Recruiting Muschamp Style

Tuesday night we got a good taste of what Florida Head Coach Will Muschamp would like when he recruits. From players that would fit his style of play, to personalities, and character, Muschamp informed the world what he was going to look for. A product of the SEC, Muschamp understands what it is going to take to keep Florida at the top of the college football world.

If you have followed Florida athletics closely over the years you would know that athletic director Jeremy Foley is a guy that is keen on having coaches that recruit well. The foundation for any winning program is based on the student athletes that compete on the playing field.

When looking for a new football coach, Foley wanted someone that was in tune with the rigors of the Southeastern Conference and the schedule the Gators play every year. Will Muschamp has coordinated top defenses for five different years in the SEC and three in the Big 12, Foley seems to have found the right guy.

"When Jeremy called me, we first had our conversations, he talked about a fit, and really when he started describing exactly what he was looking for, he wanted somebody that had the experience in the SEC that understood when he walked into those venues you're going to walk into, he understood how to compete in those situations," Muschamp said in excitement Tuesday night without taking a breath. "He wanted a guy who understood what it was going to take to be a relentless recruiter in this league and understand the recruiting bases you're going to go against, the recruiting teams you're going to go against. He was going to follow the rules and represent the University in a first-class manner.

"He wanted a good fit for Gainesville and our community. And he wanted somebody that understood the expectations of the program. And the expectation (at) Florida is winning championships … I understand that and I understand what you've got to do to be successful in this situation.

"When he described that to me on the phone, it got me more and more excited because I felt like he was describing me, the perfect fit for Florida."

For Foley and Muschamp, recruiting championship players is important, but we aren't just talking great athletes that help the programs win, but great people that move on successfully after they are done with their respective sports careers are over.

Will Muschamp understands what Foley wants, and loves the fact that the two are on the same plain when it comes to these particular traits in student athletes.

"Really I think as far as going recruiting, which I did yesterday, I can't comment on anything specifically about it but we got a great reception," he said. "When you walk into a home and you talk about being a student-athlete at the University of Florida, I talk in terms of I want all of our student-athletes to come into our program to be a better person for having been at Florida…I'm not just talking about from a football standpoint…from a strength standpoint. I'm talking about the off-the-field things. Academics obviously is very important to me.

"We're going to have programs set for our players that are going to help with leadership development, character development and the mental conditioning it takes to be successful. It's all about making good choices and decisions nowadays."

Muschamp is all about putting the college in the term collegiate athlete.

"I think it's critical that they get their degree when they come here," he said. "…You've got to get your degree. That's why you're here."

One thing that Muschamp is going to build his program on is in-state players. Florida produces enough top end talent to fill the entire SEC with players, Muschamp wants to take full advantage of that.

"One of the major attractions (of coming to Florida to coach) obviously was the state of Florida," he said. "The recruiting base is absolutely phenomenal. There's great high school coaching in this state, there are great players in this state. The first thing we need to do in recruiting is take care of our backyard. We need to continue to do a good job of evaluating in the state of Florida, which I've recruited the entire state along with the entire Southeast."

He also tends to try and get very personnel specific and recruit players designed to run the systems he wants to run.

"We're going to take the right players," he said. "We have an evaluation process…I learned an awful lot when I went to the Miami Dolphins about taking the right players…We've got critical factors for every position in our offense and our defense, and exactly what we look for at every position to eliminate mistakes. Along with that are character and different evaluations off the field that determine a great player.

"Two years ago I had a young man that I used to coach at LSU (who) sent me a team picture of our 2003 National Championship. As I watched it, as I looked at it I noticed, number one, there were some really good football players on that team, but the other thing was there were some great people on that team. There were some outstanding individuals on that team that had the common purpose of what we're going to build here again and what we've done three times since 1996."

In the end, Muschamp isn't going to be that coach that worries about the players that end up on other teams, the one's that got away on signing day.

"We're going to take the right guys, and we're going to worry about the guys we sign, not the ones that go someplace else," he said. "We're going to worry about the guys that want to play at Florida. We've got to worry about those guys 365 days a year. The ones who go somewhere else, we worry about them once. Okay, so we're going to take care of our guys and make sure we understand that the players that want to come to Florida and want to play at Florida, that's important to me. And that's why you've got to take care of your backyard first, because when you go play Florida State and you go play Georgia and you go play in the SEC, it's important for these young men to understand the importance of those games and playing against those teams."

He is going to expect the players he recruits to work hard, much like he did when he walked on at Georgia in the early nineties and became a team, captain for the Bulldogs.

"I want to be known as a blue collar, overachieving unit," he said. "We're going to recruit good players here, but they need to buy into the fact of taking the talent they have and what God has blessed them with and stretch it to the potential that they've got, okay, so if we buy into that blue collar attitude, which is what I am, and an overachiever, which is what I am, and I think the players are a reflection of their coach, so hopefully we can sell that to our football team and produce that attitude on the field."

Finally Muschamp touched on the style of play he will be recruiting to. He will focus on making this team look like a professional team in terms of the type of talent he will recruit for offense, defense, and special teams.

"We will be a pro-style attack offensively and defensively," he said. "As far as special teams are concerned, I feel like our players will be exposed to cutting-edge schemes. That are going to make sure they show their abilities. If they want to play on the next level they certainly can have those opportunities."

Muschamp does not have an offensive coordinator yet, but he is looking through a specific set of attributes from which to hire one.

"I want to hire an experienced play caller," he said. "I would like for him to have a background in both college and pro football. I think it's important that we have some pro-style systems to what we want to do."

He will recruit these styles while also coaching to the strengths of his current roster.

"I think the best coaches out there, they look at their roster and they evaluate who they are at this time," he said. " And then they recruit to who they want to be…we're going to evaluate our roster to what we are right now…don't lie to ourselves. We don't want to take our scheme players and say this is what we are. We want to evaluate players at the right spots where they can be successful, and that's what we plan on doing. Will there be more pro-style ideas in our offense? There certainly will be. We want to be balanced in what we do regardless of who we hire, which will obviously be a big hire for me, me being a defensive coach."

On defense, look for him to recruit to his attacking man to man defensive style philosophy that he has run for over a decade as a defensive coordinator.

"Defensively we'll carry a lot of the same values and the same things we've done everywhere we've been," he said. "There will be some components of the 3-4, the 4-3. We'd like to be a man pressure team."

In the end, Muschamp will be recruiting Meyer level talent to better fit his style of play. More traditional tight ends and fullbacks with pure passing quarterbacks are in store on offense. Look for the offensive tackles to be more of the long and lean type that aren't necessarily the road graders that a zone blocking team desires in all five linemen Xavier Nixon and Matt Patchan absolutely fit the bill here.

On defense, bigger defensive ends have to be a priority, along with big linebackers. Those are the two main areas on defense that need some adjustment on the roster.

Muschamp wants to prepare his players for a career in football beyond college. This is what kids want to hear on the recruiting trail. It sounds like a recruiting match made in heaven.


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