Gators look to cap strong Class of 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp had a simple message when he hit the recruiting trail after the 2013 season: Help wanted.

After the Gators went 4-8 with seven straight losses to end the season, it became obvious Muschamp was offering more than scholarships. There's a real chance for many of his recruits to see playing time as true freshmen this fall.

Muschamp's sales pitch?

"Help us improve," he said. "I think it's a great opportunity to walk into a great situation to improve, play in an exciting offense.

"This is still the University of Florida. It’s a great education. We’ll compete and play for championships. That hasn’t changed. Not in one year, that hasn’t."

With national signing day just hours away, Florida has the nation's seventh-ranked class. Muschamp's message has resonated with a lot of recruits.

Florida has already announced nine important early enrollees and expects to sign all 12 of its commitments on Wednesday.

There's also a chance to add to the class, as the Gators are in contention for several targets who will announce on signing day. Tops among them are cornerback Adoree' Jackson, the No. 9 prospect in the ESPN 300, defensive end Lorenzo Carter, the No. 14 overall prospect in the country, and Damian Prince, the nation's No. 3 offensive tackle who took his official visit to UF last weekend.

Any of those three would likely cement Florida's class among the top 10.

Things have gone so well on the recruiting trail, it's hard to believe this very same program was coming off its worst season in more than 30 years. That's a testament to a the hard-working staff and the staying power of the Florida brand.

If the Gators close strong on signing day, or at least sign all of their commits, they will have addressed many needs.

Some of the holes on UF's roster opened when three starters on the defense left early for the NFL. Some opened up with the graduation of 15 seniors, seven of whom were starters. Some opened when seven players transferred, and some just became obvious as the losses mounted last season.

Quarterback, offensive line, cornerback and defensive line are Florida's biggest need positions in this recruiting cycle. And regardless of any signing day drama, if Muschamp and Co. simply sign their commits on Wednesday, the 2014 class will give Florida elite prospects at all of those spots.

Some of those recruits will definitely play this fall. After all, Muschamp insists the Gators will go into the 2014 season with no set starters.

"No, every position’s open," he said. "Every position. When you go 4-8 it’s all open."