Randy Shannon was a huge part of the architecture of the 2001 and 2002 University of Miami defenses that were dominant at the collegiate level and then the guys went on to be first round draft picks in the NFL. Many of them saw little or no interest from high major football programs.
Will that be duplicated? Shannon isn’t sure, but he likes some of the pieces on his current defensive unit.
"I don't know, it may happen,” Shannon said when posed the question after practice on Tuesday. “You never know. Here's the thing people don't realize. Those guys weren't highly recruited. Edward Reed was talented, but I think we had Tulane we had to beat. Then you start looking at William Joseph, I recruited him and we had nobody to beat. He was out of Miami Edison. He went first round. You've got Jon Vilma, I think it was maybe NC State. It wasn't a lot of guys highly recruited, but those guys had the mentality. Now we've got some guys who have that mentality and mindset here at Florida, but now we've just got to take it to the next step."
For Shannon, he has learned to look beyond the recruiting rankings. Film doesn’t lie. See what they can do on the field and use your instincts as a coach that has been around a while and doing it at a high level to make that call on the kid everyone else is overlooking.
"You don't try to look at 2-stars, I look at a guy who plays with a lot of high motor, that has a lot of fast-twitch muscles in him, and plays the game and loves the game,” he said. “If you can find guys like that all the time you'll be successful. I think those are things that when I was at Miami, and all the years I was at Miami, that's what we developed.
“You've got to have confidence that if you find a guy that fits what you do and brings something to the table, you coach him, he's going to be a great player. But if you're always looking for a finished product out of high school, then you're just going to be just a guy as a coach… a guy who can't develop. And then if he doesn't develop, now you're just looking at a guy that's a 5-star guy who's probably disgruntled, upset, mad, and he's not playing and he's not playing very good."
As for recruiting in Miami, the Gators did well in south Florida this past recruiting season, signing 10 from Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade Counties. While Shannon says that his history in the area helped, he also knows that there are some in the area that really want to come to the University of Florida,
“Some of it was because my past, but I think even my years in Miami we always had struggles with Florida in recruiting,” he said. “I know I did personally. A lot of guys that I’ve known, that I’ve raised... some of the guys I went to school with, their little brothers. You know Marquand Manuel, me and his brother John grew up together, but Manuel came to Florida. You are going to have some guys (in) south Florida, Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County that are going to always want to be at Florida and those are the guys that you go after and the guys that you make sure you can bring in.”