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How are state schools stacking up on recruiting?

Florida Football Insiders



Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Without question, it’s one of the key parts to sustaining your college football program; recruiting. And, for the Gators, the Hurricanes and the Seminoles they have racked up not only the best recruits in the state of Florida, but throughout the Southeast for the better part of four decades.

It’s one of the main reasons why every one of those three schools has won a National Championship or more in the 2000s.

With that in mind, one of the top outlets for college football recruiting, 24/7 Sports, released a power ranking from the last five years and already for next year’s recruiting classes.

Now, fundamentally you have to understand that the 17 and 18 year olds that have already made a verbal commitment can change their mind and go with another school all the way up until the first signing period in December. Then, those that choose to wait until the late signing period in February still have the same right to renege on their verbal backing.

Still, 24/7 put out their power ranking based on an average of the last few years and their projections for the 2020 class.

The Miami Hurricanes lead behind, now first-year coach Manny Diaz, who’s been the defensive coordinator the last couple of seasons. “The U” comes in at number 19 on their list. Miami’s composite ranking over the last 5 years is 19.4, but 24/7 projects that they will have the number four recruiting class in 2020 at this point. That is quite an upgrade in South Florida.

The next highest ranked team from the state is the Florida Gators whose average, according to 24/7, over the last 5 years is 13.4. For now, 24/7 currently has the Gators at number 11 for the 2020 class. One factor holding them back was the inability to secure the verbal commitment of Lakeland running back to DeMarkcus Bowman who spurned Florida for the Clemson Tigers last week. Bowman is regarded as the second best running back in the country and could obviously still change his mind, however, it’s not likely.

Florida State fans have not had a lot to cheer about the last couple of seasons, but 24/7 believes they are the sixth best recruiting program over the last few years. Mainly due to what Jimbo Fisher had upgraded with star signings and a 24/7 composite ranking is 8.2 over the last 5 Seasons.

24/7 currently has the Seminoles ranked, as the number five team for the 2020 recruiting class. The real question becomes whether embattled coach Willie Taggart (shown above) and his staff will be around to see that recruiting class? This is particularly, if Florida State gets off to a bad start in 2019, then Taggart’s fate may be sealed.

It’s interesting what these recruiting services do and obviously a power ranking is being put out there for the purpose of discussion.

So the fact that the defending champion Clemson Tigers are ranked 7th is eye-catching. However, you dive deeper and it’s because 24/7 has their average class ranking at 9.2 over the last 5 years. Then again, with Bowman and the number one quarterback in the country, DJ Uiagalelei from California, almost every recruiting service including 24/7 has Dabo Swinney’s team ranked number one overall for 2020

And finally, it should come as no surprise that Ohio State at #3,  followed by Georgia and then, top ranked Alabama are in the top spots of their power ranking. The Buckeyes, the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide are all consistently in the top 5 in recruiting and seemingly have ended up not only contenting for, but winning their conference title and then, particularly for Bama, the national title, too


Coaches and rosters finalized for East-West Shrine Bowl

Florida Football Insiders



Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL and the newly-renamed East-West Shrine Bowl are finalizing not only their player rosters, but their coaching staffs for next Saturday’s game in St Petersburg, FL.

Late this week, the longest running college all-star game, the East West Shrine Bowl, named its head coaches, both of whom have ties to the Tampa Bay Area.

Bucs inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell will coach one of the teams, while former Buccaneers and current Falcons tight end coach, Ben Steele will be in charge of the other.

Caldwell, who came to the Buccaneers in Bruce Arians’ first season has been in the NFL for a total of 11 years and had previously served as the assistant head coach and linebackers coach for the New York Jets under Todd Bowles for 4 seasons.

Steele, who has coached in the NFL for seven seasons reunited with Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter  in Atlanta after previously having been his tight end coach in Tampa Bay last year.

Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl, said in a statement about the coaching selections,

 “We’re very excited to have Mike Caldwell and Ben Steele as head coaches for our East-West Shrine Bowl all-stars,” said Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl. “Ben was a coordinator for our 2019 game and both coaches have ties to the Tampa/St. Pete area. They will lead two strong staffs of NFL assistant coaches that will be invaluable to our players as they begin their own journey to the NFL”

Meanwhile, the rosters do have some Florida flair, as several noteworthy names will be on the East team. That’s led by speedy UCF running back Adrian Killins, Gators wide receiver Freddie Swain and USF tight end Mitchell Wilcox. On the East defensive squad, FAU linebacker Rashad Smith, Miami linebacker Shaq quarterman and UCF defensive back Neville Clark are part of the roster.

This will be the 95th playing of the East-West Shrine Bowl and it boasts 71 Pro Football Hall of Famers that have played in their game. And, they also had more than 300 players who were on an NFL roster for Week 1 last year that have played in the East-West Shrine Bowl.

The game also announced that there will be four legendary mentors working with the players in practices later this week in St Pete. Those include: Hall of Fame offensive lineman Will Shields, Super Bowl Champion defensive end Willie McGinest, as well as, long time safety Bobby Taylor and long time wide receiver Amani Toomer.

The game will be played at Tropicana Field, the home of Major League Baseball Tampa Bay Rays and televised nationally on the NFL Network at 3 p.m., Eastern Time next Saturday.

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New Year’s Day has prominent teams in Florida Bowls

Florida Football Insiders



Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the new year begins, traditional college football bowl games will be taking place. And even though there are no Florida teams battling on New Year’s Day, there are two prominent bowl games in the state.

First, two of college football’s “Blue Bloods” play Wednesday afternoon, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Michigan Wolverines will do battle in the VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Both programs come off of disappointing end to their regular-season, as they both lost to their rivals. Alabama dropping a wild 48 – 45 game in the Iron Bowl to Auburn and Michigan losing badly 56-27 to Ohio State and their finale at home.

The Tide are without All American caliber quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who suffered a fractured hip late in the year. However, Nick Saban has arguably the best wide receiving corps in all of college football to compensate for Tagovailoa’s absence.

Michigan has perennially under-achieved under coach Jim Harbaugh, but would love nothing better than to score a head-to-head win against Bama in this one.

Meanwhile across I-4 in Tampa, the 25th playing of the Outback Bowl will take place and it’s a first-time matchup between the SEC Auburn Tigers and the big Ten’s Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The Gophers were Darlings of the Big Ten late in the year that they got to 9 – 0 for only the second time in program history before faltering with losses to Iowa and Wisconsin which knock them out of the Big Ten championship game. Their coach P.J. Fleck is the Big Ten coach of the year and has done an amazing job of making Minnesota nationally relevant.

As for the Tigers, we mentioned the victory over Alabama which was particularly sweet for Coach Gus Malzahn, who has been under fire in recent years for not living up to success earlier in the 2010s. Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix, the son of the former Auburn star Patrick Nix, leads a high-powered attack that will look to finish the season on a winning note. The Tigers lost their three biggest games of the year to Florida, LSU, and Georgia, but wins over Alabama and Minnesota will help.

The Gophers have had their most important season since they played in the Rose Bowl in 1962 and would love nothing better than to upset the Tigers in this one.

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