Ask Aschoff 9/29

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We’re moving right along with recruiting this year. Florida had a pretty productive weekend, getting a lot of top prospects in for the Kentucky game. A lot of the guys on campus and in the stands were from the 2012 class, but there were a few 2011 guys making appearances. Most notably were St. Augustine Pedro Menendez linebacker Tony Steward and West Palm Beach Dwyer defensive end Curt Maggitt. Maggitt spent a lot of time with Florida coach Urban Meyer, and the Gators appear to still be the favorite there. It’s an uphill battle for Steward, who still has Florida State and Clemson on top.

No need for me to babble any longer, so on to the questions!

What are the gators chances of getting Damian Swann? We already have a lotta young DBs but this guy is really good.
@gator_1515

Swann was a guy on Florida’s radar fairly early this year. The Atlanta Grady defensive back is pretty much down to Georgia and Alabama, with Georgia having the edge right now. Swann talked with Florida’s staff a little over the summer, but not much came of it. This one was out of Florida’s hands for a while, in my opinion. He zeroed in on the hometown team and has been to Athens plenty of times. He’s a guy who could step right into a good situation at Georgia and get some early playing time. I think Georiga ends up with his commitment, but there is some caution here. With coach Mark Richt’s seat getting hotter and hotter up there, if things were to change and Richt were to leave, things could change with Swann. He and Richt have a very strong relationship and Richt leaving would definitely hurt UGA’s chances. Alabama would be the next option for him.

I say Ryan Shazier is the best recruit outside of Jeff Driskel coming in with this class … agree?
@WTB10

While I like Shazier and how versatile he is at linebacker and defensive end, he is a bit undersized. He’s still a great talent and I like how he could fit in with Florida’s defense, but right now, I’m going to go with University Christian tight end A.C. Leonard as being the top commit outside of Driskel. Every since the spring his stock has shot up the charts. He’s huge at 6-foot-2 and 232 pound, but is tremendously athletic. He can run with the best of them while still being able to overpower defenders. He was a star at the BadgerSports Elite 7-on-7 tournament in Tampa in March and didn’t seem to miss a beat in July at Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp. He dominated the linebackers he faced and will be a bull at the next level. In his last high school game, he grabbed 10 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown.

Leonard is committed, but he is planning to take all five of his official visits. He recently traveled to Nebraska for an official and will be at the Alabama-Florida game this weekend. No need to worry Gator fans, I’ve been told that he’s still very much committed to Florida. He’s just having fun, visiting new places.

My question is, once a top recruit commits to another team, how much do the Florida coaches continue to pursue him? I live in Georgia and there is a QB who is about 6-5, 230 named C.J. Uzomah who is a beast and plays several different positions and committed to Auburn. Is UF still interested in him?
— Ken Frier

Florida’s coaches are like any other major coaching staff out there. If there is a is prospect who is still committed that Florida’s staff thinks it still has a shot at, that prospect will continue to hear from the staff. Florida has done its fair share of gaining commitments from previously committed guys. Justin Trattou was committed to Notre Dame, as was Omar Hunter. Lerentee McCray was committed to Miami but switched to Florida a month before National Signing Day. Of course, everyone knows the story with John Brantley, who was committed to Texas.

Florida’s staff doesn’t mind recruiting guys who are sporting different school colors … for as long as it takes. These guys will only back off when told to. It’s the nature of the business that is recruiting. One guy, Florida is still heavily recruiting is Clemson running back commit Mike Bellamy (Punta Gorda Charlotte). He had Florida at the top of his list for the longest time until the Gators’ depth at running back turned him off. Florida is still very much in the picture and he had a blast hanging out with them at FNL. He said recently that Florida’s chances are still slim, but if the depth chart changes and Florida stays in his ear things could get pretty interesting.

Florida is still going after Vero Beach offensive guard Marcus Jackson, who is committed to Miami. Jackson is trying to visit Florida for the LSU game next week, and some think he’s been leaning toward Florida ever since FNL.

Uzomah was a guy who got a little interest from Florida’s staff but never received an official offer from Florida. He committed to Auburn in July and really hasn’t expressed much interest in other schools. Don’t expect Florida to get involved unless something drastic happens.

Hey Ed, great blog. I see you mentioned that we need to sign two QBs in this class considering the lack of depth/experience at that position. With that said, what are the chances that we get Jerrard Randall? I know he verbally committed to Oregon but I remember you mentioning that he looked like one of the best QBs you saw all summer long with his big arm and great mobility.
— JB

No matter what, I think Florida should get at least two quarterbacks signed in this class. John Brantley has one season left and Florida will head into the 2012 season with a truly unproven quarterback at the helm. Trey Burton and Tyler Murphy are behind Brantley now, but both have major question marks surrounding their throwing styles. I’ve been told that Murphy has impressed at practice, but Burton is currently the No. 2 and that doesn’t figure to change. Is Burton ready to lead Florida as a major SEC quarterback? I’m not so sure. He’s a great athlete, but his goofy throwing motion will hold him back.

Jeff Driskel is a great quarterback, mechanically, and he’s leading an over-matched team well at Oviedo Hagerty. He’ll arrive in Gainesville in January, which will be huge for his development. He could get some playing time in 2011, but I expect him to be the guy in 2012. The problem is he’ll need some major competition to push him. I’m not sure how much Burton and Murphy will really challenge him when he gets to UF.

Getting another guy in this class who is more athletic like Randall would be ideal. Randall was only offered by Florida as a receiver, but over the summer all he wanted was to come in as a quarterback, and Florida was No. 1 on his list. I’m not sure either side changes their minds anytime soon, but if so, Randall might have a tough decision on his hands. It would be hard for him not to consider a Florida offer to play quarterback. He’s a guy who will make tons of plays with his feet, but also has a great arm. I don’t want to compare him to former Deerfield Beach quarterback and Michigan starter Denard Robinson, but Randall can do similar things with the ball.

Also, do you see us landing any more DE’s besides Jeff Pagan? I know we were able to get Chris Martin but he’s a projected to play LB. I assumed Dominique Easley would slide out to DE considering how explosive he is off the ball. But with our lack of depth at that position and with Duke Lemmens and Trattou graduating at the end of the year, who else do you see us getting? Thanks again and keep up the good work!
— JB

Defensive end is a position of need for Florida, and the Gators very much in it for West Palm Beach Dwyer’s Curt Maggitt. Florida has always been on his short list, and word is that Florida is at the top and it doesn’t look like the Gators will be moving from there anytime soon. He spent a lot of time with Urban Meyer in his office during his unofficial visit Saturday, and there was thought that Maggitt might crack out a commitment. That didn’t happen and he’s got a pretty over-the-top commitment planned later in the year. I think Florida has a pretty good edge here.

Other than that, Florida finds itself in a few uphill battles with defensive ends. Thomasville, Ga., Thomas County Central Ray Drew has talked up the Gators a little since the summer, but it doesn’t look like Florida has made up much ground on him. For some time, Georgia was picked as the favorite, but the Bulldogs’ bad start could hurt them. Auburn, Clemson and Florida State seem to be next in line for Drew.

Florida lost out on a couple of defensive end prospects and could still be recruiting them behind closed doors, but might be turning to 2012 to reload this position.

Ishaq Williams (Brooklyn Abraham Lincoln) and Xzavier Dickson (Griffin, Ga.) are guys still on the radar for the Gators. Florida is also recruiting Lakewood, Calif., lineman Todd Barr, who could play either at tackle or end. Barr is visiting UF on Oct. 9, for the LSU game.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Aschoff, Outstanding work you do covering Gators recruiting. I wonder if there is another team in the nation that gets such an up close look at their teams recruiting as we do. Thanks for your efforts.

    What are the financial boundaries of these “official visits?” Are the schools allowed to provide air fare or do they have to travel on their own dime? I can’t imagine how some recruits could afford five trips. We always hear about the recruits getting steak dinners but could you give us an overall look at what the schools are permitted to give these kids?

  2. Ed – many thanks on the great coverage! You’ve mentioned many atime you believe we need another QB in this class. Does UF have any (or many) in mind, and if so who? Do they have a scholly? Dual-threat or pro-style? Thanks again!

  3. J Register – Florida scrapped the orange pants after the Gators got destroyed by ‘bama in 2005. Florida wore the orange pants that week and Urban vowed never to wear them again.

    Ed – Good stuff. Living in D.C. and reading your recruiting blog is the only thing that gets me through the nonstop VT hype. Many thanks and Go Gators!

  4. J. Register – If you want your son to get a look by the Florida coaches you need to put together a highlight tape (I believe Aaron Hernandez did this) and send it to them. Unless he is a heralded recruit who is getting lots of publicity, or there is a personal relationship between one of our coaches and his HS coach then he will stay off the radar.

  5. Hey Edward. Great stuff. I heard on another board that the Gators are close to pulling another commit very soon…i.e. the next day or so. Might it be Curt Maggitt out of Dwyer? Or maybe Christion Jones out of Minor in AL? Heard a rumor that Jones was committing to Alabama over Florida after practice today, but…again, just a rumor. Thanks!

  6. Ed – what impact do you think all the freshmen playing is having on prospects for the 2011 class? Burton is obviously the trophy recruit now – even though he was not that highly regarded by rating services coming in. But Powell, Floyd, Riggs, Clark and Easley have all gotten significant playing time. I would think a potential recruit would be encouraged to come here seeing the coaches playing so may freshmen. Have you gotten any feedback on that note?

  7. I know everyone keeps saying how young we are, but if you look at most of our play makers on D: (Lemmens, Trattou, Black, Hicks, Howard, Jenkins, Edwards, Sanders, Marsh, AJ Jones, Hill, Green and probably a few more not coming to mind), most are Seniors or Juniors that may not stay. So, I’m concerned we might see a drop off next year on the Defense and, if we don’t reload this year, we could sputter on D for more than one season to come. This years lack of elite players has me worried and your comments seem to lack confidence in UFs ability to land the top players on their board. I know we had some studs come in this year and maybe that’s scared off good talent who think we’re loaded, but depth could be an issue at multiple Defensive spots (Safety, Tackle, End, & Corner). Please tell me I’m wrong and convince me otherwise. Thanks!

  8. With the way Meyer is stubbornly insisting on trying to use the same offense with Brantley running the same plays as Tebow; what do you think the chances of Jeff Driskell having second thoughts about running the offense and maybe signing with another team?

  9. If the Gators are still looking for another QB for this class, have they made any push for Jacob Ruddock out of Ft Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas? I know he has committed to Iowa, but UF has had some recent success with players from that high school, which is one of the very top programs in the nation. This past weekend, he broke the single game passing yardage record for the school in a game against a Georgia HS ranked #6 in the nation. He’s big, and according to my brother (an FSU boy), has a cannon of an arm. Surpassed all my passing records from when I played at Aquinas; but that only took him the first quarter of his first game, maybe less!
    Good column Ed. Keep up the good writing.