Depleted Roster Should Fill Quick

The Florida Gators have been a little behind the eight ball this year in terms of depth on the football roster. Will Muschamp's first year ended with 68 scholarship players that weren't walk-ons awarded scholarships this season. That is 17 scholarship players under the limit and it puts a premium on keeping guys healthy throughout the year and means they need to be prudent in recruiting for 2012.

There is always a bit of attrition in programs with coaching changes. The fact that Florida has lost 11 of those 17 spots since Will Muschamp's arrival has alarmed some, but Muschamp says there are varying reasons for the ones that did leave the program.

"I would attribute it to a lot of different things," Muschamp told the media earlier in the week. "I think it's really hard to put your finger on one thing and say ‘this is it'. Anytime you have a transition, there is a natural attrition that occurs; whether it was the coach that recruited you, the position coach, the coordinator or the head coach is different or even the scheme is different, there are a lot of things that occur with that. I don't think that in any of those situations it is all one thing."

How those losses will affect this class seems minimal actually. The Gators only have nine seniors and one junior that we know won't be around. That means there are now 27 spots to sign in February if they so choose. With only signing 17 last February, and a few of the 2012 class arriving early, getting to that 27 would be easy to do.

Florida is currently ranked 6th in team recruiting rankings on and has fewer commits than any team ahead of them in the rankings with 18. Getting to 27 would mean adding nine more and if they could would certainly put them in a position to challenge for the top spot in the recruiting class of 2012.

Muschamp certainly would like to add that many more, but it won't be at the expense of taking prospects that won't help the program get better.

"I haven't changed my approach," he said. You still want to evaluate and take the right guys… Right now we have had a full year to evaluate, we know what we have evaluated, we have ranked everybody at every position, we understand the numbers at certain positions that we want to take, but we're not going to take a guy to just take a guy. We would rather check it all out."

Florida has two supremely talented offensive linemen in D.J. Humphries and Jessamen Dunker committed and would like to add at least two more. They have one big time running back in Matt Jones committed and also want another. Latroy Pittman is a quality receiver they have and also want to add two more to him in this class. Florida has one quality defensive end committed in Quinteze Williams, and between the two spots on the field, they need at least three more. They would love to add to the quality linebackers they have committed in Jeremi Powell and Antonio Morrison. They would also like to add one more cornerback to the two big timers, Brian Poole and Willie Bailey.

The Gators seem to be done at tight end with Colin Thompson and Kent Taylor, the top two in the country. They have filled their need at defensive tackle with a nice high school haul of Jafar Mann and Omari Phillips to go along with two outstanding Junior College prospects in Junior Salt and Damien Jacobs. Safety was a huge success and filled with Marcus Maye and Rhaheim Ledbetter on board. The Gators also landed the only kicker they wanted in Austin Hardin.

They have some different directions they can go at this point and like he mentioned above, Muschamp just wants to take prospects that can help.

"If there are five at one position, and you want to take three, you know you can get two, and then take four more at another position – you feel good about those selections," he said. "More than anything, at the end of the day, it's like the NFL draft. You take the best player available in those situations."

That Florida is playing in Jacksonville for their bowl game is a positive. The Northeast Florida town has been very good to the Gators in the past and a win there should go over very well with future prospects.

"You're able to get exposure in that area, and certainly the more exposure you get, the better it is for your program," Muschamp said. "Playing in the state of Florida is important for us. (The prospects) are pretty familiar with us; we try to make sure they are."

Despite coaching changes, the program sells itself. Interim offensive coordinator Brian White has been a part of the last two coaching staffs and with his recruiting success with both staffs he understands what it means to walk into a prospects house with a Gator polo shirt on.

"This is a wonderful university," White said Tuesday. "Over the past 25 years it's been the most successful football program in America. Those things haven't changed and they won't change. It's a great place to go to school. It's an unbelievably well-run athletic program from A to Z, not just football. It's a great student body, great weather. What else would you want?"

At the end of the day Florida will likely sign a little over the 25 yearly limit. Looking at the board, there are certainly enough high caliber prospects that look good for Florida to put them in the 27-29 range easily. 28 seems the magic number to me with the possibility of going one to two spots either direction. Either way, just remember they are in a position not to reach. Despite the lack of numbers in 2011, they will not have that issue in 2012.

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