Florida’s Headstart Program
With National Signing Day (NSD) coming on Wednesday, I had a look at Tennessee’s recruiting prospect list published by Scout. It’s the list of high school and JUCO players that have expressed an interest in Tennessee.
The players are listed by Scout’s ranking, from five-star candidates to one-star rankings. The list also indicates the level of interest expressed by the player (low, medium, high if uncommitted) and if an official offer has been made by Tennessee.
Also indicated is if the player has committed to the Vols or to any other school, and if the commitment has been made verbally (which will change beginning Wednesday as players will begin to sign).
On Tennessee’s list of players who have listed the Vols on their list of candidate schools are the following:
- 5-Star recruits: 3 players
- 4-Star recruits: 24 players
- 3-Star recruits: 33 players
- 2-Star recruits: 38 players
- 1-Star recruits: 88 players
As of Saturday, when I looked at this list, Tennessee’s national ranking in terms of players who had actually committed was 21st. So I thought I’d look at Florida’s recruiting prospect list published by Scout. After all, they’re ranked 1st nationally.
- 5-Star recruits: 10 players
- 4-Star recruits: 23 players
- 3-Star recruits: 14 players
- 2-Star recruits: 34 players
- 1-Star recruits: 66 players
This first chart shows that with the exception of more 5-star ranked players expressing interest in Florida, and I’ve commented in a previous post the potential mirage in such a fact, there isn’t a notable difference, at least in overall interest.
But when you look at the second chart where the two schools stand in terms of commitments prior to NSD, the gulf unfolds. Of Florida’s 10 5-star prospects, five have committed to the Gators, two have committed elsewhere, leaving three non-committed. None of the Vol’s three 5-star prospects have committed to UT: one has committed elsewhere, leaving two still non-committed.
The big gap, and perhaps more significant gap between Tennessee and Florida, at least for the moment, is in the 4-star prospects. Of Florida’s 23 4-star prospects, 14 have already committed (verbally) to the Gators, and one has committed elsewhere; whereas of Tennessee’s 24 4-star prospects, only eight have committed to UT, and 1 has committed elsewhere.
Tennessee has 15 non-committed 4-star prospects left; Florida only eight.
The Urban Meyer soap opera of December seemingly had no effect on recruits making up their minds. The Lane Kiffin exodus may have, although we never will really know. Some would like to think so, because it might be better to hold that thought than to think it is more of the factor that Tennessee is not quite an elite program—perhaps we are one that must wait until February for the dust to settle; we are one of those that must wait for the upper-crust schools to fill up their quotas first.
Derek Dooley can turn the tables, given time, for it will take time. It will take belief and patience, from all of us. It will take relentless energy and commitment to doing things the right way. The pieces will fall into place. They have before.
Then, more of the top players will want to come to Knoxville. For all the right reasons.
But, also, a lot can happen after NSD on Wednesday. A lot of those so-called commitments can change their minds before utterance out of mouth becomes ink onto paper. You never know. Remember, NSD isn’t the end of a process. It is the first day of an approximate two-month period, this year running from February 3 to April 1, that all high school players who will graduate this year can sign letters of intent to play for their college of choice.
So, a lot might happen on Wednesday. But a lot may remain undone, and some of the undone business may be to the advantage of the Vols.