Ask Aschoff 1/26


Well, we’re almost done Gators fans. The 2011 recruiting class is about to be put to bed. Some good will happen. Some bad will happen. Regardless, this up-and-down, never-ending, extremely long recruiting year will be over in a week.

Pop a bottle (or two) because you’re all going to make it.

It might not be pretty on National Signing Day, but it’s a start for a brand new coaching staff. The key is that Will Muschamp kept the core of this class together. Jeff Driskel, Mike Blakely and A.C. Leonard are all on campus, and four of Florida’s five original defensive backs will be signing with the Gators. Not to mention Muschamp reeled in a great safety prospect in Jabari Gorman.

There are still some top prospects out there who are very interested in Florida, so the next seven days will be nerve-racking to say the least.

This will be the last “Ask Aschoff” recruiting mailbag for a while, now that the recruiting season will be coming to an end. Don’t worry, I already have tons of information about the 2012 class and will be starting on that shortly after signing day. Once Feb. 3 hits, I think Gators fans will be more relieved than anything.

No need to continue with the intro because we’ve got some fun questions to get to, so since this is the last mailbag for a while, I want you to find YOUR favorite record, think about the first day you listened to the whole thing, put that baby on and let’s get on to the questions!

Looks like “plan B” prospects is what UF will sign this year! Who you think will be the BIG signing day surprise?

Ah, “plan B” prospects. A term reserved for those who weren’t highly recruited and only show up at the end of the process because a team is running out of time to fill spots. I guess you could say there are a few guys who fit that bill and are being added to Florida’s recruiting board. However, I’m not a coach. I’m not a true evaluator of talent. I can’t say for certain that a guy who committed to a school like Troy or UAB doesn’t have the talent to make it in the SEC.

Osi Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware (Troy) might have something to say about that. So would Roddy White (UAB) and Donald Driver (Alcorn State). Oh, and of course, Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State) and Marshall Faulk (San Diego State) would probably take offense to that as well. I could keep going.

I know, I know. There are always exceptions to the rule. Duh. So, why can’t some of these guys who are signing with lesser-known schools now be those exceptions? Discuss amongst yourselves.

The two names I’m sure you are referring to are Warner Robins, Ga., Houston County defensive end Trey Grissett and Coconut Creek North Broward defensive end Tevin Westbrook. Both are three-star prospects and only recently got involved with Florida. Grissett is currently committed to UAB.

I haven’t heard too much about Westbrook, but Grissett is a someone who got a lot of praise over the summer while at summer camps. At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, he’s got a nice frame, but there are questions to whether he could hold up against SEC offensive linemen. If he gets an offer after his visit this weekend, the consensus is that it would be hard for him not to switch his commitment over to Florida.

As for surprises, I’m not expecting any. There wouldn’t be a surprise if more than a few of the viable options on Florida’s board committed to the Gators on Signing Day. I guess if Wadesboro, N.C., Anson linebacker Stephone Anthony committed to Florida I’d be a little surprised, but it won’t be a major shocker, considering he always had Florida high. A surprise would be Tony Steward or Sammy Watkins committing. Don’t expect either.

Another surprise would be Florida striking out on signing day. I know a lot of people are already casting this class aside, but Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer defensive end Curt Maggitt is still very much a possibility, so is Traverse City, Mich., West offensive lineman Jacob Fisher. Let’s not forget Richmond, Va., Hermitage linebacker Curtis Grant is still very high on the Gators.

Considering the change …  has the new staff had enough time with recruits?

No. The staff hasn’t had nearly enough time to do much in recruiting. Remember, this staff wasn’t officially finished until the middle of this month when defensive line coach Bryant Young made it to Gainesville. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn didn’t didn’t arrive until after the Seattle Seahawks lost in the playoffs on Jan. 16. Muschamp was hired in December.

The relationships built by Urban Meyer and his staff took many months to develop. Asking a coach and his staff to create new ones or build off the ones Meyer created in such a short amount of time is almost silly, but it’s what a new staff must face.

We won’t know the extent of Muschamp’s recruiting ability until he interacts with prospects at junior days, camps, Friday Night Lights (if it’s still around), when he travels to more high schools multiple times, during in-season officials and unofficials, and when he has months to work.

I’m not ready to write off this staff’s ability to recruit. It’s just way too early.

I am wondering how many scholarships Florida has left? Will we try to use them before signing day, this year, or hold off until next year?

Florida could get away with signing 25 guys in this class. However, I don’t see Florida getting there. I think Florida signs close to 20 guys, but the staff doesn’t even need to do that. This isn’t a time for Muschamp to get nervous and think he has to fill Florida’s signing class with a bunch of bodies so it looks like he closed well. The only prospects he should be handing scholarships out to are the ones he truly wants on his team or else he’s just hurting space for future classes.

Unless Florida hits the absolute mother lode with top prospects on signing day, there’s no reason he’ll touch 25. Remember, Meyer signed only 18 in his first class and then grabbed 27 in 2006, and ranked it as the No. 2 class in the country.

Florida needs to concentrate on closing with the guys the staff really wants and then shifting the focus over to 2012. Muschamp and his staff have done a great job of communicating with the 2012 group thus far, and that will go a long way. That will be the class where Muschamp can get back into the mid-20s with signees. This year is not that year.

Seems like recruits are not that interested in our NFL coaching staff. No relationships?

It’s not that the NFL isn’t attractive to recruits at all. I’ve talked to many players and few coaches who have been very interested in the fact that Florida will have so much NFL experience on its coaching staff. The end goal for most of these kids is to get to the NFL, so having coaches who know what it really takes to not only get there but to succeed there is a plus for recruits.

I think Muschamp was smart to go with NFL guys, but we’ll see how that translates with recruiting. Relationships are EVERYTHING and there are some coaches out there who like the fact that there isn’t a recruiting season in the NFL. Not everyone likes making tons of phone calls and sending out a bunch of e-mails every day. Will these NFL guys like getting back to the 24/7 recruiting routine? They better.

For now, having all that NFL background is something prospects really like and that will only continue. The one thing that will come into question is how long these guys want to stay in college at the position they hold.

Just thought you might know the story on Ja’Juan Story. What are the chances he stays in this class?
Jerry Gammonds

He’s been tough to get a hold of, but he did tell that he is “60-40” percent sure he’ll go to Florida. Of course, I’m not a fan of prospect percentages at all. How do you know that you’re 53 percent committed to a school? Ludicrous.

I was told that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill made it to Brookville Nature Coast to see Story on Wednesday. I believe Ohio State coaches will be by to see him on Friday.

Basically, it’s coming down to the Buckeyes and the Gators. He built a strong relationship with Meyer, defensive line coach Dan McCarney and wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, and now they are all gone. He’s starting to really like what Ohio State has to offer, and the Buckeyes are a legitimate threat for Florida’s commit.

After talking with Story earlier this month, he’s struggling with the fact that Florida’s staff is new. He likes Muschamp and is getting close with Hill, but the staff shakeup was jarring.

What will be interesting is if running backs coach Stan Drayton really is leaving Florida. He would become Story’s coach at OSU, and while Drayton wasn’t in charge of Story’s recruitment, there has been communication between the two. Maybe Story could find comfort in working with Drayton at a different school.

I still tend to think he’s going to stick with his commitment to Florida. His family is insistent on him staying close to home, and his uncle is a major part of his recruitment. He’s on Florida’s side. However, this is Story’s future on the line. I think he’ll make his final decision on signing day, and as of now I’m leaning toward Florida.

How does losing Stan Drayton affect UF recruiting before signing day 2011 and the 2012 class??

Well, according to UF, Florida’s staff is still intact. But the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Wednesday morning that Drayton will assume the role of wide receivers coach with the Buckeyes.

So, if Drayton really is leaving Florida for OSU, this means Florida will have to find or name a new recruiting coordinator and will have to replace one of its most solid recruiters.

The 2011 class won’t be affected too much if Drayton does in fact leave. No move will probably be made until after signing day, so the prospects Drayton has been in touch with will have signed by the time he’s gone. He was in charge of Mike Blakely and Javares McRoy, and both are on campus already. Of the uncommitted prospects he’s recruited heavily, Miami Booker T. Washington defensive tackle Elkino Watson figures to be the one Florida has the best shot of landing.

He’s had interaction with most if not all of Florida’s prospects, so relationships have been made, but I don’t think he was a major factor for a lot of 2011 prospects. The only person who could really be affected is Story. But like I said above, Drayton wasn’t big in his recruitment. Also, would Story want to play for a guy who coached running backs when he’s a receiver? It’s something to think about.

For 2012, Drayton has recruited a few guys like McDonough, Ga., Union Grove cornerback D.J. White and Miami Norland receiver Brandon Snell. Hill could easily take over Snell’s recruitment since he was recruiting him while at Miami.

If you go back and look at Drayton’s past, he was tremendous in recruiting. He helped get Riley Cooper, Jermaine Cunningham, Jarred Fayson, A.J. Jones and Mon Williams in 2006. He helped wrangle seven commitments that year.

In 2007 he grabbed nine commitments, including the Lakeland Seven, Cam Newton (too soon?) and Torrey Davis.

Coordinating recruiting areas and finding prospects is what Drayton was really good at. He was great with recruits and their families. While many have questioned his coaching skill when it comes to running backs, there was no doubt he was a superb recruiter.


  1. We have a chance with Stephone Anthony (5* OLB), an elite player in a position of need. Marcus Roberson is a great DB we have a chance at (no word as to how his visit went). Jermauria Rasco is supposedly wide open. We have a slim chance at Jernigan but a pretty good chance for Grant.

  2. We might take it on the chin this year due to the coaching changes, but we’ll be back in the top 5 recruiting classes starting in 2012. It’s not like the cupboard is bare either. Lot’s of great young talent already on campus.
    Go Gators!

  3. Thanks again ED for the great work you do, but I agree with Doug on this one. If we close with the commits we have now and the players that are already on board, we will be fine for next year. It will be a great plus if we can keep what we have and that’s with Story as well and possibly add 4-5 of the kids that are legitimately interested in Florida. With the Jernigan situation I’ve been disappointed, if he has that type of split in the household he should make it plain what is in Tim’s heart. If his heart is with Florida he should let his mother know, if his heart is with FSU he should let his father know. If he does not go where he is most comfortable and will give his all to be the best, then everybody loses. I hope that his family will realize they should support him in his choice if he is not making a drastic mistake, and choosing either wouldn’t be a drastic mistake. One other thing is I believe some of these kids that made emotional choices because a buddy went somewhere may look back in the near future and say “man I know I should have done this or that” because that’s were his heart was and that was a better situation for him and they are going to resent some decisions they made, this is a complex decision and it is one that should be thought out and over. I hope some of the ones left to make a decision make informed ones not just emotional ones. I would rather for a player to come to Florida because he wants to be a Gator and wants to develop into the best he can be as a person. Go GATORS!!!

  4. Wow. If we are and 0- 12 do we just want the players who want to be gators? Come on…we are in transition year… does not make a trend. UM beat the best team in college 83’and won a chanpionship with an unranked class. Auburn just won one because of two juco players…

    Will is going to keep those scholarships for HIS players next year and chose an NFL staff for the long haul. Bostic, Jones, Lemmens, ect could not play for a WM defense…not physcall enough (see Alabama’s tackles dominate)…

    Question is : Realationships Hill has as recruiting coordinator in Dade County…with Weiss to sell the program with??

  5. ALT JOHN, you’re right about the cupboard not being bare. One, we have two #1 classes on our roster, both of which were heralded as some of the top 10 best of all-time by both Rivals and Scout. Then we have another class that had a #2 ranking with only 17 signees. Add another top 5 class, and you’re right, UF’s cupboard is far from bare. This class will be a little hiccup because of the coaching staff changes and the negative press from the poor season, but our talent is still some of the best in the country roster-for-roster. Most importantly, we got the nation’s top QB, one of the state’s best RB’s, addressed our needs.

  6. I am disappointed so far, hopefully we can close with some real players on NSD. While expecting a top 5 class would be asking to much, a top 20 should be a given especially with the early enrollee’s we had. Other programs have done far better, hell even Tenn and Notre Dame last year.

    Hopefully these guys are good coaches. According to WM we’re overhauling our entire offense and defense, and we’ve added no new talent to match the new systems.

  7. QUICK, Drayton’s loss hurst recruiting some, but the other coaches are all in place now and can pad that loss. As for Drayton, he was the one retained asst. I did not agree with. Drayton, in his two stints at UF, has done little or nothing with our RB’s. He is going to OSU as a WR’s coach. I say we are better off without him. A great option could be Biran White, who actually coached Ron Dayne at Wisconsin, but I sure would hate to lose him at TE’s coach too, because in his first year here he made Hernandez a Mackey Award winner.

  8. Dale the point being made for having more of a desire for players that want to be here is this; if your heart in in this place, you will tend to perform better. Nobody is talking about the caliber of players, desire, heart and talent will beat JUST talent 8 out of 10 times. You are actually making my point, if you look at those UM teams those guys wanted to be at UM and nowhere else, they were not the best recruits in the country but they were CANES and damn proud of it, those two JUCO players at Auburn wanted to be TIGERS. Newton could have gone to Miss. St. and been comfortable with his former coach but he chose Auburn because he wanted to be a Tiger. My point is if Jernigan want to go to FSU, that’s where he should go because that’s where he will perform better. Don’t come to FLA. because your dad likes FLA, and you will always be thinking about “what if” everytime something goes wrong at Fla., you won’t tough it out and do your best to improve. That’s all I’m saying, not that we don’t want the athletes. Go GATORS!!!

  9. jimlives, lighten up and stop panicking. When you’re as loaded as UF is, then have a poor season, and then an entire coaching staff turn-over, you can’t expect perfection every time. Oh, btw, 4* LB Graham Stewart commits to the Gators.

  10. Do you think Boom is a great recruiter as advertised. I keep reading that at Texas so many of the rucruits from Texas just want to play at Texas and their class is filled early in the year. How much recruiting do they really have to do? How about his NFL staff do they still have the desire to put in the time that it takes to be a successful recruiter. Haven’t seen much written if the staff has great recruiters. Who are the great recruiters on the new staff?
    Go Gators

    by David Echols