Ask Aschoff 9/16

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Recruiting will only start to get more exciting as the fall progresses and recruiting visits are already starting.

Really got nothing more, so on to the questions!

It seems to me that we are losing a lot of in-state recruits that a team one year removed from a national championship should not be losing. Why do we have trouble recruiting top players in the state? Finally, I am convinced that we will never sign a top running back recruit at Florida in the Meyer era. Offensively, we apparently do not know how to use the tailback position, and every top recruit will look at schools that do, i.e. Alabama first.
— Wayne G

Florida is losing guys in-state because everyone is trying to get a hold of the top players from one of the most talent-rich states in the country. It was bound to happen and Florida, or any school, can’t sign everyone from their own state. Florida has really cleaned up in the state since Meyer took over and that trend will continue because of the heavy emphasis he puts on protecting the state. The issue this year is that depth is starting to become an issue for recruits. It’s a blessing and curse. Guys are starting to shy away from Florida because of the talent that could be around for a few years. Florida and national prospects see it. It’s not that Florida is struggling to keep talent because of poor recruiting tactics or laziness, it’s from being so dominant in the state over the last few years and the enormous depth the Gators have at certain positions.

I will say Florida State has done a great job this year of getting some top prospects from the state. I’m not as impressed with Miami’s class, but FSU is going toe-to-toe with UF with most of the top players in the state. Jimbo Fisher has really stepped up the recruiting efforts since taking over.

On to the running back issue. As much as Florida’s running game has looked impressive at times under Urban Meyer, the lack of getting that big back has been a problem. Mack Brown was a huge get for the Gators last year and he could be the guy that jump-starts the true in-between-the-tackles running game. Brown could end up being a back who gets a heavy amount of carries because he can be an every-down back. Jeff Demps is a great athlete, and he can run with the best of them, but I’m still not sure how he’ll do up the middle against SEC talent.

The way to get running backs prospects to truly buy into what Florida’s running game has to offer is to see someone get 20 carries a game. It could happen, but neither Demps nor Emmanuel Moody have done it with the Gators.

Ed, I’ve learned to listen when you speak. You get it right much more than you get it wrong. So my question is, where do you see our class ranking when all is said and done (I’m talking Scouts or ESPN, not that Rivals – only look at part of the class garbage)? I’m getting a sense that other FL schools are getting the players and this class could bite us hard in a year or two if we don’t start landing these elite athletes. Are you sensing that as well or is it just my paranoia?
— Brent

Florida’s 2011 class is currently ranked in the top-10 by all three major recruiting services. The Gators have 15 commitments right now and I expect them to get at least 10 more. Florida is in the mix for a bunch of the top prospects left on the board and I don’t anticipate this class dropping off much at all. Because of depth at positions, this class won’t be one of Meyer’s best (I also don’t think the talent as a whole is very strong this year across the board), but it will be a pretty nice class.

I don’t like to say how a class will look in two years because who knows how they will develop? There are always sleepers and there are always busts. There is enough talent in this one — and more will come — for it to be fine in a couple of years.

With the prospects still available and who Florida already has, I see another top-10 finish in all the major rankings.

Ed, how are we looking on the offensive line? Our current line is one of the best in the nation but they’re all juniors and seniors and are going to need to be replaced soon.
— Ross

Florida has done pretty well with the offensive line so far in this class. Depth is an issue for the next couple of years, but getting three guys in Trip Thurman, Chase Hounshell and Tommy Jordan certainly helps with that. There are questions about Hounshell’s ability to move from defense to offense and Jordan’s mobility has been criticized. It’s unclear now how any will translate at the college level, but the coaches love each one’s upside. They’ll need at least a year of development after getting on campus anyhow.

I think Florida would like to get at least one more offensive lineman in this class. Florida is still looking at Brandon Shell (Charleston, S.C., Goose Creek) and Marcus Jackson (Vero Beach), who is committed to Miami. Jackson has shown a lot more interest in the Gators since he visited for Friday Night Lights and Florida’s coaches should be on him for a while. Jackson is expected to visit UF this fall.

Hey Ed! Thanks for the great coverage of Gator recruiting. I was just wondering how we stand with WRs this year, especially George Farmer. Has the recent successes of UF receivers (Harvin, Murphy, Cooper, even a weapon like Hernandez) improved our pitch at the position? Thanks again.
— Jack

Farmer is expected to visit Florida, but I was told this week that he’s all but committed to USC. Taking official visits could change that, but he lives and plays in the Trojans’ backyard. It won’t be easy for any team to steal him away from there. Belle Glade Glades Central’s Kelvin Benjamin has been on Florida’s radar from the beginning and the Gators are in prime position to land him. He’s not saying who his leader is, but all signs are pointing to Florida at the moment. Sammy Watkins of South Fort Myers seems to be falling further and further away from the Gators, even with half-brother Jaylen Watkins on the team. I don’t anticipate him making it into this class even after the love he showed Florida early.

Florida has two guys committed in Ja’Juan Story and Javares McRoy, but will probably look to add at least one more. Benjamin seems like the most likely candidate, but Florida is also in it for Moreno Valley, Rancho Verde’s Jurnior Pomee and Sicklerville, N.J., Timber Creek’s Damiere Byrd, who is lightening fast, but is a bit undersized.

Florida’s ability to have receivers drafted will definitely help them. It might not show this year because of depth, but last year’s class was a great example.

Edward, great job this year! What is the latest on LB AJ Johnson out of Gainesville, Georgia? He’s playing great on a not-so-great team this year.
— Ken from Georgia

Johnson still has Florida No. 1 on his list and will be at the Florida-Tennessee game this weekend. He was once committed to the Vols and has really taken a liking to new coach Derek Dooley. Florida is still going after other linebackers and that might hurt Johnson’s chances of making it into Florida’s class, but the Gators are on top for now. Clemson is the other team to look out for. If the other linebacker prospects — Curtis Grant andStephone Anthony — work out, expect Clemson and Tennessee to battle for his services until the end.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for your updates. I think you have a wonderful talent and I expect to see big things out of you in your very bright future.

    I have been a Gator fan since way back to Ray Graves.

    My youngest son went to several Steve Spurrier camps in Gainesville and he still talks about them.

    Tom

    P.S. I see you are from Mississippi. My fiancee was transferred to and now lives in Louisiana and one of our long weekend trips was to the Shed BBQ in Ocean Springs…….what a wonderful weekend. I’m off to Louisiana this weekend and we have tickets for Miss State at LSU on Saturday.

  2. I asked in a previous blog why Florida doesn’t try a linebacker as a running back, a la, Billy Latsko. Got a reply that all of Florida’s linebackers are way below 230 pounds. We have two over: Jonathon Bostic (238) and Chris Martin (240). Other are real close: Neiron Bell (222), Dee Finley (222), Jelani Jenkins (223), and AJ Jone (226).
    Perhaps a reason that the big backs don’t come to Florida is that Florida puts them at blocking fullback, NOT tailback. And, give Jaye Howard (302 defensive tackle), or Omar Hunter 307 nose tackle ) some removable gloves and play them at TAILBACK. Omar Hunter has been called a beast, let’s try unleashing him on the other teams’ defenses. Like to see what the Vols and others would do with Hunter! And why don’t we try Pridemore at tailback?

  3. Hey Ed,
    With the commitment of Chris Martin/LB and only 10 to 12 spot left in the 2011 Recriuting Class. What are your thoughts on the top 10 Prospect on UF’s board. And thoughts on Wayne Lyons the safety from Dillard High School.

  4. Watching the games on television over the years, it is a rare occurence when an out of state team does not have a Florida player starting on offense or defense. And, as often as not, the Florida kid is a star on that unit. When you realize there are more than 100 D1 schools, and most of them have Florida recruits, you realize that Florida’s recruiting classes would have to be in the 100s in order to make it appear that Florida kids are not getting away. Then, when you figure in Miami, FSU, FAMU, FIU and FAU with rosters that are made up with huge majorities of Florida kids (85 scholarships each) you begin to realize the enormity of Florida high school talent. Denard Robinson, case in point. UF cannot get them all.

  5. Any player, no matter how talented, is hesitent to sign with florida because he wants to play early, then he doesn’t want to earn his spot. We don’t want those kids that just want to be big fish in small ponds. We want the kids who won’t shy away from compitition for playing time. Afterall, we see all the time that freshamn or not, talent plays. So if the depth chart is an issue, go place elsewhere.

  6. paul, u dont think urban knows that story too? he isnt a dummy. if those guys could play RB urban would know… he has to be the only BIG name coach who hasent EVER had a 1000 yard rusher…. im sure he has looked around the feild a few times to see what he has. we got mack brown, he just needs a lil time, hopefuly he pans out for us[e.moody]. mabye the problem is urban has been recruiting small runnng backs since he got here, this isnt the WAC, its the SEC.. and we need a bigger back. no more chris rainy”s[ who played slot for us this season cuz hes no good at RB. demps is great but would benifit from a 225lb RB to compliment him, and PLEASE let it be a north and south runner not anouther dancer[moody]. edward you got the sweetest job in the world, cogrates.

  7. Florida has gone OUT of it’s way to ignore big backs as they didn’t fit the spread. fORGET IN EARLY YEARS THAT fL BACKS RAN UP AN DOWN THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE LOOKING FOR HOLES (2 NOT THERE, OOPS, TRY 4, NOPE…).. then came Billy Latsko…we missed on serveral big local backs including a 240 pounder from Taylor County…starred at Oregon! Clinton Portis, 220 pounds didn’t want to play LINEBACKER so he went to UM as a stellar running back. I know Urban Meyer knows what he’s doing but high school running backs/linebackers who are big are put on defense only! We traditionally do not even look at a kids as a running back unless he’s 200 pounds or under. What are Fl backs going to do against a smashmouth defense that many of the SEC teams run? Even Fub ‘n Gun Steve Spurrier has adopted the Run ‘n Stun (with BIG backs!”
    What I am saying is that really good successful teams have a BIG back, who is not just a blocking fullback and why do these guys not come here OR do they come here and are put on defense?

  8. To me, the issue seems to be less about BIG backs and more about “feature” backs. Meyer has always platooned his tailbacks, and on top of that, they lose carries in the spread to QB & WR (Tebow, Harvin). If this were ‘Bama, either Demps or Moody would start, the #2 guy would get 5-10 carries a game, and Gillislee would never see the field. Like you, I am used to a strong feature backs like Emmitt Smith, Fred Taylor, Ernest Graham. Meyer’s spread is really different–I think it’s weird but I can’t argue with results–and he recruits to fit his scheme. That may turn off some more traditional prospects. The deeper point for us armchair QBs is—does it matter? If this scheme can win, if we hang 35-40 points on the Vols (again), who’s complaining? I am a lot more worried about Addazio’s play-calling than the RB rotation.

  9. Hello Ed,

    Look forward to reading your post every week. Do you know what happened to former Gator recruit Demar Dorsey? The last I remember he was going to Louisville to play for Charlie Strong but he is nowhere to be found on their 2010 roster. I found no news on if he was accepted or what his 2010 status is. Do you have any information on him?

  10. Hi Ed:

    I always look forward to your post. You do a fantastic job. I read one of your post where the questioner was concerned about losing some of the top in-state recruits. You indicated that possibly the recruits were concerned about the talent and depth at their positions as that would relate to their playing time. That made me think, which is usually dangerous for me, but I decided to examine depth at some of the positions. At nose tackle and defensive tackle, I see 5 scholarship players returning and that assumes a beast like Jaye Howard does not forego his senior campaign. Also, at running back I see 3 scholarship players returning and that assumes a jet like jeff Demps returns for his senior season. To date I don’t think we have a commitment at any of those positions. Do you think some of these areas will be addressed by February and if so who do you project the Gators landing to fill these voids.

  11. There is a running back in Perry,Fl name Tony Jackson,he is lights out I sure would love to see him in a gator uniform next year.He’s a senior and his grades are excellent,do you know whelter or not any of the coaches recruit the Taylor County area.A former gator Mike Branden was from Perry.Please ask the coaches if possible to scout this young man.Go Gators…

  12. I know recruits like to show up for the big games and watch (ie. FL v TN), but I’m not sure how much those games influence decisions. This year in particular. What do you think recruits are looking at? Does our low offensive production turn off elite offensive players or do they think they have an opportunity to play sooner?

    Also, I don’t hear much about Jeff Driskel like we did when Tebow committed (I know they’ll never be another Tebow). But I’ve heard he’s the real deal and can run multiple offenses. Tebow helped grab recruits because they wanted to play with him/for him. Does Driskel not have enough hype to help sway other recruits and pull them to UF?

  13. Out of all the response’s i’ve read today the one about Addazio’s play calling rings the loudest bell with me. And the fact that Gillislee in my opinion does not get enough playing time. The play calling as an arm chair QB is not the greatest, I often find myself saying what the @#$% was that. I hope there is some method to the madness that will develop very soon, real soon because it only gets tougher from here. You’ve heard ” when the going gets tough” well you know what the tough do. Go Gators…