this class in two or three years. It’s a developmental game. …
“We had a deep signing class this year, which means you’ve got to a have a larger board as far as the numbers are concerned at each position, which also to me was very appealing. At some positions we signed five wide receivers [for example]. Those are five guys that want to come in here and compete. Sometimes when you get some numbers you start getting guys looking at that depth chart and numbers and they’re not real sure about coming in and competing for the Gators. We want guys that got a lot of confidence that they can come in the SEC and play in The Swamp and play for the University of Florida.
“This class is very balanced. It’s a high-character class with toughness, all the position criteria we look for as far as size and speed and then all of the off-the-field things we’re looking for. It’s a very committed class. A lot of these guys are guys that have been committed to us for a long time and never took other visits; there was not a lot of flash in their recruiting process. That’s the kind of guys you want; you want guys that are like that. …
“The coaching process is really about four things – evaluation, recruiting, developing and coaching. I think in our two years, you’ve seen on the recruiting trail – from an evaluation standpoint and a recruiting standpoint – that we’ve got a staff that can do it at a high level. I’m very proud of the staff and the job that they’ve [done] and all of our support staff on campus. … There’s a true commitment level at this place for excellence, and I appreciate their support.”
» On commitments being the best recruiters: “They understand the importance of having good players around them. This coaching stuff is way overrated. It’s about players at the end of the day, and they want to play with other good players.”
» On if he looks at player star ratings from recruiting services: “Absolutely no consideration at all. We commit most of our guys before they ever come out, so maybe they look at our ratings.”
Read much more from Muschamp and the Florida coaching staff…after the break!
» On players committing early, decommitting and potentially coming back: “Guys are exposed to so much more [early], they commit, think they made the right decision and then like most situations they start having buyer’s remorse a little bit on their decision. I understand all that. That’s part of the process. You just continue to recruit the guy and if he fits in your numbers and your scheme [then you take him].”
» On how he feels about the 2013 recruiting class compared to his first two at Florida: “The more you know somebody, the more you have time to spend with them, the more you know about them, the more you can expect. [I have a higher comfort level] is probably the best way to put it.”
» On if the class is finalized or another player may be added: “There’s always a possibility.”
» On three-star wide receiver Chris Thompson and how he earned his spot: “Chris came to camp and competed. You want to look at our signees here, I haven’t gone through it and exactly marked the number, but it’s going to be over 95 percent of them were in our camps and coached by our coaches and understand how we’re going to coach on the field. We coach in camp exactly like how we’re going to coach throughout a game week. I think that’s important for a player to understand what he’s getting himself into. Chris came and competed. He’s a vertical stretch-the-field guy. He’s really developed himself as a receiver. He’s got good ball skills down the field, needs to continue to develop that and just has to build some more girth on his body as far as his frame is concerned. When a guy can run like that, you certainly can work with it.”
» On keeping long-term pledges committed throughout the process: “It says a lot about the young men, first of all, but secondly our staff staying on them an understanding that crazy things get said right before signing day. Sometimes you can sway somebody pretty easily. But you know a lot of times when you’re recruiting a young man if it’s a commitment or it’s a reservation. You make reservations at a Marriott, but you may change and go to the Hilton. Unfortunately some people make reservations, not commitments.”
» On if signing day is actually the least important day of recruiting: “I wouldn’t say it’s the least important. If you get disappointed… It’s very insignificant for a lot of young men because they’ve already made their mind up and they’re totally solid going into signing day. Ninety-eight percent of the situations that you go into signing day, the school and the young man normally know where they’re going, so it’s not like there’s a bunch of suspense like our favorite network says there is. Going into signing day, you’ve got a pretty good idea where they’re going. And if you don’t know, they’re not coming to you. I have learned that.”
» On playing time promises to recruits: “Everybody we sign in this 28 will have an opportunity to contribute to our football team. I tell them in every home, ‘You’re the one who will determine how much you play. Not me.”
» On having a class filled with good students and high-character players: “It’s important. I always tell our assistant coaches, ‘Don’t fall in love with the film.’ You got to look at the transcript. They’re going to be mainstreamed immediately into the University of Florida. Our academic people do an outstanding job in supporting all of our student-athletes, but those guys got to be able to compete on and off the field at Florida. To be able to recruit the right kind of guy, we do pass on guys. And they’re really good players who could certainly play very well for us here in The Swamp. But certain guys who maybe aren’t a good fit for your locker room, you just move on and recruit the right kind of guy. It’s not always about the film. You got to look at the transcript. You got to see the character. That’s where we’re headed. You look at a football team last year that came from behind eight times. That’s a team with character. That’s the kind of people you want. At the end of the day, you win with good people. You need to have some difference makers, absolutely, but you also need to understand that you can’t compromise what you believe in as a coach for the grace of a good player. That’s not what we’re going to do around here.”
» On former players Fred Taylor and Mike Harris helping their children – four-star running back Kelvin Taylor and four-star defensive back Marcell Harris with the recruiting process: “[Fred Taylor is] guy that’s been there and done that can sometimes sift through all the stuff out there. That’s obviously hat Fred did for Kelvin as far as his preparation, being concerned about worrying about the important things. Kelvin never brought up star ratings or how many offers he had or wanted to take a bunch of different visits and talk to this coach, that coach. None of that stuff really impressed Kelvin very much. Kelvin is a very mature young man. He’s a very driven young man. … Marcell Harris I would say the same thing with Mike, his dad. He understands a lot of the process in recruiting and the coaching and what to hear and what to look past.”
PLAYER EVALUATIONS FROM GATORS’ COACHING STAFF
The below comments are from Florida’s live National Signing Day blog. For full question-and-answer sessions from the coordinators and position coaches about the players listed below (as well as others), be sure to click here and read the rest of the blog written by UF senior writer Scott Carter.
» Wide receivers coach Joker Phillips on four-star WR Ahmad Fulwood: “I’m really excited about the size this kid has. Defensive backs have gotten real physical — and this is a physical league — so getting a guy with that type of frame is easy for the quarterbacks to see. For us to be successful we have to continue to run the ball the way we’ve run the ball, and having a big receiver that can block on the perimeter [helps]. You also have to have success in the play-action pass game. That gives him an opportunity to run past people in play-action.”
» Phillips on four-star WR Demarcus Robinson: “He is a special talent. He’s a guy — some guys further down the field the least chance they have of making plays — with him the further down the field it gives him the best chance to make a play. His ability to control his body gives him a chance to go up and attack the football. I’m excited about a guy like that, as long and as lean as he is.”
» Phillips on four-star WR Alvin Bailey: “Yeah, this guy is similar to Randall. I hate to make comparisons, but this guy is a winner. He’s won at the quarterback position. He won a state championship [in 2011]. You want guys who understand what it takes to win. He brings some leadership ability with him and it’s exciting to have him.”
» Running backs coach Brian White on three-star RB Adam Lane: “He is a really explosive guy. He has great lower body strength and power – in the mold of a Ray Rice, Jacquizz Rodgers. He’s short but he’s really powerful. He’s not a small back by any stretch of the imagination. He’s a big powerful guy. You’re talking about 205, 210 pounds. He runs really well. He jumps really well. He’s got good hands, excellent acceleration and good balance.”
» Defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson on five-star defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III: “He’s got all the skills we’re looking for. His ball skills are outstanding. He has a great vertical jump. He’s got finish down the field. He played both ways. He played some offense at receiver, so that talks of his ball skills. He’s the best corner coming out. He’s got to come in and learn what to do, but he’s exactly what we’re looking for from an athletic standpoint. He is physical and does all the things we need.”
» Robinson on Harris: “Marcel is very, very explosive. A big body. He can cover from sideline to sideline. People look at him and see him and he looks like a linebacker, just his physique. But he moves like a DB. Sometimes they [high school team] even played him at corner. He’s got great coverage ability; he’s got great instincts in the box; he’s got great deep presence. I mean, he’s got all the things you need to be a great safety. He wants to be successful and being successful is important to him.”
» Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin on three-star linebacker Jarrad Davis: “He’s a high-motor guy that loves football, has great energy, enthusiasm and personality. He plays the game really fast and physical – puts his face right on you. We’re thrilled to have him. He’s from a high school [Camden (Ga.) County] where they’ve had great history, a lot of players and great football there. Those coaches there can’t say enough great things about him and they’ve’ had a lot of great players. His leadership ability, his skills and how he loves the game.”
» Offensive coordinator Brent Pease on three-star quarterback Max Staver: “The thing about him is the offense that he’s been in is pretty spread. He is a big kid. I think there are some things he does have to improve on athletically, but he kind of came on at the end. He really started to show up in these Elite 11s. I visited a lot with [former NFL quarterback] Trent Dilfer on the kid, and he really took a liking and thought this kid was going to explode. I think he had a good year. He came here, he competed. He throws the ball extremely well. He’s got a very strong arm and is accurate.”
» Defensive tackles coach Bryant Young on four-star DT Caleb Brantley: “He has a knack for getting off the ball. He is quick, a very quick-twitch guy. Good lower-body strength and he can run for a big guy. And he carries his weight well. He’s got a good-looking body. His body is going to change, but for a 300-pound guy, he has the right body type to play inside.”