GAINESVILLE -- Trying to predict future production based on past performance makes the world of college football recruiting one of sports’ biggest guessing games.
Florida coach Will Muschamp loves to remind reporters of this fact with a favorite axiom: “It’s not add water, instant player.” But in the case of incoming 2013 wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, Muschamp gladly would accept being wrong just this once.
Robinson, 6-2, 200, has the potential to be everything Florida lacked at the position in 2012.
Plodding and pounding down the field, racking up yards and scoring points at what seemed like a snail’s pace compared with the up-tempo, hurry-up styles becoming popular across college football, Florida in 2012 earned a label as a smash-mouth, grind-it-out team.
But is that truly what Muschamp wants from the Gators offense? Not quite. Before Florida’s lack of a pass game was critically exposed in the team’s Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville, Muschamp spoke about where he sees the Gators offense going.
“We want to be more vertical with the passing game,” he said. “We want to continue to develop that. We want to be able to spread some people out.”
Robinson has the potential to do that for Florida.
As a senior at Peach County High in Fort Valley, Ga., Robinson recorded 47 catches for 957 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had another 53 receptions for 1,024 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior. After watching him dominate the competition in practice at the Army All-American Bowl last month, Rivals.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell called Robinson “the deep threat Florida needs.”
Although quarterback Jeff Driskel led the team to 11 wins in his sophomore campaign, he and the Gators passing offense left plenty to be desired, ranking eighth-worst in terms of yards per game last season. Muschamp recently admitted the team overachieved this season despite several glaring deficiencies. The main one, other than Driskel’s inexperience, was the team’s lack of a threat at wide receiver.
“In this league, you’re going to have a hard time running consistently well,” Muschamp said. “Having the ability to do that is good. But you’ve also got to be able to thread people down the field.
“If you’re able to do that, not stay one-dimensional, you’ll certainly help yourself. And we’ll continue to do so. We’ll continue to do that.”
And although that process usually takes time, overnight success isn’t out of the question.
As a freshman out of Miami Northwestern, wide receiver Amari Cooper caught 58 passes for 999 yards and 11 touchdowns for Alabama, which runs a pro-style scheme similar to what Robinson will experience at Florida. Cooper kept the defense honest, opening up holes for the running game and helping the Tide win a second national championship in a row.
After missing on similarly high-profile recruits in recent years, Florida has, in Robinson, finally landed a top-flight receiver capable of making a difference.
Ranked the nation’s No. 51 overall recruit and the No. 5 receiver in the class, according to Rivals.com, Robinson is already enrolled at Florida, choosing to get a head start on his freshman season.
Although Robinson’s development certainly will be more complicated than simply adding water and expecting a dynamic offensive option to appear, Muschamp has some fertile ground in which to experiment.
And that’s something new for Florida.