Saturday, August 21, 2010

Should UF fans worry about not landing top-flite runningback?

For most Gator fans, Tampa Plant stud runningback James Wilder, Jr. committing to rival FSU seemed to be the most troubling news of the week.

But, as friends repeatedly asked my opinion regarding the "get" by the Seminoles - which in turn apparently meant it was a "not get" for Florida - I began to wonder if Gator fans had more to worry about.

Then the news broke Friday that true freshman wide receiver Adrian Coxson was given his release from UF, confirming there is much more going on than just missing out on a high school recruit (Wilder) who hasn't even played his senior season in high school.

Coxson is the fourth player in the last month that has reportedly asked for, and/or given their release from the Gators to transfer out of Gainesville.

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver T.J. Lawerence, redshirt junior Adrian Bushell, and incoming true freshmen Jordan Haden (brother of former Florida, All-SEC and recent Cleveland Brown draft pick Joe Haden) and Coxson are all saying goodbye to the Gators now.

As I heard the news of Coxson leaving, my mind kept wandering toward one reoccurring thought - former USC Coach Pete Carroll and his meteoric resurrection of the historic southern California program.

I was always amazed at how Carroll was able to keep reeling in one top recruiting class after another.

UF Coach Urban Meyer has also created the same atmosphere at Florida.

The Gators' recent 2010 recruiting haul was not only the consensus No.1 class in the nation, but many have even considered it the best recruiting class since they started keeping track of such a thing.

But, the reality is, there are consequences associated with signing so many elite recruits.

The most basic of them is that no matter how good a coach you are and how great a scheme you have, you can never have more than 11 players and only one ball on the field at a time.

There are just so many positions on the depth chart, and for most of these kids - who were so highly touted and heavily recruited - it can suddenly be very sobering to realize you're second or third best on the team in your position.

For example, Coxson was a four-star prospect and rated the No.19-ranked receiver in the nation by in this year's incoming class.

Well, Florida also signed two other four-star guys (Chris Dunkley and Quinton Dunbar) who were the No.8 and No.24 ranked receivers in the country by, respectively.

Never mind that the Gators already have more experienced guys like Chris Rainey, Carl Moore, Deonte Thompson and (former No.1 prep receiver) Andre DeBose hogging the starting current rotation.

For the lack of a better term, too many studs and not enough balls.

The same thing happened to Carroll at USC.

At one point, the Trojans had more former elite prep runningbacks on the depth chart than any three or four schools across the country, all vying for one starting spot.

In 2006, Emmanuel Moody was one of those top-shelf USC runningbacks and was the second leading rusher on the team in his true freshman season before a minor ankle injury cut his first season short.

By the time Moody recovered, he had fallen two to three spots on the depth chart because of the over abundance of talent at his position.

Moody transferred to Florida the next year and now enters his senior season fighting for a spot in which Florida just recruited the No.7-ranked runningback (in 2009) Mike Gillislee and the No.12-ranked runningback Mack Brown this past spring.

Read that last sentence over again one more time and ask yourself if it really hurt the Gators when Wilder - a "highly sought after" runningback - chose FSU over Florida the other day.

Indeed, the Gator Nation should be worried, but not about not getting the next elite player available.

No, they better be more worried about how the Florida coaching staff is going to be able to keep the elite players they already have happy.


  1. I heard FSU promised him they would only use him at RB, he is also a talented Linebacker and we typically will use a guy where talent is best served. Not what a superstar kid wants to hear if their mind is set on 1 position and feel they are too good to be redshirted .

    Haden transfer is the one that made me wonder what is goin on. But Summer camp is brutal, it will weed out some of the toughest prospects. Better to lose them now and not waste the scholarships.

    But too much talent? What a problem to have, better than the alternative!

  2. Agreed Sean, in the short term, too much talent isn't a problem at all.
    But in the long run, as players go three years and out, it can cause a mathematical gap at certain positions for the future.


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