Florida Gators sign nation’s No. 1 class

Star ratings have “absolutely” zero impact on Florida coach Will Muschamp, but the third-year coach and his staff secured signatures from many of the brightest shining stars on National Signing Day.

Once all the dust settles and the ink dries, the Florida Gators Class of 2013 is among the best in the country — albeit in terms of star ratings.

It’s important to note the Gators could add one more prospect to their class of 28 signees, which includes eight early enrollees.

Notwithstanding, Florida signed the No. 1 class in the nation, according to ESPN. The rankings are based on each team’s total number of “stars.” Prospects are assigned star ratings, with five stars assigned to the elite.

Muschamp, who landed a pair of prospects not previously pledged to UF on Wednesday, sported a dark navy sport jacket with no tie — a sure sign that it was a work day, not a day to button your shirt all the way up. He called the process of waiting by the fax machine for National Letter of Intents to roll in “nerve-wracking,” as a few prospects did not send faxes Florida’s way as the staff had anticipated.

“(Signing day) is a culmination of a lot of hard work, effort,” Muschamp said, praising his staff. “Sometimes two and a half, three years put together on a young man, and you come down to signing day and you sit at that fax machine and hope that things comes through.”

Rivals says Florida signed the nation’s No. 3 class behind No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Ohio State. 24/7 Sports also has Florida at No. 3 and Alabama at No. 1, but wedges Ole Miss in between at No. 2. Scout has the Gators at No. 8.

None of it matters to Muschamp and his staff. What does is signing true student-athletes that mesh well with the overall team concept he has been implementing since arriving in Gainesville.

“This class is very balanced,” Muschamp said. “It’s a high character class with toughness, and all of the position criteria we look for as far as size and speed, and then all of the off-the-field things we are looking for. It’s a very committed class.

“A lot of these guys were guys that have been committed to us for a long time and never took other visits and there weren’t a lot of flash in their recruiting process.  And that’s the kind of guys you want.”

It’s difficult to name a singular elite prospect in this class because Florida signed so many. Some of the most notable as far as prep prospects are defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III, receiver Demarcus Robinson, running back Kelvin Taylor and linebackers Daniel McMillan and Alex Anzalone.

Then there’s junior college transfers in offensive lineman Trenton Brown and defensive linemen Darious Cummings and Jarran Reed.

There’s also Tyler Moore, who sat out a year and will be eligible to play immediately after leaving Nebraska, where he was the program’s first true freshman offensive lineman to start a season opener.

Add in a few of the others like defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick and receiver Ahmad Fulwood, among others, and the Gators have enough stars to fill a couple of American Flags.

Still, beyond all the stars and team class rankings, Muschamp wants to sign players willing to operate by “The Florida Way.”

“To be able to recruit the right kind of guy,” Muschamp said. “and we do pass on guys, and they are really good players and could certainly play very well for us here in The Swamp but maybe guys that are not a good fit for your locker room.  You just move on and recruit the right kind of guy.

Muschamp instructs his coaches not to “fall in love” with a prospect’s highlight film because there’s so much more that goes into building — and sustaining — a winning program.

“You have to look at the transcripts and you have to see the character, and that’s where we are headed,” Muschamp said. “At the end of the day, you win with good people. You need too have some difference makers — absolutely.  But you also need to understand you can’t compromise what you believe in as a coach for the grace of a good player.

“That’s not what we are going to do around here.”

 

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mikecapshaw
Mike Capshaw brings a wealth of experience to the Gator Country team. He’s been overseeing all editorial aspects of GatorCountry.com and Gator Country magazine by managing our team of staffers, interns and freelancers. He is now moving into a bigger role as a reporter by covering the football and basketball beats as well as providing coverage of all sports on campus. Mike’s 15 years in the business has included more than six years of covering SEC sports and recruiting at a daily newspaper in Arkansas. He has also helped launch a newspaper, magazines, websites and even a sports talk radio show. Because Mike puts family ahead of his career, he left the place where he was established when his wife received an opportunity to further her career at UF. He took a leap of faith that he could find a job in the Gainesville area and worked for a year at a newspaper group before joining the Gator Country family in November, 2011. Mike has won Florida Press Association awards for Best Sports Game Story and Best Sports Feature Story in the past two years as well as a company-wide award at his former newspaper group that includes some 60 publications, for Excellence in Sports Reporting. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeCapshawGC.