Wow, I guess my Wii Tennis skills got more people interested in the mailbag this week! So many questions, so little space. Keep them coming guys. I’d also like to take the time to give props to “Jack,” who got the sarcasm I used in my “Why not recruit the Magnolia State?” blog. But I gotta say, my bragging about my Wii skills isn’t “dorky.” It’s just a fun way to pass the time when you’re dining on lovely cuisine in the media hotel in Fort Lauderdale. I’ve had my fair share of NCAA matches with UF athletes. I’ve won big and lost big … Cameron Newton, I’m ready to redeem myself. Call me.
Now, on to the questions!
How are we doing with Chaz Green and Christian Green at Tampa Catholic? Would love to see them playing together in the Orange & Blue!!
From what I understand, both are still very high on the Gators. Chaz was more of a Gator lean earlier than Christian, but now it seems that both are starting to develop interest in other schools. Christian’s leaders have been Florida, Florida State and Georgia for some time. Now, Georgia and Florida are his top schools. Georgia could even be considered the leader right now. He has visited there and knows the staff quite well. Florida State was believed to be at the top in the beginning because his cousin, E.G. Green, played there, but Florida got in his ear over the summer and he had the Gators on top. FSU’s struggles on and off the field have been a concern for Christian, so this one is probably coming down to UF and UGA. Now, Chaz is a guy who could change things for his teammate. Even with Tennessee getting a lot of love from Chaz lately, I still think Florida is in the lead. He loved Knoxville, but he’s been pretty close to committing to the Gators in the past. The thing going for the Vols is that his parents went to UT. If Chaz commits to Florida, watch to see if Christian follows suit. The staff is looking to add a little depth to the offensive line, and Chaz is one of their top options. We all know about UF’s struggles at wide receiver, and Christian could also be used as a wildcat weapon.
It happens quite often that a highly touted player with high expectations came to college only to sit because of injuries suffered in high school. Do high school players generally get adequate medical attention? How much do college coaches know the injury history of high school players?
I think medical attention paid to high school athletes differs depending on where you are. It’s hard to say what exactly goes on when high school players have injuries. When I played soccer in high school, I pulled a muscle in my leg and my coach sent me to a clinic to get treatment — and I played soccer. I’m sure many schools have this kind of treatment ready for athletes, but some might not, depending on the amount of money the program has. Trainers and a medical staff are required for all games and practices as well.
Colleges do a lot of research on the players they recruit. These are kids who could potentially be in the program for four or five years. Florida has had some recent history with high schoolers coming in after injury. Offensive lineman Nick Alajajian had a severe ankle injury and still enrolled early. Receiver Andre Debose had that terrible hamstring injury that started at the end of his high school track season. And this year, defensive tackle Leon Orr and safety Jordan Haden will miss the rest of their senior seasons with leg injuries. Staffs know what they are getting into, and sometimes injuries just freakishly happen during or after the season. Coaching and training staffs can’t control it, but I assure you they monitor it and have a plan for those prospects once they get on campus in case the injury is more severe.
Edward, we know about Florida’s top priority guys like Jeff Luc and Chris Dunkley, but who are some sleeper guys the coaches who may not be as high in the rankings? Also, what recruit do you think Florida is able to snatch from another team’s commit list by National Signing Day?
— Brandon S.
I think Florida already has a couple of sleepers in its class in receiver Soloman Patton, athlete Travon Van and I guess, if you’re Rivals.com, safety Jonathan Dowling. Van could be the biggest one, depending on his position, because of his athleticism and speed. But, if we’re going to go with uncommitted guys, two guys that I like as sleepers in any class are cornerback Pee Wee Cobb (Auburn, Ala.) and receiver Kenny Shaw (Orlando, Dr. Phillips). Cobb has got nice size right now but could still put on a little more weight before he gets on campus. I’ve only seen a little film on him, but he’s a pretty good cover corner. I doubt he’ll be in Florida’s class, and he’s not getting much love on the national scene, but he could end up being a player in college.
Shaw is a guy with some killer speed. I think the reason he’s not getting a great deal of attention is because he’s had Florida State at the top of his list for the longest time. If it wasn’t for the drama surrounding the program right now, he’d probably be a Seminole. Now, he’s talking official visits, and I’ve even seen him at a couple of Gator games this fall. He’s a pretty athletic guy and could make a quarterback very happy in a couple of years.
The guy to watch out for as far as switching allegiances to the Gators is Aurora, Colo., Grandview defensive end Chris Martin. Martin is committed to Notre Dame, and you know the history Urban Meyer has with snatching Notre Dame recruits (see Justin Trattou and Omar Hunter). The Gators will probably lose Carlos Dunlap to the NFL Draft and Jermaine Cunningham is a senior. The Gators have some depth at the position, but there’s no way the staff turns down a stud like Martin (he’s got more than 200 tackles combined his last two seasons). There’s also a good chance that Martin will visit Florida for the Florida State game in November.
With the struggles in the WR corps and injuries to the d-line, are there any plans to recruit at least 1-2 for those positions from the junior college ranks to give immediate help for next year?
— Ken Frier
JUCO players haven’t been too kind to the Gators in recent years. Yes, Reggie Nelson was a beast and was one of the best defensive players I’ve seen in college, but it’s been pretty tough for the Gators to really benefit from JUCO transfers. Since Meyer got Nelson to stay a Gator, he’s signed quarterback Bryan Waggener (2007), receiver Carl Moore (2008) and defensive tackles Troy Epps (2008) and Edwin Herbert (2009). Waggener redshirted the 2007 season and transferred to Northern Colorado. Moore caught 14 balls for 184 yards and a touchdown last year but will probably miss this season with a back injury. Epps tore his ACL last year and has seen a little time on the line this season. Herbert has only been in for a few snaps, and defensive line coach Dan McCarney said at the beginning of the year that he wasn’t physically ready for SEC play.
All and all, the Gators have had four scholarships go to players who haven’t done a lot for the program. With that said, Florida hasn’t really dipped too far into the JUCO talent pool this year. The Gators signed prep school star Travon Van, but haven’t gotten any JUCO commits yet. The staff seemed interested in Torrance, Cali., El Camion C.C. receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, but things have cooled down between the two parties. He was a huge Gator lean for a while and even tried to commit, but it never happened. Florida has offered his teammate, defensive back Mike Harris, but that’s really the extent of the JUCO search this year.
The linebacker position is pretty critical with this recruiting class due to the loss of most of our linebackers over the next two years. Which linebacker would you want most out of the possibilities (Luc, Jordan Hicks, Christian Jones), and why? Also, who do you think we actually get?
— Romans 8:31
As far as Florida is concerned, Luc and Hicks are at the top of the list for linebackers. I think Florida will take either one — and both since they play different positions. Which one does the staff prefer? I’m not sure. Luc is a physical specimen, but Hicks might have the most potential because of his overall talent and technique. He’s also the most versatile linebacker I’ve seen. The knock on Luc is that he’s too stiff because of how muscular he is. But he’s a bull on the field and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong and he would be great together. Jones is probably the fastest one and plays the outside positions very well. Jones might have more room to grow as a player. While I think Luc is the most physically impressive — and intimidating — I think that if I had my choice, I’d have to go with Hicks. He plays more outside, but he could play in the middle and direct a defense if needed. His versatility and technique are too sound to pass up.