When new head coach Jim McElwain took over the reins of the Florida Gators football program he stressed the point of regaining a recruiting presence in the talent laden areas of Florida, Miami in particular.
To that end, his first position coach hire was Randy Shannon. The former Miami Hurricanes head coach has spent almost his entire career in Miami, first as a star linebacker on a national championship squad, then as an assistant, as defensive coordinator, and finally as head coach.
While his time as head coach was largely forgettable in the win/loss column, his ties to the high school programs in and around Miami are deep and are already paying dividends for the Gators.
After picking up linebacker Rayshad Jackson from Miami (FL) Norland in the last recruiting cycle, Shannon and the Gators picked up two more commitments from Miami on Tuesday when 2016 linebacker Vosean Joseph, also from Norland, and 2016 DE Eric Mitchell from Miami Central both pledged to the Gators.
Joseph (6-1 210), like Jackson, is an undersized but athletic linebacker whose strength is his speed and versatility.
Projected as an outside linebacker he could bulk up and play inside as well and could even play as a defensive back in nickel and dime situations.
Here’s what Larry Blustein of South Florida High School Sports had to say about Joseph:
“Here is one of those talented athletes who has the chance to be very special because he plays the game fast, strong and at a high level. While he will be a very good offensive player, his instincts on defense certainly will showcase his football skill level. Has very good speed and is not easy to bring down.”
Mitchell (6-3 225) is another undersized but very athletic player. A good pass rusher with a quick first step, he’s still a little under the radar but called Florida his “dream school” in an interview with 247sports recruiting analyst Ryan Bartow.
Last season he had 70 tackles, 18 sacks, and an interception. He’s projected as a weak side defensive end at Florida.
“After watching him play last year – in a number of games when he was at Miami Jackson – this is indeed a rising junior who has the chance to be very special. While he can play on the offensive side of the ball as a tight end, what he does on defense is going to turn heads in a major way. Mitchell is a tremendous football prospect that will make an impression in the off season and throughout the spring. He is a cat-quick pass rusher who will get after just about anyone.”
So it hasn’t taken long for Shannon and the Gators to make their presence known not only in south Florida in general but in some of the richest high school programs as well.
Luther Campbell, the brash and always outspoken former lead man for the hip hop group 2 Live Crew and now defensive coordinator at Norland, has been talking a lot about Florida’s new recruiting presence in Miami.
A few days ago he tweeted this about Joseph:
And then this about Mitchell after the Gators offered him:
And then finally this:
So fellow Norland alum Shannon has been busy working his old Miami pipelines and the other state schools have been put on notice that the Gators are back with a strong in-state recruiting presence.