Florida's efforts to build its 2014 recruiting class got off to a flying start in 2012 and early 2013. That momentum has taken a hit of late: 247Sports' Luke Stampini reports that wide receiver Ryeshene Bronson has decommitted from Florida, just days after linebacker Christian Miller decommitted from the Gators' class.
Stampini doesn't give much of a reason for Bronson's decommitment — which he confirmed through sources at his school, Fort Myers' Dunbar High — but hints that he had heard rumblings of it for a while ($), which provides a few possible explanations for Bronson's decommitment.
- First, it could have been related to the rumors about Bronson's grades that have been around for many, many moons on message boards. If Bronson doesn't have the grades to get in now, and needs significant work in his senior year, why would Florida keep him in its class?
- Second, given that Florida's success in South Florida has been substantial to this point in this class, and its pursuit of top-flight wideout Ermon Lane seems like something that will go all the way to National Signing Day, Bronson might have seen the newly deep Florida depth chart at wideout — remember, Demarcus Robinson, Ahmad Fullwood, Marqui Hawkins, Alvin Bailey, and Chris Thompson are all one year ahead of Bronson — and decided that locking himself into Florida was not his smartest possible decision.
Third, and most interestingly, given Bronson's decommitment coming days after Miller's, and, like Miller's after a visit from new Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips (Bronson committed so long ago, in June 2012, that Aubrey Hill was still Florida's receivers coach, and we were still capitalizing every word in headlines), it is possible, and perhaps likely, that early Florida pledges chafe at the private expectations that those recruits continue to prove that they are worth a scholarship.
When Florida extends a committable scholarship offer to a recruit, and allows that recruit to label himself a future Florida Gator, that comes with expectations that grades and behavior remain up to Florida's standard, and that players will be re-evaluated by coaches on a regular basis, come to camps in the summer and on visits in the fall, and must do things to stay in good standing with the coaches — much like they will need to do things to stay in good standing with the coaches as a college athlete. This may also extend to hopes that those recruits touch base every so honest, are open and honest about their communication with other schools, and cut down or end their visits to other schools.
That last explanation — which, I'll be clear, is reasoned speculation, and not something I have any way of knowing for certain — is the one that would cover both Miller, now Crystal Balled to Alabama, and Bronson, who is certainly talented enough to field other offers.
If players want to make commitments to Florida 12 months or more before National Signing Day comes and their commitments become contracts in the form of a National Letter of Intent, Will Muschamp and his coaches will make sure that it is a commitment. Muschamp's spoken of players making "reservations" instead of commitments before; it would really not be surprising, or even wrong, if he and his coaches were re-evaluating their class bases on check-ups of those reservations — or if the players were, too.