As Jim McElwain tries to rebuild Florida football into a championship program, one of his mottos is “recruit daily or die.” Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of the latest Florida recruiting news, tales from the trail and perspective on what it all means for the Gators.
Florida’s O-line recruiting must improve
From a personnel standpoint, offensive line was undoubtedly the weakest link on the Florida football team Saturday.
The Gators got dominated in the trenches in their 33-17 loss to Michigan, which didn’t return any starters on its defensive line and still made six sacks in the game.
With a new position coach (Brad Davis) and four starters back from last season, Florida’s offensive line should be improved and a potential team strength in 2017.
UF coach Jim McElwain is/was convinced. So were several college football analysts.
It didn’t look that way Saturday.
After the game McElwain said he needs to re-evaluate what his linemen are doing in the weight room, but Mike Kent’s strength program has never been in question before.
Certainly Davis is in no position to be judged yet, and his unit won’t face many defensive lines as talented as Michigan’s. But if Florida’s poor O-line play continues and McElwain determines that nothing is wrong with player development, then the problem is obvious.
At this point, we must consider that Florida’s linemen — as a whole — just aren’t good enough to block the tougher opponents on their schedule. If true, coaching, development and experience can’t change that fact.
The last five years of O-line recruiting have left a lot to be desired.
After landing just six offensive linemen total from 2010-12, the Gators signed 17 prospects at the position from 2013-15 to get their numbers back up.
Only two players have finished their college career at UF as multi-year starters. They’re also the only two in the NFL right now (Trent Brown and David Sharpe).
Just three of those 17 signees (Martez Ivey, Tyler Jordan and Fred Johnson) are still with the team and have started multiple games.
The rest of them either transferred, switched positions, suffered career-ending injuries and have been reserve players throughout their career.
So while the numbers may be better for the Gators, they don’t have quality depth because several players just didn’t pan out under former O-line coach Mike Summers.
Davis not only has to rectify that through coaching and development, but he must improve the talent level through recruiting as well.
Looking at the state of Florida’s top 5 offensive linemen in the last five cycles, the Gators signed just three of those 25 in-state recruits (Ivey, Sharpe and Kadeem Telfort).
That’s just inexcusable.
Davis, meanwhile, has a legitimate shot to sign four of the state’s top 5 linemen in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Had Summers done something similar, Saturday’s battle in the trenches would have looked much different.
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