The Stack is back!
Hope you all had a great summer, but I know everyone is excited about fall finally being here.
I certainly am, and this is my first time not taking fall semester classes in six years after graduating from UF in May. Now I can cover and enjoy college football and recruiting more than ever before.
I’m looking forward to interacting with you all over the next five months as we watch Florida’s season and 2015 class play out. In case you missed it, check out Wednesday’s blog about UF’s recruiting needs heading into the fall.
On to the questions!
With so many top players in Florida this year, why aren’t the Gators locking down the state? — @A1_TooT, @Realbradglover
Not only have the Gators failed to land an elite in-state prospect, but Florida products don’t even make up the majority of the 2015 class. Seven out of 11 verbal commitments are out-of-state recruits. The last three pledges are all from Georgia, a state that didn’t produce any prospects for UF in the previous recruiting cycle.
The other four pledges have come via California, Louisiana and Ohio, states where the Gators usually don’t have luck. Additionally, three of Florida’s four decommitments during the summer were in-state prospects. It’s also worth noting that the top recruits landed by the Gators for 2014 after last season concluded were from out of state.
These results are a by-product of not only UF’s 4-8 record in 2013, but Florida State’s national championship run. It’s much easier for the Seminoles to lock up Florida talent right now because their program is attractive and offers those prospects the opportunity to stay close to home. For the Gators, they’ve been forced to expand their recruiting efforts in search of out-of-state kids who can play in the SEC and don’t care about distance in their decision-making process.
For the most part, UF has been able to make it work thus far. However, getting elite players out of your own backyard remains the No. 1 priority. There are still a handful of quality in-state prospects the Gators can close with. If Florida can rebound this year and start winning games again, the recruits will come from near and far.
What’s the percentage chance for Florida on DE Byron Cowart, DE CeCe Jefferson, OL Martez Ivey and LB Jeff Holland? — @glenn22primo, @BUCGATOR1, @ryanponczek, @rdasilva16
It’s hard to put a percentage on all these kids because some of them have a long way to go in their recruitments.
Cowart decides on Sept. 28 and Florida’s chances with him are at 90 percent. He’s visiting UF on Saturday for the season opener. I believe he and Jefferson, who wants to announce on signing day, will end up at the same school despite them saying earlier this month that they were no longer a package deal. With all the trips Jefferson has taken to Gainesville this summer, he may be leaning toward the Gators more than Cowart.
Florida is battling Auburn for both Holland and Ivey. They don’t plan on deciding for at least a couple months, but the general consensus is that UF currently has the edge for them. That being said, they could very well end up at Auburn, which is why I haven’t made a 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction on them yet. Here are my picks so far this year.
Are Clemson commits Ray-Ray McCloud III and Deon Cain off Florida’s radar or is Will Muschamp going to let the play on the field bring them back? — @briwash4
The Tampa athletes are definitely still top priorities for the Gators. But like you said, they probably need to see an improved offense with Kurt Roper before a flip could happen.
One thing working in Florida’s favor is that both of them want to use their official visits. Clemson tries to prevent its commitments from taking additional trips to other schools, so that’s something that could create an issue for the Tigers if Cain and McCloud maintain their stance.
The Gators experienced the same thing with Demarcus Robinson. He was committed to Clemson during the season and the staff wouldn’t let him visit Gainesville for a game, although he tried to on a couple occasions. He flipped to Florida on Dec. 12 of that year and took an official to UF two days later.
But one thing that attracted Robinson to Gainesville during the 2012 regular season was the 11-1 record. The Gators need wins in order to draw more interest from Cain and McCloud.
Feeling WR George Campbell is FSU bound. How do you see this WR class finishing with a good season? — @Duval9oh4, @Odessagator, @PeOpLe_cHaMp03, @GStubbsUFGators
You’re right in that all signs point to him going to FSU. The trip he took to Tallahassee late last month was a game-changer for the Seminoles, and Joker Phillips’ resignation from UF in June was the beginning of the end for Florida’s lead.
The Gators could change Campbell’s mind with victories this fall, but I think it’s more likely that they flip Cain because he and McCloud might make a switch to Florida together if they choose to back off their Clemson commitments.
As for undecided targets, Ryan Davis is definitely one to watch. Saturday will be his third trip to UF this month. With Dante Fowler Jr., his cousin, already at Florida and Cowart, one of his best friends, expected to pick the Gators next month, the writing is on the wall for Davis in my opinion.
Antonio Callaway, who camped at UF this summer, is another receiver to keep an eye on. He’s from Miami Booker T. Washington, the same high school as true freshman Treon Harris. Callaway has called Florida his top school but it’s neck-and-neck between the Gators and the hometown Hurricanes.
Look for UF to get Cowart and Davis on board before the end of October and then have them recruit fellow Tampa area products Campbell, Cain and McCloud.
Does UF need a running back in this recruiting class? — @CoBeingCo
The Gators certainly need one, but they have their work cut out for them if they’re going to land a blue-chip back. Most of the top in-state prospects at the position are already committed to other schools, and the ones who haven’t are leaning elsewhere. Out-of-state running backs Damian Harris and Nyheim Hines are showing interest in the Gators and appear to be their best options at this time.
As I wrote yesterday, Matt Jones will be gone after 2015 and possibly Kelvin Taylor, who may leave early for the NFL. If the Gators don’t sign a back in this recruiting cycle, they could return just two backs and the signee(s) they have for 2016. So it’s important for Florida to land someone in this class for depth and development. A good season could open the doors for new targets or a potential flip.
Top 10 most important recruits in this class? And I mean an overall list with UF commits included. — Jay, @DevinLamarr
This is an interesting question. Most of time we as recruiting writers and fans focus on the remaining targets for a school and don’t consider the prospects already in the class.
I feel Florida’s five biggest needs this year are defensive ends, linebackers, offensive linemen, receivers and a running back.
If we got a peek at the Gators’ recruiting board, the top 10 overall targets they have or had a legit shot at might look like this.
1. Byron Cowart
2. CeCe Jefferson
3. Jeff Holland
4. Jerome Baker (Florida commit)
5. Martez Ivey
6. Deon Cain (Clemson commit)
7. Adonis Thomas (Florida commit)
8. Ray-Ray McCloud III (Clemson commit)
9. Derrick Dillon (Florida commit)
10. Tyler Jordan (Florida commit)
That’s all for this week! Be sure to leave your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below.