With Florida's annual Friday Night Lights camp — a series of camps, really: there was a camp for underclassmen on Thursday night, Friday night's camp is now for juniors and seniors, and there's an additional camp on Saturday night for linemen on both sides of the ball — upon us, the 2016 recruiting cycle is about to be truly in gear, with summer evaluations all but complete and pursuits of prospects who will go deep into their senior years before committing (or flipping) begun in earnest.
And that means, a week after talking about expectations for Florida football in 2015, we can also start having reasonable discussions about Florida's recruiting for the 2016 cycle.
For my part, here are three things I want to see:
A potential starter at QB
Florida has Jake Allen in the fold for 2017, and while it's early, he seems like the surest possible lock to ultimately end up in that class. But Jim McElwain still badly needs a quarterback in the 2016 class to prevent a repeat of recent nightmares related to depth at the position — and it really needs a potential starter more than a developmental player in the vein of Skyler Mornhinweg, because we saw how that worked out.
The chances of Florida landing such a player likely equate to the chances of Florida flipping a commit from another school, like LSU commit Feleipe Franks or Clemson commit Zerrick Cooper, but there are enough such prospects that I think Florida won't strike out on all of them. I hope. We'll see?
A haul of the Sunshine State WR crop
Florida was well-stocked at running back in the 2014 (Dalvin Cook, Sony Michel, etc.) and 2015 (Jordan Scarlett, Jacques Patrick) recruiting classes, producing a lot of talent to be mined by college programs. Now, the pendulum has swung to wide receiver: Four of the nation's top 100 players in the 247Sports Composite are wide receivers from the Sunshine State, and nine of the top 43 wide receivers per the same service are Floridians.
Florida has long been assumed to be one of the teams to beat for Binjimen Victor, and has been in hot pursuit of Miami commit Sam Bruce essentially since landing Scarlett, one of his best friends, but there's talent all around the state, from Nate Craig-Myers to Tre Nixon, and Florida failing to land at least a couple of those players — or supplement a Florida wideout with a player like Tyrie Cleveland, a Jacksonville native who lives in Texas — to go along with sleepers Joshua Hammond and Rick Wells (each better than his rating, and not among that top 43) would be a big missed opportunity, especially with the exceedingly likely departure of Demarcus Robinson for the NFL looming at season's end.
Shoring up the defense
I have to admit that I'm not really worried about Florida's defense in 2015 — but that's because Will Muschamp definitely succeeded in building depth up front and in the secondary. Florida has as many as four or five legitimate NFL hopefuls in its secondary, and the best corner in America in Vernon Hargreaves III, but it's also got a defensive line that can add CeCe Jefferson and not necessarily slot him in as an instant starter. The linebacker depth is more troubling, but Florida also now has Randy Shannon coaching that position group, and I'll be damned if I could think of another coach better for molding LBs at the college level.
So what I want on defense is for Florida to simply maintain a level of talent that will prevent a total backslide from the great Muschamp defenses we saw. The Gators' defensive haul doesn't have to be overwhelming or a constellation of stars, but it does need to be more than top-flight corner Chauncey Gardner and a handful of developmental prospects, which is what Florida has right now.
That's what I'm looking for. What about you?