Stefon Diggs signing with Maryland was a huge event for the Terrapins' program. But it also meant something to the teams who lost out on Diggs -- particularly Ohio State and Florida. Both the Buckeyes and Gators signed top-five classes, but both fanbases are a bit bummed over not signing a dynamic receiver.
Ohio State felt good about its position with Diggs. So good in fact, that Ohio State passed on its opportunity to take Davonte Neal, a talented receiver out of Arizona. Neal will now consider Arizona, Notre Dame, Arkansas and North Carolina.
Florida went into signing day feeling good about its chance to sign at least one of Diggs and Tampa receiver Nelson Agholor. Agholor ended up at USC, and Florida failed to land a dynamic receiver.
So Urban Meyer is left to wonder who will play the famed "Percy" position, as he told Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel:
"The question I have is, do we have that dynamic player on offense?" said Meyer. "Where's the Ted Ginns of the world? Were they hiding [last] year? I hope we have those guys. That's a big concern of mine right now."
The "Percy" position is a thing of legend in recruiting circles. Just what is it? Whatever Meyer wants to tell a recruit it is. Primarily, however, it is a hybrid receiver and running back position used in Meyer's spread option attack. At Florida, it was manned by Percy Harvin, and thus the name. The position often goes in motion and was used by Meyer at Florida to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. And it doesn't require a lot of football knowledge, allowing the athletically talented but perhaps inexperienced player to get on the field early.
To be clear, Stefon Diggs is not Percy Harvin. Both have great speed and acceleration, but what made Harvin special at Florida was his ability to gain an incredible amount of muscle once he got on campus without losing that speed. Harvin became a power back with elite speed.
But while Diggs is likely not going to do what Harvin did, he would still likely be the best playmaking talent in Columbus. Meyer's offense runs a lot better when it has a freak who can turn a slight defensive mistake into a long score.
The same could likely be said if Diggs had landed at Florida. The Gators do have Andre Debose, who is a great athlete and flashed some in 2011. But Debose has been plagued by injury, and so far, has been unable to master much other than a go route. Diggs could be used in a a greater variety of ways than Debose can. UF's new offensive coordinator from Boise State, Brent Pease, would certainly like to have a dynamic playmaker to work the underneath stuff when Debose goes deep, particularly when having to break in a new quarterback for an offense that produced the 65th best season a year ago.
And Florida fans are particularly miffed at failing to land a dynamic receiver because the same thing happened last recruiting cycle, in which the Gators signed Jajuan Story, a talented athlete with little to no idea how to play the receiver position as of yet. The pressure will be on Florida's receiver coach, Aubrey Hill, to develop what is on the roster.
It would probably be unwise to bet on Meyer missing at the position again next year. And Ohio State is wasting no time recruiting receivers, as offers are already out to six top receivers, and a commitment from a talented athlete who could play receiver. Please remember that the 2013 recruiting cycle is just beginning, and that many other top prospects will emerge as their film is distributed through the recruiting channels.
Jalin Marshall is that athlete. He plays quarterback for Middletown (Oh) High School, but the 6'0", 190-pounder's talent is his athleticism. He may get a shot at playing quarterback in college, but unless he grows some and improves as a passer, Marshall will likely end up somewhere else than under center. Marshall is probably the top athlete in the country at this early juncture, and is a difference maker.
The top target for the Buckeyes is undoubtedly Robert Foster. Foster is a 6'3", 190-pound receiver out of Monaca (Pa.) Central Valley who already holds 15 scholarship offers. Many consider Foster to be the top receiver in the country, and with his combination of speed, instincts and body control, it's hard to argue otherwise. In a normal year, Foster would be a tough pull for Ohio State. But with all the stuff going on at Penn State, Meyer had no trouble taking whoever he wanted from the Nittany Lions. It will be interesting to see if that continues, and if Foster wants to play his college ball up North.
The Buckeyes also recently offered receiver Laquon Treadwell, a top receiver out of Crete (Il.) Monee High School. Treadwell is another big target at 6'3" and 200 pounds. At this point, he is probably one of the best 10 receiver recruits in the country. Treadwell's recruitment has all the makings of a classic Buckeyes-Wolverines battle. And even if he commits early, neither school will give up on recruiting top prospects.
Florida has similarly hit the trail hard looking for dynamic playmakers at the receiver position. Look for Florida to take three or four in this cycle.
One such prospect is Stacy Coley, of Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Northeast High School. Early last year, there were questions as to Coley's grades and some wondered if he would be able to get into a school. That talk was seemingly premature, however, and insiders feel Coley has vastly improved his chances of avoiding the JUCO or prep route. The 6'1", 175 pound receiver is easily one of the 10 best in the country. He has excellent speed and body control, plucks the ball well and plays with a lot of confidence. Other offers for Coley include Florida State, West Virginia and North Carolina. Expect that list to grow.
The Gators have also offered Demarcus Robinson, a talented prospect out of Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County High School. Robinson is very well put together at 6'3" and 200 pounds. He has good speed and physically is way too much for high school defensive backs to handle. Robinson also holds offers from Clemson and Georgia. Florida has a real shot at this Peach State recruit.
Other targets for Florida include Ahmad Fullwood, of Jacksonville (Fla.) Bishop Kenny. As expected, Fullwood dominates the sub-par competition he faces at his private school. Clemson insiders believe the Tigers are in good shape for this 6'4", 200 pound wideout, but signing day is 11 months away.
The Gators are also after a pair of products from Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln High School in Reggie Davis and Taj Williams, having already received a commitment from teammate James Hearns, a linebacker. Davis is a 6'1", 160 pound burner with offers from Georgia, Miami and Notre Dame. Williams is a 6'4", 165 pound leaper with good speed as well. Both need to add strength in a college weight program, but are both top prospects as well.
The success of Meyer and Muschamp doesn't depend solely on landing elite receiver recruits, but it sure could make things easier in Columbus and Gainesville.