Why are Florida's five-star players leaving the state?
Rivals has an interesting story here on the exodus of elite prospects from Florida. Only five of the 13 players with five-star status from 2011 or 2012 stayed in the state to play college football. That includes Lakewood DE Dante Fowler (UF) and Plant RB James Wilder Jr. (FSU).
Compare those numbers to 2002 and 2003. Rivals writes that the state produced 11 five-star players in those years – and they all signed with Florida programs. Why the change?
I agree with Rivals’ premise that top players are leaving because the Gators, Seminoles and Hurricanes have struggled recently. Why play for a so-so UF team when you can play for a national title at Alabama?
I’ll add two other theories. All three schools have had coaching changes since 2010. That instability means coaches haven’t had as much time to build relationships with the elite prospects, who are identified and recruited earlier in their high school careers than, say, a two-star offensive guard.
Second, the SEC’s profile has continued to rise the last few years. One of the biggest factors in a recruit’s decision is proximity to home. How often can my friends and family come see me play? If a player goes to the SEC, his parents can see him play often – and he’ll play for a high-profile program with a shot at a national title. That sounds like a good option to some top players.
What do you think? Why have top talents left Florida over the last few years? Do you think the trend will reverse itself soon?