Sorry we had to postpone “Ask Aschoff” last week. The news of Urban Meyer stepping down was just too big and threw most of the questions I received out the window.
This week, we’re going with a Will Muschamp theme (Sorry, there will be absolutely no “Boom” or “Blood” references). Seems appropriate because he’s Florida’s new coach and all. There are so many different ways to go at this one as well. He comes from Texas, but has great SEC experience. He’s bound to be a recruiting machine for the Gators with all of his ties. While his Texas ties might not be felt in this recruiting class, you can bet they will down the line.
His first order of business is to secure Florida’s current commitments. So far, he’s been absolutely killing it on the recruiting trail. He’s taking full advantage of the contact period and has made some great impressions on committed and uncommitted players.
The dead period is coming up soon, so it’s good that he’s getting into a lot of guys’ homes now. I don’t see Florida’s class completely falling apart at all. This was a great recruiting hire, in my opinion.
I want to digress for a second to give all of my AMAZING readers a chance to help me out as we dive into the holiday season. “Ask Aschoff” has always lacked one thing since it was created last year — Where is the Celebrity Crush?
What is the Celebrity Crush, you ask? Well, my Wii Tennis buddy Stewart Mandel, who has THE BEST college football mailbag around, gets one female celebrity to do a Q & A with him each year to open his mailbag. I’ve always thought it was pretty cool and fun. You know, sports can be fun, too. So why not introduce something like that to “Ask Aschoff?”
First, we’d obviously have to change the name. We need something new and exciting here. Celebrity Crush is all Mandel’s, so we need something different. Secondly, I don’t have near the star power as Mandel (although if this was based on Wii skills I’d have Halle Berry begging to be a part of the mailbag), so let’s not get crazy with ideas. Mandel pulled Jenna Fischer and Katy Mixon for crying out loud. I’m Raven Symone at best.
We need someone who is into recruiting and college football. Put those minds to work, people!
Tons of stuff to get into from the last week, so take a minute from reading all of those message boards and writing Christmas cards, put some Common on in the background and relax as we get on to the questions …
Will Muschamp bring any recruits that were considering playing for him at Texas?
Obviously, this is the most popular question I’ve received since Muschamp’s hire. Let’s put Muschamp’s recruiting work into perspective here. In Texas’s 2010 class, he was in charge of recruiting 11 guys. Eight of them signed with the Longhorns. He’s got the credentials, that’s for sure. He’s developed some great relationships in the state of Texas, which is one of the best football states in the country. Muschamp would be nuts to cut any of those ties, so expect him to hit that state hard … next year.
Texas has secured its guys in the state. The Longhorns own that state and it’s incredibly hard for anyone to come in and raid that hotbed. Muschamp will try to get a few guys and I think he’ll succeed with opening up a nice pipeline into Texas. With Florida needing to fill about 10 spots in the 2011 class, don’t expect him to get too crazy with looking back into the state of Texas for prospects. He said during his introductory press conference that he wants to own the state of Florida before anything else. The Southeast is going to be the priority for Muschamp, but he’ll dip into Texas every now and then in the future.
The only real name that has come up in the conversation about Texas recruits that could be interested in Florida is Daingerfield, Texas, linebacker Steve Edmond. He was primarily recruited by Muschamp and said he’d open his options up Sunday. Monday, a representative from his high school told me Edmond will remain committed to Texas, and that’s where I see him going.
As for the 2012 class, Muschamp could go after a few Texas prospects. Denton Ryan defensive end Mario Edwards and Aledo running back Johnathan Gray are two guys who already have some interest in Florida. I expect that list to grow as Muschamp gets settled at Florida.
Which recruit was considering Florida most likely will come now due to Muschamp?
I’m not saying Belle Glade Glades Central wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin will go to Florida, but those chances certainly increased this week. He was a guy who was all but officially committed to Florida State before he talked to Muschamp on Monday night. Benjamin was set to make his college decision official Thursday, but told me he’s pushing it back until National Signing Day. That’s huge for Florida. The longer it takes for him to decide, the better chance Florida has of getting him.
I talked to someone who has been in touch with Benjamin’s family who said Benjamin has always “loved” the Gators. His heart has always been at Florida, but he was upset with how bad the offense was this year. That is what really pushed him toward FSU after he was leaning Florida’s way for so long. He’ll officially visit in mid-January and that only happened because of Muschamp’s conversation with him. If Muschamp hadn’t made that call, Benjamin would most likely be picking the Seminoles Thursday.
Benjamin has been the first big-name guy to change his plans in order to look at Florida further, so he’s the obvious choice here.
What do you think the hiring of Muschamp will do for the Gators chances of landing Timmy Jernigan?
Getting a defensive-minded coach will help Florida with all of its defensive targets. What Jernigan is waiting for is who will be hired as Florida’s defensive line coach. If that guy can make an impact on Jernigan, Florida’s chances will definitely increase. Losing McCarney hurt Florida in this department, but making a big-time hire on defense will help Florida’s recruitment of Jernigan. Muschamp is scheduled to meet with Jernigan this week before the dead period starts. That visit will go a long way for Jernigan as far as his recruitment is concerned. He’s reportedly dropped Michigan and USC because of distance, meaning Florida’s chances have certainly increased.
Alabama and Florida State will be beating down Jernigan’s door to talk to him and he’s always said that he’s looking for some change in his life. Maybe getting away from Gainesville is the right change for him, or maybe Muschamp’s arrival could become that change he needs. We will know more after Muschamp visits with Jernigan.
We do NEED safety help, how are our chances of landing Wayne Lyons? Also, we need more depth there, besides Chris Johnson. So who is out there in reach for next year?
Wayne Lyons was a guy that everyone had tabbed as a Gator from the start. He grew up a fan and has strong ties to UF. Plus, his sister goes to UF. However, Florida’s coaches didn’t deliver an offer until after a few other schools. Of course, Lyons wasn’t too happy with that, but it happens all the time in recruiting. A staff won’t issue an offer until everyone is ready. Florida’s staff just wasn’t ready at the time. Once the Gators offered Lyons, things seemed to be back to normal with him and his love for Florida. Now, things seemed to have changed a little. The school making the biggest move is Stanford. Academics are a big thing for Lyons and as much as I covet my degree from UF, I understand that it isn’t quite the academic juggernaut that Stanford is.
Lyons has been out to Palo Alto, Calif., a few times and all indications are that Stanford is now the team to beat. Florida’s coaches checked in on Lyons at the beginning of the contact period, and I think this one will come down to Stanford and Florida. If academics are a priority, like I think they might be, I don’t know why he wouldn’t pick Stanford.
As far as bringing in other safeties, current defensive back commit Louchiez Purifoy could play safety at the next level. I’m not sure if he will move him over there, but at 6 feet tall, he could make the move over there and he’s a stud athlete. Valdez Showers, who told me he hasn’t talked to Florida’s staff about playing safety, could also move over there if asked. That decision is now in Muschamp’s hands.
Miami Monsignor Pace safety Jabari Gorman got a visit from Florida last month and officially visited Florida over the weekend. He talked to Muschamp on the phone shortly after the hire and came away from his visit really excited about Muschamp and Florida. Miami seems to have fallen a bit here and Florida has definitely made huge strides since the weekend. Gorman is a guy that I could definitely see making it into Florida’s class.
Florida is still looking at Valdosta, Ga., safety Malcolm Mitchell, who Florida had a good shot at landing before Meyer’s resignation. He got a visit from Florida two weeks ago, but that was by former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Florida also visited Atlanta Grady athlete Damian Swann, who projects at safety in college. Florida is in his top three, but I’ve always liked Georgia’s chances with him. Alabama is also in the running. Again, he’s another guy that was courted by Austin, so Muschamp will have to make up ground there.
One guy to consider is Alabama commit Hasean Clinton-Dix (Orlando Dr. Phillips). He’s been very solid to Alabama for a while, but Muschamp is a defensive guy and he’s coached under Bama coach Nick Saban. He’ll know how to talk to him and I would be shocked if he didn’t reach out to Dix. He might be a long shot, but Muschamp will at least get in contact with him.
How serious is UF after Marcus Jackson?
At first, I was under the impression that Florida would be going after this guy hard after Randy Shannon was fired at Miami. He visited over the summer and really impressed the coaches with what he did at Friday Night Lights. He’s always had an interest in Florida, but Florida’s coaches backed off him a bit during the season. Honestly, I’m not sure why. I do know that he wasn’t visited by Florida’s coaches when the contact period first started, but he’s supposed to be on an official visit now until Thursday before he goes out to USC. Florida needs help on the interior of the line in this class and so far only Trip Thurman looks like he’ll be a guard in college.
It seems that with Muschamp’s arrival, the interest in Jackson has picked up on Florida’s end.
My question is there are some recruit that haven’t been talked about much and they catch my eye. I wonder if you have anything on their recruitment…
Xzavier Ward OL
Teddy Bridgewater QB
Albert Louis-Jean DB
Enrique Florence S
Malcolm Mitchell S
Robenson Therezie S
Curt Maggitt DE/OLB
Kevin Benjamin WR
— Earnell L.
Ward — He’s a National Signing Day guy and has Florida in his top five. He’s trying to officially visit UF in January, but Georgia could be the team to beat.
Bridgewater — If he wanted to play wide receiver, then Florida would have a chance. His goal is to play quarterback in college and Florida is looking at him as an athlete. You know, Florida doesn’t even know who its quarterback is right now, so I don’t think it would hurt to bring another guy on board with Jeff Driskel. Still, I don’t see it happening.
Louis-Jean — Florida is probably set at corner in this class and the staff never officially offered Louis-Jean. Word is that he’s down to Penn State and Boston College.
Florence — He’s a guy who will probably end up in the SEC, but I doubt he’ll make it to Florida. He doesn’t have an offer from the Gators, but Muschamp could change that. However, I like Alabama here.
Mitchell — I liked Florida’s chance with him. Though he had a really good relationship with Austin, Muschamp could make a big impression on him if/when the two speak. Georgia has always been in the picture and I think this one will come down to the end.
Therezie — I don’t know much about Therezie, but I do know that he doesn’t have an offer from Florida. Usually a sign that Florida isn’t pursuing him, but safety is a position of need and Muschamp could look at him if he feels it necessary.
Maggitt — He’s one of the toughest guys to get a hold of, but what I’ve been told is that LSU, Alabama, Florida State and Florida are schools to look out for. He’s pushed his commitment date back to National Signing Day. I liked Florida’s chances early, and he told Scout.com that he really likes the Muschamp hire. I had Florida at the beginning and I’m taking Florida in the end.
Benjamin — He was a Nole Sunday and now he’s down to Florida, FSU and Miami. Muschamp made a great impression on him and if wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni is retained, I’ll take Florida here. FSU won’t go away and will be tough to beat here.