Ask Aschoff 1/12

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Welcome to the new year’s first installment of the most popular recruiting mailbag this side of the Mississippi!

Has it really been two weeks? Have we really not spoken since last year? Time really flies when you’re on the recruiting road. It was fun, but I’m glad to back home with you guys. Since we last spoke, things have really been heating up in the recruiting world and Florida is right in the middle of it all. Will Muschamp’s staff is just about complete, which has everyone very relieved. Recruits will soon get to meet all of Florida’s new coaches and chemistry will no doubt flow.

Though Muschamp hasn’t had offensive coordinator Charlie Weis or defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on the road, the fact that they both have NFL credibility is enough to hold over some recruits right now. Weis will begin the recruiting process once he passes the NCAA coaching recruiting test. He was a head coach at the college level, so I think he’ll be just fine there.

Quinn might be the most important staff member to get on campus and into all of those home, because Florida will probably finish its class with a defensive-heavy push. The recruits I spoke with recently seem to be more interested with Quinn — when he will be in town and when he will be recruiting.

The one thing really going for Florida during this recruiting season is that Muschamp is a defense guy, so he’s already starting to build pretty solid relationships with all those defensive recruits. Kids I’ve talked to are pretty impressed by him.

Hope my introduction was helpful. Now, it’s time for you and the family to gather ’round, put on your favorite Miles Davis record and let’s get on to the questions!

How about some predictions? Anthony Chickillo, Tim Jernigan, Stephone Anthony, Curtis Grant, Tony Steward, Jeoffrey Pagan, Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin (recent FSU commit), Cyrus Kouandjio, any big-name offensive lineman? With Will Hill and Ahmad Black leaving, we also have a need at safety. Any leads on a safety we might be in the market for? Love the column. Thanks, Ed!
GatorRace

Ah predictions. We either look incredibly smart or incredibly stupid. But, hey, it’s part of the job. I’ll try my best not to look stupid, but I refuse to make any promises …

Anthony Chickillo (Tampa Alonso)
— He’s committed to Miami, he’s a legacy there and his dad wouldn’t want it any other way. He had a great time on his visit to Florida last weekend and he’s spoken highly of the Gators ever since Muschamp was hired. Florida is definitely in the running for his services, but the more he does his homework on new Miami coach Al Golden, the more he likes him. After talking with him a couple of times, I just get the feeling that it’s going to be incredibly hard for him to turn down UM. He’ll make a “final decision” after his visits, and he plans to visit Alabama or Auburn, Florida State and Miami. I think he sticks with the ‘Canes.

Tim Jernigan (Lake City Columbia) — The more I talk to him, the more I get the feeling Florida is very much in the picture. He grew up a Gators fan, his sister lives in Gainesville and he’s been on UF’s campus more than any other. However, he’s always said he wants a change of pace when he gets to college and Gainesville might not offer that. He has yet to meet Muschamp and wants to meet Quinn. Trust is the most important thing to Jernigan because he feels like all of the schools he’s interested in are having coaching changes, and that’s bothering him. He told me he’s basically starting over as a recruit. It’s not fun for him, right now. FSU, LSU and Alabama are all in the picture, but I think this comes down to FSU and Florida. LSU still has a shot, especially with Les Miles coming back. That is huge for Jernigan. Bama might not even get him to visit because d-line coach Bo Davis is now at Texas. Tennessee is creeping into the picture and could get a visit from Jernigan this weekend. But if Jernigan gets to UF before National Signing Day I’m going with Florida. If not, FSU will add him to its already stellar class.

Stephone Anthony (Wadesboro, N.C., Anson) — Florida is still in it for Antony and he reportedly had a good time on his visit to Gainesville last weekend. He told me he’s cooled things down as far as a leader goes, so Clemson, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and North Carolina State are also being considered. Clemson is definitely the school to watch here. He’s always liked Clemson and gets along with the defensive staff very well. Those Gator commits down in Orlando were in his ear every day about joining them in Gainesville, and his parents were thrilled with Muschamp. I’m going with a Florida-Clemson battle until the end. As of today, I’ll go with Florida, but he’s visiting Clemson this weekend.

Curtis Grant (Richmond, Va., Hermitage) — This kid is not a fan of interviews or talking about the recruiting process, but what I’ve learned from the little he has said is that Ohio State and Florida are the schools he’s very interested in. Florida has been the favorite for most of the year, but he was very impressed with what OSU’s coaches had to say when he visited last month. The good thing for Florida is that he’s visiting UF this weekend. I’ve liked the Gators all along and I’m not changing that now.

Tony Steward (St. Augustine Pedro Menendez) — When I spoke to Steward the other day, he listed FSU, UF, Clemson and UCLA as his finalists. He also told Scout.com that he’s only down to FSU, Clemson and UCLA. Go figure, but I never thought Florida had much of a real chance with him. Even though he really liked the “Cali” life at UCLA, I don’t think the Bruins have a chance either. This one has always been down to Clemson and FSU. Clemson is gaining ground, but FSU will land him.

Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, N.C.) — He was once committed to Florida and has now opened things up. He wants to speak with Muschamp and would like to visit Florida. I’m not sure if the latter will happen. If it does, Florida could become the favorite again. Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and Tennessee are other schools he’s looking at. Again, Clemson is a team to watch here. It’s very close to home and he loves it there. He’s been there a few times as well, so it’s almost like a second home. This guy is hard to read at times, so I honestly can’t deliver a prediction now.

Sammy Watkins (South Fort Myers) — He’s committed to Clemson and said last week he’d like to visit Florida. He then told reporters he wasn’t going to visit Florida, but I don’t think that’s completely over. There is still a good chance he’ll make it to Gainesville before National Signing Day. Florida needs a big receiver, and Watkins would be perfect (plus his half-brother, Jaylen, is at UF). Still, I don’t think it will be enough. I think he sticks with Clemson.

Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade Glades Central) — He’s committed to FSU and has canceled his visit to UF this weekend. It’ll be FSU.

Cyrus Kouandjio (Hyattsville, Md., DeMatha) — He says he’s open, but everyone is convinced he is an Alabama lean, especially with his brother being there. Let’s go with Bama.

Safety — Florida got a great commit in Miami Monsignor Pace safety Jabari Gorman. Alabama commit Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix is the next guy Florida is going after, and the staff hopes he visits later this month. I don’t see Clinton-Dix changing his commitment and I think a couple of Florida’s current commits (Valdez Showers, Louchiez Purifoy) could play safety.

I don’t believe Jadeveon Clowney has finalized his commitment, has he? Probably South Carolina. Could our new staff get involved with him as a recruit? Just wondering, Ed.
wileymac

No, Clowney (the nation’s No. 1 recruit) hasn’t made a commitment and he probably won’t until National Signing day. South Carolina seems to be the favorite, but FSU, Alabama, Clemson and LSU are all on his list of favorites. He likes Muschamp and that’s the only reason why he’s generated any sort of interest in Florida. He told me he might visit, but even that could be nothing but a tease. The bottom line is that Florida is coming to the party very, very late for the best player in the country. It will be hard for this staff to pull him. Muschamp will certainly try and if Quinn’s season ends soon, he’ll be one of the first guys going to meet him. Even with all that work, Clowney is still a long shot for Florida.

Is going after any JuCos???
— @bradt87


Florida is going after some junior college players. Though they haven’t really worked out for Florida lately, getting JuCo guys isn’t always a bad thing. Gulf Coast Community College defensive tackle Johnathan Jenkins will visit Florida on Jan. 28. He was committed to Oklahoma State, but has since decommitted. Florida is one of his finalists.

There is also talk that Coffeyville, Kan., C.C. wide receiver Duron Carter could be visiting this weekend. I’m not sure how much interest there is from both sides, but the last JuCo wideout for Florida didn’t work out too well.

Florida was going after Council Bluffs, Iowa, Iowa Western C.C. defensive tackle Jared Ebert, but he has signed his letter of intent to Oregon. Norwalk, Calif., Cerritos C.C. safety Keith McGill, who is committed to Utah, drew interest from Florida’s previous staff, but nothing has come from him lately.

Do we read anything into these all-star games? Jeff Driskel doesn’t look ready to play right away.
— @ravairocaf

I don’t read into all-star games at all. The offense is always behind the defense because it is much easier to set up a defense than it is to run plays on offense. Driskel wasn’t great during practice and threw several interceptions during each practice every day. But every quarterback struggled. Each one was put into bad situations because there was no rhythm between quarterbacks and receivers. It’s just the way it goes. However, Driskel is a bit of a gambler when it comes to decision-making and that is something he will absolutely have to work on once he starts practice.

I’ve had a lot of people praise Driskel for how well he did during the game, but if he didn’t have that 63-yard touchdown run, I’m not sure people would be too thrilled with how he looked. He was 2 of 8 for 18 yards passing with an interception that went for a touchdown. He didn’t have great touch on the ball for most of the game. He shined when he had to make plays with his feet, but that’s expected at events like this. Driskel’s practice this spring will be a greater measuring stick than his week in Orlando.

Who are the d-lineman that we are most likely to sign? Seems we are all over the place with no d-line coach to recruit with.
— DALE

Florida’s staff is pretty much going all out on the defensive line. It’s an area of need and Florida’s got space for them, especially with most of the bigger fish committing elsewhere. I think Florida still has a good shot with Jernigan, even if he is saying the Gators aren’t a finalist. I’m going with my gut and I just feel that way every time I talk with him. From there, it’s a bit murky.

Chickillo is going to be tough for any school to pull from Miami.

A new name to look out for is Shreveport, La., Evangel defensive end Jermauria Rasco. He is only interested in Florida because of Muschamp and wants to visit the week before National Signing Day. He looked pretty good during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Florida was visited by Miami Booker T. Washington defensive tackle Elkino Watson last weekend and he had a good time. It helps Florida that his former teammates — Quinton Dunbar and Lynden Trail — were there to hang out with him.

As I said earlier, Jenkins will visit Florida on Jan. 28, and Pagan isn’t done with the Gators.

West Palm Beach Dwyer defensive end Curt Maggitt is still very much interested in Florida, and The Palm Beach Post reported today that he will make his final decision on Feb. 3. From everything I’ve been told, Florida is in pretty good shape here and Muschamp hasn’t missed a beat as far as recruiting him.

One guy to keep an eye on is McKeesport, Pa., defensive tackle Delvon Simmons. He says he’s down to USC and Florida for his final visit.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the update Ed. I wished it was a little more certain on a lot of these guys. We need help at DE desperately. I find it no coincidence that on our NC teams, that was one of our major strengths was great DE play. You have to be able to pressure the passer. Hopefully Coach Quinn can come in and tie a bow on Chikillo and Pagan. GO GATOTRS.

  2. This is the first I’ve heard of Delvon Simmons out of Pa. somebody give me something on this kid. We need some help here, we’ve been pummeled by FSU in recruiting this year, mostly because of the coaching change and we have a little time left but our coaches have to get RED HOT and pull some of the remaining elite players left on the board. If wew can pull half of the remaing kids that are in the least bit interested in FL, we will survive a bad year and can really get back in the thick of things next year. Go Gators.

  3. Shouldn’t take long for Weis to take the recruiting exam. It’s a 1 hour, 20 minute timed test only covering the recruiting by-law. And, oh ya, it’s open book! Several years ago, the test was hard enough that some newer coaches (and some coaches that were not so bright) actually flunked it and had to re-take after a 30 day waiting period. However, I can’t recall any of the coaches at my school failing the exam in the last 5 years. I think it’s just a matter of getting Charlie into the Swamp and sitting down at the computer to take it….and he’ll be ready to roll!

  4. Doesn’t these l-backer know that they can come n & play this season,J-Jenkins was the only standout,R-Powell might b moving back 2 d-end cause we need help there bad,& J-Bostic practice doesn’t translate 2 gameday these recruits need 2 get on top of they research cause playing tyme is there if they want it

  5. I get sick of so called Gators panicking about undersized and raw recruits who will take at least a year to develope. The Tebows and Percy’s of the worl are few aand far between. Most of these guys will need time to develope and get accustomed to the speed of the game. I can’t believe we have forgotten about all those defensive players we recruited last two years that had to develope. Remember you can only dress so many players so we didn’t see alot of the talent because of roster availability.FSU is doing well because they have to the talent hasn’t been there in years and recruits know it. We need to continue recruiting for need not rankings. Let these NFL coaches get in here and develope and place these players that we have includung the ones we have coming on board befor we throw in the towel and cry about this years class I don’t. See but a dozen of players tha will an impact this year and we can’t land t

  6. Sorry about the typing errors but as I was saying, we can’t land all of them. We as Gators are so spoiled I’m just happy to have some new coaches who are committed to the University of Florida and these players. It doesn’t hurt that we got our guy at qb and running back. These coaches will develope the defense and make adjustments as needed. Go Gators!!!!

  7. Driskel’s int bounced off a wrs hands and he had a 70yd td dropped-in addition to the 63 yd run- he automatically becomes the bes qb at UF-i don’t kno if that happens from the start, but he should get every opportunity–i thought he looked prety good-

  8. Gatorbread, nobody is panicking. The competition of recruiting is fierce and perpetual, you have to stay on top of your game EVERY year. Especially in the SEC, you don’t have the luxury of leap years or you drop quickly and if you do not react with promptness, you could stay down and lead to more mediocre teams and years. Panic and urgency are two different things and if we don’t act with some sense of urgency we’ll need to panic. As you said we need to recruit for need, very true. So, how much is still on the board that we NEED? Well those are the ones we NEED to go after with some URGENCY, get my point?

  9. I was actually surprised when I saw what Driskel’s numbers were at the UA game. They don’t look very good, but he played much better than the numbers would indicate. The thing is, it wasn’t about the numbers. People were impressed with him because they watched him with their own eyes. The interception for TD was tipped by his receiver into the defender’s hands. None of the receivers helped him or any of the other QBs out any. And it wasn’t just Driskel’s long TD run, it was the 60-yard bomb he threw that went right through the receiver’s hands. If you didn’t see the game and looked at the stats, you wouldn’t think he was all that good, but if you actually watched that game, you know why people were impressed with him.

  10. That 60 yard drop in the game was a great play by Driscoll. He was rolling right and threw it on the money that far down the field. That itself doesn’t make him a great QB, but it means the passing potential is there.
    As for an observation about alot recruits we’re looking at: Clemson is a finalist/leader with a lot of them. What’s up with that? Are they paying these guys? I understand some recruits being interested in them, but it seems too many have them as a leader when you’re comparing that school to the others pursuing the players. Just seems very odd to me.

  11. A couple of questions lurking for me re: coaching durability or longevity: Will Dabo Swinney survive another year if his team continues its mediocrity? How long will Mark Richt remain the UGA head coach if his team in 2011 doesn’t move back among the top two in the SEC East? It seems to me Will Muschamp and his staff offer more likelihood of a long run than these two recruiting competitors’ coaches currently possess. Muschamp and his staff will land some unlikely prizes/surprises by national signing day. Not worried about the Gators.

  12. I know that now is not the time, but it might be interesting at some point to ask Charlie Weis to talk about what he looks for when recruiting a particular skill position; what his prototypes are, in other words.
    Thank you for all the good research.

  13. Creek Gator, The so-called Gator comment was directed at those who haven’t kept up enough with Gator football long enough to know that we have already recruited well in the most recent years and while I do agree you don’t want any let downs in recruiting you can’t possibly gauge a players ability by the number of stars by his name. you have to be confident in your coaches assesment of the players they even offer. That’s also why i say recruit for need not ranking. some of the Best Gators to ever play where not ranked very high. Remember Travis Mcgriff, Shane Matthews, Reidel Anthony, James Bates just to name a few. Those guys where no more than 3 star recruits and all are in the record books as well as All SEC performers. That comment was not intended to offend in true Gators just those who aren’t willing to win and lose with them because I am. I’m like Muschamp , Iv’e been a gator since the Charlie Pell days when you could walk off the street into the north end zone.

  14. I am also tired of our own people criticizing and not believing in the way this years Recruiting season is being handled. Remember this is a transition year. Don’t expect too much out of recruiting with the small amount of time this staff has had to impact it. Florida is Florida and these recruits know that. After next year we will be back on track. I do apologise if I offend anyone on this forum but I am sensative about the Orange and Blue. Either you are a Gator or Gator Bait period Ride or Die Baby!!!!