GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- After a couple of sub-par seasons on the field, Florida's brand remains very strong among top high school prospects. Head coach Will Muschamp experienced a dip with his first recruiting class (ranked No. 12) in 2010, but quickly had UF back near the top with a top-five class in 2011. Now the Gators are contending for the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.
Percy Harvin, left, and Tim Tebow took Florida to the statosphere with two national championships.
Four-star offensive linemen Cameron Dillard (Canton, Mich./Canton) is one of six out-of-state commits for the Gators. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound center prospect thinks there are a few reasons why Muschamp has continued to keep Florida's brand strong amongst recruits.
"It's the coaching staff. They are a team that's always pushing forward, never getting in trouble and always doing the right thing. It's just a team you can look at to set an example," Dillard said. "They do a great job every year. Coach Muschamp's vision for the team is great. They always bring in the top athletes in the country and get the athletes to the next level."
Despite sliding with 15-11 record over the last two years, the Gators have three national championships on their resume and have sent numerous players to the NFL. In 2011 alone, Florida had 35 former players on NFL rosters.
Tim Tebow, who could be the most popular athlete to ever play at UF, and Percy Harvin are two of the more recognizable names to play for the Gators. Top 2014 wide receiver prospect Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer) said it was players like Tebow and Harvin who made him grow up a fan of the Gators.
"I've always liked Florida," Dixon said. "It was my childhood favorite. They've just always been my team. Like Percy was an animal and Tebow, they were just a great team."
Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe offensive linemen Kenny Lacy, a Florida target, reiterated Dillard's and Dixon's thoughts. Lacy says the Gators have a national brand because of their history of bringing in top players.
"I was attracted to Florida for the tradition of winning they have, and they always have the top players," Lacy said. " They haven’t been winning as much lately but any year they have the potential to go to a national bowl."
For Dillard, it's not just about Florida's history of success on the field, it's the academic success that caught his attention.
"Everybody talks about their athletics," Dillard said. "Their athletics are always good, but their academics are what everybody looks at. It's a very prestigious school to go to."
Whether its sending players to the NFL, famous alumni or academic success, the Gators continue to have one of the most recognizable brands in the country. If the recruiting success the Gators are enjoying this year translates into wins on the field, Florida will continue to be a national power.