National Championship Reaction: Recruiting Matters
For Georgia fans, the day has come. The Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 33-18 to win their first national championship in over 40 years, effectively ending any further use of the ‘1980’ joke. Watching the game, the amount of NFL talent on the field for both teams was evident on both sides of the ball. Georgia has recruited at an extremely high level for about six years, accruing talent and building depth for this very moment. Alabama has been at the top of the college football world for well over a decade, and the way they have recruited for the duration of their run is precisely why they are consistently competing for championships. As a Florida fan, this is the standard. To compete for, and win championships recruiting must be the lifeblood of your program. Saban and Smart understand that, and that’s how they have built championship programs.
When you look at the matchup of rosters for Alabama and Georgia it is almost even when it comes to top-tier talent. According to the 247 Team Talent Composite for 2021 Alabama is ranked first in team talent with 14 5-stars, 60 4-stars, and 11 3-stars on their roster. Georgia is ranked second with 19 5-stars, 47 3-stars, and 19 3-stars (for comparison Florida is ranked seventh with 6 5-stars, 50 4-stars, and 29 3 stars).
In relation to this game, the defensive unit for Georgia stole the show. They held a potent Alabama offense that averaged 41 points per game going into the championship to just 18 points, allowing only one touchdown and four field goals. To be fair, Alabama did lose their top receiver during the game, (and he looked as if he was on his way to having an outstanding night before his injury) but the play of Georgia's defense down the stretch cannot be denied. When you look at this defense it is riddled with future pro football talent; most of which were at the top of their respective recruiting classes coming out of high school.
When you look along their defensive line, Jalen Carter, and Travon Walker, were both rated as 5-star prospects coming out of high school and ranked inside the top 5 of their position. Devante Wyatt was rated as a 4-star coming out of the JUCO ranks. Jordan Davis was rated as a 3-star coming out of high school but has since outplayed that rating. At Linebacker, Nakobe Dean and Nolan Smith were both 5-star prospects coming out of high school, with Smith ranked as the number one overall prospect in the country. In the backend standout cornerback, Kelee Ringo was the number one cornerback prospect, and as you might have guessed, a 5-star prospect. All of this to say that THIS is the level of recruiting Florida will need to be at if they want to truly compete year in and year out. The Georgia defense finished with four sacks on the night, as the defensive line and linebackers were able to consistently get to Bryce Young and apply pressure. Kelee Ringo himself delivered the game-sealing pick-six in the fourth quarter. The consistent stacking of top-end talent is what got Georgia to the top, and what keeps Alabama there.
Well, where does this leave Florida? A couple of years ago Steve Spurrier was asked what it would take for Florida to compete for national championships. He stated that they would need to “make sure us Gators are in the top five in recruiting”, well unfortunately the last staff failed to do that. The good news for us Florida fans is that coach Napier has a history of exceptional recruiting and program building. During his time as wide receivers coach at Alabama, he landed some of their very best players in Calvin Ridley, and Jerry Jeudy just to name a few. In his last three years at Louisiana, he was able to land the number one recruiting class in the Sun Belt conference each year.
He has already shown that he understands the importance of recruiting with the “army” of a staff that he is building, that already has many proven recruiters on it, himself included. Landing prospects Kamari Wilson and Shemar James over Georgia and Alabama on national signing day is an excellent start. In order to get Florida back to an elite level, he will need to recruit at an elite level, specifically in the state of Florida. Since 2018 Alabama and Georgia have combined to sign 17 of the top 10 prospects in Florida, while Florida has only signed five. That just cannot happen anymore, and I believe Napier understands that. Time will tell, but I truly believe Napier will be the man for the job and get Florida back to being consistently one of the top teams in the country.
Source for recruiting Information: 247 sports
Source for quote: https://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/florida-football/steve-spurrier-says-florida-needs-change-in-recruiting-process-to-get-back-to-contending-for-national-championships/