Little juice left in Florida's juco pipeline


Published: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 10:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 11:01 p.m.
There are still a few days and one big weekend remaining for Florida head coach Urban Meyer and his staff to complete the recruiting process, but it appears that the Great Juco Experiment is over.
In his last two recruiting classes, Ron Zook signed eight junior college players, a surprising departure from the status quo at UF.
This year, it appears Florida will sign only one - Reggie Nelson, who still has to pass one class this semester at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College to become eligible.
Meyer recruited the junior colleges heavily at Utah, but at Florida it's not necessary because of the level of talent in the high schools. A juco player here and there doesn't hurt, but eight in two years was just too many.
Junior college football players are a risk: two-year stop-gaps who often don't pan out vs. the high school players who can be in your program for five years.
Junior college players are where they are for a reason, whether it be physical or educational.
The junior college players Zook signed have had little impact at Florida, although Jeremy Mincey has a chance next season to be a solid player. I know, Reynaldo Hill was a starter at cornerback in 2004 for the Gators, but he was on the field for 1,167 plays in his career and had one more interception than I did in my time at Florida.
  • A FINE MESS: Former Florida coach Steve Spurrier not only has to figure out who will be his quarterback this season, he has some cleaning up to do at South Carolina.
    Lou Holtz left behind a program that was full of discipline problems, as was demonstrated by the brawl at the end of Holtz's final game. Before Spurrier was named the coach at USC, six players stole laptops and framed pictures from the athletic department and have since been charged.
    On top of that, The State newspaper in Columbia reported this week that the football team last fall had its lowest grade point average (2.217) in seven years and by far the lowest among athletic teams on campus.
    Spurrier will get it straightened out, but it will take time. Losing isn't the only culture that needs changing at South Carolina.
    When recruiting is over next week, Spurrier will turn his attention to a muddled quarterback picture.
    Last year's starter Syvelle Newton is one of the players charged with petit larceny and probably will be suspended for the opener against Central Florida. And Mike Rathe, who threw the game-winning touchdown pass against Kentucky last season, was denied a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA Wednesday.
    The Gamecocks have a pair of quarterbacks in Blake Mitchell and redshirt freshman Antonio Heffner and have two commitments from quarterbacks in this recruiting class.
  • DRIBBLE DRIVEL: SEC basketball items that caught my eye in the last week included ...
    South Carolina reminding Fox Sports Net of its agreement to keep former coach Eddie Fogler away from their games. Fogler was assigned to the USC-Mississippi State game, but was pulled after athletic director Mike McGee called Fox. ...
    Chuck Hayes suffered a broken nose in Tuesday's rout of Tennessee and practiced in a mask Thursday. Kentucky coach Tubby Smith hopes to start Hayes on Saturday at Arkansas because he is the most dependable player on the team and he has an amazing streak going. Hayes has started 93 straight games and is within 17 of the all-time record set by Alex Groza (1946-49). ...
    But he won't get the record because Kentucky would have to go to the Final Four and that's not happening. This isn't one of Smith's best Wildcat teams. They are undefeated in the SEC, which says more about the conference than it does about Kentucky. ...
    Really, has the league ever had two teams as bad as Georgia and Auburn, who are last in the SEC in a combined 12 categories? ...
    Arkansas coach Stan Heath was right. The officials did blow the call in the LSU game. He said so and was reprimanded by the league. But I bet it made him feel better.
  • PAT-POURRI: Former Florida players Jabar Gaffney, Keiwan Ratliff, Cooper Carlisle, Terry Jackson and Erron Kinney will be among the players working with youngsters at the NFL Youth Clinics Saturday at the University of North Florida ... Another former UF star, Nat Moore, has been the executive director of the program for 17 years ... Lon Kruger's UNLV hoops team is now 9-7 ... Florida's sports information department has been swamped by requests for credentials for next Saturday's Alabama game at the O-Dome by members of the media looking for something to do the day before they cover the Super Bowl ... Is Jacksonville closed that day? ... Early predictions have the weather holding up for Super Bowl Sunday, but can you imagine if the fog rolls in? ... Be safe.
    You can reach sports columnist Pat Dooley by e-mail at dooleyp@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5053. You can hear The Pat Dooley Hour each weekday from 11 a.m. to noon on The Star 99.5-FM.
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