Muschamp Optimistic About Offensive Class

The numbers didn't end the way Florida drew it up, but the Gators will still bring in quality on the offensive side of the ball in the 2012 recruiting class. The eight players that signed on Wednesday bring unique talents to Gainesville as Florida waits for a decision from Our Lady Good Counsel High School wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Three of the eight offensive signees are already on campus.

The goal throughout the recruiting process has been to sign a quarterback. Florida brought in five-star Jeff Driskel and four-star Jacoby Brissett last season, and the two will compete for the starting quarterback job this fall. With Tyler Murphy the only other quarterback on the roster, the Gators wanted to get another one.

That decision was made early in the process, but Muschamp said the quarterback that the team recruited throughout the process committed elsewhere while offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was still at Florida. Muschamp still wanted a quarterback, but after Weis left, he waited until the hire was made before continuing the search.

Muschamp said new offensive coordinator Brent Pease had Skyler Mornhinweg at the top of his list.

"That position is different than every other position as far as identifying the critical factors and having a good feel for the quarterback coach/coordinator position to have a guy that he can recruit," said Will Muschamp, noting that he would like to sign a quarterback in every class. "I held off on all of that. The moment we hired Brent, he and I sat down and decided what we needed to do at that position. We pinpointed Skyler from the beginning."

The position that was best addressed by the Gators was tight end. Florida signed the top two tight ends in the country on Wednesday, and it's a perfect combination.

Tight end wasn't a problem on the Florida offense last season. Jordan Reed was inconsistent but came on strong when he could stay healthy down the stretch. A.C. Leonard also played well at the end of his freshman season.

Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson will provide more depth and could form a tough duo to cover because of their unique skill sets. Thompson can serve as a sixth offensive lineman while Taylor could even split out at wide receiver.

"They compliment each other very well," Muschamp said. "Colin is a 6-5, 265-pound guy that can stretch the field and do a lot of things for you at the point of attack. Kent Taylor can stretch the field and is a matchup issue. He's a guy that can go get the football. He's an outstanding athlete and outstanding baseball player."

The decommitment of running back Mike Davis happened too late for the Gators to get another back besides four-star Matt Jones. The Armwood High School signee was the third commitment in the recruiting class and played a big part in Florida's success in the Tampa area.

Jones brings a different element to the backfield than what the Florida offense showed in 2011.

"Toughness," Muschamp said in describing Jones. "At the end of the day, it's toughness. He runs behind his pads and is one of those guys in the fourth quarter that you get tired of tackling. That's what we need.

"We need more of those guys to run it up in there when it's 4th and 1 and know you're going to move the pile by turning and handing it off to somebody. That's something that I didn't always feel as comfortable with this year."

The depth chart is set up for Jones to get touches as a freshman. With only Mack Brown and Mike Gillislee as scholarship returners, Jones could get in the mix immediately. Muschamp said he wouldn't pressure a signee into that mode, but they are usually aware of it and prepare for the season with that in mind.

"The only pressure they're going to have is what they put on themselves," Muschamp said. "If they work hard, come in here in shape and accept the responsibility of being a University of Florida football player, they'll be fine."

Muschamp downplayed any talk about the Gators signing just two wide receivers after the position struggled to produce big plays in the fall. Florida missed on Berkeley Prep wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who chose to go across the country and play at USC. When asked about missing on some playmakers, Muschamp deflected the question and simply said, ‘we'll be fine.'

Latroy Pittman could provide help at wide receiver or safety. The Under Armour All-American is already on campus and Florida lists him at 6-0, 195 pounds. He was the first commitment in this recruiting class and stayed loyal to the Gators through the coaching change that brought Will Muschamp in as head coach.

"He wants to be a Gator," Muschamp said. "He's a really good athlete and guy that can possibly help us on both sides of the ball. He's an outstanding safety and a playmaker at the wide receiver position. We're still determining where he'll start."

The Gators added an under the radar recruit on Wednesday morning when Raph Andrades committed. The three-star wide receiver was considering offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Vanderbilt when Florida extended its offer. Muschamp insisted on Wednesday that the Gators were recruiting him for the entire year and decided recently to add him in the class.

"We had him in camp and recruited him all along," Muschamp said. "He did a great job in camp. He had a bunch of offers. We'd been recruiting him all along and that's why you have a deep board. When you get in a situation where you want to take a guy, you take the guy. We're really excited."

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