(Photo credit: Florida Gators)
For many Florida Gators fans, the attention has turned to Missouri this weekend. But for others, the Tennessee loss continues to stick out- and in fairness, the Gators’ performance Rocky Top a week and a half ago did illuminate quite a bit about where this program really is.
When the Florida Gators’ comeback fell just short in what was an impressive showing by a much-maligned offense over the past few weeks, the defense’s shortcomings were put on blast. The reality, though, was that it didn’t matter whether the offense could bail it out this one time or not. The larger picture issue was that the struggles from previous years of bad defenses had reared its ugly head again.
One of the many results of that loss- along with, among others, being relegated to the backseat of the SEC East race- was that a September schedule that was ranked the second hardest schedule in the country resulted in a 2-2 record for the Florida Gators (Power Rankings Guru). Thus, expectations need to be recalibrated. And so it is time to look at what winning will really entail for Billy Napier in Year One.
With the national title and East hopes all but gone, for 2022 to now be deemed a success, we need to see progress in one area above all others, and that is recruiting. And to be clear, one thing that will help tremendously with that is winning on the field. The two definitely go hand in hand.
But what, exactly, constitutes success for Napier on the recruiting trail? We need to compare where prior SEC and National Champion coaches ended up in their second recruiting class. Looking more specifically at Urban Meyer, Kirby Smart, and Nick Saban, what were their averages for national ranking, conference ranking, 5 stars, Top 100 and Top 300 players?
Let’s take a look (the year of the recruiting class being discussed is beside the coach’s name).
|Coach||National Rank||Conf Rank||Five Stars||Top 100||Top 300|
*Data from 247Sports
**Important to note that this is where Napier’s class sits at this present moment.
This class is tracking much better than the bump class of his two predecessors. It could, if things finish strong, end up being the best class since 2013 when Will Muschamp finished with a 291.89 score on the 247Sports Composite rating system with 28 commitments. However, Napier (obviously) needs to close on the top remaining prospects on the board.
Below is a breakdown of the biggest names left and what I personally think Florida’s chances are of landing them.
Five Stars The Florida Gators Are Targeting (4)
Cormani McClain, CB (7/10 chance)
Keon Keeley, Edge (1/10 chance)
James Smith, DL (3/10 chance)
Qua Russaw, Edge (3/10 chance)
Top 100 Four Stars The Florida Gators Are Targeting (8)
Everyone Above (4)
Cedric Baxter, RB (Texas) (2/10 chance)
Dijon Johnson, CB (9/10 chance)
John Walker, DT (UCF) (6/10 chance)
Malik Bryant, LB (Miami) (4/10 chance)
101-300 Four Stars The Florida Gators Are Targeting (13)
Everyone Above (8)
Jordan Hall, DL (4/10 chance)
Caleb Lomu, OT (5/10 chance)
Tomarrion Parker, DL (3/10 chance)
Roderick Kearney, IOL (FSU) (6/10 chance)
Grayson Howard, LB (South Carolina) (4/10 chance)
Now, if Florida were to land each prospect with a 5/10 chance- i.e. a coin flip- or higher, the Florida Gators would end up with 28 commitments, a 286.11 rating, 1 5-star, 5 Top 100 and 18 Top 300 players. (This is also adding a few lower rated 4-stars and two 3-stars).
As mentioned before, this would be an incredible recruiting class for Napier and his Army. It would no doubt solve a lot of depth issues and flip this Florida Gators roster to his liking and culture. That being said it would fall short of recent metrics that show what it takes to win a championship. In order for that to happen Napier will need to convince 2 of Keon Keely, Qua Russaw or James Smith to commit. A tall task for sure but if he has shown us anything thus far this cycle, expect the unexpected. Like I said last week, let’s continue to trust the jOURney. By signing day in December we will know if 2022 was a success.