The Florida Gators will start fall practice next week well under the 85 man scholarship limit that the NCAA allows teams to have and that’s do to several different reasons.
Dan Mullen and his coaching staff have had a few guys sign with the Gators and transfer away and they’ve had a few guys not qualify for Florida and have to go the JUCO route.
Mullen however believes that the Gators won’t be the only college football team under the scholarship limit with the new transfer portal.
“I think its’ a new era of college football,” Mullen said. “Unless the NCAA does something to change the rules and let you sign over with guys that are transferring out it’s going to be hard to have a full roster. We were under last year a little bit. I’m sure we’ll have a walk-on or two earn a scholarship. Last year we put two walk-ons on scholarship. They were both great contributors to the team.”
Guys transferring away from your program are something you can’t count on but whether or not players will qualify is something that Mullen and his staff have a pretty good idea on and they were expecting a few guys not to qualify.
“It didn’t really shock us,” he said on guys not qualifying. “Some of the guys we knew, we weren’t expecting them to make it and there was a chance they might. I think we were kind of expecting the numbers to be a certain way. The transfer thing you can’t really control in today’s world.”
Diwun Black and Deyavie Hammond have both announced plans to attend junior college and Mullen believes that giving guys that want to be Gators a chance is something that could pay for them in the long run.
“There’s a chance for them to make it. They want to be Gators; they can still go to junior college and qualify there,” Mullen said on why they recruit guys that probably won’t qualify. “They can go to prep school depending on their situation and NCAA eligibility numbers. You know a lot of it is a guy that you start recruiting a little bit later in his career and you look at his freshman and sophomore grades and they really don’t have much of a chance but all of a sudden they pick it up as they move on and you say this guy is going to figure it out and is going to be a good player. I’ve had success with that with junior college players in the past as a head coach.”
Mullen looks at these situations and is reminded of one particular player that helped Florida win a national championship after attending junior college.
“You go back to a Reggie Nelson when I was at Florida,” he said. “He was a guy that wasn’t going to qualify, signed with Florida and went to a junior college and came back to Florida and had a pretty good career. You have an idea of those before they start.”
The Gators sit at 78 scholarship players right now and they’re still waiting word on whether three players will be able to report to campus later this month.
Offensive lineman Wardrick Wilson who is from the Bahamas is fully qualified by the NCAA’s standard but he however he’s waiting on his VISA to be issued before he can report.
“Wardrick Wilson obviously that’s going to be a legal issue going forward,” Mullen said. “We didn’t expect that. I mean he’s a full qualifier, NCAA qualifier.”
The other two remaining players the Gators are waiting on are receivers Dionte Marks and Arjei Henderson who Mullen hopes to have answers on soon.
“I gotta see, We gotta finish the paperwork through the NCAA,” he said on the status of those two guys. “It hasn’t been filed so I don’t want to confirm it until they put the stamp on it. It’s July so I’m sure they do some summer vacations up there.”
Depending on what happens with those three guys, the Gators could use the extra scholarships to add a player from the transfer portal before fall camp starts later this month.
“I think we have a couple of initial spots still open,” Mullen said on if the Gators made add a grad transfer before the season starts. “I met with John Clark today about it. What we’re trying to do now is just balance the numbers for several years and seeing, ok how many initials do we want to save for people leaving and the number of transfers as you continue to move.”