Part of the reason Dan Mullen is no longer in Gainesville, as most Gator fans would attest to, is because of he and his staff's inability to bring in top-tier talent from the high school ranks. Each cycle there were a number of battles that did not go their way, making it tougher to close the gap on the field with Georgia and Alabama. Now, with Billy Napier at the head of the Florida program, one of the biggest tasks ahead is reshaping the roster, and closing the gap on the recruiting trail.
To do that, it'll be helpful to consider the state of the roster and each position group relative to the rest of the conference, figuring out where most of the work may need to be focused. Below is a chart depicting each position group and how each team has recruited at that specific position. A couple things to keep in mind as we go forward:
This data is looking solely at high school prospects. Although the transfer portal has exploded in popularity over the last few years, a majority of team-building is done through high school recruiting.
Data also includes kids who may have signed but never enrolled with a program. I'd love to remove these, but it'd be tedious work going through four years of recruiting classes for the 14 SEC teams (over 1,200 commits). We can still glean some insight into the health of each position group as these cases are the exception, not the rule.
Position designations and ratings come from 247 Sports. In the last year, 247 reshaped their designations, therefore some positions in previous years were grouped together to match the new designations: OC & OG become IOL and All-Purpose Backs (APB) were lumped in with the rest of the running backs.
Starting out on offense, we can see the dearth of talent as Florida does not crack the top 3 in the SEC at any offensive position group when it comes to average recruit ranking over the last four years. Though Billy Gonzales was a common target of recruiting criticism, his former WR room has the highest average rating of any offensive position. Additionally, being a former TE himself, Dan Mullen and his staff did not struggle to recruit TE's as that room shows depth and barely rates just outside the top three in the conference.
Most of Napier's work on offense will need to be focused on the trenches, as Florida has recruited near the bottom of the conference on the interior of the offensive line, finishing with the ninth highest average in conference (Gator logo is hiding behind South Carolina). Another key group to keep an eye on heading into National Signing Day will be the running backs. Florida has signed just two high school running backs in the last four years, Nay'Quan Wright and NFL-bound Dameon Pierce. Wright suffered a tough ankle injury at the end of last year, meaning Florida is essentially left with just two transfer portal players in Demarkcus Bowman and Lorenzo Lingard. While those two were highly rated coming out of high school, that doesn't leave a ton of depth in the room.
So with all that said, here are some of the prospects at key positions to keep an eye on as Napier and staff try to close out this 2022 class.
Trevonte Citizen, RB - a former LSU pledge, Citizen was one of the first prospects Napier met out on the road. Measuring in at 6'0 217 lbs, Citizen is built a bit bigger than the running backs currently on the Florida roster, allowing him to fill the power back role left empty with Pierce's NFL declaration while also lifting the talent profile of the running back room.
DJ Allen, WR - a four-star receiver, Allen shows elusiveness and long speed in his highlights, something that has been sorely missing since Kadarius Toney went off to the NFL. Thanks to Jacob Copeland's transfer and Billy Gonzales' seeming inability to recruit a WR shorter than 6'2, Allen could have an opportunity to push for playing time his freshman season in the slot.
Jalen Farmer, IOL - an OL from the peach state, Farmer has been committed to Florida since September, however did not sign during the early signing period. Rob Sale and Darnell Stapleton will have a battle on their hands as Farmer is also being pursued by other SEC schools like Auburn, Kentucky and Mississippi St. Coming in at .8700 on the composite, Farmer would actually be the fifth highest rated (nine total) IOL signee in the last four years.
Transition classes are always tough, and the fact that Napier and staff have brought in some of the players they have, is an accomplishment in and of itself. Closing on two of the above prospects would be a great start to Napier getting the Florida roster back on track to competing with Alabama and Georgia on a consistent basis.