Pretty disappointing weekend for Florida in its SEC finale. So far, the reception from recruits hasn’t been that bad, but Florida did lose out on two official visitors — Jordan Prestwood and Aaron Lynch — who committed to Florida State earlier this week. By all accounts, both were pretty heavy learns toward FSU anyway. Still, last weekend will go a long way toward forming Florida’s class and right now it’s in a pretty big lull. But December official visits are coming up, and Florida’s staff is hoping that will help pick recruiting back up.
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Lots to get to, including my own predictions, so on to the questions!
Give me a bold or big recruiting prediction that happens before signing day, good or bad.
So many different directions I could go with this one. Do I say that Florida’s class crumbles with the mediocre season the Gators have had? Do I say that none of that really matter because losing hasn’t become a regularity around Gainesville? Decisions, decisions. Instead of predicting what kind of class Florida will or won’t have, I am going to make a prediction on a couple of prospects Florida is going hard after.
I’ll start with the bad news for Gators fans. From the start, I’ve said that Wadesboro, N.C., Anson linebacker Stephone Anthony was very high on the Gators. He’s always mentioned Florida as being his top school and he’s talked about how much he likes Florida’s coaching staff. The only problem is that each time he’s talked about visiting Gainesville, something comes up. He was supposed to visit for the LSU game and didn’t make it. There were rumors about him possibly coming for the South Carolina game, but again he didn’t show. Then last week he came out to say that Florida is no longer the overall leader and that the Gators were in a tie with Virginia Tech and Clemson. Doesn’t sound like a big deal with so much time left in the recruiting process, but the problem for Florida is that he’s seen those schools and has yet to make it to Florida’s campus. He told Scout.com after his visit to North Carolina that he plans to officially visit Florida along with Virginia Tech and Clemson. The interesting thing in all of this is that Florida seems to have gotten back into the mix with Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson linebacker Kent Turene, who is committed to USC. The more the staff talks with other linebackers, the more the coaches feel uneasy about one, and I think that one is Anthony. Considered a “lock” for Florida at the beginning of the year, I am leaning toward him not ending up in Florida’s class. I see Clemson holding a slight advantage over Virginia Tech.
But I come with good news as well for Florida fans. While Lake City Columbia defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan dropped Florida from his list of favorites, the Gators are far from out of it for him. He made a last-second trip to Gainesville last weekend for the South Carolina game. His decision to come to Gainesville was a stunner to most, but what really got people going was that he came back to Gainesville Tuesday for the Florida-Ohio State basketball game. He was standing off to the side of Florida’s bench with Meyer and few other Florida players. This is no little deal by any means. The more Jernigan is around Florida’s coaching staff, the better for Florida. It seems that the main thing keeping Florida down in this one is that Jernigan is looking for a little change in his life. Gainesville is so close to his home and his sister lives here that attending UF might not be the change he’s looking for. However, the more he stays around Florida’s staff and the more he’s in Gainesville, the more likely he’ll end up in Florida’s class. If that trend continues I see Jernigan committing to Florida during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.
We can only hope to land a recruit like George Farmer, but lets say we have no shot at him. What other WR recruits are the Gators looking at seriously? You hear the names like Sammy Watkins and Kelvin Benjamin often thrown around. Do we have a legit shot at these two guys? It seems like we need some serious playmakers at wideout, some real “Harvin” like playmakers.
— Dalton Smith
I’ll start the conversation by talking a little about Farmer. Word is that he had a great trip to Gainesville and was really impressed by Florida’s stadium and crowd. The outcome didn’t really affect him. That’s both good and bad for Florida. It’s good because the best offensive player in the nation had a good time on the trip. It’s bad because it really seems like a tease to Florida’s coaches and fans. USC has been the school from the beginning and while he says he’s open and will take his visits, the chance of him leaving California or the West Coast seem slim.
As for other wide receiver prospects, Florida has few options left this year. With two guys in Ja’Juan Story and Javares McRoy committed, Florida will look to get at least one more in this class. Three will probably be it for the Gators. Benjamin (Belle Glade Glades Central) is very high on Florida’s list and so is Watkins (South Fort Myers). Benjamin and Florida wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni are very close, but there is talk that Florida State might have taken the lead for Benjamin. One thing I think is pushing Benjamin away from Florida a little is the play of Florida’s offense. He told me he wants to see Florida throw the ball more and get its receivers involved.
Watkins is a guy who seemed to be a perfect fit for Florida’s offense. His half-brother Jaylen Watkins is already on the team, and with his size and speed he figured to be a great weapon in Florida’s spread. The problem is that he’s just not as interested in the Gators as a lot of people once thought. Florida isn’t even in his top list of schools, but he made the trip to Gainesville anyway. It didn’t do much to change his feelings toward Florida and it looks like Clemson, Michigan and Miami will be his finalists.
Florida is looking at Moreno Valley, Calif., Rancho Verde’s Junior Pomee, but he’s most likely going to end up a tight end in college. Florida does have a great shot at landing him, and he visited Gainesville over the weekend and said he had a pretty good time.
If Florida can’t land Benjamin, the staff could be done at wide receiver in this class, unless another name pops up in the next couple of months.
All of you who booed … say goodbye to the recruits. Thanks for your stupidity. This is not pro football. Maybe you should remember that the next time you feel inclined to boo college athletes or a coach who just won you two NC … TRUE GATORS DO NOT BOO GATOR players or coaches. PERIOD. You might want to but you don’t. Show more GATOR NATION pride next time, please.
This isn’t a question, but I wanted to address this issue since it has come up before this season. Fans booed against LSU and booed against Mississippi State and the booing at South Carolina was pretty loud, too. I’ve seen a lot discussion about if booing really does turn recruits off. From all the guys I’ve talked to, booing doesn’t seem to be a problem. It can mean a couple of things to recruits. First, these kids aren’t dumb. They know when an offense looks bad, especially with how well the offenses at Florida have looked in the past. A couple of kids said if the fans are upset with how the team is playing, it’s their right to express whatever feelings they want. They paid their money to watch the game and it’s the team’s responsibility to show up. One recruit told me he didn’t hear the boos while he was watching the game on TV, but that it wouldn’t bother him because fans have that right. These guys aren’t so thin-skinned that they would let boos get to them.
Another way for prospects to take it is that Florida’s fan base is that passionate. Every recruit I talked to that was in Gainesville over the weekend said the crowd and the atmosphere was incredible, boos included.
Some people get pretty bent out of shape over booing a team and how it might affect kids looking at that team, but in the end, it’s not that big of a deal to these kids. Some don’t even notice it when they are at the game.
Ed, our running game has been hampered because our RB’s have been injury riddled. Why has Mack Brown been virtually ignored? Can he still be redshirted?
While this isn’t directly a recruiting question, Brown was one of Florida’s top recruits last year and I’ve gotten a ton of questions about him this season. In regards to playing time, he’s been bothered by a hamstring injury that he had during his entire high school career. It got really bad his senior year and after everyone thought it was gone, it came back this season. The staff tried to use him on special teams, but he couldn’t get through practices. Though he’s played in three games this year, there’s still a chance the staff might try to redshirt him.
There has also been a little issue with his weight. He entered training camp weighing 193 pounds. Brown told me before the summer that the coaches wanted to get him to at least 210 or maybe 215 before they could really think about using him consistently in games. I’ve been told that hasn’t happened, yet. I expect Brown to get more reps during the spring, if he can get his weight up. The goal is for Brown to be the big back Meyer has wanted and the hope is to use him more next year if he can get to and stay between 210 and 215.