We learned a lot on Monday that we didn’t want to know. Things that we’d rather not have knowledge of. We were going along fine. There were no new commitments for the Florida football team, but there wasn’t horrible news either. Ryan Shazier decommitted and as much as it hurt, it wasn’t a body blow. The news that Kelvin Benjamin was putting off his announcement to come see Gainesville in January tipped the scales to the positive side. The basketball team had defeated a highly-ranked Kansas State squad over the weekend. Despite the Wildcats playing an absolutely miserable game, a win is a win. Things weren’t great, but they were good enough. And then Monday happened.
Recruiting took a double hit in the forms of Timmy Jernigan and Nick Waisome. Jernigan announced his final three and the Gators weren’t on the list. The superstar defensive tackle will be selecting between Alabama, FSU, and LSU. No Florida in sight. For quite some time, there were rumors that Jernigan would have a hard time qualifying academically at Florida, but through it all he seemed to want to be a Gator more than anything. Then the news came that he wouldn’t wear the orange and blue of Florida, but would instead end up at one of the school’s biggest rivals. The Gators have pulled in more than their share of top defensive tackles in the last few years, but will miss out on Jernigan.
For Waisome, it was about uncertainty. In making the switch to FSU, Waisome knows exactly who will be coaching him. The defensive back had been committed to Florida for a while now, but not knowing who his position coach would be weighed on him heavily. He wants to be an early enrollee, but can’t in good conscience do so without Florida’s assistants in place. You really can’t blame him if that’s one of the main reasons for the switch, but it’s big to lose someone who seemed so pro-Gator throughout the recruiting cycle. Someone that had talked to other prospects about joining him in Gainesville.
Both Jernigan and Waisome may be prime examples that there are many different reasons that prospects choose schools. For all those that said “Florida is still Florida” after Urban Meyer stepped down, there are just as many that committed to the coach and not necessarily the school. It’s a hard reality to accept, but there are those that wanted to play for Meyer (or in Jeoffrey Pagan’s case, Dan McCarney). To those, the coach outweighed the school. With a new head coach in place, the Gators may need to hope for some of the opposite out of other recruits.
Not to be outdone, the basketball program had a letdown of its own on Monday. After beating Kansas State and making their way back into the polls, the Gators fell to Jacksonville 71-68. The Dolphins aren’t an awful team, but they also aren’t one Florida should lose to. The season had started well enough for the Gators. A loss to Ohio State, although not wanted, could have been expected and UCF is a much better team than many give them credit for. But Jacksonville shouldn’t be able to come into Gainesville and knock off Florida. The game highlighted the issues the Gators still have, mainly poor three-point shooting, turnovers, and ill-advised shot selection. Florida can be a solid team and compete with most opponents, but after Monday many questions remain.
It’s still early on Tuesday. Early enough for some good news to come to make Monday nothing but a memory. Hopefully the good will come quick. Recruiting joys, the hiring of assistant coaches, a basketball victory on Wednesday. There are plenty of things that can turn the tides, but it may be hard to get the taste of Monday out of our mouths. There will surely be worse days for Florida in the future, but we’ll take the better days more often.