Greetings from Crested Butte, Colo.! I know, I know, I shouldn’t brag about being in a snowy, Christmas paradise while most of you are hanging out in the 60-degree weather in the Southeast. That humidity must be way more fun to be in than the 26 inches of snow we’ve gotten here in the past 48 hours.
Before I get into some recruiting tidbits from the weekend, I’d like give a HUGE shout out to Colin and BK at the Gunnison Brewery, who took care of me for roughly six hours while I waited for the rest of my party to come in. Not only is the Brewery the quintessential winter pub, but the clientele couldn’t have been anymore cordial. From the moment I walked in the door — duffel bag and briefcase in hand — Colin was extremely hospitable, while BK made sure my drinks were always filled.
I knew I truly made the right decision to crash at the Brewery for the better part of my day when I was offered a delicious slice of pizza as I pondered whether or not I should order my second meal of the night. Needless to say, with my appetite, I ordered that second meal and was pretty pleased with how the chicken tenders turned out. If you’re ever in or near Gunnison, be sure to stop by the Gunnison Brewery for a nice, cold —or hot — beverage, some good food and some great company. Thanks guys!
OK, now onto the fun that is Florida recruiting.
Monday officially started the dead period in college football recruiting. That means there can be no off-campus contact with coaches and prospects. Coaches can also only make one phone call to prospects or their parents a week. Recruits can call coaches as much as they want. There are no official visits and coaches and recruits will finally get some much-needed rest from the monster that is recruiting. This is a time for prospects and their families to make REAL evaluations without being hounded by coaches.
The dead period ends Jan. 3.
Heading into the dead period, Florida’s new coach Will Muschamp made it back to campus to help host six official visitors — De’Ante “Pop” Saunders, Chase Hounshell, Trip Thurman, Tommy Jordan, Kyle Christy and Nick Waisome. All are committed to Florida and all are expected to stay committed to the Gators come National Signing Day. Running back commit Mike Blakely was also on campus this weekend, but for an unofficial visit.
This was a chance for Florida’s commits to get nice and cozy with the new guy in charge, while Urban Meyer was still roaming around. Florida’s commits have been impressed by Muschamp, so far, and besides Ryan Shazier, who decommitted from Florida and picked Ohio State last Friday, it looks like Florida will keep most of its 2011 class together.
Christy, who will enroll at UF in January and is expected to take over for Chas Henry as the Gators’ punter, was hosted by redshirt freshman offensive lineman Kyle Koehne, who, like Christy, is from Indiana.
“It went really well,” Christy said of his visit. “Everything was even better than I would’ve expected.”
Christy has really gotten along with Muschamp and hasn’t wavered on his commitment one bit, but he certainly has some pretty big shoes to fill now that Henry will be gone.
Thurman, who could be Florida’s most polished offensive line commitment in this class, also had a good visit with the old and new head coaches. He and the other recruits talked the future of Florida with Mushcamp and had dinner at Meyer’s house for fun.
Thurman said his visit was “great” and primarily hung out with Sam Robey, Koehne and Trey Burton while he was in Gainesville. Thurman was the only visitor who won’t enroll at Florida in January, but isn’t expecting to take any visits between now and Signing Day.
Dead period gives Muschamp time for coaches
Because he won’t be doing a lot of talking with recruits this week, Muschamp has the perfect opportunity to get his coaching staff together. While he said nothing will be done until after the bowl game, for recruiting purposes, it’s very important that he get a move on this. Now, he’ll have plenty of time to talk with potential assistant candidates. He needs to get a jump on his offensive and defensive coordinator before the bowl game because those are the two areas recruits are most concerned with.
Hounshell told Rivals.com that Muschamp said he’s expecting to make a decision on his offensive coordinator this week.
Story visits elsewhere
Florida wide receiver commit Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville Nature Coast) officially visited Oregon this weekend. While he’s committed to Florida, he’s certainly exploring his options. Georgia is another school that seems to be making a move on Story.
Muschamp and Story have only talked on the phone, but Story should meet with Muschamp in person in January.
Orlando guys generating more interest
Multiple media outlets were all a buzz this weekend when Orlando Dr. Phillips teammates Dee Hart and Hasean Clinton-Dix both said they’ll officially visit Florida in January. Clinton-Dix, the nation’s No. 1 safety prospect, is currently committed to Alabama and his commitment seems pretty solid, but he met with Muschamp last week and came away very impressed.
It will be tough to pull Clinton-Dix from Alabama, but expect Florida to put the full-court press on him when he visits in January. Plus, safety is a huge concern for Florida next season with depth being an issue.
Hart, the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose running back, is committed to Michigan, but told The Orlando Sentinel that if Rich Rodriguez were to be fired his next choice would be Florida. Talks between Hart and Florida have increased since Muschamp’s hire, so it looks like he’d be willing to take two running backs in this class.