The Outbox 8/31

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Heeeeeere comes the future!

Well friends, that world-famous catchphrase of mine has extra special meaning today.

You see, it’s my birthday. I’m 40 years old, which means I’ve lived for exactly 14,600 days, which is 350,400 hours, which is 21,024,000 minutes, which is 1,261,440,000 seconds … but who’s counting?!

Man, lemme tell ya, there really is no stopping the future.

So with no further dilly or dally, let’s get to your recruiting questions. Sadly, there haven’t been many crossing my inbox (C’mon, people!), so even more sadly, there won’t be that many in the outbox …

What’s with Jordan Jenkins? What’s our board look like at the “buck” position? — Kyle via blog comments

Two very good questions, Kyle, and as you would imagine the answers are intertwined. Florida has an impressive board with some of the nation’s best athletes on the defensive side of the ball here. The Gators also have the room to recruit two or three of these types of difference-making players and still promise an early crack at playing time by classifying them at defensive end or Buck or outside linebacker.

This is one of the key areas of flexibility still remaining in the Gators’ Class of 2012. We all know the UF coaches have several needs remaining to fill in this class (like offensive line and receiver to name two). But when it comes to defense, this is the key area. Florida has done well to create relationships with several excellent prospects and will find it difficult to turn some of them down if the feeling is mutual. I think they will find a way to grab one more defensive tackle, an end, a Buck and an outside linebacker with size before they call it a class on defense. Three of those players could come from the following group …

At the top of the list is Hamilton, Ga., five-star Jordan Jenkins. At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds and with great speed and a quick first step, he is called “The Freak.” You can see why when he dunks a football over the goalpost. Jenkins seems to be down to Florida and Alabama, and no one really knows which way he’s leaning, as both schools offer a lot. I spoke at length with his father, mother and a teammate when they were all in Gainesville for Friday Night Lights. It’s obvious Jenkins has built a good relationship with the UF coaching staff. He might be their No. 1 priority if you consider how many coaches are personally recruiting him. Jenkins also spent most of his time in Gainesville that day with Ronald Powell. I was told they got along famously and that Jenkins really looks up to Powell, who said he wants to take Jenkins under his wing. I can tell you this — Jordan and his parents will be watching Powell closely this season to see exactly what he and the Buck position are capable of.

But wait, that’s not all. Florida could easily take another Buck, maybe a slightly smaller player, and call him an outside linebacker if they so choose. That could be the case with Tampa, Fla., four-star Tyriq McCord (6-3, 220), who has the quickness and athleticism to play in space, but also possesses the pure pass-rushing instincts to be a disruptive player on the line. McCord, who is good friends with UF commit Matt Jones (also of the Tampa Bay area) was thought to be strongly leaning toward Florida until he abruptly named South Carolina his leader. This drama will likely play out through the coming months.

Could it be that the Gators began to show less interest in McCord because the coaches felt good about yet another Buck prospect, maybe an even better Buck prospect? If you want drama, all you have to do is follow St. Petersburg, Fla., five-star Dante Fowler (6-3, 235). Fowler insists he is solidly committed to Florida State, but it’s impossible to ignore the mutual affection between he and the UF coaching staff. Florida can offer a clear path to playing time with a less-cluttered depth chart, and then there’s the Buck position itself. Fowler raves about how he would be featured in this defense. There’s a lot going on here behind the scenes. Fowler, who says he will visit Gainesville two or three more times this fall, is another one of those Tampa Bay area prospects, close friends with Jones, an uber-recruiter. I will only say that I do not think the Florida coaches would put this much time and effort into a committed player unless they believe they have a good shot to turn him Gator. Stay tuned.

Last and certainly not least on the Buck list is Harrisburg, Pa., five-star Noah Spence (6-4, 240), whom many are calling the best pass-rusher that state has produced since Pittsburgh’s Jason Taylor. Spence has incredible stats, like 101 tackles last year and 39.5 career sacks in his first three years of high school. Several of the Gators coaches are working hard to recruit him. Even UF tight end commit and fellow Pennsylvanian Colin Thompson has joined the fray. But it may not be enough to pull Spence out of the state. He is high on the Nittany Lions, and as I’ve said before, until he schedules an official visit to campus I won’t rank him ahead of the aforementioned prospects in terms of his chances of ending up in this class.

With Jeff Driskel becoming the backup, will we see any of the other quarterbacks transfer after the season? Who might be some of the quarterbacks we’re looking at in the 2013 class? — Big J via e-mail

Florida head coach Will Muschamp has made it clear that he and Charlie Weis want four quarterbacks on the roster. For that reason, it’s easy to see why the Gators didn’t really go after anyone for the Class of 2012. Besides, quarterbacks need a lot of attention and evaluation. Weis will want and need to build a relationship with a prep QB over the course of a couple of years. I think quarterback will be a priority position in UF’s Class of 2013.

Perhaps at the top of the list for Florida (and the nation) is Brice Ramsey of Kingsland, Ga., which is just on the other side of the Florida border. Ramsey is 6-3, 195, has a big arm and was in The Swamp twice this past summer — for a UF camp and for Friday Night Lights. It was during that camp in June that Ramsey got a UF scholarship offer, however, he committed several weeks later to Georgia. When he returned to Gainesville for FNL, Ramsey told Gatorsports.com that his commitment to UGA is somewhat soft. Georgia is definitely in the driver’s seat, but there is a long, long way to go.

Ramsey may be the only 2013 QB with an offer from Florida at the moment, but he’s not the only one on the radar. In fact, another Peach stater on Weis’ watch list is Marietta’s Eddie Printz (6-4, 195). Weis visited his high school in May, and Printz returned the favor, visiting Gainesville with his mother in early August.

Another one to watch is Cord Sandberg (6-2, 185) of Bradenton, Fla., whom many consider the top prospect in the state. Not only did he visit for UF camp in the summer, but Sandberg is a UF legacy. His father, Chuck, played baseball for the Gators in the late 70s. Cord is considered more of a dual-threat QB, so Weis will be carefully watching his film for passing ability and pocket presence.

Just as it’s a bit early to break down Florida’s QB recruiting board for 2013, it would be hasty to predict what will happen to the players currently on the UF roster. All we know is that John Brantley will graduate and Weis is very high on Driskel and Brissett, whom he personally recruited into UF’s Class of 2011. What’s to come of Tyler Murphy? It’s very hard to say. At 6-2, 209, and with good athleticism, he could end up at receiver. Or he could see the writing on the wall and transfer, especially if the Gators bring in another top prospect and if Brissett passes him on the depth chart.

The first battle between Driskel and Brissett may have already been won by Driskel, who got a head start by enrolling in January. But the war is far from over. Typically when two elite prospects battle for the QB spot in college, the loser of that battle transfers. But in this case it is still possible that Brissett could redshirt and stay at UF for his entire college career.

Who is the most important recruit for UF this cycle, commit and/or target? The Tim Tebow, Omar Hunter, Ronald Powell, Jeff Driskel. @schnarr17

Oh, Twitter. I was about to give up on you. But mere minutes before I wrote this blog, my good friend on the Internet, Chad Schnarr, came through with a dandy of a question. (By the way, if any of you like the Tampa Bay Lightning half as much as I do, you have to check out Chad’s site, BoltProspects.com. They do a phenomenal job over there. See what happens when you tweet me?!)

OK, the question. Ever since Tim Tebow christened Urban Meyer’s second class, there has been this desire to call the top prospect “The Tim Tebow” of his class. Meyer himself was guilty when he slapped that label on defensive tackle Omar Hunter in the Class of 2008. Poor Omar. He’s turned out to be a solid citizen and a solid run-stopping nose tackle, but when it comes to recruiting he’ll forever be the central figure in the cautionary tale of why it’s not a good idea to call anyone the “Tim Tebow” of his class.

That said, let me tell you who is the Tim Tebow of this class!

Just kidding. I don’t think there is one, and I know Chad was only asking who is the top dog in the class. Still, if you go back you can see that Meyer couldn’t resist the urge again in 2009 when he compared Andre Debose to Percy Harvin, who by the way really would have been the “Tim Tebow” of his class if that Tebow guy weren’t already in it. Again, look at Debose. Could he have done without the weight of that label? Maybe. So let’s rush out to label someone in this Class of 2012, shall we?

It’s the kind of tag you put on an electric, difference-making talent, the kind player who sells jerseys and appears on the cover of NCAA video games. Think quarterbacks, wide receivers and tailbacks. This class doesn’t really have that one guy. The truth is that this is shaping up to be a class full of high-character, highly ranked athletes at mostly non-glamor positions. They’re all mini-Tebows!

It’s possible that if Florida lands either of its five-star wide receiver prospects in Stefon Diggs or Nelson Agholor, the fans could point to him as THE headliner of the class. But I think the most important recruit for UF is already committed, and he plays the position that is arguably the Gators’ biggest hole to fill. It’s Charlotte, N.C., five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (6-6, 275).

Since Humphries’ team played its second game of the young season last week, I’ve gotten more than one report from UF fans in the area about him. Here’s what one said …

“He showed great hustle by getting down field to throw second-level blocks after pancaking his primary defender. He’s got good footwork and long arms with little body fat. He is a leader amongst his peers. The team is well-coached. He looks like an excellent prospect.”

Sounds like Humphries is the Tim Tebow of offensive linemen. Wink!

Is Rivals your go-to recruitment site and what do you value about it and the others? — Zach via blog comments

I’ve already gotten a ton of feedback about yesterday’s blog, which led off with some updated Rivals rankings. It touched a nerve among Gator fans, many of whom are obviously conspiracy theorists. (Hey, did you know Rivals is a network of websites run by FSU alumni?) Well, Rivals doesn’t need me to defend its rankings, nor do I want to. I like to visit Rivals, ESPN and Scout.com with equal aplomb. I talk to lots of analysts from all three sites. I think they all do a great job and work very hard at this recruiting game. I don’t have a go-to site.

I see ESPN is starting to stake a claim on its patch of recruiting turf. They’ve launched three sites (Texas, Oklahoma and Southern Cal) under the umbrella of “Recruiting Nation” with plans for nine more sites, including Florida, by the end of this year. Another newcomer is 247Sports.com, a relatively fresh face in recruiting wars but one with some very talented and experienced national analysts. I also enjoy CBS’ Eye on Recruiting blog, which is very ably manned by national writer Bryan Fischer. Another handy website in the CBS family is MaxPreps.com, which ranks players and features well-known analyst Tom Lemming.

All right, my friends (young and old). That’s it for a special edition of The Outbox. I hope you all can appreciate the dedication of your faithful correspondent who works around the clock for you (even on his birthday). Please make sure you give me the gift of more recruiting questions for next week. Here are your go-to links …

• Post a comment on this or any blog. I read them all.
• Follow me — Twitter.com/JeffBarlis
• Email me — barlisj@gvillesun.com

30 COMMENTS

  1. The SEC recently put a cap on the amount of recruits a team could sign at 25. But you can also count guys that enroll in January on last years count. The Gators had 20 Recruits last year, does that mean we can have 30 (25+5) or even more because some of last years guys came in january so they count on the 2010 total? This doesn’t sound right but I can’t figure out what I am missing.

  2. Hey Jeff! Great job with The Outbox. In 2005, we beat FSU and Urban Meyer, using the excitement of the win, got a plethora of recruits to commit or secure their commitments. With a big group of recruits coming to town for the Bama game, would a win have a similar impact?

  3. How does the coaching staff go about analyzing the available talent nationwide and, consequently, selecting those players that they want to pursue? There must be a method by which they winnow down their options out of the thousands of available players. Do they pay for a service similar to that which got Oregon in hot water, or do they have a system unique to UF?
    Thanks.

  4. First, Happy Birthday Jeff! Hope #40 is a memorable one! Get ready for things to start falling apart! It wont be long and what doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work!

    Since we have fans that favor various recruiting services, why not take the top services and coming up with an average? It may be more work that it’s worth, with your time restrictions, but, it would give the rankings a little more validity!

    Who do you think will be the most productive freshman from the 2011 class?

  5. Curtis,
    Gator Country already has this on there site.

    Jeff, again, happy b-day. Thanks for everything you do buddy.

    Jimmy,
    It is a 25 hard cap. There is no wiggle room. Only transfers will break that mold open.

    Eugenio,
    I think FSU or Bama would have the same effect. I would love to find out man.

    j.,
    Weis’s sole goal is QB. Anybody disagree me?

  6. I don’t know if anyone watched the Armwood game on TV the other day but, they gave A LOT of love to Matt Jones showing him numerous times on the sidelines pumping up his teammates. Seems like a real high character guy. They also talked about a DB that’s considering the Gators… I can’t remember his name but he had a great game… Any feedback on this guy?

  7. Happy Birthday and another solid Outbox. The Outboxes have been your shining contribution to GatorSports.com, keep it up. I have 2 questions…Recruiting has gotten quiet heading into the season, are we going to see any commitments before the SEC portion of UF’s schedule or is everyone on their board waiting to see how they play and how they do against their big time opponents? In other words, does the fate of the rest of UF’s class solely lie in the hands of the current players and how they perform this season or do you see any commitments coming before October? My second question is basketball related…Does Billy have any big men on the board for 2012 that they have a real shot at? Don’t shoot me for bringing up basketball right before football season. I love both equally!

  8. The coaching staff at florida has taken 4 DB’s so far in this class. Is Tracy Howard out? would UF take anymore DB’s? Also if Agholor and Diggs go elsewhere who is next at reciever? Are there anymore tight ends on the board for the gators?

  9. Happy Birthday Jeff………enjoy them all cause they will start going by like light poles side the road.
    Heres a question, Do the Gators have any local player of intrest on their board. Local meaning north florida area
    Good job so far,thanks and Go Gators!

  10. Happy Birthday Jeff! Your insights are great and so informative!

    Please tell me that the Gator staff is looking at a couple of BIG bruising tailbacks (not fullbacks) in the 2013 class. There has to be several big runners who are fast and tip the scales at 230 or over.
    Florida didn’t ever seem to want these guys in the spread but it seems that it would be another present in the-pro-style offensive toolbox.
    And maybe the big guys would want to come here if they knew they could run A LOT with the ball. If you want to tear up a sidewalk you just might want a jackhammer available, not just a lightweight, good for many, many jobs low torque product. Keep our great speed guys but give a new dimension to the run game. Isn’t that the new mantra in these times, power running. What do you think.
    (Would’ve loved to have given Alabama’s Jalston Fowler a look at tailback! He wanted to be a running back was reportedly made a linebacker because Alabama’s depth at running back was so loaded.
    The internet tapes of him showed running over 3 & 4 would be tacklers and also catching passes very well.) Just dreaming…

  11. Should’ve been traditional tailback runner, not low torque product. Rainey, Demps, and Burton are great and Burton does have some weight. We’ll do well with just these guys. Just thinking that more options would be great.

  12. Happy Birthday Jeff. I hope your birthday is as great of a day as my 40th, 11/28/09. That was Timmy’s last game in the SWAMP.

    I love hearing about D.J. Humphries. We need a great O-line to go with Driskel and Brissett. Hopefully, Young will commit.

    I watched Vadal Alexander from Buford, GA last Friday and he was huffin & puffin in the second qtr, against a JV opponent.