There is essentially no state like Florida when it comes to college football rivalries between the state schools.
While most states have two main universities who duke it out, Florida has a triangle of hate involving the Florida State Seminoles, the Florida Gators, and the Miami Hurricanes. Each have proud histories and legendary games against each other. The competition doesn’t stop on the field however — it extends to the recruiting trail.
With this in mind, we wanted to take a look at how the three programs are recruiting before the 2019 season begins. Last year’s classes were an overall weird bunch. Florida State and Miami had two of their worst classes in the recent era, due to highly disappointing seasons from both programs.
Florida looked like the obvious winner with a top-10 class after a 10-win season. But in the ensuing months, three of the Gators’ 4-star signees failed to qualify, and another two transferred out of the program. Another signee is awaiting a status update as well. So while the number ranking is obviously better, the actual amount of talent put into the program is closer to what Florida State did.
We’ve broken down the classes into eight sections. We did this because these are the ranges (roughly) where there is a tenable difference in a player’s evaluation. You’ll notice that the further down we go, the larger the ranges become. That’s because once you get past a certain ranking, the difference between players becomes smaller and smaller. The gap between someone ranked 100th and 50th is bigger than the gap between players ranked 350th and 250th, for instance.
Some might get mad that I’ve group any player past 500th in the same category, but that is essentially how they’re viewed. It’s almost impossible to rank 200 kids accurately, much less 1,000. If they aren’t in the top 500, there’s no reason to get upset with the idea that they might be in the same category as another player from a rival team.
Florida State Seminoles (9th nationally, 2nd in ACC)
21 commits (.8964 average rating)
Top 50: 1 (Demorie Tate)
51-100: 1 (Jaylan Knighton)
101-150: 1 (Malachi Wideman)
151-200: 1 (Lawrance Toafili)
201-250: 5 (Keyshawn Greene, Jadarius McKnight, Jeff Sims, Jalen Harrell, Ja’Khi Douglas)
251-350: 2 (Stephen Dix Jr., Isaiah Dunson)
351-500: 3 (Jayion McCluster, Emanuel Rogers, Morven Joseph)
501+: 7 (Derek Bermudez, Thomas Shrader, Josh Griffis, Zane Herring, Lloyd Willis, Carter Boatwright, Alex Atcavage)
Florida State has a very nice mix of players on both sides of the ball throughout the tiers. It should be exciting after the 2019 class to see five in the top 250 be offensive skill players. If Bryan Robinson hops on board, it will be six (and Daijun Edwards would be in the tier right below it). There is also a good chance that players like Emanuel Rogers and Morven Joseph could see a rise into the higher tiers if they have good senior seasons. Florida State is still in play for multiple recruits in that top-150 range, so this class could lean towards the top if the Seminoles have a decent season.
Florida Gators (13th nationally, 6th in SEC)
18 commits (.8998 average rating)
Top 50: 1 (Gervon Dexter)
51-100: 1 (Derek Wingo)
101-150: 3 (Leonard Manuel, Jahari Rogers, Antwaun Powell)
151-200: 1 (Johnnie Brown)
201-250: 1 (Jaquavion Fraziars)
251-350: 3 (Avery Helm, Anthony Richardson, Lamar Goods)
351-500: 2 (Rashad Torrence II, Jeremiah Johnson)
501+: 6 (Fenley Graham, Richard Leonard, Jovens Javiar, Jonathan Odom, Gerald Mincey, Tre’Vez Johnson)
Florida has a very similar class to FSU when it comes to how the talent is distributed. It has done a better job of getting players ranked in the top 150, but the bottom chunk of its class is less filled out than FSU. Florida’s class is also leaning more heavily towards defensive talent. It would appear that both FSU and Florida are pretty even with their recruiting entering 2019. If you’re a glass-half-full Gator fan, that’s a positive sign. You’re expected to have a better year than the Seminoles, which would presumably lead to a better recruiting class. If you’re a glass-half-empty variety, that’s disappointing, since you had a considerably better 2018.
Miami Hurricanes (12th nationally, 3rd in ACC)
23 commits (.8877 average rating)
Top 50: 1 (Don Chaney Jr.)
51-100: 1 (Chantz Williams)
101-150: 1 (Jalen Rivers)
201-250: 2 (Tyler Van Dyke, Michael Redding III)
251-350: 3 (Willie Moise, Marcus Fleming, Jaiden Francois)
351-500: 4 (Keshawn Washington, Elijah Roberts, Dominic Mammarelli, Romello Height)
501+: 11 (Tre’von Riggins, Daran Branch, Tirek Austin-Cave, Quentin Williams, Marcus Clarke, Alvin Mathis, Corey Flagg, Xavier Restrepo, Antonio Smith, Chris Washington, Justin Hodges)
An emerging trend with Miami’s classes is how heavily weighted they are towards the bottom. The Hurricanes still bring in a fair amount of top-tier talent, but the number of prospects they take who are outside the top 500 is shocking. That doesn’t mean they’re bad players — guys like Xavier Restrepo and Marcus Clarke are two that I like as prospects — but there’s more to Miami’s problems than simply having bad coaching. The Hurricanes have good talent but there isn’t enough of it to reach higher success.
Right now, I think it’s pretty clear that Florida State and Florida are the clear leaders when it comes to recruiting classes. Even though they have less commits than Miami, both have more talent in the top-250 range, which is typically where you’re more likely to find impact players. Both the Gators and the Seminoles are pretty even at this point as well. Florida has a slightly higher class rating, but not to the point where it makes a discernible impact.
Each program has to feel good about where they are going in to the 2019 season. Each one has already filled out a vast majority of the class and set themselves up for strong finishes if they can put a good product on the field.
Rankings from 247Sports Composite