Desirrio Riles walked on the sidelines of the Florida indoor practice facility on Friday evening, moving from station to station while participating in drills and tests in front of a host of Gators staff members and other potential clients who attended the Friday Night Lights camp of the program.
A disengaged potential three-star athlete, Riles has received looks from some programs like a dead end. Others, like Florida, see the 6 foot 3, 225 pounds as a potential defense adaptation as a linebacker.
But Riles has not yet received a scholarship offer from the Gators, at least in part because the program had to evaluate him further. And to help them do that, Riles was fitted with a Catapult tracking vest during his field experience, a device that allows Florida to track things like his top speed in miles per hour, heart rate. and total steps, among other things.
It is a tool that allows Gators coaches to gain insight into player performance beyond what the eye can see during a workout, a level of attention to detail in the recruiting process that the head coach Billy Napier prefigured after his assumption.
“This is a talent acquisition business,” Napier said in December. “We will work tirelessly in this area”.
Riles wasn’t the only prospect wearing a Catapult vest on Friday night. The four-star Utah running back is committed Michele Mitchellthat Florida staff have been keeping an eye on for the past few months, also wore one throughout the evening as well as the offensive lineman from De La Salle High School in New Orleans (La.) Caden Jones.
“We will be very patient and calculated about everything we do,” Napier said on multiple occasions.
Catapult technology is a potentially significant tool for the Gators in their quest to identify and develop talent, something they proved they could do at an extremely high level during their time in Louisiana, when they were one of the most successful Group 5 programs. of the country in a four-year period.
Current coach of the Florida offensive line Rob Sale developed three of the five offensive linemen enlisted out of Louisiana since 1989 and identified many other top-tier talent who almost certainly had the ability to play Power 5 football.
Current Florida Co-Defense Coordinator and Securities Coach Patrizio Toni had similar success to Sale on the defensive in two seasons with the Ragin Cajuns.
“I mean, point to me,” former Louisiana offensive lineman Max Mitchell She said. “Use me as an example. As a freshman, I wasn’t that good. I could have shown some promise, but I wasn’t great. Then you saw a big improvement. Dynasties are not built overnight. If you let Coach Napier and Coach Sale build what they want to build and value talent in the way they know how something really special could be. “
Now Napier and his staff have more resources at their disposal, such as Catapult, to help them in the process of identifying talent. It’s something that could give them more insight into potential elite customers, while also helping them find players who might be flying under the radar, something they were clearly trying to do during the Friday Night Lights session on July 29.
“We are going to go through a very thorough evaluation process,” Napier said.
Attention to detail was among the most important themes of Napier’s young tenure in Florida. In the spring, the new leader Gator said that everything has its place in a schedule in his system and every activity within that facility is deliberated from meals to team meetings to practicing and even spending time at home with the team. family, something many of his Florida staff members said is a critical aspect of the head coach’s routine.
“When he first came here, he made us write our programs and everything we do,” senior linebacker Amari Burney said in the spring. “Then we meet with the coaches and they criticize your schedule so that you can be the best player possible.”
According to some Florida players, such as senior security Trey Dean, team structure was something that was missing in the waning stages of former head coach Dan Mullen’s tenure. Napier is working to solve the problem by implementing a regimented routine for its athletes, which includes a mandatory team breakfast at 7:30, as well as time set aside for mentoring, weight training, workouts and recovery.
In addition to simplifying the day-to-day operations of the program and influencing how the team recruits, Napier’s system has the potential to influence results in the field.
“We will be a structured team,” said Dean. “We will be a disciplined team. So if someone hits us, God forbid, they’ll hit us. We will not fight “.