Man, there were so many questions for this week’s mailbag! I’m starting to feel the love again, guys! Remember, “Ask Aschoff” isn’t the reason for Florida’s struggles, so don’t let that keep you from churning out the recruiting questions. Recruiting is still going on and it still matters to the Gators. I’m getting into tons of stuff this week, so I hope you have enough time to read it all. Take breaks if you have to. You’ll need those eyes fresh for my recruiting report video at the end of the week! Here’s a hint about Friday’s show … it’s got a rivalry theme.
So, sit back, relax and pop in Kanye West’s amazing new album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” as we go on to the questions!
Do any high-level recruits that you talk to express any concern over playing in Steve Addazio’s offense? From the stories I have heard on this site, a lot of the recruits in fact are turned off by the terrible play calls. Who can blame ’em?
I can’t blame anyone who is turned off by Florida’s offense this season, but I’ve actually heard both sides of it from recruits. I’ve talked to guys who aren’t too concerned with the play calling and then there are some who are upset with the lack of the downfield passing game. Belle Glade Glades Central wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin told me after one game that he wasn’t thrilled with the lack of a passing game Florida had. He then told other media outlets the same thing after the South Carolina game. Obviously, people are aware of Florida’s 2012 receiver commit Latroy Pittman, who expressed his not-so-enthused feelings about Florida’s offense. Pittman even said Florida’s offense was a bit of concern for him earlier in the year, but he’s never wavered on his commitment and I don’t see him doing so any time soon. Like Pittman, some recruits look at Florida’s struggles as a way of getting on the field earlier. That is never a turnoff.
Other recruits have been turned off by Florida’s offense. Most don’t mention Addazio, but say that the offense just isn’t as exciting as they thought it would be. The offense isn’t the prettiest thing, but the majority of offensive recruits Florida’s staff is going after all realize the inexperience Florida has. Right now, kids are in that wait-and-see mode with Florida for many reasons. One reason is because guys are unsure what direction Florida will go during the offseason. With a struggling offense and a fan base screaming for the Gators’ offensive coordinator to be fired, there are some guys who are still kind of sitting back and wondering what’s going to happen with Florida’s coaching staff. Now, I’m not saying anything will happen. Urban Meyer even said that he wasn’t planning on making changes to the offensive coordinator position. Who really knows at this point? But offensive recruits are just kind of waiting right now.
One interesting detail is that Florida could be done with offensive skill positions if the staff really wanted to be. The Gators have their running back in Mike Blakely, they have two receivers (plus tons of depth already on the team) and A.C. Leonard takes care of the tight end position. Of course, staffs always want depth and will prepare for attrition that happens every year.
Hey Ed! What’s the fate of T. Murphy, with the addition of Driskel in the spring? Would he help at WR if he changes position? What Frosh who red-shirted (Ball, Green, etc) or little used (Dunkley, Brown) will step up for playing time next yr?
First, I’ll address Tyler Murphy. I’ve always been intrigued by him because he committed to Florida. He really did come out of nowhere. I had never heard of him until the day he committed. The first time I ever talked to him was when I called him that day. He couldn’t have been any nicer by the way. He was destined to redshirt from the beginning because he’s not that experienced of a passer. He did most of his damage as a running quarterback in high school. If anything, I thought he’d be the guy running the wildcat offense before Trey Burton because he has a very nice throwing motion and a strong arm. At one point he was even the No. 2 quarterback during training camp, but that changed the closer Florida got to the season.
I stand by my earlier prediction that Jeff Driskel is the quarterback of the future. He’ll be the guy once John Brantley leaves. Regardless, I think Jordan Reed will move back to tight end this spring, so I’m taking him out of the equation. For Burton, that really doesn’t mean much because he’ll be a guy who can still run some wildcat and play tight end/H-back. For Murphy, that could mean he either assumes the role as No. 2 or he very well could push Driskel for playing time. I’ve never seen Murphy play, so he could surprise everyone with more time in the offense and in practice. It could also mean he could move out to receiver. He talked over the summer about being able to play both, so if the coaches ask him to I don’t think he’d be too upset. I will say watching Murphy during pregame warmups, he throws a great ball.
As for Florida’s next young guy to make an impact, I’ll go with two guys. I think Chris Dunkley, who should be healed up from his hamstring injury, will be someone the coaches will have to get involved in the offense. He’s a big-time burner and is a highlight reel waiting to happen if he can get the offense down. Expect him to be a guy who sees solid time this spring and next fall. I also like Mack Brown’s chances of contributing next year. Florida is looking to use a big back in the offense and if he can get to 215 pounds he will be used. I think Chris Rainey might be Florida’s No. 1 running back next year, but he could still get a lot of work out of the slot. I’m still no sure what will happen with Jeff Demps. He’ proved he’s not durable enough to take a pounding like a regular running back and track is always something he can excel at in the future. You could see Mike Gillislee and Brown as Florida’s big one-two punch next year.
Are recruits concerned that maybe Urban Meyer just isn’t the same coach he was a few years ago?
I get this question a lot in regular conversation and at one point I always answered “Yes.” Now, I’m leaning away from that because recruits have been pretty impressed with how Meyer has acted this fall. During the spring when he wasn’t traveling as much for recruiting, it was definitely hurting Florida. I mean, Florida’s slow start to recruiting is evidence right there. I talked to recruits then that said they were worried about Meyer’s health because they hadn’t seen him and they didn’t know who the real head coach at Florida was. Florida had four commitments heading into summer and there were a lot of questions surrounding the level of interest kids were having in Florida because of Meyer’s time off.
Then, June came. After kids starting visiting and seeing how amped up and rejuvenated Meyer was at his camps, they started to come around. I remember Richmond, Va., Hermitage linebacker Curtis Grant telling me he was concerned with Meyer’s health until the two had a very deep heart-to-heart over the summer and he was cleared of any worry about Meyer. Florida receiver commit Ja’Juan Story was the same way. It paid off because Florida grabbed six commits that month and Florida has gotten eight verbals since.
Right now, recruits are more concerned with how Florida will end the season and what changes, if any, are made. You have to remember the prospects see a completely different Urban Meyer. The Meyer we see is very subdued and just blabs coach speak. The Meyer that is away from the media and the cameras is completely different. He’s very personable and the recruits who I’ve talked to don’t seem to think he’s lost much of the attitude that made him so popular with prospects.
My question is about the Star rating system. I understand it is mainly based on physical/observed statistics. How does one evaluate a player like Kerwin Bell. He came to Florida as a walk-on, 5th string quarterback. Injuries and other factors allowed him to quarterback in the Orange and Blue game. Coaches were immediately impressed with his talents. How was he so far under the radar? Do we need to add a 1-5 heart measurement to insure that attitude and commitment are also looked at?
While stats, in-game play and camp results are the biggest parts to star ratings by Internet recruiting websites, scouts do take the time to look at how recruits carry themselves around their teammates, coaches and other players they interact with at camps. Intangibles are actually factored into the decisions these guys make when ranking players. Take Driskel, for instance. I talked to Rivals.com’s Mike Farrell about him and he said one reason Rivals is hesitant to rank Driskel as a five-star is because they aren’t sure if he truly has a the intangibles that make him a five-star quarterback. Is he the leader maybe Tim Tebow was in high school? Does he have the ability to make adjustments depending on the talent around him? I’ve been told that some prospects, who will go unnamed, have dropped because of incidents on and off the field. Is that fair? Yeah, I think so. Too many times people get caught up in the number of stars when recruits come in and fail to see some of the non-football factors that might be character flaws.
Intangibles might not be listed on Rivals’ list of ranking categories, but these guys definitely take things like that into account when ranking players. They have to because it helps make an honest evaluation of how players stack up against each other and it helps make estimations of what they could do at the college level.
Where do you see Kelvin Benjamin and Curtis Grant going?
A month ago, I had both penciled in as Florida signees on National Signing Day. Now, I still think Grant, who has had Florida as one of his top schools for a very long time, will end up a Gator in the end, but I’m not so sure about Benjamin. He’s been a little bothered by Florida’s offensive production this year and I think that’s changed his feelings a bit toward Florida. He wants to play in an offense that stretches the field and Florida has yet to show that. On the other hand, he did say that he could see himself coming in and contributing early because he sees that he could be a viable option early for the Gators.
For Benjamin, there is way more talk these days about Florida State taking the lead for him. He’ll be in Tallahassee this weekend for the Florida game. This is FSU’s biggest recruiting weekend of the year and the coaches will make sure he has a great time. I’m leaning more and more toward FSU with Benjamin every week, but it’s still early and if he comes to Gainesville for an official visit in December or January, Florida’s coaches will be giving him the royal treatment.
Going back to Grant, he’s made a very strong connection with Meyer. He’s been quiet about recruiting because of his senior year, but that will definitely change in December. If he visits Florida in December, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him commit shortly after. One major reason for this feeling is that he’s been very upset about Florida’s season, like a fan would be upset. You don’t normally see that with recruits who didn’t grow up fans of a school. He’ll be one to watch in December.