The next signing period is less than a week away and there may not be many more additions to the Florida, Florida State and Miami rosters than those added via the transfer portal.
That doesn’t mean you don’t have big questions. Let’s come to them.
Who is the 4th best team for recruitment in Florida? Who is the best recruiter on each team (Florida, Florida State and Miami) who isn’t the head coach? —Curtis H.
The answer to your first question, Curtis, is clearly UCF.
If you look at the 2023 recruiter rankings at 247Sports, Miami offense coach Alex Mirabal (No. 7), Florida co-defensive coordinator Sean Spencer (No. 14), and Florida State receiver coach Ron Dugans (No. 27), the highest rank last cycle.
However, most insiders would tell you that Mario Cristobal is anchoring Miami’s recruiting efforts. I ran a straw poll of beat writers, scouts, and analysts, and everyone agreed that Cristobal is the guy. When I pushed for Miami employee names, tight ends coach Stephen Field, running backs coach Kevin Smith, linebackers coach Charlie Strong, defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae, defensive analyst DeMarcus Van Dyke, and Mirabal all received some affection. But there was no clear No. 1.
At Florida State, offensive coordinator Alex Atkins received the most affection, while veteran defensive line coach Odell Haggins and co-defensive coordinator Randy Shannon received a shout-out.
In Florida, it was defensive backs coach Corey Raymond who made the overwhelming selection.
What is the timeline, who are the central characters of the Jaden Rashada Florida saga?
Is the Jaden Rashada situation a first in the new NIL era or just the most public, costly mistake? I also read that Rashada’s deal was a four-year deal, the alleged $13 million to be paid over that span of time. Aside from the fact that it’s hard to believe that it’s possible to pay such a figure at four years old, you wouldn’t believe that there would also be a clause to reduce that figure if he was a year early for the NFL would bail? – Elliot T.
It’s definitely the most public, Elliot, considering all those talks about money and recruits were always private until NIL came along. But is it the first mistake a recruit fails to meet their financial needs? I would say no We’ve seen interesting last-second flips over time, and I’m sure money played a role in at least some of those scenarios.
As for the structure of NIL contracts, all when drawn up by professional attorneys and approved by a college board whose job it is to review such deals are written in such a way that the collectives and the students, in the event a case of separation or when certain conditions are not met. So, yes, it’s safe to assume that if Rashada’s stay in Gainesville had only lasted three years, Florida wouldn’t have had to pay the full amount.
Is the state of Florida’s heavy use of the portal hurting the recruitment of top high school players who want to play sooner rather than later? —Todd T.
Excellent question Todd, and while your thought process makes perfect sense on the surface, recent results on the trail suggest otherwise. First some facts. Since Mike Norvell took over as coaching (and beginning with the 2020 recruit class), FSU has signed 73 high school recruits, two players from junior college ranks and 45 transfers. So high school recruits were not deterred. In fact, Norvell has signed eight blue-chip recruits in the 2023 cycle, more than any of its first three recruit grades, suggesting highly acclaimed prospects are buying more after FSU’s 10-win season.
However, here’s something to note: 17 of the 39 high school recruits from the first two recruiting classes have already reached the portal, including nine of the 14 blue-chip prospects who signed the Seminoles in the 2020 and 2021 classes. This does not look good. Neither lost top recruit of 2022 Sam McCall to Texas A&M this offseason. If FSU keeps winning and making strides, no one will care how Norvell is doing. But it’s fair to at least pay attention to the fact that this roster didn’t have many shining examples of Norvell’s high school recruits becoming stars.
Left tackle Robert Scott leads the way with 29 career starts. Cornerback Kevin Knowles has been in the starting XI for 18 games. And linebacker DJ Lundy had 11 of his 13 career starts in 2021. But that’s it for double-digit starters among the Norvell recruits who are still on the roster. Again, if FSU wins, the recruits won’t care how Norvell does it. It’s obvious that the Class of 2024 is excited about what happened last season. FSU has five blue chip players among eight early signings in the cycle (and one of the non-blue chip players is a kicker).
What will the Canes do to get an experienced QB as insurance for next season? Really disappointed they didn’t attract a top portal transfer. Jake Garcia moved to Missouri, former signing Jaden Rashada is kryptonite and newcomer Emory Williams is green. Unless Tyler Van Dyke and Jacurri Brown remain injury-free – and show a miraculous turnaround from last season – we’re in deep shit! – Ray S
Cristobal needs to figure out who his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach will be before scouring the transfer portal for potential signings.
Look, I know this new portal calendar is going to take some getting used to, but it’s still very early in the process of rostering for the 2023 season. Why? Because after spring football, a lot of movement can be expected throughout the country. A good one should become available and by then we should have a better understanding of the coaching staff.
Any new potential signings at QB for UCF? Having a converted WR as a QB who may miss spring training due to the baseball season isn’t the ideal situation leading into Year 1 of the Big 12. – Christopher S
Not a fan of John Rhys Plumlee, Chris? Apparently, the change in offensive coordinator makes Plumlee’s decision to play baseball this spring a little more interesting than it would have been without a coaching change. As it stands, Plumlee has told UCF Beat reporters that he plans to play both football and baseball this spring, with teams reportedly trying to fit his schedule by practicing at different times.
I’ll say that if Gus Malzahn thought he needed a quarterback, a move would have been made by now. He seems happy with USF transfer Timmy McClain and prospective Thomas Castellanos providing competition for Plumlee. That looks like a “we’ll see what happens this spring and go from there” scenario. Most interesting is the health of Plumee and his Achilles tendon. He spent the final month of the season grappling with that, and a heavy workload this spring might not be best for it.
The USF largely abandoned recruiting in the Tampa area under Jeff Scott. Will that change under Alex Golesh? —David W.
Based on a few quick conversations I had with Tampa-area 7v7 coaches at the Battle Miami tournament this past weekend, I’d say there’s already some confidence. But let’s step back for a second and think about what USF might look like if Golesh puts the bulls back into a group of 5.
For example, if USF had signed all blue-chip recruits within 80 miles of campus in the 2023 cycle, the Bulls would have enlisted five five-star recruits (edge rushers Keon Keeley and Damon Wilson, offensive tackle Francis Mauigoa). and cornerbacks Cormani McClain and Desmond Ricks) and another 19 four-star recruits, including six top 100 players (edge rushers Samuel M’Pemba, Gabriel Harris and Jayden Wayne, receivers Carnell Tate and Tyler Williams, and linebacker Troy Bowles). Those 11 recruits alone would have made the 16th best recruit class in the country – a bit better than USF’s transition class under Golesh (92nd).
So there’s plenty of talent within driving range and a vision of what USF could be in a dream scenario.
Here’s a fact: The highest-ranked player Golesh signed within weeks of receiving the job was three-star Bradenton (Fla.) cornerback Jarvis Lee, ranked statewide by IMG Academy 133rd and 36th best (by my count) of players within 80 miles driving distance of campus.
In his three seasons at USF, Scott signed 36 transfers and 39 high school recruits. Of the high school recruits, only eight played within 100 miles of campus. Highest ranking of those eight: 2022 three-star receiver Javohn Thomas of Tampa (Fla.) Sickles, who was #1,385 on his cycle. So right off the bat, Golesh did something Scott didn’t—he signed a prospect who ranks in the top 1,000 nationally and is within driving distance of campus. He’s even signed two if you count three-star offensive lineman James Jenkins (No. 967) from Tampa, Fla.’s Carrollwood Day. He attends high school 8 miles from USF and also signed last month.
Look, the only way we really know if Golesh is going to change the narrative is if he signs Tampa-area guys on a full recruitment cycle. Landing the 2024 five-star from the area like Sarasota Riverview cornerback Charles Lester III or an IMG Academy Elite player is a tough one. Scott only signed seven high school recruits in the top 1,000 (including one in the top 500) during his time there. But it shouldn’t be difficult for Golesh to gain a foothold in places like Tampa Wharton, Catholic, Jesuit and Carrollwood Day.
(Photo by Mario Cristobal: Eric Espada/Getty Images)