AP Top 25 College Football
Good thing for Tennessee that Saturday's game with Florida won't be determined by recruiting stars. The Vols wouldn't have a chance.
Never mind how fast the Gators have fallen from the top of college football. You couldn't tell it by the recruiting stars.
Based on all the four- and five-star recruits, this Florida roster isn't any different from the ones that produced national championships in 2006 and 2008. The recruiting and records have gone their separate ways, though.
The Gators went 8-5 in coach Urban Meyer's farewell season in 2010. A year later, they dropped to 7-6 in Will Muschamp's first season as a head coach.
In fact, they have dropped so far that their climb back to 18th in the latest Associated Press poll qualifies as progress for a program that not long ago would have been embarrassed at exclusion from the top 10.
Yet the recruiting reviews suggest Florida still should be slugging it out with Alabama and LSU at the top of the SEC. The Gators' current depth chart is just as appealing from a recruiting-service vantage point.
Their starting defense includes six five-star recruits when everyone is healthy (linebacker Jelani Jenkins and end Ronald Powell are both out for Saturday's game). Seven of the offensive starters had at least a four-star rating, and five-star offensive tackle Matt Patchan was a projected starter before suffering an injury in the preseason.
Although the Vols have upgraded their talent under coach Derek Dooley, they can't match Florida's recruiting stars. If you check their starters' recruiting resumes, they basically have a four-star defense and a three-star offense.
But that three-star of
fense is averaging 43 points and 541 yards through two games. And former three-star recruit Tyler Bray is throwing the ball as well as any five-star quarterback in college football.
Florida sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel was assigned five stars coming out of high school. But if this game turns into a passing competition between Driskel and Bray, UT fans will be celebrating afterward.
Despite its 2-0 start, Florida bears little resemblance to a star-studded team. It led Bowling Green by only three points after three quarters of the season opener and looked overmatched in the first half against Texas A&M before rallying for a 20-17 victory Saturday.
Moreover, if you compared highlight videos after two games, you never would guess that recruiting services gave the Gators an advantage in star power.
Bray's passing would get your attention first. Next, you might notice UT wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, a five-star recruit himself, who is way too fast and shifty for his size. And then, wide receiver Justin Hunter.
You want to see a star Gator? Then check out placekicker Caleb Sturgis on fourth down.
Tennessee fans can only hope this game doesn't come down to a kicking duel between Sturgis and the Vols' flavor of the week. But they shouldn't mind taking their chances with UT's three-star offense against Florida's five-star defense.