GAINESVILLE — Coming off a 4-8 season, Florida's recruiting challenge was getting top-notch players to regard this past season as out of the norm.
When national signing day ended Wednesday, coach Will Muschamp was convinced the Gators were successful in that effort, saying he was "proud" of the class.
"At the end of the day, it's still the University of Florida, " Muschamp said. "It's a top 10 public institution. It's a big-time degree. It's one of the few places in the country — and I tell parents this, and I tell recruits this — where you can realistically win a national championship on and off the field."
Florida added 15 players to the nine who enrolled in January. Of the 24, 15 are from the state of Florida. The Gators finished No. 7 nationally according to Rivals, No. 6 by ESPN, No. 8 in Tom Lemming's cbssports.com rankings and No. 9 by 247Sports.
"I don't know where we ended up as far as any rankings and all," Muschamp said. "I don't get overly concerned with that."
THE BIG FLIP: In the final week, the Gators landed Miami Booker T. Washington QB Treon Harris, who had been an FSU commit. That puts two state championship-winning QBs in this class (joining Parade national player of the year Will Grier). "Competition is the best motivator, and there's no question those guys will both work," Muschamp said. "They're both winners."
MAKING THE SWITCH: Tampa Jefferson's Deiondre Porter's days as a quarterback will end at UF. Muschamp said Porter will play cornerback and projects very well to defensive back.
TAKE TIME TO MATURE: Muschamp said he's excited about the addition of Clearwater Central Catholic's Justus Reed, but it might be awhile before Reed makes his debut because he'll likely redshirt; Muschamp would like Reed, who is 220 pounds, at 235. He made his impression at Florida's camps. "He verticaled 36 inches; he broad jumped over 10 feet," Muschamp said. "He's a very explosive guy. That's kind of what you're looking for, especially at that position, a guy that's kind of a hybrid outside linebacker, defensive end."
FULFILLING HUGE NEEDS: With an offensive line depleted by graduation, the Gators signed five offensive linemen, including Andrew Mike of Tucson, Ariz., who flipped from Vanderbilt on Tuesday. UF also addressed the need for offensive playmakers with three tight ends and WRs Ryan Sousa and C.J Worton, a former FSU oral commitment. "You know, Ryan caught over 100 passes, and C.J. was as competitive a guy in the state championship game as you'll ever see —three touchdown catches in the state title game there for South Dade," Muschamp said. "So I'm excited about those two guys."
Notable: RB Matt Jones, a former Armwood standout, had surgery to finish repairing torn meniscus in his left knee. Muschamp said Jones is 90 percent healed and should be ready for summer workouts. … S Cody Riggs, who started every game last season, is on pace to graduate in May and will transfer for his final season. … Former Gator LB Mike Peterson, who played 14 seasons in the NFL, was named to a full-time position on the weight-training staff.
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]