GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- During the last 10 years or so, the Florida Gators have consistently ranked among teams with the top recruiting classes in the country -- and won two national championships, two SEC championships and played for another SEC championship.
This begs the question: Is Florida's success in recruiting a product of on-the-field success?
In the last seven years, Florida's recruiting classes have finished No. 1, No. 2, 4, 5, 1, 12 and 4 in the ESPN team recruiting rankings. The 2011 class that finished as the No. 12-ranked class came after Florida went 8-5 on the field, but more importantly it was the year in which Urban Meyer resigned right after the season.
Meyer was known for being a relentless recruiter, but Florida coach Will Muschamp picked up right where Meyer left off. Muschamp, hired with just a few months remaining until signing day, held together the 2011 class and was able to sign quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett as well as three of this year's starters -- FB Hunter Joyer and DBs Marcus Roberson and De'Ante Saunders.
Last year, in Muschamp’s first full year of recruiting, the Gators landed the No. 4-ranked recruiting class in the country, including instant impact players such as D.J. Humphries, Dante Fowler, Jonathan Bullard and Matt Jones. This was after going 7-6 on the field. The six losses were the most Florida has had since 1987, when the Gators finished 6-6.
Florida is enjoying a 10-1 season, though it faces one of its toughest tests Saturday against FSU in Tallahassee. In recruiting, the Gators are holding down the No. 2-ranked class in the country, led by a trio of ESPN 150 players: five-star defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III, as well as running back Kelvin Taylor and defensive tackle Caleb Brantley -- both four-star players.
So to answer the earlier question as to whether Florida’s recruiting success is a product of on-the-field success -- perhaps. But it also could be the other way around. The argument could be made that the Gators only have success on the field because of the talent they bring it.
Either way, the University of Florida is located in one of the most fertile recruiting hotbeds in the country. As long as there is at least some success at a program like UF, they will continue to bring in top recruiting classes. Even Ron Zook, who finished with a 23-15 record including three straight five-loss seasons, was able to recruit at a high level at Florida.
Muschamp has made a big impact with Florida football, both on the field and in recruiting, since taking over the job. If this season is any indication, Florida will likely be able to pull in top recruits for years to come.