Zach’s Mail Stack 11/16

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Very excited to be writing my first edition of Zach’s Mail Stack, this blog’s weekly mailbag that was one of my favorite reads as an aspiring journalist years ago (back when it was “Ask Aschoff”).

Unfortunately, there weren’t many questions in my inbox this week.

Some of you may have missed my introduction blog on Monday and weren’t able to reach me in time. If so, be sure to hit me up on twitter, Facebook or my email,  ZachAbolverdi@gmail.com.

Others could still be suffering from Saturday’s loss to South Carolina and just don’t feel like talking. I understand the frustration, but if you’re a long-time Gator fan I can’t feel your pain. The last time Florida had a losing record in SEC play, I wasn’t born and my parents still had lives.

But recruiting is going strong for the Gators despite a 5-5 season. They continue to land the nation’s top prospects and are in position for several more, including wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Nelson Agholor, offensive lineman Avery Young, defensive end Noah Spence and cornerback Tracy Howard.

An official visitor and a handful of UF commits plan on taking in the Furman game this weekend, but next week’s rivalry matchup against FSU could potentially be the biggest recruiting weekend of the year for head coach Will Muschamp. Some of the top targets I listed above will be in attendance, along with several others prospects whom the Gators will be wanting to make a big impression on. I will provide a visitors list for both games, so be on the look out for those and the updates afterward.

On to the questions!

Are we trying to get any JUCO players on both lines with any size? The ones we have get pushed around alot. — Shannon

With the misses on offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty (Pitt) and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins (Clemson), the coaches were forced to start searching for options at the JUCO level and they have found some in Mississippi.

On the offensive line, the Gators have targeted Donald Hawkins out of Northwest Mississippi C.C. in Senatoba, Miss. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder was unsigned during the 2011 recruiting cycle after parting ways with Mississippi State. He committed to Oklahoma State on Aug. 4. but is now open to Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame and Texas, who all offered in October. Hawkins plans on visiting for FSU, where offensive line coach Frank Verducci will likely put on the full-court press to try and sway him before his official visit with the Cowboys on Dec. 3.

At East Mississippi C.C. in Scooba, Miss., there are three defensive lineman who received offers in October and could provide an immediate impact next season. UF has the best chance with Brandon Moore, a 6-foot-5, 325-pound tackle who signed with Alabama in 2009 but transferred after his freshman season. He is currently uncommitted, but the Gators were his second choice in high school and appear to be his leader now. He is taking an official visit for the Florida State game and could be on commitment watch if things go well.

His teammates, defensive tackle Damien Jacobs and defensive end Denico Autry, will be in Gainesville this weekend for Furman. These two will be harder for the Gators to grab, as Jacobs is committed to Tennessee and Autry has the Vols as his leader. Jacobs, a former Florida State commit, is visiting officially and could be swayed by Florida’s opportunity for playing time (his top priority).

Do you think UF will improve next season and actually put Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett in better positions than they did this season? I believe they have the coaches to win championships. — Ryan

Although this is more of a football question, it’s definitely related to recruiting. For Brissett or Driskel to have a successful sophomore season, it’s the players who need to put them in better positions.

I know this point has been beat to death, but the Gators don’t have the offensive pieces to run Charlie Weis’ offense. He’s having to work with running backs, wide receivers and offensive linemen who were recruited for Urban Meyer’s spread option attack. And it doesn’t help that he has a one-legged quarterback and a starting tight end who came to UF as a passer.

Florida has a lot of replacing and reloading to do on the roster, and it can’t be done with just one recruiting class. I don’t expect the offense to improve much next year because its best players will be gone in John Brantley, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps and Deonte Thompson, who leads the team in receptions among wide receivers (for better or worse).

Make no mistake, the 2012 offensive recruits will help and could be the reason for championship’s down the road. But there’s no telling how they will fare in their freshman campaigns. The Gator offense needs players who are fit for the pro-style system, can pick up Weis’ playbook fast and be difference-makers right away. That’s been a tough task for the guys already on this team imagine how hard it will be for a group of 18-year-olds.

Football comes down to recruiting, coaching and player development. Florida will always get the top-flight prospects and, for what it’s worth, some former players have said this is the best coaching staff UF has ever had. That leaves player development, where the coaches will need a couple years to bring in who they want and develop them in all phases of the game before the Gators can contend for championships again.

Could you catch us up on any commitments by possible Gator recruits? — Bill

The only recruit who was scheduled to make a decision soon was Buford, Ga., tight end Kurt Freitag. The three-star was originally going to commit in October, then pushed it back to this month and now says he will announce his college choice on Dec. 9 at the Georgia state title game (assuming his high school team makes it there). He officially visited UF for the Alabama game and there was some chatter that he would pick the Gators along with Kent Taylor, the nation’s No. 1 tight end. That didn’t happen, and with Taylor now committed to Florida, it looks like Freitag will go with the Crimson Tide. But this could pave the way for Sean Culkin (Indian Rocks Christian School, Largo, Fla) to join the 2012 class. Culkin doesn’t have a UF offer, but he continues to speak with tight end coach Derek Lewis and would commit on the spot if one came along.

Unless Muschamp gets someone to pull the trigger this weekend or the next, don’t expect too many verbals for UF until the high schools break for the holidays and prospects who want to make announcements at the All-American games or on National Signing Day starting taking their official visits.

That’s all I have for this week. Leave your comments on this blog for next time!

30 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Zach i was wondering what are the chances that we can actually land Keith MArshall and if we can get him would that run Matt Jones or Mike Davis away? Also is there any new info on Nelson Agholor/ Stephon Diggs??

  2. can we recruit in other FBS division 1 programs …. I fell so bad for the kids stuck in the BIG 10….. and how bout the big 12…… they are falling apart…… three good teams left and a lot of fluff…. not really a division at all…….. I gotta mention the ACC….they should not even be allowed to play football…… its all about B-ball in that division……. then there is the WAC, MAC and BIG EAST …. sounds to me like a bunch of JACK….. whats left…. PAC 10….. they are another 3 team division with a lot of fluff……maybe the NCAA should only allow football to be played by the SEC….. that way we could watch our teams on CBS and ESPN every week…… and stop wasting time with so much of that FLUFF-Football played by other divisions…

  3. Zach,

    Who would you say is at the top of our board right now? To me it would have to be Diggs or Agholor. Since Harvin and Murphy left we have not had playmakers on offense. It seems obvious to me that if I was head coach I would give both first priority and the full court press. What do you think Muschamp’s role is with either player?

  4. Zach,

    Can you give us your mock class for 2012? Do you think we will sign a QB? We have a shot at the best recruiting class in the nation, but do we have the balance to make this class have an immediate impact?

    GatorManMike

  5. Hey Zach,
    Does Muschamp, or anyone on his staff, have a history of recruiting those unheralded recruits that turn out to be big time players? Just wondering if anyone has a knack for finding those “5 stars in the rough.” Thanks!

  6. ZACH,

    I enjoyed the blog. Lots of new stuff I ddin’t know,keep it up.. Do you know of any LB’s or DE’s that UF is hot on and they have UF high on their list? Do we have any 6’3 plus WR’s that are leaning? Nothing against Nelson Agholor/ Stephon Diggs but in the red zone where we are completely flat could use a big WR to jump and get the ball in the end zone.

    Go Gators

  7. Strong, stable football programs do not go hunting the backwoods of Mississippi to find players. How many did SOS recruit? What about UM? We are looking for JC help because: (1) many top level HS players are going elsewhere, (2) our offensive/defensive lines are among the poorest in the SEC and it will taKE 2-3 years to get HS recruits physically ready to compete, (3) if W/M does not have some real on-field success in the next 2-3 years he will not be here, (4) come to think of it, why is he here??!!

  8. EMK, you are correct about strong stable programs; except the problem is Meyer took his entire last year off and left us in a shambles. Champ will sign 2-3 JC to provide immediate help like Saban did with Mt. Cody.

  9. When all is said and done do you think we max out the 25 recruit limit for 2012 and get several to enter early and count for 2011? How do you think the numbers will break shake out?

    What recruits do you hear will arrive early?

    Thanks,

    Matt

  10. Zach,

    Where do we stand with these prospects,(plz answer the question plz)… Noah spence, Daruis hamilton, Jonathan bullard, Tyriq mccord, Josh harvey-clemmons, Tracy howard, Keith marshall, Nelson agholor, and Avery young, oh and the 5 JUCO PLAYERS, I heard they just offered another juco offensive linemen who is 6’7 290. Do u think we could get him and Hawkins??? I never get my questions answered plz Zach answer my questions!!!

  11. Zach,
    I have not heard much about Leonard Williams, it appears that he grew up a gator fan, and that we are battling Auburn for his services. He appears to already have the size to be a nice fit for the 3-4. What are your thoughts?

  12. Zach,

    The way I see it is that we have needs at WR, RB, O-line and D-line. Our current roster is OK at the Other positions but obviously could use some help. To me, the DE and DT positions are where we are hurting the most on defense. Can you give me a few prospects from all of the above positions that you think we REALISTICLY have a great chance at landing in order to address these areas of need?

    Thanks

  13. Zach,
    Trey Burton was a 3-star recruit and Ronald Powell was the top recruit a couple years ago but Burton has performed on a much higher level because he has the drive and work ethic. Who are some under-the-radar recruits who have that same work ethic and could fit perfectly with Florida’s defense or offense?
    Thanks!

  14. I know there is some chance that we might poach Dante Fowler from the ‘Noles, but what about commits to a couple of schools that are having major problems? We were very interested in OT Tommy Schutt who committed to Penn State and I believe we had offered DE Jelani Hamilton and LB Raphael Kirby who opted for UMiami. Any word on them or others in similar situations?

  15. What’s up with the complaints about JUCO players? There have been many successful players come out of the JUCO ranks and teams have benefited greatly! Like someone mentioned above, Bama got Mt. Cody. The thing that must be accurately evaluated is the player’s ability to make that transition. The JUCO players mentioned all have high ceilings and from what I have learned about them, they should make the transition with no problems. Plus, we have certain positions with little depth and there’s not many true freshmen that are going to step in and provide quality depth; therefore, bringing in some experienced players is almost a must!

  16. Zach – Our receiver corp is in bad shape! We really need to land some receivers that can play at a high level next year! I have seen Latroy Pittman play and I believe he will contribute as a freshman. Getting more 4/5 star WR’s is crucial! Why has there not been much news on WR’s? Are the coaches confident that they will land Diggs and Agholor, so there hasn’t been a bigger push for other WR’s? Are they content to take what we get and load up next year, since the 2013 class is loaded with quality WR’s?

  17. JOHN C: Please read carefully. There is a reason WHY JC players are JC players. (1) Academic: Why is he is a JC and not at any of the schools who ‘offered’ him? (2) Behavior: Arrest, anti-social behavior make it hard for a school to take a gabit on a kid. Think A. Atkins; (3) If JC players are so GREAT why is not everyone going after them? The answer: lack brains (can they learn the system with only 1-2 years to play?), (what will the ‘rap sheet’ look like?) Let us be candid: W/M is going after ‘high-risk’ guys b/c he is on ‘the ropes’. He may be the nicest guy in the world but he is ‘over-his-head’. It will be 2-3 years before YF is able to show substantial improvement. Sadly, no one—no me, not you have any idea if this guy has the ability to be a head coach. It is not our fault!! It is not W/M fault. It is the fault of Jerry Fooley, who is being paid over 2 millions a year to make a fool of himself!!

  18. Wow EMK seriously after one year you are ready to call for muschamps head. Look at the facts here, Urban Meyer left him with nothing but sophomores and freshmen, We had to find a brand new coaching staff, and on top of that we had to implement a brand new system which takes time. Also Nick Fairley and Cam Newton were both JC transfers and they did pretty well. Kids make mistakes just because there in JC doesn’t mean there not intelligent or bad players. Florida fans make me so sick we have one bad season and they are all ready to call it quits. I for one will not join the suicide parties. I think we have the brightest future of any team. Meyer left us with smurf backs and no WR’s. Weis will have the offense running great with big backs. And our defense will be lights out because we will only be losing 2 players on D. And the new class is looking great so mark my words next year we will be a 9 win team. Ohh and btw i am happy compared to the mess we put on the field last year! GO GATORS!

  19. Are the Gators looking at a kid named Robert Nkendichi who is currently a junior at Grayson High School in North Georgia?? This kid is a beast…6’7 250+ plays both ways. Single-handedly helped Grayson beat Lowndes last night in hs playoffs. Can’t let the leg-humpers get him.

  20. Zack, does the jucos cancelling their visits mean were starting to look good for some top flight linemen? Will there be any commitments after the game? Also arent the two Tallahassee Lincoln (my old highschool) WRs visiting this weekend as well? They both favor the Gators early, no?