Jacob LaFrance, General Manager of Florida Gators, focusing on high school recruiting for long-term success

by | Feb 29, 2024 | 0 comments

The landscape of roster construction in college football has evolved substantially in recent years, due in part to the introduction of the transfer portal alongside traditional high school recruiting. To adapt to these changes, college football programs have begun to incorporate general managers into their staffs, a position typically associated with professional sports. Among these is Jacob LaFrance, recently appointed at Florida, who previously served as director of player personnel during Billy Napier’s first two seasons.

LaFrance participated in Florida Victorious: Chalk Talk, where he explaines the Gators’ approach to roster construction. He emphasized the importance of high school recruitment while acknowledging the transfer portal as a supplementary resource.

LaFrance stated, “You always need to go out and get players depending on what’s coming on the roster, but we’re not going to try and live through the portal. We want to live long term through the high school side.”

This strategy, of course, is flexible and may be adjusted based on the evolving requirements and dynamics of the roster. But the Gators have identified that focusing primarily on high school recruitment could offer the most promising path to sustained success.

In LaFrance’s words, “It is year by year, but the way we envision Florida going forward is that we want to build through the high school side and then use the portal as something to address a need.”

During the initial stages of Billy Napier’s tenure at Florida, the team prioritized playing young players recruited through Napier’s first few classes, rather than overhauling the roster via the transfer portal.

“We’ve turned the roster over a bit, and that takes time,” LaFrance admitted. “Knowing that, going forward, these guys are going to take another jump this year is. We still have areas that didn’t have the experience the year before, so it’s going to continue to build and build.”

While this tactic hasn’t yet translated into victories, the Gators anticipate that building experience will provide dividends in the future. As we approach the 2024 season, ESPN’s Bill Connely ranks the Gators favorably, with 68% of their production returning for the upcoming season and a ranking of 32nd out of 134 teams. Combining this experience with high school recruits and additions from the transfer portal, LaFrance is optimistic about the Florida roster’s potential.

“We’re in year three and we feel like this is the best roster we’ve put together since we’ve been here,” LaFrance said. “So, the portal should start to become a smaller part of the equation. We took 11 this last year and, in the future, that should shrink because we’re going to develop the high school side.”

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