During Dan Mullen’s introductory press conference as the new Florida Gators head coach, he emphasized multiple times his football team will play with “relentless effort.” In his short eight days as the Gators head coach, Mullen and his staff have been showcasing that relentless mentality on the recruiting trail. With just two weeks until the first signing period, the new Florida staff has been working around the clock.
In order to bring back a high-flying Gators offense, Mullen must find the right players to implement into their spread offense. Florida is aiming to land these prospects now, in the 2018 recruiting class.
Below Armchair reviews the wild week of Gators football recruiting.
Virtually any team that changes head coaches will have at least a portion of their recruiting class fall apart. Some players don’t want to play for a coach that didn’t recruit them, and the new head man often has a different vision for the team than the prior.
Since the arrival of Coach Mullen, three prospects have departed from the Gators 2018 class.
Divaad Wilson (Miami, Fla.) – Wilson is a ferocious defensive back from South Florida and was the Gators first pledge of the 2018 class, committing in February. His awareness on the football field is unprecedented at the high school level. Wilson reopened his commitment once it became clear that former defensive coordinator Randy Shannon would not be retained. According to 247sports, Wilson is rated as a 4-star prospect and the 324th-ranked player in the 2018 class.
Jalynn Williams (St. Petersburg, Fla.) – Many that follow college football recruiting closely had a feeling that Williams would not be a part of the Gators class come signing day. With Coach Mullen showing interest in several other wide receiver prospects, Williams decided to de-commit on Monday. Williams is listed as the 95th-ranked wide out in the nation, according to 247sports.
Curtis Dunlap Jr. (Bradenton, Fla.) – The talented offensive guard started the Gators strong summer recruiting stretch. After Dunlap became the first prospect to pull the trigger during the summer, eight more recruits decided to join the #AllBite18 class in a span of two weeks. However, with a pro-style offense gone and a new coaching staff arriving in Gainesville, Dunlap decided to reopen his recruiting process on Tuesday. Mullen seems to be searching for more athletic, multi-positional offensive linemen to fit his spread offense. According to 247sports, Dunlap Jr. is a consensus 4-star guard, and the nation’s 194th-ranked prospect. One team will land a very talented player.
The news of Chris Bleich came as a surprise to many covering the Florida Gators, as he flipped his commitment from UCLA to Florida in the same day. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound prospect became the first pledge under the new staff.
According to 247sports, Bleich is a 3-star prospect and is rated as the country’s 28th offensive tackle. A physical run-blocker, Bleich improved tremendously during his senior season at Wyoming Valley West Senior High School. Coach Mullen loves to implement a running quarterback in his offensive systems — behind a bruiser like Bleich, the quarterback should have plenty of room to run.
Bleich is taking his official visit to Florida on Friday, Dec. 8th.
The new Florida coaching staff has handed out a plethora of scholarship offers to recruits since donning the Orange and Blue. One piece of the offense this staff is urgently trying to restructure is the quarterback room. Florida does have highly-touted 4-star quarterback Matt Corral committed, but question marks surround his ability to run Mullen’s offensive style.
Since the departure of Tim Tebow (and Dan Mullen as offensive coordinator), Florida has rotated through 10 different starting quarterbacks. Mullen and his staff have quickly put the full-court press on prominent quarterbacks around the country.
Terry Wilson (Oklahoma City, Okla.) – Originally enrolled at Oregon, Wilson has found himself in the junior college ranks. The number two dual-threat prospect in junior college recently received attention from the new Gators staff.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound product flashed his explosive talents this season, throwing for 1,176 yards and 22 touchdowns. Wilson also showcased his running ability, something Mullen asks frequently of his quarterbacks, by scoring five times on the ground while accumulating 454 yards. Wilson is reportedly in the process of scheduling an official visit to Florida.
Noah Jefferson (Las Vegas, Nev.) – Another junior college prospect that has been offered by the new staff. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound defensive tackle would fit in perfectly with Florida changing to a 3-4 defensive scheme. Florida has not had a true clog the middle, run-stopper since John Bullard. The junior college product seems to be an Arkansas lean, but with both schools changing head coaches, Mullen has ample opportunity to sway Jefferson’s mind.
John Huggins (Daytona Beach, Fla.) – Once a Florida State commit, Huggins decided to reopen his recruitment after Jimbo Fisher’s departure. On Tuesday Huggins received a scholarship offer from the Florida Gators.
“It means a whole lot, really. Florida will always have the tradition and swagger that they have. Coach (Todd) Grantham granted me the opportunity to play at Florida, and I am really excited,” Huggins told Armchair following his offer.
According to 247sports, Huggins is listed as the 31st-ranked safety in the country. The backend of the Gators defense struggled for the majority of the 2017 season, and adding more depth and play makers certainly would not hurt the unit.
Huggins told Armchair he plans on visiting the Gators before he signs and that after the recent offer, the Gators are “near the top” of his college choices. Nebraska, UCF and FSU seem to be the other schools Huggins continues to evaluate.