Just need to clear up some things because I’ve been called out too many times since Stefon Diggs committed to Maryland.
First of all, there is a huge difference between predicting where a prospect will go and putting him in a mock class. Secondly, there is no such thing as a lock and I’ve never said anybody was one.
Harvey-Clemons and his family drove to Gainesville the weekend before National Signing Day and committed to UF. I was told that by numerous sources and it’s now been reported by multiple media outlets. What am I supposed to predict with information like that? He was all set to sign with the Gators and caught everyone off guard when he switched to Georgia. His family members were stunned and his grandfather refused to sign his letter of intent.
I always felt the least confident about Young, but his father told several people Avery was going to Florida the night before NSD. The Gators were his early leader, the coaches recruited him harder than any other staff and both his brother and father (who he lives with) wanted him at UF. But his mother lives near Auburn and he chose to be closer to her.
As for Diggs, the Gators led throughout the process and they basically lost him on a courtesy visit to Maryland. There were so many factors that pointed to UF, but ultimately Diggs decided they weren’t enough to leave home. I honestly didn’t think he would pick a school that went 2-10 last season, but I was wrong. Diggs’ former high school teammate and close friend Jelani Jenkins called his commitment to Maryland a “total shocker.” Will Muschamp & Co. felt the same way.
They fully expected to get Diggs, as well as Harvey-Clemons and Young. If I’m told by UF commits that a prospect says he’s coming and the staff expects him, I’m going to predict Florida every time. I can’t help it if kids change their mind late or lie to recruits and coaches. And when they refuse to do interviews, all I can go by is what I’m being told.
Now about my mock classes. A mock is not real, but it’s not deceiving either. It’s just an idea of how a recruiting class could look come NSD. That changes from week to week, and subsequently so do mock classes. I base my lists on what I’ve gathered through interviews/discussions with UF targets and commits, sources and the opinions of others that cover recruiting.
For the record, I never had Darius Hamilton in any of my mock classes and always said he was going to Rutgers. I did have Nelson Agholor and Tracy Howard because for months they were telling UF commits they would be Gators.
Marcus Maye told me at the Under Armour media luncheon that Agholor said UF was his top school. Dante Fowler told me Howard’s mom informed all the recruits on Jan. 21 that her son was coming to Florida. But Agholor and Howard were swayed on their final official and went to the school they visited (as I predicted). Kent Taylor called me the night before NSD and vented for 30 minutes because both of them had assured him they were UF bound.
That’s just a glimpse of some things I was told behind the scenes, and why I had the opinions I did. Things can change with recruits at the drop of a dime and it’s hard to predict what they will do with certainty. No one is perfect at reading the mind of a 17-year-old. Even the most informed and experienced writers get things wrong in this field.
Florida still had a top five class and it would have been No. 1 if some things had gone as anticipated. The staff had no luck with distance. The kids that were far away (Diggs, Howard, Hamilton) stayed home and three in-state prospects (Agholor, Young, Leonard Williams) left Florida. The coaches did everything right with Harvey-Clemons (got his verbal, won over the family) and they still lost him at the last minute.
Muschamp just couldn’t catch a break in the end, but he’s already off to a fantastic start with the 2013 class. Moving forward, I think he will try to secure his commitments early so he doesn’t have to deal with these down-to-the-wire decisions. He went 0-for-10 with the uncommitted prospects that announced late, so closing was not one of his strong suits this year.