Will Muschamp on Florida’s 2012 recruiting class

By Adam Silverstein
February 1, 2012

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff received 23 National Letters of Intent on National Signing Day.

Opening statement:

“I’m real pleased with how recruiting went. Any time you get to this day, it’s a combination of a lot of hard work and effort by our staff. I think our staff did an outstanding job. You got to improve your program where you know you need to improve your program. Of the 23 players that joined our program today, 14 are line of scrimmage players – mid-skill and big-skill guys. We saw very easily in our season this year we struggled on both lines of scrimmage consistently being able to run the ball and stop the run. I certainly feel like we’ve addressed our most pressing need on both lines of scrimmage. We’ll develop playmakers and depth on both lines of scrimmage.

“I’m really excited about the guys we’ve got in that group and also eight skill guys, which includes a quarterback. We’d like to sign a quarterback every year. I think that’s important. A kicker, Austin Hardin, a guy that came in and did an outstanding job for us. We’re real pleased about him.

“We’ll know about this class in two or three years. I’ll tell you the same thing I did last year: Football is a developmental game, and you got to develop he players. I’m really excited about Jeff Dillman and Jesse Ackerman and our strength staff, our coaching staff – the job that they do in getting our players in here and doing a nice job with them. We’ll know a lot more about this class in two or three years. At the end of the day, this is a developmental game. We’ll be able to address that. It’s not about winning in February. It’s about winning in the fall and developing your football team and addressing your needs, and I think we’ve done that.”

» On Florida recruiting so well in the state of North Carolina:D.J. Durkin, first of all, is our area recruiter for that area. He does a really nice job of recruiting, period. It was a full team effort. […] We honed in on the guys we want and the guys we feel like can come and make a difference in our program, and we go after those guys.”

» On three/four-star defensive end Alex McCalister: “Alex McCalister is a guy that came to our camp, he broad jumped over 10 feet, close to a 40” vertical leap. A guy that is 6’6” and 220 lbs., his best football is ahead of him. That’s a very, very explosive athlete and a guy that hasn’t played a whole lot of football.”

» On flipping five-star DE Dante Fowler: “You recruit through this process and sometimes when you get there on signing day, you’re leaving it up to the young man and his family to make a decision. I think Dante had a good fit here at Florida as far as his position was concerned, his opportunity was concerned. We’re excited to add another good pass rusher to our program.”

» On Fowler being a fan of Florida State: “You recruit the player and find out pretty quickly who their childhood team was. It’s a business decision. They got to look at the situation, where they feel comfortable, coaching staff and their opportunity. All of those situations come into that. Some can separate that and others can’t.” On if his household had FSU stuff on the walls: “They didn’t have any Florida State stuff up.”

» On adding another quarterback in three-star Skyler Mornhinweg: “We had recruited a quarterback through the year. When he had committed to another school, we made the decision we were going to recruit another quarterback at the end of November. Of course Charlie [Weis] left for Kansas the first of December. I do think that position is different from any other position as far as identifying the critical factors and having a good feel for that quarterback coach/coordinator position to have a guy he wanted to recruit. I held off on all of that, evaluated the tape and got everything ready. The moment we hired Brent [Pease], he and I sat down and talked about what we needed to do at that position. We pinpointed Skyler from the beginning.”

» On focusing on linemen in this class: “If you watched in our leagues this year, the two dominant teams were very good on both lines of scrimmage.”

» On using the depth chart while recruiting players: “I really think the way it is in recruiting nowadays, there’s really not a whole lot of secrets. Every kid and their family or whoever is close to them has narrowed down the recruiting process of the schools they’re looking at. As they narrow it down, they probably pay a lot of attention to the depth chart. We don’t really address the depth chart a whole lot. I get very concerned when a player asks me about the depth chart more than about once because if they don’t want to compete, they don’t need to come here. They’re going to compete. We don’t make any promises. We promise an opportunity and that’s it. An opportunity to come in here and, if you’re the best at your position, you’ll play. If you’re the best at your position, you’ll start. I don’t really care where you’re from or what grade you are. We owe that to the University of Florida.”

» On new offensive linemen five-star tackle D.J. Humphries and four-star guard Jessamen Dunker being early enrollees: “Them being able to go through 15 days of spring practice is going to be huge. They’re both two very good, big athletes who move very well, great feet, change of direction, very flexible, can bend, both powerful guys. I’m really excited about both players.”

» On four-star tight ends Colin Thompson and Kent Taylor: “They complement each other very well. Colin … can stretch the field and do a lot of things for you at the point of attack. Kent Taylor is a guy that can stretch the field, is a match-up issue, is a guy that can really go and get the football, is an outstanding athlete, is an outstanding baseball player. Both guys we’re really excited about.”

» On what four-star Matt Jones brings to the running back position: “Toughness. Toughness. At the end of the day, it’s toughness. He runs behind his pads. He’s one of those guys who, in the fourth quarter, you get tired of tackling. That’s what we need. We need more of those guys that are able to run up in there when its 4th and one and know that you’re going to be able to move the pile by turning around and handing it to somebody.”

» On Jones’s importance to the class: “We needed to get bigger at the running back position and we wanted to add Matt from the standpoint of a downhill runner and create the physicality you need to in the SEC. Matt was a guy that we targeted when we first got here as a guy that was critical in moving forward in what we want to do offensively in being physical.”

» On how many scholarships the Gators have left and if Florida plans to add any more players this cycle: “We just have a couple. We’re right at it. That’s the complete class we have at this point, and I can’t comment on anything [else].”

» On focusing on defense – not offense – in this recruiting class: “We really struggled up front with our depth on the defensive line. We had to cross train guys at multiple positions because we did not have enough guys to play one position all the time without losing some talent level as far as subbing some guys out. We really needed to address that. On the offensive line we really got everybody back. We added two offensive linemen, certainly that will be more of a focus next year.”

» On four-star wide receiver Latroy Pittman being the first commit and sticking with the program as well as what position he will play: “Latroy wants to be a Gator. That’s what it tells you number one. He’s a really good guy who can possibly help us on either side of the ball. He was an outstanding safety at North Marion and also a playmaker at the wide receiver position. He’s a guy who we really kind of are still determining where he’s going to start.”

» On giving players four-year scholarships instead of one-year deals: “At the end of the day it’s not a whole lot different form a single-year [scholarship]. I don’t know that anybody tells them they don’t have four years on their deal when they sign their scholarship. You can’t cancel them for athletic ability; I don’t know anybody that does that. For medical reasons obviously and for discipline and felony type of issues but none of that other stuff. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a four-year or a one-year, that’s going to be the same issue.”

» On if giving four-year scholarships is new for UF this year: “That’s new this year. Let me clarify this. It’s not really a whole lot of a difference. It’s just what it says in the scholarship, which most all schools probably are doing. At the end of the day, instead of having a guy come in the spring and sign a scholarship that says he’s being renewed – you can’t take a guy off scholarship for athletic reasons. You can’t say, ‘You’re not good enough.’ That doesn’t happen. Now if a guy hurts his back and he can’t play football anymore, obviously he still has his scholarship but he can’t play. Or if a guy comes to you and says he doesn’t want to play at your institution anymore and he wants to transfer, then obviously he is not on scholarship. There is no big deal about it being a four-year deal. When you sign a young man, most situations that I’ve been a part of, it was kind of agree dup on it was a four-year deal and a fifth year if he was redshirted and all that stuff.”

» On three-star WR commit Raphael Andrades and how his signing came about: “We had him in camp. We’ve recruited him all along. He’s a guy that we liked, did a great job in camp. He’s a guy that had a bunch of offers. We had been recruiting him all along. That’s why you have a deep board. If you have a situation and you want to go and take a guy, you take a guy. We’re real excited.”

» On if he is going to open spring practice: “I was planning on opening it, but Brent wants it to be closed. [Laughing] I’ll be honest with you, we haven’t even discussed that. I was kidding.”

» On the condition of linebacker Neiron Ball: “Our medical staff is [reevaluating him]. They’re going to do that in March. They certainly feel like he’s on schedule. That’s all I know at this point. He looks great but that’s something that will be totally up to our medical staff.”


The below comments are from Florida’s live National Signing Day blog. For much, much more from the coordinators and position coaches about the players mentioned below, be sure to click here and read through all of the question-and-answer sessions conducted by UF senior writer Scott Carter.

» Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on three-star DE Bryan Cox, Jr.: “When you watch his tape, he strikes guys, he knocks them back and he plays physical. That’s kind of the style all defenses like to play. Who wouldn’t want a defensive player tough as nails? That’s one of the things you notice. He loves ball and that just jumps out at you. I think he could end up being a really big guy. We’re deciding where the best spot is to play him. Is it going to be outside linebacker and pass rusher, or some day we could see him moving inside to play end and tackle. We are going to wait and see but we know we like what he brings to the team.”

» Quinn on four-star safety Marcus Maye: “One of the things that jump out at you right off the bat is, ‘This guy is explosive.’ He can jump, he can hit, and he has terrific ball skills. He can track it as a middle-field safety. If the ball is in the air, he can go get it. He can cover. I love his competitive toughness. If the ball is in the air, he was going for it. If he was covering man-to-man, his guy wasn’t getting the ball. Those were some of the things that really jumped out at me. I loved his size for a safety. I think the sky is the limit for this guy. He has terrific leadership qualities about him. He’s got everything going for him in the right way. He’s on top of his grades, he’s a leader, he’s a terrific player, he plays with toughness and he’s a guy that people gravitate towards. He’s a really important part of our [class on] defense and we’re really glad to him in the mix. He is a complete player in terms of on the backend.”

» Defensive line coach Bryant Young on five-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard: “He’s just a big body on the edge that plays with a lot of energy and juice. He plays with good technique, has a motor and has a love of what he does out there on the field. You watch him play and you see it; you see him moving around and just being excited about what he is doing out there on the field. There’s a ton of upside for him. I don’t think he understands what he has yet.”

» Durkin on Bullard: “The position he plays, defensive end, is not normally a position where you say a guy as a freshman can come in and play. It’s different up there playing in the trenches. But with the size he has and the maturity on and off the field and how he plays and some of the things he does on the field with his hands, the quickness off the ball, we think he is ready.”

» Durkin on four-star cornerback Brian Poole: “He is a phenomenal athlete. He played running back for his team; he played cornerback, he played safety. He is a kick returner, a punt returner. We’re going to start him out at corner here. He is a unique guy. He’s a big physical guy who can play corner. Most of the guys that big have to go play safety or something else. He has the ability, the foot speed, the hips and all that to play corner at his size. I think he can help us out in the return game, too.”

» Quinn on three-star DE Quinteze Williams: “I think the sky’s the limit for him. I think he is going to be a really big man in a few years. So we’re excited about the things that he is going to bring to our team. He is going to immediately get in the mix with the guys and I’m excited to see how far we can take him.”

» Quinn on four-star linebacker Jeremi Powell: “This is a top athlete. I think the term ‘explosive’ is the one that jumps out to me. He’s versatile enough to play outside linebacker, do a good job as a pass rusher, he’s a good blitzer. The thing that jumps out is that this guy makes plays. When his team needed a blocked kick, he got it. When they needed a sack, they needed an interception, when they needed him to run the ball, he did. This is a football player. I think in time he is going to get bigger. Right now we see him as an inside linebacker for us and he is going to be a key part of all the stuff we do in nickel.”

» Quinn on Fowler: “He is a really unique guy who has pass-rush ability. I thought the guy had a real fire about him in terms of intensity to work and stuff like that. He can play on his feet. We’ve seen him at Friday Night Lights where he can go out and cover tight ends and receivers and want to do that, and then get down to 1-on-1s in the pass rush. He can cover, he can drop and he can rush. We’re anxious for him to get going and be a big part of our program. For us he’ll play as a rusher and an outside backer. He’s got a real upside and we can’t wait to train him.”

» Running backs coach Brian White on Jones: “He obviously has size and power, but Matt has outstanding hands, too. You can flex him out and play him as a receiver. He’s got elite hands, which you usually don’t see out of big backs. He’s a 6-2, 210-, 215-pounder right now that is going to be really big. He’s an athletic big guy.”

» Young on three-star defensive tackle Jafar Mann: “Definitely size. We don’t have a lot of big bodies and he brings a lot of size. Here’s a guy who does a good job in terms of making plays and just being a presence on the defensive line with his stature. I think the sky is the limit in terms of what he can do. He is guy who in my opinion is going to be very coachable in just getting to know him through the recruiting process. He can move, he can run and he can play the game.”


  1. Ken (CA) says:

    Great stuff Adam! Who all is enrolling early, and who are likely redshirts?

    Are we still in the running for Diggs? When is he expected to sign somewhere?

  2. Matt says:

    Solid class. We had a number of issues from last year that needed to be addressed. What is the story on Pittman? We severely need help at WR and he seems to be getting no attention. But it is imperative that we sign Diggs. I’ll be honest with him taking more time it sounds like the snake oil man Urb may be getting to him. There is no reason to believe he needed more time for us or he’s really considering Maryland.
    Our O was hapless at best last year. We really need him. Next year looks to be long and painful as well. At best the following year we may have a arrow pointing up, hopefully. But we better close better especially with Florida players.

  3. Walt p says:

    The staff focused on D to me which is a good thing.. Hopefully we can get a little O going this yr to compliment the D.

  4. Gatorbuck says:

    Change in coordinator probably made recruiting for O more challenging. Hopefully next year the continuity will help. Still some solid pick ups this year (Diggs would be huge) and early 2013 RB commit is a great sign.
    Side note, with top two TE’s, can’t help but think of Patriots O this year. Hasn’t worked too badly for them. Now we just need one of QBs to develop into Tom Brady!

  5. Joe says:

    The one thing I am dissappointed in is the number. After Muschamp moans we are short on scholarship players, we still don’t sign enough to get us back to 85. Hopefully graduation, transfers, attrition and disipline won’t kill us too bad this year and we can get back to 85 in 2013.

  6. Tractorr says:

    Adam any chance you can post a full roster broken down by position. I have been looking at a number of sites and many of them still have seniors and players who I am pretty sure have transferred. I would really like to see what the team is going to look like next year.

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