Early Signing Day: Over reactions and what's next
A quick review of the Big 4 (UF, FSU, UM, and UCF) and their early signing day deals. And what it means for their futures.
Early Signing Day has come and gone with quite a few surprises around the state. But will any of it make a difference for those teams? We'll take a look at team rankings and other story lines that came out of Early Signing Day.
Billy Napier's first class misses the mark, but will it mean anything?
photo by; Greg Rhodes
The first recruiting class for Billy Napier might not have gone as well as hoped. After piling on coach Dan Mullen for seemingly "giving up" on the recruiting trail, even though the overall grades from the last few years tell a different story, the Florida fan base expectations for this season may have been over-inflated. Coming out of the early signing period, the Gators are ranked #12 with no 5 star commits to this point, according to 247 Sports. That would be back-to-back years with no 5 star commits for what is considered the premier program in the state. There is still some time before the next signing day period on February 1st, but that type of talent gap will be hard to make up in the competitive SEC, especially with Texas and Oklahoma on the horizon. Look for Florida to continue working the trail hard, and with new transfer QB Graham Mertz expected to be the starter you'll see a transition to a more traditional style offense than what was seen with AR-15. Just don't expect Florida to be competing for an SEC East title anytime soon.
Seminoles right the ship, back in ACC leader talks for now
Florida State has not been the same since the departure of Jimbo Fisher at the end of the 2017 season. But there is new optimism in the program as the Seminoles try for their first 10 win season since 2016, which could happen right here in Orlando with a win over Oklahoma in the Cheez-It Bowl on December 29th. And a lot of that has to do with Head Coach Mike Norvell's focus on the transfer portal. FSU hasn't had a top 10 recruiting class since 2017 but have been a top 5 transfer destination in 3 of the last 4 recruiting cycles including 2nd this season behind 4-4 star transfers. This is the new wave for NIL and how much more power players have to transfer schools. And for now, it works for Florida State but how long before sweeping changes come to the transfer portal that will make it more difficult to build that way? Time will tell, but at this moment Florida State will be a team to watch for out of a down ACC.
Big 12 here they come, but will the talent match the hype
photo by: Greg Rhodes
UCF's second season under head coach Gus Malzahn started with high expectations, including from me going on local radio saying they should go undefeated. And while I stand by that evaluation, completing the swan song season of the AAC in the championship game shouldn't be looked at negatively. But there was certainly room for improvement and the opportunities left on the field will become much more difficult to come by as this team makes the transition to the Big 12, a league that not only has a team in the CFB Playoff, TCU, but that seemingly will still include power houses Oklahoma and Texas for the next 2 seasons. And quite frankly, UCF's talent level isn't there to compete just yet. The Gus Busses second run through recruiting has resulted in a lack luster class again, ranked 52nd even with 4 star flip Isaiah Nixon, and looking forward looks to put UCF at quite the talent disadvantage in the years to follow. And while Malzahn's focus seems to be on the transfer portal, in the same way FSU has focused on it, UCF continues to lose major pieces on the other side of that portal leading to a ranking of again 52nd. Starters with pivotal roles in the offense and defense and until they are able to sure up that portion of the program, the Big 12 will be a very difficult journey for this team.
The U is back....again.....right?
Miami had, by far, the most disappointing season of the Big 4. Coming into the season ranked 16th in the AP poll, everyone was ready to buy into the hype train as Mario Cristobal returned to his alma mater and the team seemingly seemed stocked with talent. But as seems to happen every time the Hurricanes are mentioned as contenders over the last 20 years, the fell well short of expectations. All that to say, don't tell this years recruiting class or transfer group that. Miami comes out of the early signing period ranked 4th in recruiting and 8th in transfers, an unbelievable combination considering their struggles. But going in to year 2, Cristobal has a strong base and a bright future as this class develops, if they stay. And to get them to stay, Miami will have to compete which is something they haven't been able to do consistently but Cristobal has the track record coming from Oregon to be that guy that leads the turnaround. As long as the boosters have the patience to let it happen, the talent is returning and so could The U.
It's a good time to be a fan of college football in the state of Florida either way you look at it though (unless you are USF) and if you want to hear more about it, make sure to subscribe below and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @mySportsFlorida. If you want to look into the recruiting rankings or even potential upcoming targets I recommend checking out 247sports.com for a full listing of every team and targets. It is where I got all the rankings for this blog and my source for all recruiting updates.