Fact or Fiction: Texas A&M is out in front for Rueben Owens
Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney and national recruiting analysts Sam Spiegelman and Ryan Wright along with Conner Clarke from GatorsTerritory.com tackle three topics and determine whether they believe each statement is FACT or FICTION.
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1. Florida’s recruiting will suffer because defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy were let go over the weekend.
Gorney’s take: FACT. Neither Todd Grantham nor John Hevesy were doing an amazing job in recruiting and Florida has struggled because of it with the No. 12 class in the SEC and that is inexcusable. Those two aren’t the scapegoats as others have to step it up as well since conference teams and other national powers are eating their lunch. Maybe getting rid of those two could bolster recruiting with a new vigor and vision toward what the Gators are trying to build but uncertainty hurts at this time of year as well. The Early Signing Period is just weeks away and it’s doubtful elite players are going to pick Florida not knowing the future of their position coaches or much about some possible new hires. I get why Dan Mullen made these moves but from a recruiting perspective I don’t see much upside right now.
Clarke’s take: FICTION. When you look at the Gators’ 2022 recruiting class there are only four commits on the defensive side of the ball; Jamari Lyons, Francois Nolton, EJ Lightsey and Jamarrien Burt. Florida isn’t exactly setting the world on fire in recruiting at this time and Grantham wasn’t the primary recruiter for any of Florida’s commits or any prospect that Florida still has a decent shot of landing. Lightsey and Nolton have both already commented saying the firing of Florida’s defensive coordinator caught them by surprise but has no effect on their commitment status. With Hevesy, it’s no secret that he was not a good recruiter. He has struggled to land blue-chip offensive linemen since he stepped foot in Gainesville and this year’s class might be the worst of them. The Gators' only offensive line commits are the two lowest-rated prospects in the class outside of kicker Trey Smack. At a school that has the pedigree and resources that UF does there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be able to land quality players in the trenches but Hevesy found a way to do just that. This move could prove to be addition by subtraction for the Gators.
2. Cormani McClain released his top five over the weekend. Florida is still by far the team to beat in his recruitment.
Gorney’s take: FACT. Cormani McClain does not say much about his recruitment so it’s tough to always get an accurate gauge on what he’s thinking but Florida has to love its spot with him. A coaching change at the top or more assistant firings could completely change my perspective here but the Gators were the dream team for him growing up and continue to interest him despite the struggles this season. I would not be surprised to see other schools bounce in and out of his favorites but McClain doesn’t seem to love recruiting, we know he likes Florida a whole lot so it could be tough to beat.
Wright’s take: FACT. On Sunday night, McClain released his top-five listing Alabama, Florida, BYU, Ohio State and Miami. The shocking omission on the list was Florida State, where four-star 2022 DB teammate Sam McCall is committed to play. From the outside, McClain’s list came with serious consideration taking numerous trips all over the country, but BYU, Florida and Miami keep popping up throughout his recruiting process.
Though no fault of McClain’s, the timing of the release was unfortunate. Riding a three-game losing streak during a three-game road stint with an embarrassing 40-17 loss to South Carolina over the weekend, coach Dan Mullen fired defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy on Sunday. The Gators consistently produce NFL defensive backs, one assumes Mullen will hire an elite defensive coordinator and Gainesville will always be a two-hour car ride from Lake Gibson. Any ground lost with McClain on Sunday can easily be made up with the right hire. Florida remains a front-runner for McClain.
3. Texas A&M is now the team in front for former Texas commit Rueben Owens.
Gorney’s take: FACT. I am not counting out Texas or others for Rueben Owens because those teams are still very much in his recruitment and programs pop in and out all the time for the 2023 four-star because he’s so talented and so electric on the field. But after his weekend trip to College Station, I get the sense Texas A&M has made huge strides in landing him. Owens even said so himself when he told me, “They are in a great place for me,” after his weekend trip. That could be some post-visit euphoria but the Aggies are definitely doing everything right in his recruitment and I’d say they have an edge right now.
Spiegelman’s take: FICTION. I am not ruling out Texas, but there is definitely the feeling that the battle for Owens will be between a handful of in-state teams. A one-time Longhorns commitment, Owens backed off that pledge and has been to College Station multiple times already this fall. Members of the A&M staff were on hand at El Campo on Friday as Owens put on a show in the regular-season finale. Texas is in no way out of it, but he has yet to return to Austin since backing off his early commitment. This should be a high-profile in-state recruiting battle at the top of the 2023 class.