The Florida Gators are one of college football’s proudest traditional Southern programs. Still, recent seasons have been a reminder that even the proud are occasionally brought back to reality.
Enter Dan Mullen. In his second year in Gainesville, the former Gators coordinator turned Mississippi State head coach is beating the recruiting trail to get the pipeline of talent he needs to make Florida a national title contender again. The efforts may not have developed Urban Meyer-level depth yet, but the Gators are on the rise.
Need proof? Just look at the team’s most recent commitment.
Clinton Burton Jr. is a four-star defensive back prospect out of St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.). In addition to Florida, Burton Jr. holds scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama, Clemson and a dozen other power programs. It’s not just that the 5-foot-11, 170 pound prospect committed to Florida. It’s that he committed to the Gators so early in the process.
By committing now, Burton Jr. becomes a de facto weapon for the Gators. He’ll be used to help recruit in peers at all-star combines and events and serve as a walking flag for the Gators nationwide. That’s the kind of loyalty that can make a huge difference for a recruiting class … assuming the prized pledge in question sticks by his original decision.
There’s no reason to believe that won’t be Burton Jr. for Florida in 2021. For now, the Gators’ recruiting Class of 2021 has stretched to five members, the current best in the SEC. Whether it stays like that or not, it serves as a signal that Mullen’s program in Gainesville has now truly hit its stride.