Dan Mullen has been on the job in Gainesville as the new head football coach for less than a month. With little time to thoroughly evaluate a program that had fallen on hard times since he left as offensive coordinator to take over the Mississippi State program, he knew he had to hit the ground running on the recruiting trail.
Meanwhile Gator Nation watched nervously as a previously top ten ranked class began to unravel with top rated recruits decommitting one after another.
The angst and anxiety came to a head a week ago as top 100 quarterback commit Matt Corral flipped his commitment to SEC West rival Ole Miss after an in-home visit from Mullen and quarterback coach Brian Johnson.
Mullen always has a plan.
He immediately contacted All American and Elite 11 finalist Emory Jones, an Ohio State commit, and brought him down for an official visit with the dead period and early signing day looming.
As the nations 2nd ranked dual threat quarterback, Jones is much better suited to run Mullen’s spread offense than the pro-style Corral and what many didn’t know is that Dan had a rabbit up his sleeve.
Mullen was the first to offer Jones when he was a freshman and despite a later commitment to Mullen’s old boss Urban Meyer, Johnson continued to maintain a relationship with the qb.
On Wednesday Mullen’s quick thinking and Johnson’s hard work paid off when Jones put on the Gators cap to announce his commitment and subsequent signing with Florida.
The staff assembled in the Gators signing day war room broke out in celebration with high-fives and Gator chomps as Gator Nation itself let out a collective sigh of relief.
Afterwards Mullen noted that Jones had texted him Tuesday night with good news.
Considering the Gators well known offensive struggles and poor quarterback play since Mullen left after the 2008 championship season, everyone including Dan knew that landing a top flight qb was more than imperative, it was the MOST important piece of this recruiting class.
And with less than a month on the trail and less than a week since Corral left the class, Mullen pulled it off beating out recruiting titans Meyer and Saban in the process as well as a late push from FSU effectively earning the nickname Magic Man Dan.
Just like that, the Gators got a leader for the #AllBite18 recruiting class, a big time quarterback, and most of all: a winner.
Take a behind-the-scenes look at the Gators signing day war room and the coaches reaction to Jones’s commitment here.