Dalvin Cook’s flip to Florida on Saturday gave UF its ninth commit and sixth Rivals250 member in the 2014 class.
The Gators sent a message to the SEC and their in-state rivals with his commitment: they will have a dominant ground game for years to come and are reestablishing themselves on the recruiting trail in South Florida.
It’s no secret that UF coach Will Muschamp wants to run the football. He and offensive coordinator Brent Pease proved last year it was a recipe for success, as Mike Gillislee became Florida’s first back to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark since 2004.
The Gators have recruited well along the offensive line and are building a talented stable of running backs. Matt Jones is primed for a breakout sophomore season after finishing strong as a freshman. Like Gillislee prior to his senior year, redshirt junior Mack Brown has been buried on the depth chart and slowed by injuries throughout his college career, but the coaches believe he will push for playing time in 2013.
Early enrollee Kelvin Taylor put on a promising performance over the weekend and incoming freshman Adam Lane, a short back with an incredible combination of strength and speed, reminds many of Ray Rice of the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.
With Cook now in the fold and UF leading for coveted 2015 RB Jacques Patrick, who already has 33 offers to date, the future looks bright for Florida’s backfield.
The Fun ‘n’ Gun is long gone and the Run-a-Ton offense is making its home in Gainesville.
Cook’s pledge is also a good sign in regards to Florida’s recruiting efforts down south. As expected, UF took a hit in the region with the resignation of recruiting coordinator and receivers coach Aubrey Hill, a Miami native, last August.
The Gators didn’t land any prospects from Miami-Dade or Broward county in the 2013 recruiting cycle, but that isn’t the case this year.
Cook and St. Thomas Aquinas defensive tackle Anthony Moten, Florida’s latest commitments, come from those two counties. UF is also in contention for Homestead receiver Ermon Lane of Miami-Dade and four more top targets from Broward — Hollywood Chaminade Madonna defensive tackle Khairi Clark, Plantation cornerback Chris Lammons, Fort Lauderdale University School safety Quincy Wilson and Fort Lauderdale University School linebacker Richard Yeargin III.
Florida defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson is largely responsible for the resurgence in South Florida. The 31-year-old, who was born and raised in Miami, is the youngest member of Muschamp’s staff and connects well with prospects from the area.
“He is a good recruiter who can relate to the kids and he has South Florida ties – having grown up in Miami,” Muschamp said of Robinson in an interview with GatorZone.com.
If Cook sticks with his decision, he’ll be the first recruit UF signs from Miami since Jabari Gorman in 2011. Cook cited his relationship with Robinson as one of the main reasons he chose the Gators.
When asked in 2011 about the recruiting impact of his Miami connections, Robinson responded, “It’s tremendous. Guys can relate to a guy who comes from the same environment that they come from. That’s important.”