Florida Football: Billy Napier's margin for error in 2024 is gone

Florida has dropped from the number three recruiting class to hanging on to stay in the top 15

Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier reacts to a 14-0 behind Arkansas in the first half at Steve
Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier reacts to a 14-0 behind Arkansas in the first half at Steve / Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY

We here at Hail Florida Hail have admittedly been Sunshine Pumpers over the last year as it has related to Billy Napier. Even as recent as October when LJ McCray announced his commitment to the Gators, we preached patience because a treasure trove of talent was on its way to Gainesville.

But we here at Hail Florida Hail are also realist, and the conditions of which we were willing to stay patient have dissipated in the last two months.

Florida Football: The Winds Have Shifted

When McCray announced on October 21 that he had committed to the Florida Gators, Napier and crew were sitting pretty with the 3rd ranked recruiting class in the country. It wasn't just that Florida was bringing in talented players; there was a depth of talent coming in that we hadn't seen in Gainesville for over a decade.

However since McCray announced his commitment, Florida was smacked by Georgia, didn't know when to send the field goal unit out against Arkansas, gave up a literal FBS record to Jayden Daniels, couldn't stop 4th and 17 against Missouri, and lost to FSU's backup QB.

On top of that, Kendall Jackson, Wardell Mack, Jamonta Waller, Nasir Johnson, Adarius Hayes, Amaris Williams, Izaiah Williams, and Xavier Filsaime have all flipped away from Florida to somewhere else.

Fortunately, after a delay, McCray opted to stick with the Gators.

Player for player, there is a lot to like about the 2024 class Florida has brought in. Outside of a couple of fillers, almost everyone Napier had sign today could be a starter for Florida in two years, something most programs can't say.

The problem is that this recruiting class lost all of its depth. If Fletcher Westphal doesn't pan out, who else from this class will step up along the offensive line? Even with McCray signing, what if he doesn't pan out? The only other defensive lineman Florida signed today is Michai Boireau.

Josiah Davis and Gregory Smith are high-upside three-star safeties, but their floor is low enough that it wouldn't be a shock if both make a minimal impact in Gainesville. Jerrae Hawkins is one of the fastest players in the country, but if his game doesn't translate, the only other option is Tawaski Abrams.

Because with any great class, one never wants to be reliant on needing a specific guy to work out or else.

Yes, this class as assembled has the potential to do great things. But if Florida once again struggles in 2024 and goes 7-5 or worse, this class as assembled isn't good enough to save Napier like it once was.