- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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The fact that Will Muschamp has deep-rooted ties to the SEC, and from a recruiting perspective, the Southeast, is pivotal and probably what shot him to the top of the board for Florida. He understands the pressure, competitive landscape and work ethic it takes to be successful in the profession. He has been groomed by the likes of Nick Saban, Tommy Tuberville and Mack Brown, and if anyone is ready to be a head coach, it is Muschamp.
The last few years at Texas as the coach in waiting, he has seen the CEO approach Brown takes, while before that he worked with Saban, who is involved in every nook and cranny of the program. So his experiences have shaped Muschamp's personality, approach and philosophy so that he is as ready as anyone could be for a job like Florida. Muschamp is a tireless worker and recruiter and as big of a job as Florida is, it is not too big for him.
The fact that Florida hired a high-profile name (even though he's not a head coach) and did it so quickly will only help the program. It should stop any potential bleeding in this current class and help the Gators as national signing day nears. Less than a week was wasted on the recruiting trail, as opposed to, say, Miami, which is in Week 2 of its search, and has seen its class, which was once ranked in the top 25, crumble.
His presence should be popular with the defensive prospects and while he will have to sell the offensive players on his vision, this is still the University of Florida we're talking about and he has enough pull to at least get them to listen. Let's face it -- it is not hard to recruit to Florida. It requires work, like any other job, but its history of success, tradition, location and other factors make it so the coach doesn't need to be a magician to land great players.
Defensively, he'll have the advantage of being his own coordinator and knowing who fits his scheme, and OLB Ryan Shazier fits well into that upfield, vertical attacking defense philosophy Muschamp employs. Shazier is a fast and aggressive, attacking edge rusher who will be making the move from end to OLB in college and should make his presence known as a blitzer in Muschamp's schemes. To play aggressively you need competitive corners who can lock down, and Muschamp has one of the better cover corners in the country with Nick Waisome and a terrific, ultra-quick, off-man type corner in De'Ante Saunders, if the versatile athlete plays defense in Gainesville.
Offensively, again, a lot of players will wait to see who he hires as his coordinator and what the scheme will be, but one player Muschamp and his staff will focus on trying to keep is Oviedo (Fla.) Hagerty five-star QB Jeff Driskel, who is the No. 1 signal-caller in the country and has been committed to the Gators since April. Driskel's skill set gives them options in how they develop their offense because of his arm and his ability to run.
The side note on all of this is how it affects Texas. There is a lot of turnover right now, but the bottom line is Texas is Texas. Muschamp is a great recruiter, but most of the players in that class are from Texas and they want to play at Texas regardless of who the defensive coordinator is. There are kids who grew up dreaming of wearing the burnt orange and white and when they got the offer, it took seconds for them to say yes. Muschamp leaving isn't likely to change that. You heard almost nothing from Texas recruits about leaving during the bad season and don't expect to hear too much rumbling now.
Florida is a good fit for Muschamp because it has the athletes in place to be successful and compete for a conference championship right now. The Gators have speed and athleticism and guys who can play in space. The X's and O's will depend on how the athletes fit into place and who he hires to run the scheme. Defensively you will likely see the same aggressive, attacking, upfield style that Muschamp has employed at Texas. Offensively they need to decide what the approach is initially based on the current instability at QB.
Muschamp has a great feel for personnel and he has an energetic, magnetic personality that will resonate with prospects and their parents and energize the fan base, alumni, administration and high school coaches. Muschamp and Florida can hit the ground running smoothly because he knows the landscape intimately within the recruiting region. His work ethic, attention to detail and hands-on approach from a recruiting perspective coupled with Florida's immense resources, history of success and bountiful talent pool is a recipe for long-term success.
Tom Luginbill is ESPN's national director of football recruiting. ESPN recruiting coordinators Craig Haubert and Billy Tucker contributed to this report.