Florida Gator head football coach Will Muschamp began his signing day press conference by praising and thanking his staff for all the hard work that went into securing the number two recruiting class in the country according to ESPN
“Really proud of our staff,” Muschamp said. “Today’s the culmination of a lot of work effort. Sometimes two and a half, three years put together on a young man. You sit down on signing day and hope that fax comes through.”
And then after two to three years it still takes another two to three years before you can really see the full fruit of those labors.
“Recruiting about’s building relationships,” Muschamp added. “You can pull out your tape recorders from the previous two years we’ll know about this class in two or three years.”
Muschamp gave a brief statement about this class and some of the difficulties in putting together such a large class before turning the session over to media questions.
“28 signees, eight guys have been enrolled early, twenty here today. Twelve mid to big skill guys which is always a number I’m looking for in our signing class. We had a deep signing class this year which means you have to have a larger board as far as the numbers are concerned at each position.” “Sometimes when you get some numbers you start getting guys looking at that depth chart and their not real sure about coming and competing for the Gators. We want guys that have a lot of confidence that they can come in and play in the SEC, play in the Swamp, and play for the University of Florida.”
Interestingly we saw some of that coming into signing day with a few recruits that were thought to be leaning towards signing with the Gators such as cornerback Jalen Ramsey, whose dad pointed at the depth chart as the major reason for not choosing the Gators, and wide receiver James Clark, who most thought was a shoo-in for the Gators right up to the night before signing day but ended up choosing Ohio State. Muschamp went on to praise the recruits themselves for showing character by sticking with their commitments and not faltering under the intense pressure of recruiting as so many recruits seem to do.
“This class is very balanced, it’s a high character class with toughness. All the position criteria that we look for in terms of size and speed and then all the off the field things that we are looking for. It’s a very committed class you look at a lot of these guys are guys that been committed to us for a long time and never took other visits and there wasn’t a lot of flash in their recruiting process. And that’s the kind of guys you want.”
A lot fans want to criticize Muschamp and the staff because they don’t necessarily go for the “flash” or the highest profile recruits on signing day, particularly the signing day “splash” guys. They like to throw out terms like “closer” in the context of getting top level recruits on signing day and accuse Muschamp of not being a good “closer”. Is it really a fair accusation, however, with Muschamp bringing in a top five rated recruiting class does it really matter when he gets guys to commit?
“I’ve never understood what is the difference between a guy committing in March and a guy committing on signing day. When he commits on signing day does that make him a better player? Some of you guys think so.”
Asked about whether signing day was perhaps overrated and possibly the least important day in recruiting Muschamp said he wouldn’t go that far but did dispel the myth about the signing day suspense built up for the tv cameras.
“Ninety eight percent of the situations that you go into signing day, the schools involved and the young men normally know where they’re going. It’s not like there’s a bunch of suspense like our favorite network says there is. Going into signing day you 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.”
It all goes back to the types of recruits Muschamp is looking for. He’s not one to go for star power necessarily. Asked about whether the staff considers recruiting rankings when evaluating prospects he was very forthright.
“Absolutely no consideration at all,” Muschamp said. ” We commit most of our guys before they ever come out so maybe they look at our rankings.”
They don’t look at star power and they don’t want prima donna’s either and they don’t promise playing time.
“I always tell them ‘We’re going to promise you an opportunity, I’m not going to promise you anything past that. And we’re going to recruit real good again next year. So we’re going to have a bunch of good players coming behind you’. So you better understand you’re going to have to compete at Florida.”
They want guys that are committed to the program and to the staff often times passing on higher rated guys for guys they get a better feel for that they are above board and want play at the University of Florida. Sometimes guys will give a coach a commitment which turns out to be a loose commitment and it won’t take much to shake them off of it.
“You know a lot of times when you’re recruiting a young man if it’s a commitment or it’s a reservation,,” Muschamp said. “You make reservations at a Marriott but you may change and go to the Hilton. Unfortunately some people make reservations not commitments.”
Adding, “Crazy things get said right before signing day. Sometimes you can sway somebody pretty easy.”
Securing a top rated class certainly takes more than one guy to assemble and often we see players get in on the act looking to bring other great players with them to create some momentum towards a top ranking. We saw that visibly this cycle with Ole Miss reeling in the best recruiting class in their history largely on the strength of commits recruiting other commits. With this Gator recruiting class there were a few guys that worked hard on other recruits, no one more so than Nick Washington who worked tirelessly to try to bring in other top recruits. Muschamp touched on this today.
“They (Washington and Ahmad Fullwood and others) understand the importance of having good player’s around them,” Muschamp said. “This coaching stuff is way overrated. It’s about players at the end of the day. They want to play with other good players. There’s no question we did a really nice job in Jacksonville this year.”
“You look at Nick, you look at Ahmad, you look at Daniel, guys that were able to circle the wagon so to speak on some other guys within the recruiting class and those are all guys that gained a lot of early momentum for us.”
Beyond the players, it’s been obvious over the last two recruiting cycles but especially this one and over the course of last season that this staff is loaded with fantastic recruiters as well as great coaches. Muschamp touched a little on the process and praised his staff for they job they’ve done.
“The coaching process is 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 we’ve got a staff that can do it at a high level.”
And so through today’s media session we get to see a little bit inside the recruiting process as well as into the mind of Will Muschamp in terms of what he wants and how he approaches managing his program. Stay tuned for more gems from Muschamp’s signing day press conference as we delve further in the Mind of Will Muschamp.