The State of Florida is known as being one of the top three providers of division one football talent every year, sharing the platform with California and Texas. Recent years it appeared Florida had the numbers, but perhaps not the elite players their rival states put on the field. Well, all indications are that this year Florida is loaded, especially at two key areas of need for the Gators, defensive line and linebacker. And it appears the Gators are in position to load up the roster with another 25-plus signees for 2007.
Gator Roster Has Plenty of Room
Right now if everyone on scholarship stays in school, every prospect qualifies and nobody takes money from professional baseball to give up college the Gators would have 80 players on scholarship this fall. With 19 of those guys in their senior season, Florida would have 61 carrying over to 2007, leaving room for 24 newcomers at a minimum.
Average attrition is about eight per year, if you sign the maximum of 25 each year. That is easily calculated … 25 per year for 5 years = 125, since 85 is the maximum, you have to lose 40 guys over the five-year period, which averages out to eight per year. Basically on average a class will net 17 seniors out of a class of 25. Smaller classes mandate less attrition, as does cutting back on the number of fifth-year seniors most years.
It appears likely Derrick Robinson and Gavin Dickey are more likely to be pro baseball players than college football players this fall. You also have several Gators who are excellent candidates for early entry into the NFL in 2007, so attrition should not be a problem. With that, I look for the Gators to do what they did last year; try to find three or four to come in early and comes as close as they can to a full 25 in the spring.
If everyone the Gators signed back in February comes in, Florida would only have two scholarships that could count in the 2006 group. But if one plays baseball and another does not quality, they could realistically count four back.
No Position Can Be Ignored
Last year's recruiting class had to address serious number shortages a receiver and cornerback, and did so effectively with five receivers and four corners. As a result Florida needs normal numbers in those areas. In fact, the Gators can pretty much sign one of everything … but that would total just 22.
If the Gators can bring in 28-29 newcomers, the extra scholarships should be at quarterback, offensive line and linebacker. The Gators have a commitment from Brian Waggener, a junior college quarterback, but should sign a high school prospect to redshirt and develop as well. Offensive line is a bit light with just 13 guys, but with only one senior (Steve Rissler) bringing in five or six will get that group up to where it should be. Linebacker remains a major concern with just ten on board right now. Two of the ten (Earl Everett, Brian Crum) are seniors and Brandon Siler has to be viewed as an NFL candidate. You should always have at least a dozen, so getting five is important this time around. Of course, school policy for more than a decade appears to be to remain shorthanded at linebacker every year.
One other thing, the Gators need a punter. Eric Wilbur is a senior (my how time flies) and the Gators need his replacement for 2007.
In the last seven years the Gators have had three highly regarded recruiting classes, but spaced them out (2000, '03, and '06). For the Florida roster to begin to have the look of a perennial contender a strong follow up to last year's recruiting haul is a must. With six commitments in hand they are off to a very good start. With the May evaluations behind them, look for more high level pledges in the months ahead.