One of the great things about the recruiting process for
prospects is Saturday afternoons. Each
fall during the college football season, recruits can attend games anywhere they
want to go. It is called an
unofficial visit. The bigger the
game the more prospects that will be there.
It doesn't matter if your favorite team is in Norman or Knoxville.
This past Saturday, in the biggest game of the young
college football season, Miami traveled to Gainesville to take on the Gators.
The Swamp is one of college footballs best "game-day" atmospheres and
it is a great recruiting tool for the University of Florida.
It is arguably the loudest college football venue.
Well on Saturday night, there were a few hundred prospects
there to witness the Hurricanes beating the Gators. And it was a very convincing win for the defending National
Champion and number one ranked team in the country. How would this affect the recruiting for both Miami and
One thing is for sure, Miami and Florida State are the
kings when it comes to recruiting. FSU
has set the standard for the last fifteen years or so. Miami has really come on as of late, especially when Butch
Davis took over for Miami a few years back.
Florida was always somewhere in the middle. The Gators always had their moments with Coach Steve Spurrier
in the recruiting wars but they were never consistent like the Seminoles and
steady like the Hurricanes. Quite
honestly, these two programs have recruited on another level.
But something significant happened in January… Steve
Spurrier resigned at Florida and Ron Zook took over. In the month he and his staff had to recruit, they did a good
job under extraordinary circumstances. The
new Florida staff has been working overtime in the recruiting wars.
Since Signing Day, they have been laying the foundation for this
season's recruiting campaign. They have worked their tails off to put themselves in
position to have a banner recruiting year.
But just as critical as working hard and laying the foundation, the real
season is vital to their recruiting success.
Recruits want to know and feel secure, that the Florida program will not
regress under the new coaching regime.
That is why there was more on the line on Saturday night than just bragging rights. The winner gets the edge in the important recruiting wars.
With Florida taking such a drubbing in the vaunted Swamp,
in front of their fans with all those great prospects looking on, how will this
affect what happens for the Gators on Signing Day?
In contrast, Miami's win was so impressive, could that
persuade even more recruits to Coral Gables?
Here are what some of the nation's top prospects said
about the big game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday night.
Ernie Sims is the country's top player.
He plays running back and linebacker for Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida
Christian. Sims likes all three
Florida powers, Auburn and Georgia. He
went to his first game in the Swamp on Saturday night.
"It was a great game and they both played hard," said Sims.
"Miami was just too good… too powerful.
But that was my first game in the Swamp and it was the loudest place I
have ever heard. Miami's win
didn't change anything in regards to recruiting with me."
Sims may publicly say things that are status quo with him
but the same can't be said for one of the state's top offensive lineman.
At one time this spring, this big OL was leaning to the Gators.
"That game changed how I now look at Miami," said Aubrey McPhadden,
from Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast High School.
"They were the dominant, aggressive team.
I watched both lines but Miami's was simply overpowering. I have been to the Swamp before but that was the craziest and
loudest I have ever seen and heard it. Right
now, I just like all three Florida schools and LSU."
"That was the third game I saw at Florida and I have not
seen anything like that," said Earl Everett, the state's number two
prospect from Bushnell (Fla) South Sumter High School.
"That was just an intense game. I
was surprised at how bad Miami won. I
thought it would have been much closer but the ‘Canes turned it up a notch.
But the game doesn't really change anything for me.
I will make the best decision for me.
And it is still the same schools – Miami, Florida, Georgia, South
Florida and Nebraska."
Two other recruits that are high on both the Gators and
Hurricanes didn't make it to the big game.
One didn't go because he couldn't make it and the other didn't want
to attend because he would have been embarrassed.
"I watched the game on TV," said defensive end Kirston
Pittman, who's brother Thomas played for Florida a few seasons ago.
"Florida had a chance to win but they messed up some opportunities.
You can't do that against Miami. They
are just too good. That game
changed my outlook with Miami. They
looked great and they lose all those defensive linemen.
They will all be in the league (NFL).
Right now, I like Miami, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and Florida State."
"I didn't show up because I am a Miami fan," said Demetr