Will Muschamp walked into his National Signing Day press conference just like any other press conference he’s done. He donned the usual business casual attire, but you could tell by the faint circles underneath his eyes it had been a long and grueling conclusion to an the exhausting couple of years it took to reign these 2013 kids into the University of Florida.
Despite the fatigue that was settling in at this point of the day, Muschamp still stood proud at what he and his coaching staff had accomplished.
National Signing Day was once again a successful day Muschamp and the Florida Gators as they once again signed a top five recruiting class.
Because Muschamp was a former defensive coordinator before becoming the Gators’ coach, it’s a part of the game he takes seriously and he takes that attitude with him into the recruiting world.
This year’s class had 28 total signees and 15 of those signees were on the defensive side of the football.
One characteristic Muschamp used to define this class was “committed.” Only two of the defensive signees actually committed on National Signing Day, while the other 13 had already pledged their commitment to the Gators, which Muschamp took a lot of pride in.
“This is a very committed class. You look at a lot of these guys and these are guys that have been committed for a long time. There wasn’t a lot of flash in their recruiting process and that’s the kind of guys you want,” Muschamp said. “They go through a lot, there’s a lot of pressure on these young men. So you have got to respect that.”
“I’ve never understood what is the difference about a guy committing in March and a guy committing on Signing Day.”
Over the past two full recruiting cycles, Muschamp has stressed the importance of the line of scrimmage in the SEC, calling it a “line of scrimmage league.”
Muschamp certainly has added depth to the line of scrimmage as the Gators signed seven defensive linemen in this 2013 recruiting class, including a signing day commitment from Port St. Lucie (Fla.) and four-star defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick.
“Jay-nard was a young man that came down to three schools and we were real pleased to get him on the last visit,” Muschamp said. “He had a great visit and we felt very comfortable. [Defensive backs coach] Travaris Robinson did a great job of recruiting him throughout the entire process.”
Another area that saw a lot of attention from Muschamp was the linebacker position. The Gators already have three early enrollees at the linebacker position, including Alex Anzalone, who flipped to Florida just before the deadline.
Although Matt Rolin is still recovering from an ACL injury, Muschamp believes Rolin and Anzalone, along with the other incoming freshmen will have ample opportunities to earn immediate playing time next season.
“Matt Rolin is rehabbing his knee and doing very well, but he won’t go through spring. All of those decisions will be made in August when we get these guys on the field and we can coach them,” Muschamp said about freshmen having an immediate impact. “There’s a lot of time from here until August as our team continues to develop in the offseason program.”
The “No Fly Zone”, as the 2013 secondary signees have dubbed their incoming group, has developed a close bond over the course of the recruiting process. With players like Nick Washington, Keanu Neal, Marcell Harris and Vernon Hargreaves III, the future looks bright for the Gators’ secondary.
Washington and others developed the reputation as the best recruiters among the 2013 class and had a part in convincing his fellow signees to eventually choose Florida.
“They understand the importance of having good players around them. This coaching stuff is way overrated. It’s about players,” Muschamp said.
However, Muschamp was impressed with the maturity of these signees, especially in Harris and Hargreaves III. He attributed their advanced progression in those areas to the early exposure they had to high-major college football through their fathers.
“[Hargreaves III] also has a coach sitting in the head room in the house,” Muschamp said. “Vernon, Sr. is a really good football coach and [Hargreaves III] has been able to see these things through the process. He’s been able to see recruiting and to see hard coaching by his father at big time places.
“Marcell Harris, I would say the same thing about Mike, his dad. He kind of understands the process in recruiting and what to hear and what to look past. These guys have been exposed to a lot,” he added.
Perhaps the biggest asset in getting the signatures from one of the better secondaries in the 2013 recruiting class was Robinson, the defensive backs coach. Muschamp recognized Robinson as a key player in their recruitments and believes he showed a lot of promise for the future.
“Travaris does an outstanding job. He’s a great people person. He relates very well with people and he’s an outstanding football coach,” Muschamp said. “And a guy that has a very bright future at the University of Florida.”