Ask Aschoff 10/20

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Lots to get into with this week’s recruiting mailbag. The season isn’t going as a lot of Florida fans wanted, but recruiting has yet to really suffer since the regular season started. Will that continue? We’ll see.

Just six months until the Rockies get back at it for a World Series run! Now, on to the questions!

Ed, over the past 3 recruiting seasons it seems like we do well on D, but I can’t remember too many big name recruits we’ve landed on offense. Andre Debose is really the last big name, offensive player I remember in a recruiting class. I guess Mack Brown is another. Where is the offensive firepower going to come from if we don’t start landing some offensive playmakers? Is there anybody on our board who can be an offensive game changer like Jeff Demps or Percy Harvin? Also, with John Brantley struggling, who do you see as our next QB? You think it will be Jeff Driskel or someone already on the team?
— Brent

This is definitely an issue for this Gators team. Outside of Jeff Demps, Trey Burton and Omarius Hines, it’s hard to find someone who can really make big plays against opposing defenses. Andre Debose looks to be on his way, but he’s dealing with a severe ankle sprain and Carl Moore has made some huge plays on the third down, but he’s not really considered one of those game-changing playmakers. There are guys on this roster who were expected to be those types of players, but they’ve come up lame in that department.

Receiver Deonte Thompson was a part of the 2007 class and was expected to be Florida’s home-run hitter. He showed flashes of it last year, but had issues with drops. Seven games into this season, those hands are still unreliable and he has yet to make any plays downfield.

Chris Rainey was in that class as well, and while he looks to have the most big-play ability on the team, he’s been very inconsistent. He was suspended for five games this season, but did little during the first two games. Rainey was injured during his freshman year and made a few plays in 2008 and 2009. He’s the guy who needs to step up now that he’s back from suspension.

A guy that I really like is Frankie Hammond Jr. I talked to someone close to the team who said he was one of the best playmakers in practice last year and was one of the only receivers who got significant yards after the catch. He definitely showed how valuable he can be against Mississippi State and it would be wise to use him more in the offense.

If he can get consistent touches, I like freshman receiver Robert Clark’s chances of getting more of a role in Florida’s offense. The return of Rainey could hurt that, though.

The prospects Florida has in the 2011 recruiting class, while talented, don’t look to be quite ready for the college game. Ja’Juan Story has been very productive for Nature Coast, but he’s playing so much quarterback you have to wonder how he’ll adjust when he’s asked to run routes as a receiver. At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, if he can keep his speed he’ll definitely be a guy who could be relied on as a playmaker in this offense. I’d give him a year.

Javares McRoy is going to be a slot guy for Florida and he’s got tons of moves in his arsenal, but I think he’ll be another guy who will need a year.

As far as Driskel’s spot is concerned, he has a great chance to come in as the No. 2 quarterback. Behind John Brantley, he’s got the best throwing mechanics, but probably doesn’t run as well as Trey Burton. Still, I think he’ll play the role of quarterback of the future for Florida. Burton could continue to see a lot of snaps in the wildcat, but I think Driskel will be expected to be the guy in 2012.

Since a lot of these recruits feel they will be able to step in and play early, which offensive prospects (committed or uncommitted) do you think will have the biggest impact in 2011? Personally, I really like how Kelvin Benjamin and Hunter Joyer would fit in our offense.
— Alex

With the talent Florida has already, it could be tough for any of the freshmen offensive players to really make much of an impact next year. If Driskel were to move past Burton on the depth chart, I’d go with him, but I think Burton has been way too successful this season for the coaches to take him out next season. And I stated earlier that I don’t think the committed receivers are really ready for the college game.

As far as committed players, I have two guys who could come in and make immediate impacts. Tampa Catholic’s Hunter Joyer is a guy who could come in and play fullback early. Fullback isn’t a glamorous position, but watching him this summer, he’s a beast. He blocks very well and can run with the ball. He’s someone who could get the ball out of the backfield on a handoff or catch it out in the flat. He’ll compete with Steve Wilks and T.J. Pridemore, but he could have the advantage of always being a fullback, unlike the other two.

I think the guy with the best chance, however, is A.C. Leonard. The Jacksonville University Christian tight end will miss the rest of the season due to suspension, but if he stays in shape and works out, he should be fine when he enrolls at Florida in January. He was beast when I saw him over the summer, and at 6-2, 232 pounds, he’s hard to bring down. He’s also got great speed to go along with that size. He comes in at a position of need and could be used like Aaron Hernandez in Florida’s offense.

Since we obviously need a “big” back, what are the chances that we keep trying with James Wilder, or is the door permanently closed on him?
— ken

That ship looks to have sailed. His recruitment pretty much ended when he committed to Florida State. I’m also still not sold on him playing running back at the next level. He’s done well in high school, but he has the tools to be a great linebacker at the next level and definitely in the NFL. He doesn’t possess the moves of a big-time running back. He could get his chance to play there at FSU, but I think his future will be at linebacker.

The only way Florida could really get back into the race for him is if something unforeseen happens at FSU involving coaches or if he makes it to Florida for a visit. I doubt either of those happen.

Ed,
I see that Savon Huggins is coming on an official. He seems like the big back we need. I wonder if the lack of playing time of Mack Brown would affect our ability to land a big back? It is obvious we need a big back.

— Chas

I think it definitely does. Fortunately for the Gators, the coaches are trying to play Mike Gillislee more in the backfield. Florida’s inability to grab a big-time back since Urban Meyer arrived has come because of how the offense utilizes the running back. He doesn’t have a guy who can consistently carry the ball 20 or more times a game. It seems the coaches are too wrapped up in using multiple guys to give multiple looks. Until they find someone who can carry the load on every down be a major factor in the offense, recruiting will continue to struggle in this department.

With that said, I think Gillislee and Brown can be those guys who can carry more of a load in the offense. If Florida wanted to, they could be used in a two-back system just like what Alabama does with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. I’m not saying they’d be as dominant, but I think it would be a pretty tough backfield to stop.

Gillislee has shown (though injured) that he can be a playmaker at running back. Brown hasn’t been given the opportunity to do much in his first year, which doesn’t make much sense, considering the lack of offensive production and the poor health of Florida’s regular running backs.

Huggins will be hard for Florida to get, regardless. Rutgers has the edge for the Jersey City, N.J., St. Peter’s Prep running back. He’d be the ideal big back for Florida (6-0, 190) and the Gators have been on him from the very beginning. Meyer has even been personally recruiting him. He’ll visit Gainesville on Dec. 10.

Any chance you could give us more info on Xzavier Dickson? Sounds like he blew up Union Grove High School on his own, he must have a pretty high revving motor. Chance he’ll come to the Gators?

Go Gators, beat Appy State!
— rooferman

Florida is definitely on his list, but Alabama has had a slight lead over everyone. The good thing for Florida is that the Griffin, Ga., defensive end has the Gators in his top four and is planning on taking an official visit to Gainesville at some point. None of his visits have been set yet, but he will be traveling to Georgia, Alabama, Auburn and Florida. Right now, it looks like Georgia and Alabama are his top schools.

Defensive end is definitely a position Florida would like to add at least one more body to to go along with Jeoffrey Pagan. Dickson has been a monster this fall and it will be interesting to see how his recruitment changes after he takes his officials. I still like Georgia to win out in the end because the Bulldogs were his childhood favorite and their improvement this season won’t hurt the recruiting efforts.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Ed, once again, you rule! Thanks for the info, especially the skinny on Dickson. Who knows, maybe we pound Georgia this year and really turn his head. Time will tell. Keep up the good work. You deserve a raise!

  2. Ed! I hate to post twice in quick order, but what is this about A.C. Leondard being suspended for the rest of his HS season, for fighting on the field? I understand young men can loose their cool, I’m Irish myself, but what is going on? How serious a problem is it with A.C.? I have opined against having Rainey back on the team, given his recent illegal behavior, is Leondard a problem child we would be better passing on?

    Go Gators, beat FSU!

  3. With Auburn and Alabama now showing interest in Jamal Golden has there been any interest showed by Florida? He is the QB for Wetumpka AL a team that is undefeated in AL 6A football. He is a playmaker that does anything to help his team win.

  4. Yeah, what rooferman said. And to add, do you have an explanation as to why the offense hasn’t utilized Hines like we did Heranadez a year ago. Omarius is a beast and he can catch. Every time he touches the ball, good things happen and yet he doesn’t touch the ball enough. I don’t see Leonard beating out Hines and if we’re not utilizing Hines to our full potential, what makes you think we’ll take advantage of a different tight end?

  5. Ed,
    I cannot for the life of me know why they sit on Mack Brown. They say that he doesn’t know the play book when our run game is pretty lame scheme wise and what can be more complicated than a dive right and dive left. The kid has been playing football most of his life and he has got to know the basics of the gaps. Heck, call the play and tell the QB to tell him where to go. It may take what two seconds. When Addazio addresses the run problems he states that the RB’s have been injured and never mentions Brown. With the recruits that are visiting saying that the freshmen class of last year are mumbling discontent, I really wonder where this class will really end up. As I see it, right now they need some big names to commit so that the appearance looks stable in some way.

  6. My son is an All Conference/Area RB in Missouri. Runs a 4.4 Forty, 202 yds on 9 carries, 5’8/190. While schools in the Midwest are calling, I have worked to get the South to take notice.

    I was told by a coach, rather bluntly I might add, that efforts are not made to recruit “skilled positions”outside this region because there’s plenty of talent here. Really? So, schools would actually overlook a kid, regardless of athleticism, based on where he or she lives?

    My son graduates in May 2011 and time is of the essence. He really wants to return to Georgia but willing to go to FL, TN, KY etc. where I until Jr High, then went to live with Dad.

  7. Well, my key board is being very sensitive today:) Let’s try that last sentence again…

    He’d prefer to attend college in GA, but is open to neighboring states.

    Can anyone tell me how to overcome this, if in indeed this is a true issue? Not all Southern schools have ignored us – a few have sent letters and made calls (GA Tech, FAMU)etc….but NO OFFERS yet.

    Could it be because of this silly (regional) rule?

    If I had known then what I know now, his Dad and I would have switched the years around, where he would’ve attended high school in GA rather than MO.

    Please help. Any suggestions would be helpful. I can send links to his film, press, stats etc. to anyone who can really help.

    Thanks so much!