Tons of questions to get to this week. Florida took a major depth hit with the loss of safety Jonathan Dowling, so where does the staff turn to next? Tons of top prospects coming in for the South Carolina game, so what are the Gators’ chances with some of them? Could Florida be recruiting another running back? That and much more this week.
Remember, you can always tweet questions to me — @EdAschoffGSUN. Impress your friends, family and coworkers by having me give you a shoutout in Gainesville’s most popular recruiting mailbag.
On to the questions!
Ed, with the recent dismissal of Jonathan Dowling and the early departure of Jordan Haden, who are our top targets at safety? Since Ahmad Black will be graduating and with Will Hill expected to forgo his senior year to enter the NFL Draft, that position will lack depth. Besides the commitment of “Juice” Johnson and with only Matt Elam and Josh Evans returning, who else do you see Florida getting? Is there any chance we lure Ha’sean Clinton-Dix away from Alabama with the immediate need for safeties and the potential for early playing time? Also what’s the status on Wayne Lyons?
Florida will have no depth with the loss of Dowling and Haden. Matt Elam is a strong safety and Josh Evans is a free safety. If Hill leaves, those two will be the only safeties Florida has. Chris Johnson is a guy who reminds me a lot of Black in the way he plays, and I think he’ll come in and make an impact early. He won’t start, but he’ll be in the rotation for the Gators and should be a special-teams guy that Urban Meyer will adore. After that, I don’t see any of Florida’s other defense back commitments playing safety. So, Florida will have to look to uncommitted prospects for safety help in this class.
Wayne Lyons — Florida has been at the top of his list for a while, but Stanford is also up there. The Ft. Lauderdale Dillard safety battled a knee injury that has cost him most of his season, but he’s definitely a player. He’s got great speed and athleticism and would probably be used as a free safety in college. He’ll unofficially visits Florida this weekend for the South Carolina game. He’s got a great relationship with Florida’s coaches, but schools like Stanford, UCLA and Michigan are all recruiting him very hard.
Keith McGill — He’s a junior college safety out of California who is currently committed to Utah, but has been getting some interest from Florida’s staff. He’s interested as well. I’ve only seen film of him, and he’s a beast. McGill stands at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. He could really be a big-time safety at the next level, especially because of the speed he packs with his enormous size. Florida could get pretty involved with him if the coaches feel they are falling out of favor with high school prospects.
Malcolm Mitchell — The Valdosta, Ga., safety garnered some early interest from Florida and has liked the Gators ever since. I talked to someone very familiar with his recruitment who said he’s one of the best prospects in the state of Georgia, regardless of position. Alabama, Georgia and Florida are all at the top for him, but it could be interesting to see what his teammate, tight end Jay Rome, does. These two are very close and could end up at the same school next year. Mitchell is planning to officially visit his three finalists soon after his season is over.
Marcus Roberson — He’s listed as a corner, and after watching him earlier this year, that’s where he should stay. He’s only 170 pounds, and with his frame, I’m not sure if he’ll grow into a safety’s body. However, he’s talked about playing safety instead of corner. If Florida decided to talk to Roberson about playing safety, the Gators could get back to the top. Florida led over the summer, but Auburn and Georgia both took over the lead for him this fall. He’s a guy who has really gotten caught up in emotions, so his recruitment is far from over.
Hasean Clinton-Dix — I watched the Orlando Dr. Phillips safety live during Gridiron Kings and thought he was one of the most impressive athletes on the field. He’s got great awareness, speed and instincts. I think he and Karlos Williams are the top safety prospects in the country. Clinton-Dix is committed to Alabama, and while Gators commit Nick Waisome is working him hard (they were pretty good friends growing up), I don’t see him wavering on his commitment at all. There was talk of him looking around, but all he did was visit Michigan in September, which was probably because his teammate Dee Hart went up there for an official. Don’t look for the Gators — or anyone — to pry him away from Alabama.
Ed, what’s up with Dominique Easley? Do you have the inside scoop? I don’t want to see the Gators lose another monster recruit and I don’t like the writing on the wall when it comes to him. What does “not part of the team” mean? That sounds like Chris Rainey or Frankie Hammond earlier this season. Is that the case? Has Meyer kicked him off the team for violating team rules? Is it academic? Is he a problem in the locker room? I know he will be a beast on the inside in a year or two and I hope he hasn’t screwed that up. I know you’re the man when it comes to inside information, please shed some light and give us your opinion on this situation!
Meyer said Monday that Easley is still with the team, but there are things he needs to do in order to get any sort of playing time or be able to travel with the team. From what I’ve been told, Easley has had some attitude issues since he arrived. In a much harsher way, I had someone tell me that he has not been one of the most fun or positive people to be around. Remember, this is the guy who anointed himself the “LeBron James” of the three freshmen defensive linemen. I’m not a fan of James, but at least he plays and can help his team.
There have been tons of rumors swirling around about Easely. I’ve heard that he wants out of Gainesville. I’ve heard he’s been talking about going to Oregon. But none of that has happened, and who knows if any of that talk is real. For now, he’s with the team and Meyer said he thinks things will work out between the two parties. I think he sticks with Florida because if all of that has allegedly happened, he’s still on campus and still practicing with the team. He would have already left by now if it were that bad for him here. However, it seems like he needs an attitude adjustment before he can do much for the Gators.
What more can you tell us about Savon Huggins? I know nothing about New Jersey HS football, so is 192 yards on 10 carries vs. Ferris HS remarkable, or a giant vs. a gnat situation? (Now that I think about it, many folks on this board would say I know nothing about football, period!) Do you have any numbers on Huggins?
I was close to overlooking this question because Florida has its running back for the 2011 class, but Huggins has been a guy who was near the top of Florida’s board for most of the recruiting season. The only problem was that Rutgers has always been ahead of Florida. I was told that from the start, Huggins was Florida’s guy because of his 6-0, 190-pound frame and the speed that he packs with his size. Unlike Mike Bellamy and Mike Blakely, Huggins is a guy who can be an every-down back in the SEC. On the year, Huggins has 1,535 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns. He has been one of the most dominant running backs in the country.
Huggins is officially visiting Florida on Dec. 10, but I’m not sure if the Gators are still in play here. If Florida wants to change things up and get two running backs in this class, then the full-court press will be on Huggins. Still, I think Rutgers ends up with him.
How are Florida’s chances now since Aaron Lynch and Jordan Prestwood didn’t commit to FSU this weekend?
They are much higher than I thought before those two visited Florida State. Florida definitely has a shot here with both of them. I think both will actually attend the same school (remember they were both committed to Notre Dame as well). The main obstacle for Florida is that Lynch (Cape Coral Island Coast defensive end) and Prestwood (Plant City offensive tackle) grew up Florida State fans, so FSU has always been a school of interest for both guys.
The funny thing about Lynch is that he once compared Florida’s coaches to used car salesmen (and not the good kind). Lynch had some pretty harsh things to say about Florida but now has the Gators in his top two. Welcome to recruiting. I’ve been told Meyer is really getting involved here and has developed a good relationship with Lynch’s mom, which could be huge for Lynch. His mother plays a big part in his recruitment, so Meyer is targeting the right person.
As for Prestwood, he’s been sort of quiet since his decommitment, but it was a very good sign for Florida when he didn’t commit to FSU. A lot of people thought he would during his visit last week. He plays some tight end, but he’ll be used as a tackle in college.
Meyer closes very well and the magnitude of Saturday’s game could really impact Florida’s recruiting efforts over the weekend. If Florida wins, the Gators would clinch a berth in the SEC Championship, and I imagine that locker room will be electric.
Lynch said last month that he expects to make his decision shortly after his visit to Florida.
How possible is a commitment from George Farmer?
He’s a major tease for Gator fans, in my opinion. I think he’s not only the best wide receiver in the country, but Farmer could be the nation’s best player. At 6-2, 192, he’s got the ideal size Florida has been looking for in its offense. He’s also got tremendous speed and pretty much makes opposing defenders look like elementary school kids. The Gardena, Calif., prospect has around 40 catches for more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s also been dynamic in the return game.
The big thing is that he’s actually coming to Gainesville for the game this weekend. That’s huge when you’re going after a guy who lives all the way out in California. Florida has done a great job of recruiting out west ever since tight end coach Brian White came aboard, but I think this one is all USC. I’ve been told over and over that USC has and will always have the advantage in this one. The only thing that could really change anything for Farmer is if he’s blown away by his visits. If there’s any coach who can do that, it’s Meyer.