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Can the G5 schools in the Sunshine State take recruits away from the Big Three?

We take a look back at what recruiting has been like in Florida and see if there are any trends in favor of G5 schools going forward.

NCAA Football: South Florida-Charlie Strong Press Conference Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After the silly season that is the coaching carousel ended the national media reached a consensus that the G5 schools in Florida made great hires.

As a result, many expect the recruiting battles in Florida to resemble a WWE battle royale as USF (Charlie Strong), UCF (Scott Frost), FAU (Lane Kiffin) and FIU (Butch Davis) will join Jim McElwain (Florida), Jimbo Fisher (Florida State) and Mark Richt (Miami) as head coaches in Florida.

Undoubtedly the hires by the G5 Florida schools will make it harder for schools outside the Sunshine State who have made a living recruiting Florida.

But what about the Big Three?

Our friends at State of the U wrote about the recent hires made by the G5 schools in Florida and concluded that the Big Three has nothing to worry about on the recruiting trail in large part because they don’t recruit the same players as the G5 schools in Florida.

Florida, Florida State and Miami primarily focus their efforts on recruiting the best players out of Florida which are usually prospects ranked in the top 50 in Florida.

Realistically speaking, the top 50 players in Florida are some of the best players in the nation. A G5 school winning a recruiting battle against the Big Three for any of those prospects is highly unlikely.

But if we’re talking the next 100 players, well then they absolutely have a shot to win a few recruiting battles over them.

From the class of 2014 to the class of 2016 I looked at how many commits each G5 school from Florida secured from prospects ranked 50th to 150th in Florida and looked at their offer sheet. I also took a look at this year’s 2017 class just to see how things stand before National Signing Day.

According to 247Sports based on a prospect’s offer sheet list, the Big Three were in some recruiting battles with the G5 for prospects on National Signing Day.

Class of 2014

NCAA Football: Central Florida at South Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

USF: 11 Commits. 6 had at least one offer from the Big Three.

UCF: 0 Commits. 0 from Big Three.

FAU: 2 Commits. 0 from Big Three.

FIU: 0 Commits. 0 from Big Three.

Class of 2015

NCAA Football: Florida International at Florida Atlantic Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

USF: 5 Commits. 1 from Big Three.

UCF: 3 Commits (1 Ranked in Top 50). 3 From Big Three.

FAU: 3 Commits. 1 from Big Three.

FIU: 0 Commits. 0 from Big Three.

Class of 2016

NCAA Football: Central Florida at South Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

USF: 7 Commits (2 Ranked in Top 50). 4 From Big Three.

UCF: 5 Commits. 3 From Big Three.

FAU: 2 Commits. 1 From Big Three.

FIU: 2 Commits. 1 From Big Three.

Class of 2017

NCAA Football: FAU Press Conference Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

USF: 7 Commits. 5 From Big Three.

UCF: 3 Commits. 1 From Big Three.

FAU: 0 Commits. 0 From Big Three.

FIU: 0 Commits. 0 From Big Three.

Thoughts and Analysis

  • Willie Taggart was phenomenal on the recruiting trail. USF signed at least five prospects from 2013-2016 who ranked in Florida’s top 150.
  • Taggart beat Miami for a majority of the commits USF got in this three year span. I see no reason why Charlie Strong can’t do the same against the new Big Three school that takes a step back.
  • Look no further than Ron Turner’s inability to recruit Florida to see why he’s no longer the head coach at FIU. FIU should never go a year without getting a commit in the top 150.
  • George O’Leary really faltered on the trail towards the end of his tenure at UCF.
  • UCF was one of two G5 school to get a commit inside the top 50 over this three-year span as Scott Frost nabbed the 32nd ranked player in Florida Tristan Payton in 2015.
  • USF was the other as they signed two in the top 50. Last year they signed Craig Watts and Darnell Saloman.
  • USF led the way with 21 commits ranked 50-150 in Florida and 13 had at least one offer from the Big Three in that three-year span. Next year’s roster is loaded.
  • With Taggart’s departure it’ll be interesting to see how USF’s class finishes. Taggart has already gotten a few commits in Florida to sign with Oregon. Strong’s ability to hold on to this class is something to watch for on NSD.
  • From 2014-2016 the total number of commits for each Florida school regarding players ranked from 50-150 in Florida are the following: Miami 21, USF 21, Florida 18, Florida State 8, UCF 7, FAU 7, FIU 2.
  • The State of the U article lumped UCF, USF, FAU and FIU together as tier two schools and just looking at these numbers I can’t agree. USF and UCF are definitely a tier above FAU and FIU based on their recruiting success.


When the Big Three miss out on the elite prospects in the state they will go after the mid-tier guys in the state and poach from the G5. In that instance is where the reputation of Strong, Frost, Kiffin and Davis as great recruiters will prove if the G5 schools in Florida will hurt the recruiting ability of the Big Three.

Willie Taggart guided USF to their best record in school history this year. One of the main reasons he was able to achieve that was because of how well he recruited in Florida.

If Strong, Frost, Kiffin and Davis are to take their respective schools to the next level - a level each fan base feels they are within a few classes of reaching - then they must make their hay for those next 100 players in the state of Florida after the top 50.

However, as great as it is that the G5 schools in Florida are trending up on the field and on the recruiting trail, there isn’t any tangible evidence to think that any G5 school will take a five-star prospect away from the Big Three.

Occasionally Strong, Kiffin, Davis, and Frost will butt heads with the Big Three for three-star players but history suggests that neither will be stealing recruits from the Big Three on a regular basis as they quite simply don’t recruit the same players. However if it does happen, USF seems to be the best bet to do so.