Ask and you shall receive.
After yesterday’s blog on the top five commits under Florida coach Will Muschamp, I was asked by several of you to make a list of his five biggest misses.
Like the previous blog, it will only look at high-profile recruits such as Byron Cowart and covers the past three recruiting cycles.
Here are The Sun’s top five misses under Muschamp based on rankings, the importance of the pledges, how the recruitments played out and the production/potential of the prospects.
1. Nelson Agholor, Tampa Berkeley Prep
Highest ranking: No. 3 WR and No. 18 nationally by Rivals
The skinny: This designation should really be 1A and 1B with Agholor and Maryland’s Stefon Diggs. Both were huge priorities and misses for Muschamp. But for the purpose of this blog and wanting to consider players at other positions, we’ll list just one. Since Agholor is the in-state prospect, he gets the nod. Losing him to Southern Cal, a school on the other side of the country, was much more of a blow than seeing Diggs stay close to home. Both are projected as first-round picks in some 2015 mock drafts, and UF is still searching for a star at receiver.
2. Dalvin Cook, Miami Central
Highest ranking: No. 2 RB and No. 12 nationally by 247Sports
The skinny: In the previous cycle, Muschamp was looking for a change-of-pace player at RB to complement Kelvin Taylor and the other physical players at the position. He had that in Cook, who was considered by most as the nation’s best all-purpose back for 2014. But Florida’s “Mr. Football” changed his commitment to Florida State following UF’s offensive woes and 4-8 record. The Gators found a replacement in Brandon Powell, who they flipped from Miami, but missing out on Cook can’t be downplayed. He would have brought a different element to Kurt Roper’s spread offense and thrived.
3. Adoree’ Jackson, Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra
Highest ranking: No. 1 ATH and No. 6 nationally by Rivals
The skinny: Muschamp signed a great 2014 class considering the losing season and staff changes he had. But closing with Jackson might have made it his best one yet. He and his assistants put in dozens of hours recruiting Jackson, including several flights to Cali where they don’t typically pursue prospects. The Gators’ need at both corner and slot receiver, positions they recruited Jackson to play, and their championship track program were factors many thought would land them the two-sport athlete. Instead, Muschamp watched another dynamic playmaker pick the Trojans on signing day.
4. Tracy Howard, Miramar
Highest ranking: No. 1 CB and No. 13 nationally by Rivals
The skinny: Howard favored Florida early in his recruitment and appeared to near the end of it. During his official visit in late January, Howard and his mother, Shaiy, both told several folks in Gainesville they were UF bound. But on the last weekend before signing day, the five-star prospect took a surprise trip to Miami. The Hurricanes hadn’t been a favorite for him down the stretch, but he signed with the hometown team just days after his visit. Muschamp has continued to recruit well at corner since Howard’s snub, but having him opposite Hargreaves this season would have been nice.
5. Leonard Williams, Daytona Beach Mainland
Highest ranking: No. 5 DE and No. 53 nationally by Rivals
The skinny: You could make an argument for one of the honorable mentions to be on the list, and it’s hard to consider Williams a big miss when Florida signed defensive ends Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler Jr. in the same class. But other than Diggs, few expected the players below to choose UF when it came time for them to make their decisions. But the Gators got Williams’ last official visit and a silent commitment, only to have him announce for USC at his signing day ceremony. He has been dominant in college and projects as a top-10 pick in next year’s draft.
Honorable mention: Lorenzo Carter, Mike Davis, Stefon Diggs, Jalen Ramsey, Laremy Tunsil