Will Muschamp's Hot Seat Affecting Florida Football's 2015 Recruiting Class

By Brad Stephens
Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell – USA TODAY Sports

Upon scouring the team recruiting rankings for 2015, one name you will not see near the top is the Florida Gators. While it is still early in the game, the Gators are currently ranked No. 26 by 247sports.com and No. 31 by Rivals.com. The majority of their SEC brethren, along with in-state rivals Miami and Florida State, are ranked higher and are picking up big-time commitments left and right.

Should the Gator faithful be concerned about the slow start? Possibly. The state of Florida is chock-full of talent, and many of these prospects have taken unofficial visits to Gainesville and met with the coaches. The mutual interest is there, and plenty of spots are available if and when these players want to commit.

However, the highly-rated prospects are holding off, and the reason is as glaring as the Florida sun in July. Will Muschamp‘s seat is burning up, and everyone in the country knows it. The upcoming season will be his last if the Gators are not competing for an SEC East title, and athletic director Jeremy Foley could pull the trigger at a moment’s notice. Recruits and parents are aware of this, and the prospect of enduring a coaching change in their freshman season is not very enticing.

The 2015 recruiting class will hinge on the state of the program on Nov. 2. That is the Sunday after the Georgia game, and if Florida is not sitting pretty at that point, Muschamp will be out of a job. Foley will have to find an energetic coach to step in and salvage the class before Signing Day. He did it with Urban Meyer, and he can certainly do it again; the Florida head coaching job is not a hard sell.

There are plenty of talented players who could commit to Florida on the spot if some reassurance comes to light. Byron Cowart, Cece Jefferson and George Campbell are three five-star players from Florida who could turn this class around and propel the Gators into another Top 10 finish in recruiting. Other players would take notice and opt to jump on the bandwagon before it fills up.

Cowart and Jefferson are defensive linemen who would carry on the tradition of athletic and relentless play in the trenches. They visited Florida together last month, and the latest reports indicate they want to attend the same school. Campbell is arguably the top wide receiver in the nation and has the size and speed (6-foot-3, 184 pounds, 4.36 40-yard dash) to be a game-changer in Florida’s offensive scheme. Rest assured, the Gators will roll out the red carpet for each of these recruits until Signing Day.

In recruiting, it is not how you start, but how you finish. For the Gators, that finish will be predicated on  Muschamp’s ability to convince recruits that he will be their coach and ultimately, the performance of the team in the upcoming season. If Florida can get rolling again, big-time recruits will come out of hiding and turn this lean class into a strong one. If the Gators keep slipping and cannot get a coach in place, this class could be the worst in recent memory.

Brad Stephens is an SEC Football writer for Rantsports.com. Feel free to follow on Twitter @bradstephens320 or add him to your Google network.

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