Georgia football: The recruiting tale of the tape with Florida and Dan Mullen

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Georgia does hold a clear edge on the recruiting trail with Florida in this week's big SEC matchup.

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? The Intel brings that. This entry takes a look at how well Georgia has recruited over the last four cycles and compares that to Florida’s work on the trail under Dan Mullen. For this post, we are using the recruiting rankings from the 247Sports Composite unless otherwise specified. 

The polls and the prime CBS afternoon time slot will bill Saturday’s big game as No. 5 Georgia versus No. 8 Florida.

The recruiting trail would not say these teams are that close. The 247Sports Team Talent Composite produces a measure of the elite recruiting talent that schools retained on their rosters for the 2020 season.

That matrix pegs this one as No. 1 Georgia versus No. 7 Florida. Take a look at how each roster is built.

That 5-star number for Florida includes three transfers in OLB Brenton Cox (Georgia), RB Lorenzo Lingard (Miami) and WR Justin Shorter (Penn State) in order to field a few 5-star prospects on the field. Florida didn’t have a single 5-star on the field in the 2019 matchup until “portaling” those three young men and finally signing a true high school 5-star in talented DT Gervon Dexter in the 2020 class.

While attempting to document big Georgia versus Florida battles on the recruiting trail over the last few years, a handful of names come to mind.

There really haven’t been many true tooth-and-nail slugfests here. At least not as much as one might expect. There were very few Georgia or Florida absolutes here.

That research leads to this snapshot for the recruiting classes from 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Prospects who considered Florida and Georgia heavily and chose UGA:

4-star QB Carson Beck (2020); 4-star DT Warren Brinson (2020); 4-star S Lewis Cine (2019); 5-star QB Justin Fields (2018); 4-star CB Jalen Kimber (2020); 4-star WR Marcus Romsey-Jacksaint (2020); 4-star WR Arian Smith (2020); 4-star CB Tyrique Stevenson (2019); 4-star OL Sedrick Van Pran-Granger (2020); 5-star TE Darnell Washington (2020); Mark Webb Jr. (2017); 4-star CB Divaad Wilson (2018) 

How many of those athletes lived in Florida or played high school ball in Florida? 6

How many of those athletes lived in Georgia or played high school ball in Georgia? 2

4-star OL Josh Bruan (2020); 5-star DT Gervon Dexter (2020): 4-star CB Kaair Elam (2019); 4-star WR Xzavier Henderson (2020); 4-star TE Kyle Pitts (2018).

How many of those athletes lived in Florida or played high school ball in Florida? 5

How many of those athletes lived in Florida or played high school ball in Georgia? 0

In short, it looks like the Bulldogs go down to Florida and hold their own on with players both schools want, including the rest of college football. Florida is not coming into Georgia and snatching up players that the Bulldogs rated highly on their board.

At least not outside of the transfer portal.

For the Bulldogs, it is an example here of roster retention. Or maybe an edge maintained by the fact that Georgia saw seven members of its program selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. Florida also saw the NFL draft seven players off its team, including three in the first three rounds from its 2019 defense.

How well have these two schools recruited over the last four cycles? Georgia has signed 81 blue-chip players (rated as 4-star recruits or higher since 2017. Florida has signed 54 of those blue-chip recruits.

Another good indicator is to compare the way these teams have recruited over the last three cycles.

  • Georgia’s blue-chip signees from 2018-2020: 62
  • Florida’s blue-chip signees from 2018-2020: 43

Players like that win these big SEC ballgames in November. The side that has more of those and those other elite blue-chip recruits should have the advantage.

(DISCLAIMER: Coaching and development also matter here. We can’t rightfully tout these stats this week and not also mention that Georgia had an 81-18 edge in that blue-chip ration over Kentucky, including a 49-1 edge in the signing of top 150 players dating back to 2017.) 

Georgia has built up a significant edge over Florida on the recruiting trail over the last four years. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

5 quick things for Saturday’s Georgia-Florida game 

Georgia holds a decided edge in the number of elite players

Georgia’s recruiting classes have finished with an average ranking of 1.7 over those last four cycles. Florida has finished with an average ranking of 10.8.

That has earned the Bulldogs an average ranking of 1.5 over the last four recruiting cycles in the SEC. The Gators have slotted in with an average recruiting finish of 5.0 in the conference since 2017.

  • 2017 recruiting rankings: (national/SEC): Florida: No. 11/No.5 and Georgia No. 3/No. 2
  • 2018 recruiting rankings: (national/SEC): Florida No. 14 /No. 4 and Georgia No. 1/No. 1
  • 2019 recruiting rankings: (national/SEC: Florida: No. 9/No. 6 and Georgia No. 2 /No. 2
  • 2020 recruiting rankings: (national/SEC): Florida No. 9/No.6 and Georgia No. 1/No. 1

That is not eye-opening, but the real wrinkle to be found was the amount of elite top 150 recruits each school has signed from 2017-2020.

  • Overall top 150 signees (Georgia): 49
  • Overall top 150 signees (Florida): 18
  • Overall top 150 signees (offense): Georgia 25, Florida 8
  • Overall top 150 signees (defense): Georgia 24, Florida 10 

An edge was also found in the measure of top 50 players signed by each school. Let’s look at those.

  • Top 50 signees (2017): Georgia 6, Florida 0
  • Top 50 signees (2018): Georgia 9, Florida 0
  • Top 50 signees (2019): Georgia 8, Florida 2
  • Top 50 signees (2020): Georgia 6, Florida 1

This is not just a matter of keeping up with an SEC rival here. The Florida program has not had a lot of success with 5-star and top 50 recruits over the last four cycles.

Regional and statewide recruiting vs. national recruiting 

Georgia’s recruiting has shifted to a national approach over the last few cycles. It had led to seeing the Bulldogs sign 13 more prospects from beyond talent-rich Georgia than home state prospects. That figure will also include 17 prospects from the state of Florida. That’s over half of the amount of in-state prospects (31) the Bulldogs have signed since 2017.

The Gators haven’t been so successful with elite national prospects outside of the Sunshine State. They have pulled half of their blue-chip prospects from Florida. It shows another key recruiting difference between the two programs. That said, it is not as eye-opening as the Gators not being able to match Georgia in signing elite recruits beyond the SEC’s recruiting footprint.

Florida has only been able to sign 11 blue-chip prospects over the last four years from states that do not have an SEC program within their borders. The Gators even had to sign three prospects from Virginia and one from the District of Columbia to reach that total.

Georgia has signed 17 elite national recruits who reside outside SEC recruiting territory, including top 50 recruits from Arizona, California, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania.

Florida recruiting Georgia

There are a number of Georgians on the Florida roster. Yet these weren’t successful recruiting battles for the Gators going head-to-head with the Bulldogs. As a result of the point made in the previous subhead, the Bulldogs looking outside their borders has resulted in a good frequency of blue-chip Georgia prospects winding up in Gainesville.

That number is seven, including five Peach State defensive prospects.

Florida looking outside its state for its DBs

South Florida speed. Florida speed.

There are dynamic athletes in the state of Florida. Yet when it comes to signing elite defensive back and wide receiver prospects, it looks like Florida has had to recruit out-of-state for its needs on defense.

The Gators have signed 14 blue-chip defensive backs over the last four cycles, but only five of those athletes went to high school in Florida. They even found three of those from the state of Georgia.

Florida has not needed to go out-of-state to sign its elite future receivers. Their last four recruiting classes have included seven homegrown receivers that earned at least a 4-star rating. That says a lot about the type of offense the Gators run and the strong profile for the school in attracting elite WRs compared to elite Florida defensive backs on the recruiting trail.

Florida’s blue-chip recruiting favors a certain side of the ball

The Gators are led by former 3-star recruit Kyle Trask (2016), an explosive weapon in former 3-star WR Kadarius Toney (2017) and a former 4-star TE in Kyle Pitts (2018) on offense. Those three data points show the recruiting rankings are an inexact science, but at least Pitts was rated as the nation’s No. 162 overall prospect in his class.

Florida is scoring at will so the easy assumption would be the Gators have focused on recruiting that offensive side of the ball.

It would not be the right assumption.

  • Overall 4-star and higher signees (Florida): 54
  • Overall 4-star and higher signees (Georgia): 81
  • Overall 4-star and higher signees (offense): Georgia 42; Florida 23
  • Overall 4-star and higher signees (defense): Georgia 39; Florida 31 

The other point to consider here is Florida’s recent use of the transfer portal. The Gators brought in seven players for their 2020 roster. That could be seen as a result of only signing an average of 21.8 student-athletes over the last four recruiting cycles. The NCAA will allow, even before some creative back counting with early enrollees, a maximum of 25 signees in each recruiting class.


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