It started with Spiller.
It has resurfaced with Robinson.
Over the last few years, Florida has lost several recruiting battles to Clemson. UF still finishes with top classes annually, but it’s an interesting topic nonetheless.
Five-star running back C.J. Spiller shocked the recruiting world in 2006 when he chose the Tigers on National Signing Day over his beloved Gators, the team he grew up rooting for in nearby Union County Lake Butler. That same year, receiver Jacoby Ford also committed to Clemson just one week after his official visit to Florida.
Urban Meyer saw the Tigers beat him for many more recruits during his UF tenure.
“I remember when I was coaching down at Florida,” Meyer said last year, “we would always lose kids in recruiting battles to Clemson. I would tell my coaches that we shouldn’t be losing kids to Clemson.”
But they did, and the outcome hasn’t changed since Will Muschamp took over in Gainesville.
In 2011, the following prospects chose Clemson over Florida — running back Mike Bellamy, receivers Charone Peak and Sammy Watkins and linebackers Stephone Anthony and Lateek Townsend. However, only the latter two did so after Muschamp’s arrival, and both were from the Carolinas.
Last year was a draw, with Clemson getting defensive tackle Carlos Watkins and UF landing five-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard. A big factor for Bullard was Rhaheim Ledbetter, his best friend and teammate at Crest High School in Shelby, N.C.
But it’s been more of the same in the 2013 recruiting cycle. Defensive tackle Scott Pagano picked Clemson over UF in July, and receiver Demarcus Robinson recommitted to Clemson last Monday less than a week after flipping to Florida. Both Pagano and Robinson were Gator fans growing up.
In some cases, factors like distance and playing time have favored the Tigers. But it’s still surprising they’ve won so many head-to-head battles with the Gators. Florida has a stronger academic reputation, plays in the SEC and owns two national championships in the last decade compared to one conference title for Clemson.
Meyer’s comments were made during his broadcast of the Clemson-Auburn game last season. He said his former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, now the head coach at Louisville, suggested Clemson has a nicer campus.
“Charlie Strong responded, ‘Coach have you ever actually been to Clemson?’ I hadn’t,” Meyer recalled. “But I’ll tell you what, I’ve been here now and I get it. This is an exceptional, special place.”
As someone who’s never been to Clemson, I’d like to know from Tiger fans why you think your school has had Florida’s number in recruiting recently. And Gator fans, what will it take for Muschamp & Co. to break the cycle?
Leave your responses in the comment section below.