"One of the great advantages of Florida football, the great number of kids that we are recruiting, is they are just a car drive away," said Heater.
Recruiting in state means battles with two huge adversaries. It's almost a given that anyone the Gators want, Florida State and Miami want them, too. Florida State and Miami regularly land stellar classes and are always formidable in recruiting circles but there is a plan in place to compete with them head to head.
"We are going to have to learn more about those two schools and about what their strengths are and their selling points are," said Heater. "It was very clear to us that they are the main competition, they are the guys you are going against."
The Gators have signed four players from the state of Texas in the last three years, including two this year. Coach Heater re-iterated Coach Meyer's remarks on recruiting the Lone Star state.
"One of the leading out of state areas will be in Texas," he said. "A lot of our coaches have good relationships with people in Texas. Texas is one of the leading producers of players in the country as well."
In this recently ended recruiting season, the visits were set up for most of the recruits to come in for their official visits on the last two weekends. This was more out of necessity than design because of the late start in recruiting. There were also a few that were positioned late for one reason or another.
"I think for a couple of kids, we felt it was very important to bring them in that last weekend," he said. "That was strategic. The other kids, we got them in when we could get them in."
There were some surprises in store for the new Gator staff. Only one has been a part of Florida football before and knows about the big week leading up to signing day. Still, this year seemed to have more than it's share of big endings.
"I was amazed at all of the uncertainty at the end on some kids," Heater said. "It seemed we had a kid or two that we had wrapped up, that hadn't committed but thought we were in great shape with. The fact that there was no contact after January 30th, there were still forces at work that were able to turn a kid or two around. The uncertainty was amazing."
Heater recognized a couple of small dents in the class as far as what was wanted personnel wise, but the general consensus among the coaching staff was they met the overall needs very well.
"We were close to getting the job done with the offensive line; one more would have been really nice," he said. "We would have liked to have taken a few more corners, but we can find corners in the state of Florida, so next year we will go out and sell the fact we only took one. Overall we feel pretty good about meeting our needs."
It was a learning experience all around for the staff and their new surroundings. They were still able to take their own recruiting savvy and parlay that into strange surroundings and kids they hardly knew and come up with a top 10 type of class. All of this in about 45 days or less.