2012 Football Recruiting: Stefon Diggs Commits To Maryland; Five-Star Receiver Stays Home

Five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs made his commitment announcement Friday night. The decision came down to four schools: Auburn, Florida, Maryland and Ohio State. All signs were pointing to a Maryland decision since Diggs’ announcement took place in a Maryland bar – a popular location that hosts the Terrapins’ coaches’ radio shows – that was packed full of Terps’ fans. Although Maryland became more and more likely as the decision drew near, the Gators were, for the most part, considered the heavy favorites in receiving a commitment from Diggs. A Florida commitment from Diggs was thought to be coming when the receiver referred to the Gators as “we” and when he tweeted about dreaming of playing in The Swamp. However, for the Gators, that dream was not meant to be; Diggs signed with Maryland.

Although the failure of Florida to secure commitments from Diggs, Nelson Agholor, Tracy Howard and several other uncommitted recruits makes it hard to think of it as a positive recruiting cycle, it is important to acknowledge the Gators brought in an extremely solid top-five recruiting class, and a fairly large one at that. With 23 signed recruits, Florida addressed the main concern: depth. One must come to realize one recruit, such as Diggs, does not make or break a school. How has Alabama done since they lost out on Tim Tebow? Two NCAA championships. (This rule does not apply to Cameron Newton.)

Gators’ fans, keep your heads up. The Gators will look to recruit in a state packed with skill position players all over the recruiting board. For example, another positive is that Florida appears to be establishing a pipeline in the heart of Seminole land at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee with the help of former Gator great Jacquez Green.

For the Gators, they now look forward to a new season starting with spring practice. Recruiting is probably over for this cycle, but for 2013, it has already begun.

2012 Football Recruiting: Stefon Diggs To Announce; Are The Florida Gators Still In The Race?

Five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs is all set to make his college destination known to the world on Friday evening. The Olney, Maryland (Our Lady of Good Counsel) product has moved up his announcement to 6:00 PM and will doing so from the same place the Maryland coaches conduct their weekly radio shows. So does that mean the Terrapins are in for some good news? We’ll find out soon enough.

A recruit from Maryland announcing at a place where Maryland coaches talk Maryland football on a weekly basis. Signs may seem to point the way of the Terps, but as always we have to remember that recruiting is far from an exact science. For all we know, Diggs may still have some thinking to do and it’s not out of the realm of possibility to believe a surprise may be coming.

The Florida Gators are among the final four and fans of the orange and blue, Maryland, Auburn and Ohio State will be awaiting the news patiently (or impatiently to be more accurate). Each of the other three has plenty to offer even if Maryland does seem to be the hometown favorite at the moment.

Take a few minutes out of your happy hour on Friday evening to check your phone, pull up Twitter, or do whatever you have to do. Diggs will be a great addition to whichever program he chooses and all four would more than welcome him.

2012 Football Recruiting: The Top 19 Recruiting Classes; Where Do The Florida Gators Rank?

Why 19 classes? Well, hold your horses; I will get to that.

Like most fans who visit this website, I am a HUGE follower of all things that have to do with college football recruiting. And also like most of you reading this, I find nothing more satisfying than seeing my beloved Florida Gators on top of the team rankings at the end of the recruiting cycle. I am not really sure why; after all, we all know that ranking a bunch of 18-year-old kids who have never played a down of college football is less than scientific and actually a bit idiotic. Regardless, we all love lists and if someone is going to make one, I want the Gators be on top! Sometimes we are even lucky enough to reach that goal, but most of the time we end up falling short (unless we are Alabama).

So now that recruiting is over for the 2012 cycle (well, except for when Stefon Diggs commits to the good guys in about a week), it’s time to look back at the various recruiting sites and see if we can’t come up with a consensus list of the best-of-the-best classes. To start this process, we must select the recruiting services we will use. For my analysis, I used Rivals, Scout and 247Sports. Not only are these three of the top recruiting services in the nation, but they assign a score to each recruit and therefore each college’s class received not only a ranking but also an individual score. ESPN also has a good recruiting service, but I was only able to find their final team rankings without an actual score assigned for each class, so they’re left out of this analysis.

The reason why having a score is important is because in my analysis I am attempting to grade the various classes on a curve. We all remember when we were graded on a curve in college and not being able to stand the brainiac who scored damn-near 100 on every single exam. The same theory applies here. For instance, if Alabama has the No. 1 class and has a total score of 3,000 points and Texas has the No. 2 class and has a total score of 2,999 then I would argue that both of those classes deserve an “A+” grade. On the contrary, if Alabama has a score of 3,000 and the next highest score is 1,500 then you would have to admit that the Crimson Tide were heads-and-shoulders above the rest and subsequently deserve a nice ass-kicking when they came out of study hall.

Another thing I looked for was consistency. I didn’t want to reward a school like Tennessee or Oklahoma State that appeared in the top 25 of one recruiting service but was left off of the others. Therefore, I only included those teams that appeared in the top 25 of all three recruiting services that I reviewed. What was left was the 19 best recruiting classes in the nation.

The final step was to give a number grade to each team for each separate recruiting service. This was actually fairly simple. Let’s take Rivals as an example. Rivals ranked Alabama as the top class with a score of 2,621. Second was Texas with a score of 2,481. Therefore, the Tide received a score of 1.00 in my analysis (2,621/2,621 = 1.00) and Texas got a score of 0.95 (2.481/2.621 = 0.95). So, if a team was ranked No. 1 by all three services, that team would have a total score of 3.00 and would have 100% of the total possible points. I did this for all 19 teams that appeared in the top 25 for all three services, combined the results, took the averages, and voila! (See the chart to the right.)

So there you have it; Alabama wins again! I am sick of hearing that, but it’s comforting that they didn’t come out on top by as much as one might think. Based on the above results, the Tide’s class is ahead of the Longhorns’ by only the slightest of margins. However, Alabama and Texas outdistance the pack by a good margin. The difference between 2.93 (Texas) and 2.78 (Ohio State) doesn’t seem like much, but it’s more than five percentage points.

Then there are our Gators. National Signing Day seemed like a kick to the stomach at times, but Florida actually did pretty well if we look at the entire recruiting cycle. The Gators finished the race in fourth place as the final team to receive a score of 90% or higher. And unlike most teams which are done with their 2012 classes, the Gators haven’t thrown in the towel just yet. If the aforementioned Diggs does indeed choose Florida on February 10, third place overall may be in reach for the orange and blue.

2012 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators Experience The Ups And Downs Of National Signing Day

Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators didn’t quite bring in the nation’s second-best class, but it was close and there’s still a chance for it to improve. At this moment, the Gators’ 2012 recruiting class ranks as high as third (Rivals) and as low as fifth (Scout). Even with National Signing Day coming to an end, Florida waits on one final prospect – Stefon Diggs. Diggs won’t sign until February 10, so we have plenty of time to reflect on the day the just was.

Overall, the Gators have a good class, but NSD left many wondering what could have been. Josh Harvey-Clemons choosing Georgia wasn’t a surprise, but his grandfather’s reaction was. Tracy Howard himself told us he was 100% ready to sign with Florida before visiting Miami. That one trip completely changed his world and Howard will play for the Hurricanes. Jake Meador, Schyler Miles and Vincent Valentine were all prospects expected to go elsewhere and they all did, but any of the three would have been a welcome addition to the class. Like some of the other signings, Leonard Williams to USC wasn’t shocking, but there was hope there. Go back a few months and you would have thought Avery Young was a lock. That all changed and after a blunder by whoever runs Georgia’s athletic site, Young signed with Auburn. And finally, there’s Nelson Agholor. It had long been thought the star athlete was down to the Gators and Trojans. As NSD approached, USC was rumored to be the leader. With each passing day it seemed unlikely Florida would gain his commitment. In the end, he headed west.

Reading that paragraph once is one time too many, but was it really all that bad? On NSD alone, the Gators added Dante Fowler Jr. and Raphael Andrades to the class. It’s also worth noting that Florida didn’t lose anyone. Then there’s Diggs, who many think the Gators will add. And, oh yeah, don’t forget that the recruiting cycle doesn’t just consist of NSD. All four major recruiting services have Florida’s class ranked among the nation’s top five. Top-five class, three five-star prospects (which according to Rivals ties Florida with Alabama, Stanford and USC for the most) and a real shot at another is something to be happy with. And we are; we definitely are even if there are questions.

Did Muschamp get the numbers he wanted? Did the Gators fill holes on the depth chart? Is there enough depth? When will Florida finally have a full roster again? Are the players the Gators did get being overshadowed by NSD despite the addition of a top recruit and another at a position of need?

Those of us that follow recruiting have a tendency to focus on who our team didn’t get when we really should look at who they did. Some of those questions above can be answered. The Gators could use more bodies and have a need at wide receiver and offensive line. Depth is easy to answer, but hard to do so accurately until we see how injuries impact the roster. There were definitely some misses, but also some hits. This is a good class, but one that could use more names. Four or five years from now we’ll look back and evaluate how it panned out and the success it had on an individual and team basis. For now, we wait for Diggs. NSD is over, but the door might not be shut just yet on the Gators’ class.

2012 Football Recruiting: Avery Johnson Says Hiring Of Brent Pease Gives Florida Gators “Big Push”

Fans have had a few questions since former Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis left to become the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks. Among those was who the next coordinator would be and which offensive weapons the Gators would add. Earlier this week Brent Pease was hired to take over the offense and while no playmakers have committed, they sure have noticed the direction Florida is taking.

We’ve already heard the great things current commit Kent Taylor had to say about Pease. We’ve been told it may have made a positive impact with both Stefon Diggs and Nelson Agholor. Now we’re finding out Avery Johnson may have a tough decision to make.

Since committing to play for the LSU Tigers all the way back in September of 2010, Johnson has flirted with Florida. The younger brother of current Arizona Cardinals star and former LSU All-American Patrick Peterson, Johnson seemed like a lock to the Tigers, but rumors came up time and time again about the possibility of him coming to the Gators. The possibility may be much less rumor and much more likely now.

Johnson told Bryan Holt of Inside the Gators – the Rivals.com Florida affiliate site – that the hiring of Pease gave the orange and blue a “big push.” ($) Although Johnson remains committed to LSU, it’s down to the Tigers and the Gators. Will Muschamp and Aubrey Hill will visit the star wide receiver on Friday, January 20 in hopes of making one final in-person push before National Signing Day.

2012 Football Recruiting: Stefon Diggs Likes Brent Pease Hire; Refers To Florida Gators As “We”

There are about a million ways to take the words a prospect uses during his recruitment. Some say exactly what’s on their mind; others can be extremely cryptic. When an uncommitted prospect uses the word “we” when talking about a specific school, you take notice. When Stefon Diggs – one of the nation’s top wide receivers and a target of virtually every top program – says it in reference to the Florida Gators, you want need to find out more.

Diggs was quoted as being in support of the Gators’ hire of now former Boise State Broncos offensive coordinator Brent Pease. He mentioned that he likes what Pease has done and wants to play in a similar system. And he dropped this as well:

“I know he likes to throw the ball a lot, so I guess we got somebody good.” – Stefon Diggs

As I said, there are a million ways to look at that. It could be an indication of where Diggs is leaning. It could just be the way he speaks. It could have been a slip. It could have been nothing at all. If we’ve learned anything from following recruiting, it’s more likely any of the options that aren’t the first one. It was probably just something he said that we shouldn’t take to be the definitive moment of his recruitment. However, we did learn that Florida is still firmly among his options. Diggs has been hard to get a read on, but appears to be very pleased with the direction the Gators are going with Pease.

Be sure to read the entire article linked to above. Current commit Kent Taylor also has great things to say about Pease and believes the hire may go a long way with Nelson Agholor.

Friday Night Lights Recap: No Commitments, Plenty Of Stars

Florida did not add any commitments during it’s annual camp – Friday Night Lights – but did get a chance to see some stars in action, and even some watching from the sidelines.
The biggest names making waves on the field were Stefon Diggs and Dante Fowler. Both Gators targets, Diggs looked great in drills and even treated the crowd to a chomp at one point. He still has plenty of options, but Florida may have taken a bigger spot on his radar after Friday night. The coaching staff will be in his ear for the remainder of the recruiting cycle and so will Jelani Jenkins who went to same high school Diggs attends. Fowler reaffirmed his commitment to FSU at FNL, but also mentioned he will visit Florida more. He has not made the rumored switch that has been discussed for weeks now, but is still keeping his options open. He says he is fully committed to the Seminoles, but does not seem close to being done with the process. That is not to say there is a switch in the future, but something is keeping Fowler from completely shutting down his recruitment.
For more on FNL, Diggs, Fowler, and other prospects like Jordan Jenkins, Kelvin Taylor and Derrick Henry, check out my full recap over at Alligator Army.

Florida Gators Host Friday Night Lights

Friday night is the night under the lights (psst…that is why they call it Friday Night Lights). The greatest camp of all the camps occurs on Friday night as the Gators host several of the nation’s top recruits. In attendance will be Dante Fowler, Stefon Diggs, Avery Johnson, Carlos Watkins, Kent Taylor, Derrick Henry, Kelvin Taylor and too many others to name.
What has become one of the most prestigious of these camps, FNL is usually a place where prospects are pushed toward the Gators and the Florida program. It is a great chance for them to see Florida and figure out how they may or may not fit in. There are many rumors out there about what could occur tonight. Among them: could Fowler make the switch from FSU? Do the Gators have the firepower to convince Diggs Florida is the right place for him? And can they keep everyone else away from Kelvin Taylor for another 19 months?
Most of the questions will probably not get answered in one night, but something is sure to come out of the event. And if there is no breaking news to be found, you can always take a look back two years.

For more on FNL (and just in case you did not click on the first link above), head over to Alligator Army where I provide more about the camp.