Not Sold on 'Greatest Class Ever'

Urban Meyer and his staff did an incredible job pulling together the consensus choice as the best recruiting class in the nation. Florida brought in a ton of top flight talent that should keep Florida on the national stage for the foreseeable future.

Still, I'm not ready to jump on the band wagon and declare that this is the greatest class the Gators have ever brought in. First of all, this class has a shortcoming or two. Secondly, the Gators have had some pretty phenomenal classes in the past. In the days/weeks ahead we'll revisit several other superb classes to try to put this one in context.

Obviously the truest measure of any recruiting class is its success on the field and in the classroom. By that standard the senior classes of 1996 and 2009 will be incredibly tough to top. There are three other ways to evaluate a recruiting class and sometimes those three are in opposition to each other.

The first measure is to simply look at the recruiting itself as a competition and compare the class to others as a snapshot from signing day. In doing that I would say the class of 2000 would probably be the best. Florida had a phenomenal close to that recruiting class and had the nation's top QB, top OL group, top WR and so on. Yet that class was a huge disappointment competitively and was the core of mediocre Florida teams from 2002-04.

Florida signed 29 players that year, but only three would turn out to be excellent players for the Gators. TE Ben Troupe, OT Max Starks and DT Ian Scott were as good or better than advertised. Florida also got solid contributions from Shannon Snell, O.J. Small, Guss Scott, Carlos Perez and Kennard Ellis. Add in "kickbacker" Matt Piotrowicz, DL Darrell Lee, WR Kelvin Kight and Matt Jackson and that's about it for help. That means 17 of the 29 guys produced little or nothing. That's a terrible percentage.

A decade later the Gators are again celebrating a No. 1 signing class and Florida fans have to be confident that this group will be more productive in Orange and Blue than that collection was.

Secondly, I believe a great class has to have great balance. It needs to address every position on the field and do so in a strong way. This class does have excellent balance, but it's not perfect.

A third way to look at a class and arguably the most important is how it addresses a team's needs. A "balanced" class might not address a particular need with additional prospects. A class that targets "needs" is likely to lack ideal balance.

Considering those factors there are a few places where the class of 2010 could have been even better. These situations keep me from declaring this group, as good as it is, as the best UF has ever signed.

Quarterback ---- The most important position on the field has to have a prime recruit to elevate as signing class to the top. There are a wide variety of opinions about the potential of QB signees Trey Burton and Tyler Murphy.

Running back ---- Mack Brown is a terrific prospect, but the greatest class should include a "can't miss" star and ideally, two of them.

Offensive line ---- This is one place where Florida doesn't need numbers, but it also throws the class out of balance. Florida signed arguably the two best in the state, but it's still unusual to only sign a pair.

Inside Linebacker ---- Florida signed a nice trio of outside linebackers in Michael Taylor, Darrin Kitchens and Gideon Ajagbe. Early enrollee Neiron Ball could be a LB or DE, but none of them seem to have the size/frame to be a true MBL in the Brandon Spikes/Brandon Siler mold.

Specialists ---- The Gators did not need a kicker or punter in this class, but the absence of one/both is still a "weakness" in this group.

Am I nitpicking? Of course I am. I'm not trying to be a kill joy or anything like that, just offering up an analysis that puts this class in the proper context. In my opinion this is a truly great class, but it's not the best Florida has ever inked on signing day. The next 4-5 years will tell us just how great it turns out to be.

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