Daily Football Fix: Mullen filling in roster gaps

Florida head coach Dan Mullen walks into the practice facility for the second spring practice at the Sanders Practice Fields on the UF campus in Gainesville. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

It’s commonplace for a program — especially one under new leadership — to reassess the roster following the team’s first camp.

And such is the case for Gators coach Dan Mullen, who has received two commitments in recent weeks that will shore up the Gators for the 2018 season.

The first — West Virginia graduate transfer Adam Shuler —  fills a potential void left by Gators star defensive end CeCe Jefferson, who injured his shoulder in the team’s Spring game on April 14. Shuler, who graduated from WVU in just three seasons, giving him two years of eligibility at UF, took an official visit to UF the same weekend Jefferson went down, and Florida amped up their pursuit of the 6-foot-5 Longwood native.

Although the injury to Jefferson will likely result in more playing time for established presences on the defensive line, such as Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga, Shuler gives the Gators a player with upside who showed glimpses of promise in two seasons with the Mountaineers. Shuler recorded 37 tackles and three sacks in 2017, and often had a nose for getting to the quarterback and creating pressure in the backfield.

But those who follow the Gators know that the defensive line is one of the few positions where the Gators have considerable depth — Zachary Carter, Antonneous Clayton and Elijah Conliffe all appear poised to contribute this season in a reserve role — and that the main area of emphasis for Mullen and Co. will be reviving the dormant UF offense.

Which makes junior college tight end Lucas Krull’s decision to enroll at UF a potential game-changer for Florida in 2018.

In short, Krull, ranked by 247Sports as the No. 1 tight end in the 2018 class and the No. 4 overall JUCO prospect, is an athletic freak.

Standing at 6-foot-7 — some reports list him an inch taller than that — and 255 pounds, Krull committed to the Gators last week, giving the Gators depth at a position that has seen minimal production since the departure of Jordan Reed.

While he opted to sign with Arkansas in 2016 as left-handed pitcher, Krull used his unique combination of speed and size to create mismatches on the high school level. He ran an unofficial 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds several years ago, and recently registered a time of 4.55 seconds in the event.

And his strength? Well, his fastball topped out at 98 miles-per-hour, which should speak for itself.

Krull didn’t shy away from the fact that he will need to get back into shape over the next month before Florida opens Fall camp, but his two seasons of baseball conditioning have prepared him more than many think.

“Baseball is a different world of training than football, but I’ve always loved the weight room. I’ve always pushed the limits for baseball, so for me it’s going to be easier than I would expect. Because obviously I’m out of shape right now, but I love the weight room,” Krull told The Gainesville Sun after his official visit on June 3. “For me getting back in the weight room, it will be an easier move. But it will always be tough, very tough.”

But if his social media posts are any indication, Krull may be farther ahead than he let on.

According to Joseph Potts, owner of TopSpeed Strength & Conditioning, LLC., Krull registered a maximum vertical leap that would have put him among the top-20 prospects in the 2018 NBA draft. Potts’ Twitter post also claimed Krull topped his previous highest vertical by an inch and a half — all of this after five sets of squatting 365 pounds.

So while much of the conversation surrounding Florida’s attempted resurgence has involved the revitalization of the offense and the strength and conditioning program, Krull seems to be ahead of the game even before arriving on campus.


  1. Didn’t realize Krull was so highly regarded. Sounds like a great athlete. As has been noted ad infinitum, it’ll come down to QB and OL play for UF. There’s plenty now at the skill positions on offense.

    • Steve. Exactly correct with your post. But the recruiting results for the 2019 class for Mullen need an infusion of star recruits if Florida wants to continue to get better. More 4 and 5 star recruits committing to the program. Still time for that to happen. But it is already happening at Alabama, Auburn, FSU, Georgia, Mississippi State, LSU and other programs Florida plays or will be playing in the future. The lack of star power commitments to Florida right now is very concerning to me. The Gators need a Trey Sanders type to commit and soon to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Go Gators.

  2. Graham. As an ex baseball player, I know that power to weight ratio determines how fast you can throw a baseball, not overall strength. For example, you can be 6’5 and 300 lbs and very strong but not be able to throw a baseball over 80 mph (because of poor power to weight ratio). Whereas a 6’1″ 135 lb. person could easily throw a baseball over 90 mph if he has a lot of lean muscle and power in his lower body (I was one of those). One of the major reasons Krull can throw so hard is not his overall strength, but his leaping ability (power to weight ratio). It means the kid can really jump high at 255 lbs, which is going to be a serious weapon for him as a 6’7″ or 8″ TE. He clearly has to get in the weight room, however, and get stronger in his upper body. Football strength training, not baseball. Thought you should know that.

  3. And consider women’s softball. Most of the female pitchers are not stronger than most men their same age who are athletes, but many of them have trained their bodies to move their weight forward faster during the underhanded throwing motion and are able to hurl a softball much faster than men who have not learn how to shift their weight with power like they do. Power to weight ratio. Not strength. Krull has a lot of weight to power ratio that gives him a skill many college TEs do not have. If he gets stronger in the weight room and learns the playbook, Krull could become an All-American type TE for the Gators very quickly and have a dynamic impact on the Florida offense. And it sounds as if he understands that and is going to be dedicated towards that goal.

  4. I wish the recruiting star counters would think through articles like these instead of airing their anxieties so often over nothing. Roster upgrades are an important part of every sports team every where. Sure I want the next tim tebow, but we need the program stabilized quickly after two 4-7 seasons in the last 5. then we can talk about recruiting stars etc.

    • mveal. Kirby Smart added graduate transfers, and JC transfers to Georgia’s roster while also adding a bunch of 4 and 5 star players to the roster at the same time and became to top program they currently are very quickly. Top programs do both at the same time, unless you are Alabama and your roster is made up of 4 and 5 star recruits, four deep, already.

      • Why do you keep bringing up what Kirby Smart did his first season? Kirby Smart joined a 9-4 Georgia team that was already being recruited very well by Mark Richt, not a 4-7 team who has struggled pulling top guys since Muschamp.

        • Gator92. Because what Smart is doing at Georgia is what Mullen should be doing at Florida, right now. Are you telling me Georgia is that better a program than Florida? I don’t think so, and I doubt Mullen or the AD or President of UF think so either. Also, the 4-7 season is not and was not reflective of the talent level that was and is on the Florida roster, and Florida was coming off a SEC East title win before than 4-7 season and was considered talent wise able to win the SEC East last year. Many thought, preseason, that the OL was the best in the SEC, in fact. It had the talent to be. It still may. Yes, the QB talent at Florida was and is lacking. It was at Georgia, too, when Smart arrived on campus. And the OL play at Georgia was horrible when Smart arrived. So was their defensive line play. And just like Florida, that poor play was not because of talent, but poor coaching and poor player motivation. And Eason was a freshman QB at Georgia Smart’s first year. He was not horrible, but Smart was not going to accept less than very good. Smart immediately goes out and recruits another five-star QB that is very good to create high level competition (as they do at Bama). He then goes out and recruits another five-star QB that may be better than the very good one he already has, and the first five star QB transfers away because the talent at Georgia is just too deep and too good to stick around. So, I am using Smart as a equally comparative model to what Florida and Mullen should be doing and need to be doing, now not later, if Florida wants to contend to championships against Georgia and Bama and others (apparently even Mississippi State and their new coach that is also badly out recruiting Florida and Mullen right now and just won a recruiting battle for a top DE recruit). I hope I answered your question. And again, I am a huge supporter of Mullen and Florida, both as a fan and a graduate. Thanks.

          • Tampa you sound as if Mullen has already coached a season and failed. Making a comparison of Smart and Mullen’s coaching abilities is a ridiculous comparison. You can’t make that comparison cause Mullen hasn’t coached a season yet. As far as recruiting, the 5* Qb he signed was already committed to Georgia before he was even hired. The next 2 were both home grown talents who would’ve been impossible to miss out on. One of them, Fromm, was committed to him at Bama before he left there. Smart spent 9 years at Bama building relationships with the best of the best, which made it very easy to transition to UGA. Mullen wasn’t in the same stratosphere with the top talent in the nation at MSU cause none of them wanted to go there, so he’s having to start building relationships with them now. The class MSU has right now is because of him and they just stuck with their commitments. The battle Moorhead just won was from another home grown talent that wanted to stay home and was only considering the Gators BECAUSE of Mullen. Their class is only a little higher ranked cause they’ve got more players committed, but it isn’t blowing the Gators away. Give the guy a chance to build momentum before criticizing his abilities and trying to make comparisons to a coach who had been recruiting to the biggest powerhouse program there is for 9 years and is just coming of a national title appearance with another coaches players.

          • Tampa…I agree with many of your sentiments but I think Joe has captured my thoughts exactly.

            I’d only add that yes, last year’s 4-7 record wasn’t reflective of the talent on the roster but I’d submit that the back to back SEC East championships were done with Chump’s Defense and smoke and mirrors. There has NOT been much offensive talent on this roster in years….yes a few here and there but overall the offensive roster has been weak.

            Again, what Mullen inherited and what Smart inherited were two different things. Dan will need time and patience to get this program to where we’d all like to see it. It will happen.

          • There is a difference in recruiting in GA than in FL. GA can pull in the top recruits from that state. FL has to contend with FSU, Miami, and now UCF and South FL are making inroads for talent. If the gators can get average play from a QB and a decent job form the OL they can win 9 games. That could help getting in state players

  5. Oh, one other thing. I believe Shuler plays and is going to play the strongside DE position as a down lineman. Jefferson does not play the same position (Jefferson is going to play one of the OLB position that can also hybrid into a weakside DE position on certain downs this year), so I doubt his recruitment to Florida has much to do with Jefferson’s spring injury and more to do with the team needing an effective strongside DE (Ancrum was playing that position as Zuinga’s backup at the end of spring practice (I believe Zuinga was injured and not practicing then)….and that likely was a concern for Mullen at that time more than Jefferson’s injury, as Polite, Moon, Smith, and Chatfield are backups for Jefferson’s position).

  6. But, yes, Shuler and Krull fill roster gaps at strongside DE and TE, as Shuler is no doubt going to be a better and more experienced backup SSDE than Ancrum. His arrival also allows for further development of Carter at that SSDE position, and the incoming freshman, Langham, as well. And Krull is going to be a better H-B/TE option than Raymond would be, no doubt. And his arrival gives Gamble more time to develop at that position as well.

    • Gator-6. I am a “ducks in a row” type of guy before putting your money on the publishing table. I was trained well by Hugh Cunningham back in the day at the UF School of Journalism. Your information should be determined to be solid and factual before submitting to publish. If expressing an opinion as fact, it had better had been stone cold supported by facts. If not, Hugh gave you an automatic “F” on the writing assignment, no matter how good of content or intent of the writing assignment. A lot of “F” grades for internet stories these days, unfortunately. The substandard world we live in today, unfortunately.

      • You’ve certainly got a journalism pedigree that would make the legendary Tampa Tribune sports writers blush….I mean, the old ones…..and even throw in old Salty Sol to boot! I got my journalism schooling from an old guy named Herschall Cribb at the University of Tampa, but never pursued it because breaking and blowing things up in the Army was more fun.

        • Proud to be a graduate of the UF School of Journalism, although my career took me more into the business world of marketing communications. But in hindsight, I often think of what could have been if I have chosen to become a sports journalist instead. I probably would still be working and loving my work. Instead, I am retired and wishing I was a sports journalist. LOL.

          • Well, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger there, Tampa. I loved every minute of my time in uniform–some obviously more than others–but now that I’m older I sometimes go back over it all too, and wonder what if I had followed an earlier passion instead. Not about the money, hell, there’s never been any money in the things I’m interested in…..but maybe I would have followed in the foot steps of old Tom McEwen right there in Tampa. Who knows? What I do know is, GO GATORS!

    • Looks like others are finally coming around to what I’ve been saying for months — Mullen is severely underperforming on the recruiting front and we are nowhere near the level of UGA, Bama or even FSU (which looks posed for a quick rebound given the studs they’re pulling in). Unless things change — and there’s no evidence they will — it’s going to be a long, painful season for the Gator faithful. It’s no wonder Mullen was Strickland’’s third choice after Kelly and Frost.

      • Tim. If you go to any of the major recruiting sites, you will discover that Mullen is recruiting some of the top talent in the country and many of them have the Gators on top or in their top 3 to 5 right now. And I am not one that agrees with you that it is going to be a long, painful season for Mullen and Florida. I see this season developing into a turnaround season because I disagree with you and others that Florida currently lacks talent. They have enough talent to challenge Georgia in the East this year, but maybe not Bama. But the Florida coaches have to close well on the recruiting trail (and they are trailing the teams you mentioned at the moment) to continue that rebound and back to the championship level that Bama and Georgia are currently at…..and FSU is not. And Stricklin has publicly stated that Mullen was his first choice all along but interviewed others in the process of hiring the coach he wanted.

      • You have been saying that for months, Tim, and now you’ve even got TampaGator saying it too! Geesh, never thought I’d see the day that you two agreed on anything. Well, like they say here in Texas when asked what to do about a New York City boy, “Get a rope!”.

        Y’all are both wrong as a left shoe, but I have to admit that I sure do enjoy you guys going on about it. Go Gators, bud.

          • Oh hell, Tampa, lighten up! I was kidding for God’s sake….it was a freakin’ joke! Life ain’t always that serious–OK, the part about Gator football is–but the rest of it isn’t, so come on.

            Actually it was nice to see you (apparently) at least agree c Tim on something (at least in basic principle) without calling him a troll, but mea culpa anyway (or whatever the hell it is the Pope is always saying).

      • I’m in no way an insider, just an arm-chair QB, but I do not for one second believe Mullen was Stricklin’s third choice. Stricklin had to do his due diligence and kick the tires on more than one candidate and to his credit, he was looking at the top coaches in last year’s market. Had Frost been interested, it “could’ve” been a different story but I believe that Mullen was Stricklin’s guy and he got his man.

        I think Kelly was vetted and interviewed but not offered. I’m glad it worked out the way it did. Mullen will be an all-time great Gator coach.

        • I agree Rog. Kelly was played with to an extent, but his arrogance probably killed anything meaningful when things got more serious. In the end, we didn’t offer him, regardless of what the sports media said at the time. Frost was the “hot” young guy dejour that everyone wanted, but he was always a Nebraska guy just like Spurrier was always a Florida guy…..and besides, there was a chance that he was a “one trick pony” anyway (I don’t think he will turn out to be that myself, it’s more likely that he’ll do the same at Nebraska as SOS did for Florida). Oh, and another thing about Frost, despite being hailed as a bright YOUNG star, which he was, HE WAS ONLY 3 YEARS YOUNGER THAN DAN MULLEN.

          Which brings us to Dan Mullen, who can’t even be considered a “one trick pony” in the least, who made his bones at Florida and in the SEC as a head coach (sorry AAC, you’re a good conference, but you’re not the SEC),
          and is still a young man with plenty of longevity left. He’s always been one of us, he really is an offensive mind instead of just calling himself one, and I somehow “knew”, like you did, that when Stricklin came aboard that Mullen would follow somehow, sooner or later. I cannot think of anyone I would rather have right now than Dan Mullen, including Charlie Strong, who I admire greatly.

          Keep your eye on them Vols up there, Rog….especially in August!

          • Well said!!!!!

            p.s. the mood in Knoxville is glum. Not many are expecting great things this year. As a Gator……that makes me smile 🙂

          • Boy, they should expect better things, Rog. I think Fulmer will definitely straighten out that dysfunctional athletic department, and Pruitt was definitely a class hire. I’m like you tho, I smile at their unfortunate circumstances and probable lack of patience….but I would still like to see the East get stronger and reverse this polarity of divisions (to where it used to be). If that means the Gators face off against a tougher Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, and at least an improved Kentucky and Vandy, so be it. I’m sure we’ll more than hold our own with Mullen at the helm, and the competition at a higher level will only make us better (or great again, not to ruffle any political feathers or sensitivities).

            I know there’s another team in the East, but damned if I can remember what it is. I think they really belong in the BIG10, whoever it is. (and if I knew how to put that little smiling icon thingy on, I’d put it right here so people will know I’m joking)

          • Oh Lord, I havn’t started doing that, have I? It’s later than I thought if I am. I’ve got to get a life, Rog…….

  7. Maybe Tampa, Mveal, Gator6 has an answer here. I counted 18 OL listed on the roster. Some of the names I know. Are the depth players that bad that they are reliable? Obviously some have never hit the field. I would think out of 18 we could come up with a 1st and 2nd string that would at worst be adequate. This may seem naïve but that’s a lot of 300 pounders to fill gaps and block.

  8. Gator65. I think Havesty will find five starters and at least four backups in that group that will produce on the field this year. He will not put up with the OL crap the previous OL coaches and HC put up with week after week. The OL WILL be much better this year, I have no doubt about that. I posted on here months ago that I thought Heggie should be moved to center to replace McCoy. I believe that is what Havesty saw right away as well. Center play is so important to good OL play, and center play was a weakness the last two years. Heggie is good enough to fix that issue, I believe. I think the QB play will be better, too, as a result (and better QB coaching from Mullen and Johnson). But, if you look at the roster now, a lot of top talent is leaving after this year and next year, and it has to be replaced by the next two recruiting classes if Florida is to remain a contender in the SEC, and not just for a division title. And a bunch of 3-star recruits will not get it done. Period.

      • He would have failed me for spelling the OL coach’s name incorrectly (Hevesty, I believe). But I am not researching (did not look up the correct spelling of his name for the purposes of posting on here) and publishing on here. I am blogging by thoughts and opinions freely. Big difference. But thanks for pointing out my error or errors.

  9. Tampa: did your journalism training teach you to state the obvious over and over and over? It’s called whining. Mullen knows better than anyone he needs highly skilled athletes at all positions. And he is working his buttoff to recruit them. Step away from the keyboard man.

    • Gator. No, it taught me to research facts and base any thoughts or opinions on those facts. But thanks also for your opinion. And by the way. I know Mullen knows that. But I also know that he has not been recruiting on the level so far that is needed to bring Florida, long term, back to a championship level program. But as this article stated, he is filling the gaps well. But gap filling is not the long-term answer for the UF football program. Getting a lot of 4 and 5 star recruits as Meyer did is the answer (and what Smart is already doing in a big way).

  10. Hey, Tampa, no non-troll readers here disagree with the desire AND need for high-star recruiting, and you detail well what Smart and others are doing correctly. However your taking umbrage st the implication the Georgia is a “better program” than UF is the problem. Look from the eyes of an 18 year old recruit. Since you were 13 years old, you’ve seen Florida go 4-7 twice, once last year while you were thi king of your future plans. YES in that kids eyes, Georgia IS a better program. Nothing succeeds like success. The only way out of this spiral is to have someone who is creative enough to get more out of ‘lesser’ talent so your program looks better, wins more, and is exciting to watch, so that next year’s kids dont think JaJa is better than Florida.

    Quit ranting about how Mullen is failing at recruiting, or just that you’re concerned- the hope for our Gators is this season’s success, or at least excitement showing that Florida is back or on its way up, so kids get more interested. That will be more important that just a better record like Moosechamp’s 10 wins with nothing but 3 yards and a cloud of dust on offense.

    • Pierre. “Ranting” is using emotional and often non-logical or unreasonable language to make a point instead of using facts and logical sense. I have posted little if any emotion and have tried to present rational facts that make sense, none of which that have indicated that Mullen was not a great hire by Florida. In fact, I believe Mullen was the best hire Florida could have made, but his recruiting efforts so far are clearly off to a very slow start, from last year to now. But thanks for you opinion.

  11. Well Tim you should do some more research before saying that if you look at the kind of recruits we are getting it’s right up there with the elite coaches in there first year at there school we have as many four stars committed as Florida st does. Dan Mullen is recruiting just fine he’s just making every roster spot count

  12. Tim, FSU may have had a few chose them over us. Taggart came into to a club that has had a few solid years. I have a gut feeling there is going to be a decline in their performance. But if you want to talk coaching performance he’s was one game below 50% @ USF, he did have a winning record on 12 games at Oregon. The smoke is not bug enough to statisticly say he is great. Could be a lucky year. He didn’t recruit most of the players. Mullen was 66.6% winning at a program in the middle of the toughest division to coach in. Neither have coached a game at their new location. If anything FSU is in a better position because they had better recruiting with their previous HC. If you are comparing how the upcoming season looks the ACC isn’t the road the SEC is. Clemson, Miami. Like Tampa or someone here said alot of the guys already had interest in the programs they joined coming to the new coach. SEC country showed he’s on par with other first year coaches. I’d say Mullen did excellent recruiting in MST given the competition. I’d bet some of these commits are going to jump ship before signing day. We are already light years ahead as far as coaching and fitness. So if my Mullen is on par with first year HCs a winning record I’m comfortable with where E are now knowing they are working hard at recruiting. There is no reason to pop smoke and say were in trouble.

  13. First, it’s good to be back here after a two-year (mostly) sojourn at a paid site with whiners cursing, condemning, whining and denigrating everything and everyone UF we’re not of their toxic mindset. The “merger”of a good site with another re-introduced me to several posters who had been kicked off the good site. The conversation here, except when trolls show up, is qualitatively far superior in analysis and discourse.

    Second, I’m a Hugh Cunningham and Buddy Davis disciple of UF’s JM
    School, too, personally recruited by the gracious Rae O. Weimar out of high school. A 1972 grad. When we’re you fellow alumni there?

    Third, whoever above that said Mullen was Stricklin’s preferred choice nailed it. Scott did due diligence and gave the life of a fair chance to everybody else’s favorites, then got his man. At MSU, however, Mullen actively recruited JUCO guys in lieu of the 4* and 5* kids he couldn’t get to visit Starkville. He’s meticulously building his Florida program and almost certainly will bring in a Top Ten class, or maybe a bit better, by February. Then next year..

    He can coach circles around Willie Taggart and with the talent in place will outcoach Jimbo, Mark Richt and more often than not Kirby Smart. Mullen’s got a clear vision for Florida. And a major reconstruction project to craft what he sees we truly need to fit his plan. No worries. It will happen pretty fast.

    • Hey…welcome back, Clyde. We’ve got a couple of new members this month, Gator65 really stands out and now with you back on board things should improve again. By the way, I totally concur with everything you just said, strongly, and with great conviction.

      Now if you want to talk about fat fingers….oye….don’t get me started.

  14. The Gators will get the five star recruits the minute they see Urban Meyer results back at Florida. Our Defense will be too 10. We all know we have outstanding WRs and RBs on Offense and explosive athletes too with great coaching this year. We have three capable QBs. TE depth is great. The only question is OL where we have plenty of Veterans and a better OC but I think our conditioning will make a major difference! Then add in better play calling by Mullen and a better spread offense, I am expecting a top 10 Offense too. Then we will have elite recruits lining up to play for us. You will see! Go Gators!!!