The Outbox 8/17


Heeeeeere comes the future!

Catchy, isn’t it?

Well that’s what a catchphrase is supposed to do. It sticks in your head, plays over and over, and the next thing you know you’re saying it in the check-out line at Publix.

I have to give a lot of the credit for my world-famous catchphrase to my beautiful girlfriend, Lauren, who witnessed me struggling to conceive it. So she meekly suggested “Here comes the future” and I gave it a Gator twist by combining it with the classic public-address call as the players come charging out of the tunnel onto the field.

We make a great team.

Which is also what the Gators are trying to do with the Class of 2012. (How’s that for a segue, huh?)

Enough prattle, let’s get to your queries …

UF has been getting lots of love from defensive players and offensive lineman. Who are the offensive “playmakers” left on UF’s board or, should I say, which “playmakers” do YOU think will sign with UF? — UFgator_in_JAX

That’s a mighty fine question, my Jacksonvillian friend. And I thank you for not pressing me to go through the entire board. That could take days.

I think Florida has a good shot to end up with some dandy offensive weapons. As I’ve said many times, one gander at the UF roster is enough for fans to wonder where the potential impact players are hiding. The Gators need some star power. Here’s who they could end up with …

WR Stefon Diggs, 6-foot, 185 pounds, Olney, Md.

ATH Nelson Agholor, 6-1, 180, Tampa, Fla.

TE Kent Taylor, 6-5, 215, Land O’ Lakes, Fla.

I’m not one for predictions, especially this many months from signing day. So I’ll just say the Gators are in the best shape to land Taylor, the No. 1 pass-catching tight end prospect in America. The two receivers are harder to gauge because they are five-star prospects with lots of options. Let’s just say the Gators are among both of their top teams at this time. Florida would love to have Diggs and Agholor in this class, and even getting just one would be big.

I’ve seen all three of these playmakers in action, and let me tell you, they’re all very special. Diggs, as many of you know, put on an air show at Friday Night Lights. He’s got wonderful hands, great body control, some cockiness and a flair for the dramatic. He reminds me of a slightly taller, less angry Steve Smith (of the Carolina Panthers, not the Philadelphia Eagles). … Agholor is an extremely impressive athlete, who has the size to be a do-it-all receiver or an impact safety in college. He’s got a great head on his shoulders — bright and thoughtful, charming and humble — and it shows in the way he plays and conducts himself off the field. … Taylor is a fantastic receiver. His hands are undeniable. He also shows excellent athleticism and focus. The idea of Taylor and his good buddy Colin Thompson lining up in a two-tight-end set and owning the middle of the field should tantalize Gator fans.

One last comment: While Florida coaches would like to add two more wideouts to this class, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they get only one. The Gators have a number of young receivers on the roster and could survive until reinforcements arrive — in 2013. The rising junior wide receivers in the state of Florida alone are setting up to be a veritable galaxy of stars. Look for UF to go all-in at the wideout position next year.

Charlie Weis seemed like a pretty good recruiter at Notre Dame. How involved is he at UF? What other coaches seem like recruiting gurus? — @adambeaugh

Simply put, Weis is a recruiting star. He’s a household name, a proven offensive mind in the NFL and college. He actually eclipses head coach Will Muschamp in this regard, but the two have worked well together. Some recruits and their parents are rather in awe of the man, his four Super Bowl rings and his incredible rolodex.

Weis is very involved with each and every offensive prospect. Like Muschamp, he does not have an assigned territory. However, Weis did a bang-up job on the trail during the crucial evaluation period back in May. Reports from the road were that Weis commanded attention as he made his way across the southeast region, talking to high school coaches and evaluating everyone the Gators offered.

So far this cycle, the standout recruiters have been linebacker coach D.J. Durkin, who has cleaned up in the state of North Carolina (perhaps with more to come), and new defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, who has really connected with a lot of players around the state of Florida and has an undeniable charm and exuberance.

Why has the media pushed so hard for FSU to be back? — Michael L. Johnson

I’d like to defend the media by saying it was the USA Today Coaches‘ Preseason Poll that gave Florida State the No. 5 ranking, one of its highest preseason perches in a decade. But the truth is the media has played a role in the Seminoles’ return to prominence. There are a few factors at play here. One, FSU finished its 2010 season on a considerable roll by finally toppling the not-so-mighty Gators and then beating up on longtime foil Steve Spurrier and his Gamecocks (minus Marcus Lattimore, it should be pointed out).

The other big reason the ‘Noles are en vogue again is recruiting, and it cannot be argued. The Florida State brand is indeed back. Last year, FSU was crowed with the mythical recruiting national championship by ESPN and drew second-place rankings from Scout and Rivals. This year, everyone’s got the ‘Noles in contention for the No. 1 class in the land again.

So are the Seminoles back? I’m not sure just yet. There is no denying the talent level is back on the rise and coach Jimbo Fisher has everything going in the right direction again. But it is not hard to stand out in the weak ACC these days. In fact, some observers are pondering a national championship run for FSU if — and this is a big if — the Semis can get past No. 1 Oklahoma on Sept. 17.

What’s the latest on these three top lineman left in the state of Florida? Avery Young, Patrick Miller and Abraham Garcia? All three would look good in orange and blue. tomk

1. Avery Young (6-6, 280, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) is still considered by many to be leaning to Florida, which was the only school he had visited until he made the short jaunt down to Coral Gables to visit The U. Well, with the latest news about Miami and the swirling vultures, it sure seems Young is still going to lean toward Florida. I think he is the top remaining tackle on the Gators’ wishlist. He told me right before Friday Night Lights that he was heartbroken when he wasn’t able to make it up to Gainesville because his ride fell through.

2. Patrick Miller (6-7, 270, Palm Beach, Fla.) was all about UF when I spoke to him in the spring. He enjoyed his visit to the Orange & Blue game and talked about how many Dwyer High School teammates were waiting for him in Gainesville. Then Miller stopped talking about the Gators. He hasn’t officially altered his top three of Florida, Auburn and LSU, but Miller seems to have all but eliminated UF from contention. Perhaps the Gators coaches began to turn their attention elsewhere. Perhaps Miller’s strong connection with Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes was the key. I don’t see him ending up in Florida’s class.

3. Abraham Garcia (6-6, 339, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) isn’t in my database to be honest. “Nacho” reportedly received a verbal offer and was on Florida’s radar until tearing a ligament in his foot. Now recovered from reconstructive surgery last October, Garcia says he is focused on the schools that stuck with him — LSU, Miami, Auburn and Wisconsin. Former Gator wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales has reportedly worked hard to keep LSU out front.

That’s all for this week, recruitniks. Thanks to everyone who submitted a question. I won’t threaten the rest of you with tales of the Colorado Rockies like Edward Aschoff used to, but we could use some more questions next week. Here’s how you can reach me …

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  1. I thought Chas Henry was one of the most valuable players on the team the past four years. Do the Gators have another great punter on their recruiting radar for this signing class, or do they feel good with who they’ve got right now? The kicking game matters.

  2. First, another great mailbag. I can do without the catchphrases, as they say, stick with your day job, but great information here.
    I just read the UM story and I can’t wrap my head around a university turning a blind eye to such flagrant cheating and, at the same time, trying to distance itself from the baggage and reputation of it’s past cheating scandals. I mean it’s clear, they’re going to thumb their nose at the NCAA and they could care less about reputation or integrity. Unreal!
    I would rather see my team lose than cheat in the manner UM does. So my question, have you heard anything that would lead you to believe that UF or UF boosters are doing anything that could lead to an NCAA investigation? I believe UF does it the right way and I don’t want to just be naive. Am I wrong in thinking that?

  3. With the lack of depth on our offensive line, how many are we in line to recruit this year? It doesn’t seem like there are many coming in, and yet we could almost promise immediate playing time to the best of the best. Seems like O-linemen should be knocking on our door asking to come here at this point. Also, any stud middle linebackers looking our way?

  4. I am interested in knowing about the RBs in the 2013 recruiting cycle. Obviously D. Henry’s commitment to UGA is not a done deal, and it’s a long way until Feb. 2013, but why do many of my fellow gator fans argue that Henry is not as good as K. Taylor? Obviously he is a legacy and a great back, but what about his or A. Lane’s game do many people see as supreme to Henry’s? They are all great players, and I would love to see any of them be part of the Gator Nation, but is it just the orange and blue glasses that are judging the players? Your thoughts?

  5. Hey jeff, Nelson Agholor, Tracy Howard when should they annouce commitments? i was also wondering if eddie goldman is actually considering becasue has him considering us although i havemt heard much?Any other linebackers pssibly?? Tahnks man good working

  6. Would love to see Diggs sign as a gator, along with Yung at the tackle spot. You can always load up on solid O-lineman. I am mostly concearned with playmakers at WR, we dint have ANY last year it seemed and hopefully some with come out of the dark this year. I want to see them sign 2 more stud wideouts to build around for Driskel in the future. Howard i believe is gonna be a gator, the noles wont snag him from us…i hope. Do we have a chance at some other top tier defensive players?? Eddie Goldman, Bullard, any LBs???

  7. If you had a chance to catch some high school football in North Carolina this fall, who are the must-see recruits that Florida is targeting in the state? I recently moved to NC from Florida and would like to catch some of the recruits in action (although I am not officially a booster, I will still abstain from offering any benefits of course).

  8. First, I don’t think it’s wise to speculate as to whether or not UF has any potential NCAA issues, in this venue! That’s how rumors get started when people speculate! Second, what’s your gut feeling on what will come out of this nuclear bomb hanging over UM? Lastly, if we get the 3 offensive weapons, you mentioned, do you expect it to propel this class to the undisputed #1 class of 2012? Thanks for your hard work! Some guys will do anything to impress their girl! LOL

  9. I fear that Agholor and Howard will be Noles! 247 reports that Agholor is cozying up to many FSU recruits. I hope some of our recruits get busy and get into his ear! As far as Howard, the implosion at UM has brought FSU back into his picture as a competitor.
    I willsay that I think both us and FSU will benefit from the disaster down in Miami and both schools will finish in the top 4 classes in the country!

  10. I think this coaching staff is doing a SUPER JOB on the recruiting trail this class could end up number one in the country. Just keep it going and the Gators will be back on top of the college football world WHERE WE BELONG ! Maybe we can poach some recruits from Miami,given that they are going to get hit very hard FLORIDA would be a great choice for any player.