After hiring Charlie Strong, Lane Kiffin, and Butch Davis last year the college football world went crazy about how difficult recruiting in Florida was going to be. While some thought the Big 3 (FSU, UF, Miami) should be worried, I thought the real losers were out of state schools that relied on recruiting Florida.
Now that each head coach has had a full year to develop relationships, scout, and recruit the Sunshine State, let’s check in to see whether FAU, FIU, USF and UCF continued to make strides on the recruiting trail and as a result, make life difficult non-Florida based programs for the 2018 class.
Last year I made the case that each Group of Five school in Florida should sign at least two players from Florida’s top 150 prospects for the class to be considered a bonafide success and each met that goal. Were they able to achieve it again?
According to 247 Sports, here’s the breakdown for how many recruits each school signed that were from Florida and where they ranked among players from the Sunshine State.
UCF: 9 Players from Florida, 9 are 3-stars, 3 are ranked in the Top 150
USF: 22 Players from Florida, 25 are 3-stars, 4 are ranked in the Top 150
FAU: 9 Players from Florida, 8 are 3-stars, 0 are ranked in the Top 150
FIU: 18 Players from Florida, 11 are 3-stars, 2 are ranked in the Top 150
With each school coming off one of their best seasons in school history - for FAU and UCF 2017 was their best season ever - I expected each school to have huge success in Florida.
Butch Davis signed the best class in FIU history, signing some of South Florida’s most touted prospects to go along with the 4-star prospects he signed from Junior College. Charlie Strong capitalized on the ability to bring in a big class thanks to a large senior class departing and signed the most 3-star prospects of the four schools.
With limited time on the job and massive coaching turnover, Josh Heupel was able to hold on to some of UCF’s most coveted prospects in Florida. The only head coach who failed to meet the bar was Lane Kiffin as the Owls failed to recruit the state as well as the other schools did. According to Kiffin, that was by strategy as FAU recruited nationally for the 2018 class and strayed away from relying strictly on in-state talent like they have in year’s past.
What’s interesting is FAU and UCF both had their best seasons ever, and both ended up with classes featuring a lot of kids outside of Florida.
Kiffin, Strong, Davis, and Heupel each made in roads to strengthen their respective school’s presence in Florida. Two years ago in the class of 2016 the G5 schools in Florida signed a combined 40 3-star prospects from Florida. In this year’s recruiting class they signed 53.
As long as the G5 schools in Florida are able to hold on to their ace recruiters at head coach, expect that number to only go up.