NFL Draft helps recruiting

Thursday is an important night for the Florida football program. The lights in The Swamp will be off, the practice field will be empty and there won't be activity in the locker room -- but it couldn't be more important. Whenever Sharrif Floyd walks across the stage at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night, the Florida program will be stamped in the mind of high school football recruits watching.

For a program with a national brand like Florida, it doesn't seem like it would do much for exposure. And while Florida head coach Will Muschamp was quick to point out that recruiting is still about relationships and trust, having proof of the staff's development evident on Thursday night isn't a negative.

That's where the development of Sharrif Floyd is important. He came to Floyd with an All-American reputation and the talent to match it, but the Florida coaching staff was there to help turn him into the high draft pick he will become on Thursday.

"It always helps," Muschamp said. "You want to be able to show some results as far as recruits are concerned. They want to be able to see what kind of players you're putting out. They want to see you winning games, and see you being able to have a positive environment for a student athlete to come to the University of Florida. There's no question it helps."

Floyd had a strong junior year

That's a big reason why Muschamp will attend the NFL Draft in New York on Thursday night. He wants to celebrate the occasion with Floyd after his tough upbringing and decorated college career. There's also a benefit to Muschamp for being visible at the draft and on television with the large part of the country watching.

It brings credibility and catches the eyes of players the Gators are recruiting, but it won't stop on Thursday. Producing players in the NFL, regardless of the year, will always help the program.

"When the young man comes on our campus and Sharrif Floyd is working out in our weight room and he's able to see the work Sharrif put in at the University of Florida, the education he got at the University of Florida, the positive experiences he had at the University of Florida -- when they're able to see those things, it's as much (a positive) as anything," Muschamp said.

There's likely only two Florida players that have a chance to go on Thursday. Floyd is a lock to go in the first round and has been projected as high as the No. 3 overall pick to the Oakland Raiders. That could change after the first two picks are made and possible trade options for teams to make, but there's no doubt Floyd will be off the board by the end of Thursday night.

Florida safety Matt Elam is the other option. The knock against him is his lack of size, checking in at 5-10, 208 pounds at the NFL combine. Turn on the film and you see the havoc Elam can cause. There are questions in his coverage ability, but he stands out while playing at the line of scrimmage. Elam has a chance to come off the board at some point late in the first round.

"Excited about the draft starting tomorrow," Muschamp said. "Excited for all of our guys. Guys, this is an exciting time for them to move into the next part of their life. Really pulling for those guys to all do well."

Elam could go in the first round

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