Florida under Dan Mullen never lacked for talent but there were some key recruits the Gators missed on that could have put them in better position to compete for national titles. Take a look at some of the impact recruits Florida missed on while under the leadership of Mullen.
Clemson locked up Davis fairly early in the process but the Gators didn’t stop recruiting him after he announced his pledge to the Tigers in April of his junior year. His career at Clemson got off to a fast start in his first year. Davis saw significant time in seven games as a freshman and ended the season with two interceptions. The start to his sophomore season didn’t go how he was hoping. The talented cornerback was disciplined for a traffic accident in August and he has seen his playing time dip dramatically. Still, the talented defensive back is somebody the Gators really wanted on their team.
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Harris was a tremendously talented defensive end prospect from South Florida and the end of his recruitment was fairly dramatic. He was a long time Miami commit before opening things back up. Harris took plenty of visits, including to Florida, before committing to Texas A&M in November of his senior season. The Gators were still very much in the mix for his commitment though. They hosted him for an official visit in early December but he took his official visit to College Station the following weekend and signed with the Aggies later that month.
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Like Davis, Ladson committed to Clemson in the spring of his junior year but the Gators never stopped pursuing him. Florida was one of his early offers and definitely had his attention early in the process. He did make it over to campus for a few visits but the offer from Clemson was just too enticing for him to not jump on it early in the process. His career hasn’t had the start that many expected but he’s still solid option for the Tigers and could have thrived in Gainesville.
Lucas was a major target for the Gators throughout the recruiting process and they were one of his final contenders. Lucas was very familiar with the campus in Gainesville and developed some strong relationships with the coaches on staff. Offensive line was a big area of need for Florida throughout Mullens’ tenure and he would have done a lot to strengthen that position group but Florida State ended up hanging onto his commitment in the end. Lucas‘ career hasn’t gone the way he expected expected it to and he is now in the transfer portal.
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Early in Mullen’s tenure at Florida, Petit-Frere was one of his top targets. Florida was a major contender for him, receiving an official visit two weeks before Signing Day, but it didn’t seem like there was a lot of time to build momentum in his recruitment. Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State also got official visits but he decided Ohio State was the place for him. Again, needs along the offensive line were a big priority for Mullens during his time at Florida and signing Petit-Frere would have done a lot to make it more of an area of strength.
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Every program in the country was after Sanders when he was a high school prospect but Florida seem to have his attention for a lot longer than almost all the teams involved. He was a phenomenal high school back that seems like a no-brainer early impact prospect at the college level but after signing with Alabama he was involved in a car accident that sidelined him for a long time. Who knows what would’ve happened if he had signed with Florida but it certainly would have brought a bit more balance to their offensive attack.
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The interior of Florida’s defense was never a strong point under Mullen but Smith had the skill set to plug those holes in Florida defensive front. An in-state prospect with many of the top programs around the country coming after him, Smith ended up choosing Alabama despite a long recruitment from Florida. The Gators never backed off of Smith throughout his recruitment but they were able to host him on a couple of visits. Smith committed to Alabama in the summer before his senior season but took an official visit in mid-December. It’s obvious the Gators weren’t able to capitalize on those chances to impress him in person but it’s interesting to think about what could’ve happened if Smith did end up signing with Florida.
Stevenson‘s college career has been anything but smooth but the former Georgia signee was high on Florida’s wish list when he was a recruit. Miami, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Alabama and many others were involved in his recruitment and he let things play out into January of his senior year. The Dawgs ended up getting him but his career barely got off the ground in Athens before he decided to transfer to Miami. He’s become more of a solid player player for the Canes but Florida certainly could’ve used his skill set on the backend.
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Taylor would’ve been a massive addition for the Gators because the interior of the defensive line would’ve been much more stout with him manning the front. An in-state recruit that seriously entertained the Gators, Taylor was heavily pursued by Miami, Florida State and a number of other national programs. He ended up staying in south Florida, signing with Miami and has seen significant time early in his career.
Walker had a very interesting recruitment but the Florida Gators were really interested in adding him to their defensive front. An athletic and defensive end that could rush the passer but also stand up against the run, Walker certainly would have made Florida’s defense more dynamic. A number of national programs were after the Georgia prospect. Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Auburn hosted him for official visits but he ultimately decided to sign with Auburn.
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