Zach’s Mail Stack 8/28

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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.

25 COMMENTS

  1. What are the odds of us landing Antonio Callaway if we turn up the heat on him? After his 200+ yard game on national television it seems like he may turn into a more highly valued prospect flashing that much dominance against a solid opponent.

  2. I also think Cowart is coming to Gainesville, with a big if. That’s because the Gators play Alabama before he announces. I think he still comes if UF wins or looks competitive, if UF looks bad, he might not want to climb aboard a foundering S.S. Muschamp.

  3. Welcome back STACK! As you mentioned Zach, right now our recruits and targets (as well as the rest of us) are in a holding pattern. Time to see if all the offensive changes and confidence building pays dividends. Put the fun back in the swamp by means of impressive and potent offense, defense and special teams and like you said, “far and wide” will get here! Ball’s in our possession…’the lights are on and they want a show’…let’s show ’em what we’ve got! LUV UF!

  4. All of the teams in the SEC east are terrible and UGA has only one player. If UF doesn’t win the east this season it will never happen under Will…

    SC has no defense. Vandy got CRUSHED by TEMPLE. UT and UK both are terrible. Seriously the East is a CAKEWALK this season. The fourth best West team prob could easily win the east

  5. “These results are a by-product of not only UF’s 4-8 record in 2013, but Florida State’s national championship run.”

    Zachster, do you think the records are a result of the coaching – just curious…….

  6. Zach – First, congrats on graduating from UF. That is a major accomplishment.

    If we have a good year, we will rule recruiting in the state of FL. There will be no better group than Cowart, Jefferson, Ivey and Holland. Plus, we will land several other in-state studs. We will finish with a top 5 class. ESPN recruiting analyst project us to have the #2 class.

    Campbell’s uncle is pushing him to FSU and it is well-known, in the recruiting circles, that some dirty things have been going on in Tampa, with FSU and Clemson right in the middle of it all.

    Glad to see the Mail Stack back!

    Mushmouth – Playing a very soft schedule (FSU) and a unusually high number of injuries play a major role, as well. What was UF’s record in 2012 vs FSU’s? FL was a few plays away from playing for the NC in 2012. Fisher backed in to a NC last year, with Auburn’s lucky win over Bamer and Auburn’s coach taking his foot of the gas too soon. Fisher is a decent coach, but, he’s not a better coach than Muschamp. Saban has even said that Muschamp is the better of the two. Muschamp has had some bad breaks, while Fisher has had the ball bounce in to his lap. That will change this year. Muschamp has pretty much cleaned up the mess Meyer left, so, things are about to turn.

  7. GIGator, I wouldn’t worry about recruiting, recruiting has never been a problem at Florida. The 2010 class was, supposedly, one of the all-time best, yet the players from that class haven’t even won an Eastern division title. FSU is on top becuase Fisher has proven he’s a great coach and they have been very good at getting the right players. UF has recruited as well as FSU, according to the rankings, but there is a big difference in the talent level on the two teams right now. Yes, UF did upset FSU in 2012, but upsets are not to be expected on a regular basis. UF was a thirty point underdog to FSU at home last year, that’s how big the difference in the two programs right now. It can change pretty quickly, the biggest difference is that FSU’s number one quarterback recruit, Winston, lived up to the billing, while UF’s, Driskel, has been horrible. Give the devil his due, FSU has the best player in college football, until he leaves, FSU is staying on top.

  8. Many were ready to run Jimbo out of town after UF spanked them in 2012 but when you look back he did a good job recruiting even when Urb’s was winning. When Tebow left it flipped immediately. Our downward spiral didn’t help (except 2012), now they are loaded with no end in sight. Think we have a good year, win the east, beat uga, maybe 9-3 gets it done.

  9. ntcrze – I’m not worried about recruiting at all. In fact, I am excited about it. We will finish with a great class. As for FSU, they did land a very good QB, in Winston; however, they got the criminal as well. Based on his history, I’m glad he’s not at UF. Driskel has not been horrible, as you claim. He is 11 & 3 as a starter, despite playing for an incompetent OC and in the wrong scheme. He lit Miami up, last year, driving the offense up and down the field. He threw one pick that was his fault and the fumble was caused by a missed blocking assignment. The pick 6, in the UT game, was caused by his hips being turned, as his leg was being broken. The 2010 class set us back, because most of the top recruits did not stick. It was a great class, but, Urban had already checked out and he let that class fall apart, which caused a major void in our roster. Muschamp has the 4th best recruiting average over the past 4 years – better than Fisher. It has taken time to replenish our roster with players and talent. Though that talent is young, it will start to show this year and after we sign the next class, it will be even better. Being a 30 point dog last year had nothing to do with talent – the injuries that we sustained is what lead to us being such a big underdog. If you take Winston out of the picture, we match up very well with the school out west. Driskel will close the gap between he and Winston this year.

  10. Since Florida and Florida State were 10-1 at the time of the 2012 game, Florida beating Florida State was not much (if at all) of an upset. If Florida State was favored, it would be mainly because the game was in Tallahasee.

  11. Nt whatever loves to claim Driskel is terrible, but never has anything to argue when presented with the facts. I love how the same people who claim Driskel played terribly against Miami will also tell you Mauk played great against our D, yet they had nearly equal stats. They had the same amount of passing and rushing TDs, only a 4 yard difference in passing yards, Driskel had a 16% better passing completion, and Driskel had 2 Ints and a fumble (only the one int being his fault) while Mauk had an int and a fumble (and a pass that should’ve been picked off but Poole dropped it). Identical stats yet those people will tell you Maul looked great and Driskel looked terrible. It’s a joke. Also Winston recently threw 2 picks compared to 1 TD, yet no one is saying that was a terrible game. Just a bunch of hypocrisy. Just more proof we lost despite Driskel’s performance not because of it

  12. by That_UAT_Guy No one who saw the Miami game thinks Driskel was anything but horrible. Statistics are for losers, like Spurrier said. It’s the job of the quarterback to score points. Driskel was horrible, he even took sure points off the board. Quinton Dunbar gets criticized for not catching a touchdown pass, but it’s hard to do so when your quarterback can’t hit the side of a barn, like Driskel when did when he was wide open in the end zone at Miami. UF scored a touchdown when they were given the ball inside Miami’s ten yard line. As for the stats, much of Driskel’s passing yards came when the Gators scored their second touchdown when the game was over. Even Muschamp was not dumb enough to credit Driskel on that score. He was asked after the game why the Gators were not able to score earlier when it looked so easy to do so at the end. He replied that Miami’s defense had changed since they were up two scores, they hadn’t seen them play soft coverage up to that point. The touchdown didn’t mean anything. That’s what Muschamp said. But, of course, that doesn’t mean anything to someone that doesn’t believe what UF’s defensive coordinator said about Fowler’s play last year, I guess what Muschamp said is taken out of context as well. Of course Mauk played better, he put points on the board when it mattered. Of course Winston played better, to compare Driskel to Winston is idiotic in the first place. When the quarterback can only put up one touchdown when it meant something in the game, and that only came after starting with a first and goal, the quarterback sucked, and no statistics are going to alter that fact.

  13. Infamous Jamis shameous is a 4x criminole loser, but they are still proud of him. UF flushed a better athlete (sCam Newton) on just his 3rd mis-step at UF. Your (imo) crabbie-rapist would already have been long gone from UF, but that’s the criminole’s traditions for ya…. While high character Driskel’s actual game stats and 12-3 W/L record vs top SoS’s say that you’re FoS, (not surprising). Your sham QB won a BCS-NC and was given a Heisman vs the #69 SoS in 2013. I’m betting that UF hasn’t played that weak of a SoS in the last 20+ years. UF’s last 2 Heisman winners went against at least Top 5 SoS’s. If your twit had to play an SEC schedule, I doubt that he’d make it through a full season, and I guarantee that he wouldn’t go undefeated or win a Heisman. — FSU is 3-7 vs UF over the last 10 years, so how good can your Wisher really be, if we’re going by his W/L record vs UF???
    PS — At UF, the STUDENT/athletes actually have to go to class and make the grades, without a ‘Deion Rule’ to force them into it, or phony computer classes to get them by….
    PSS — Muschamp’s last class of 24 resulted in ALL 24 being admitted and being eligible to play, not the FSU standard…

    Zach, thanks for all you do. IF Will get’s those two DE’s to go with the 2 committed LB’s, then I’ll be happy with the 2015 class…. ;~))

  14. Aux obviously you didn’t watch that game because you sound so woefully ignorant. Yes Driskel did miss Dunbar on that ONE play. Last time I checked 1 play does not constitute a horrible game. Driskel played great moving the ball up and down the field all game. THATS how he got 291 yards. The reason it was so easy to score at the end but not the rest of the game is obvious. We didn’t turn the ball over on that drive. Or did you forget about Matt Jones fumbling on the first drive that was going so well. Did it slip your mind that we were sure to score before halftime I believe it was when Burton fumbled. Did you not see the left tackle whiffing on a block that allowed the end to come almost untouched and cream Driskel as he was releasing the ball on what I still believe was an incomplete pass but got called a fumble. Do you ignore Trey Burton allowing a completely catchable ball to get intercepted because he wasn’t paying attention. And then of course there was the interception which was completely on Driskel. The whole team played bad, but Driskel was sharp and on target all but 3 plays. And still no one, including you, can answer why it is people say Mauk played so great and Driskel played so terrible with IDENTICAL stats. No one can tell me why Winston still played well even though he threw 2 picks, yet Driskel throws 2, 1 not even his fault, and all of a sudden he played horrible despite all the good he did. Ill tell you what the difference is. Mauk and Winston had the help around them to pull out the win and the Gators lost and everyone has to have someone to blame so Driskel was the target. Am I wrong? Of course not! You know seeing all these games and great QBs I’ve seen a lot of plays where the QB has thrown it up there and the receiver has gone up and come down with a tremendous catch. Let me ask you when is the last time Driskel has had a receiver do that for him? Ill wait. A QB needs weapons and somehow Driskel has played very well without those weapons. Now it looks like he has them and some idiots are gonna be eating their words when Driskel uses those weapons he finally has to be one of the best QBs in the country. And I’ll just be here saying I told you so.

  15. Welcome aboard UAT_Guy. I’m just so glad that I’ve got at least one enthusiastic rider on this Driskel Bandwagon that I’ve been driving for the last 4 years. :~))

    Actually, I think that there is a ‘Silent Majority’ of Gator fans riding in the back of my wagon, and that’s okay wid me too…. ;~)