Everything you need to know and what actually matters about the 2019 Florida Gators recruiting class.
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Dan Mullen did a fine job of recruiting at Mississippi State. He was always able to bring in top 25ish classes, and he always had a few guys here and there who turned into SEC and NFL stars. But he was never able to get the classes to breakthrough in the brutal West – at least at the highest of levels. Now we’ll get to see what he can do with a whole lot of talent.
The 2018 Gators didn’t need a total rebuild, but it did need some remodeling. Mullen stepped in, took what Jim McElwain created, and started winning big right away. Now Mullen was able to use the last year to get his own players on board, and he got a whole lot of good ones.
It’s a better class than last year’s, partly because it’s just bigger. More bodies, more signings, more players. It all added up to a stronger overall class. However, this time around, he got the superstar prospects he wasn’t able to land in his limited recruiting time when he first took the gig. It’s not crazy to suggest that at least six of this year’s recruits are stronger – at least in terms of original projections – than anyone he landed in 2018.
Chris Steele was the signing that took things to another level. Getting defensive end Khris Bogle to flip rom Alabama on National Signing Day was massive, and beating out Clemson, Oklahoma, and Ohio State for corner Kaiir Elam was huge for the overall rankings, but landing Steele in the early signing period was the get. For a program that’s growing a reputation for being in the DB U. discussion, prying Steele away from USC mattered.
Steele is the star of the class, and Elam and Bogle aren’t far behind, but WR Arjei Henderson might turn out to be among the most significant. Florida has defensive backs, but Henderson could be the No. 1 receiver to take to offense to another level. Mullen and his staff flipped the Texas native from Oklahoma.
The offensive line isn’t the sexiest position in this class, but it’s got teeth. After taking a few players last year, Mullen loaded up with seven talented prospects, starting with Wardrick Wilson out of Miami. He was committed to Florida early in the process under McElwain, but landing the possible starting tackle was still important.
What’s missing? A next-level quarterback. Feleipe Franks still has a few years left, and Emory Jones was one of last year’s best signings. That doesn’t mean that a big-time prospect couldn’t have stepped in and pushed for the job. Jalen Jones out of Virginia is okay, but he’s a developmental guy for a few seasons from now.
Linebacker will be a big deal in next year’s class. The Gators have only signed four in the last two seasons, but Tyron Hopper out of Georgia should be a factor once he adds 15 pounds or so. He can move on the outside, but he’s built like a big safety.
Let the momentum continue. After a nice first year, and with the way the Gators ended things with the bowl thumping of Michigan, everything is pointing up. Mullen is building the race car, and the Gator fans are going to expect him to drive it to Atlanta and an SEC Championship. (Sorry to go full-on cornball, but the line worked.)