Heeeeeere comes the future!
Admit it, that catchphrase is starting to grow on you a little. Every week you look forward to it like a present waiting under the Christmas tree. Well, my dear readers, that is exactly how I feel about reading your questions every week. And I’m sad to say that I haven’t been getting as many presents from you as I’d like. There are FOUR easy ways to send them to me every week. They’re listed at the bottom of this blog.
OK, enough of the guilt trip. Here are your questions and my answers. I’m going to go big this week in hopes that you will return the favor …
Were there any recruits in Gainesville last week? If so, any reaction? Who is expected to be there this week? — @charlesbgibson
Thanks for the tweet. I have to assume you’re not TV journalist Charles Gibson, but I am not complaining. I appreciate your questions, sir! For every gameday notebook, I will try to write a recruiting visit recap. Here’s my report from last week’s UAB game:
Florida had no official visitors for Game 2, but there were a few notable unofficial visitors. Tops on that list would be Class of 2012 verbal commitment Matt Jones, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound running back from Seffner, Fla., Armwood. Jones is one of Florida’s most committed verbals, as he works hard behind the scenes at recruiting other players to join his class. Also on hand were a pair of 2013 prospects — safety Nick Washington (6-1, 180) from Jacksonville, Fla., and quarterback Connor Mitch (6-3, 210) from Raleigh, N.C.
As you can imagine, the first two games were kind of slow for recruiting. That will pick up a little bit this weekend with Tennessee ushering in the SEC season. But look for the visits to absolutely explode in three weeks for the Alabama game. The most important visitor on Saturday should be Pittsburgh, Pa., offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty, a four-star prospect on his official visit. He was planning to attend the opener a couple of weeks ago but his flight was canceled and he rescheduled. Bisnowaty seems to be down to Pittsburgh and Florida. There’s a chance he will commit to UF this weekend, so stay tuned to my Twitter page and Gatorsports.com.
I’ll know more on Friday, but some other expected visitors for Saturday’s game include: 2012 UF verbal commitments running back Mike Davis (with his family), Jones, wide receiver Latroy Pittman, defensive lineman Dante Philips, safety Marcus Maye and place-kicker Austin Hardin. Class of 2012 four-star defensive lineman Leonard Williams, cornerback Chris Bivins of Gainesville and tight end Sean Culkin are planning to come for unofficial visits. For the Class of 2013, there’s wide receiver Richard Benjamin, safety Leon McQuay, linebacker Nigel Harris, cornerback J.J. Green (Jacquez Green’s nephew) and running back Kelvin Taylor (Fred’s son). Click here to read more about this weekend’s expected visitors.
How many wide receivers do you think we will bring in and which ones are still out there for the taking? — G8RNGA
Thanks for posting your question on the GSMB recruiting forum. I love that place! I’ve gotten a lot of questions about wide receivers, so let’s dig in. I think the Gators are going hardest after the two five-stars, Nelson Agholor and Stefon Diggs, and I think they have a chance to get them both. If I had to put them in order of probability, I’d say the Gators are in better shape with Diggs, who is tight with former teammate Jelani Jenkins and loved his visit for Friday Night Lights and is planning to bring his mother for an official visit after Thanksgiving for the FSU game. This is not to say the Gators aren’t looking good for Agholor, however. He just is 0pen to so many more options still on the table, and it’s very hard to get a read on him since he so rarely talks about recruiting.
There are other four-star receivers on Florida’s board like slot receiver Cyrus Jones (5-11, 183) of Baltimore, Md., Gilman School; athlete Joel Caleb (6-3, 200) of Midlothian, Va., Clover Hill and even LSU soft commit Avery Johnson (6-2, 185) of Pompano Beach, Fla., Blanche Ely. There are also two four-stars out west — Derrick Woods (5-11, 180) of Englewood, Calif.; and former Southern Cal commit Jordan Payton (6-2, 191) of Westlake Village, Calif., Oaks Christian. But honestly, I think the Florida coaching staff would rather address other positions before they took a lower-ranked receiver. Why? Let me break down some reasons.
• They can get by with the receivers that they have on the roster right now. Things will look a lot better if redshirt sophomore Andre Debose and/or redshirt freshman Quinton Dunbar have breakout seasons or at least one establishes himself as a reliable playmaker in the vertical passing game.
• I think they’ll redshirt Ja’Juan Story, which means he’ll be a more seasoned addition next spring as a redshirt freshman. He’s very talented and is a big target at 6-3, 206.
• Florida has a solid commitment from Citra, Fla., North Marion’s Latroy Pittman, a possession receiver with size and good hands. Add Pittman, Story and either Diggs or Agholor (or both), and Florida would have a deep and talented receiving corps next season.
• And finally there’s 2013. That might be the biggest factor in why Florida has the luxury of only going after its highest ranked prospects in Diggs and Agholor. The class of 2013 is totally loaded in the state of Florida, and the Gators are sitting pretty for a few of them already. Here’s a quick list: Oakland Park, Fla., Northeast’s Stacey Coley (6-1, 170), Tampa, Fla., Middleton’s Richard Benjamin (6-1, 180), Tallahassee, Fla., Lincoln’s Taj Williams (6-3, 185) and Reggie Davis (6-1, 180), Tampa, Fla., Jesuit’s Travis Johnson (6-4, 200) and Jacksonville, Fla., Bishop Kenny’s Ahmad Fulwood (6-4, 197). Yes, that is an incredible list.
Any chance Charlie Weis plans to get a “scatback” type? It doesn’t seem there are any Jeff Demps or Chris Raineys for the future. Marvin Bracy or Duke Johnson come to mind. — Kyle
Thanks for posting your question in the blog comments, Kyle. Did you know I read them all? It’s true!
I think this is a very good question, and one I plan to ask Weis at some point. Now that he’s seen what elite speed can do at the running back position, has it influenced his perspective on recruiting workhorse tailbacks in the future? I suspect the answer is yes, but I seriously doubt there will be any real effect in this upcoming recruiting class or the next one. Let me explain.
Florida already has Davis and Jones committed for 2012. Jones is a big back, while Davis is more shifty. But Davis is not exactly a speed merchant. He has good acceleration, but his game is about vision and moves, making defenders miss and breaking tackles. I don’t think the Gators will add another back to this class, even though they have an outside chance with five-star Keith Marshall. Everyone thinks he’s all about the Georgia Bulldogs, but Florida could be a fallback option if UGA collapses and fires Mark Richt. Marshall is set to take an official visit to UF on Oct. 1 for the Alabama game (did I mention that game will be HUGE for recruiting visits?).
Funny you mention Marvin Bracy (FSU) and Duke Johnson (Miami), as they are both solidly committed to other state schools. Also, Bracy is more of a wide receiver, and I’ve been told there’s a slight chance Johnson could end up a defensive back. Still, the issue remains — speed. It has a powerful and intimidating affect on opposing coaches and players. When Tennessee coach Derek Dooley was asked a question on Monday about facing Demps and Rainey, he cut off the question and just started saying, “Speed, speed, speed.” Think he’s worried about Saturday?
So when will Florida have another burner in the backfield? The Gators have a number of big-time in-state prospects on the RB board for 2013: Kelvin Taylor (5-10, 190) of Belle Glades, Greg Bryant (5-10, 180) of Delray Beach, Adam Lane (5-9, 205) of Winter Haven, Derrick Henry (6-4, 232) of Yulee, A.J. Turman (6-0, 197) of Orlando and Tarean Folston (5-10, 190) of Cocoa. I wouldn’t consider any of them scatbacks, as even Lane is built more solidly than Rainey. But several of these backs have speed to burn. Florida has told a few of them that they will look to take two running backs in 2013. I think their top choices are Bryant, Lane (provided he fully recovers from a broken ankle suffered just before this season) and Taylor. Henry has good top-end speed, but his acceleration and lateral quickness may be concerns at the SEC level. That could be one reason why he ultimately ends up moving to defense. Even though it’s a long ways away, I still think Florida really wants him in its Class of 2013 and will gladly recruit him as a running back just to get him on campus. He’s a rare athlete.
In 2013 we may need a couple linebackers, who in that class might we be after? — Big J
Thanks for the email. It’ll be interesting to note on Saturday that Tennessee is starting two true freshmen at linebacker who chose UT over UF and would have looked pretty darn good in orange and blue — Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson. The Gators, as you know, were stung by the transition from Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp in recruiting and in particular at the linebacker position. OK, enough of my long answers. Let’s go rapid fire.
Here are some 2013 linebackers to keep an eye on: Jacksonville, Fla., First Coast’s Daniel McMillan (6-2, 220), Matthews, N.C., Butler’s Peter Kalambayi (6-2, 220), Woodbridge, Va., C.D. Hylton’s E.J. Levenberry (6-3, 226), Little Silver, N.J., Red Bank Regional’s Garrett Sickels (6-4, 225), the aforementioned Nigel Harris (6-1, 194) of Tampa, Fla., Hillsborough and possibly Gator legacy Keith Kelsey, Jr. (6-2, 205) of Gainesville, Fla.
Any love for Adolphus Washington? He is the closest I have seen to to last year’s Jadeveon Clowney. Tight end is the next most important commitment to me. Do you think Stefon Diggs gets left out if we take three TEs, or is this just too much to ask for this class? — J
Scout.com lists Washington (6-6, 240) as a five-star prospect from Cincinnati, Ohio, but he doesn’t have an offer from Florida. It may be because he’s all Buckeye, but then again Muschamp seems to only go outside the southeast region when a kid really likes the Gators or has some kind of connection to the program. Florida and Mr. Washington just never seemed to get on the same page.
As for the tight end position and Diggs, it’s interesting. I actually think there’s a chance that Florida ends up with Kurt Freitag AND Kent Taylor, seeing as how they are two very different types of tight end and seeing as how important tight ends are to Weis’ offense. Add in current commit Colin Thompson, who like Freitag is more of a mauling blocker, and yes that would be three tight ends. Keep an eye on that Alabama game on Oct. 1, because Freitag and Taylor and Thompson are expected to be there for official visits and could sort it out in person. Maybe they’ll arm wrestle or do a little Circle of Life drill for one last scholarship. Or maybe Florida will take all three tight ends. But no, it would not do anything to change the warm seat Florida is saving for Diggs.
@ J, no way we take 3 TEs in this class. We have 2 sophomore starting TEs. A highly touted freshmen TE and already have the #1 high school TE committed. So 2 TEs have to be the most in this class. Our needs are too big to ignore at other positions like WR and OL. — GatorsEverywhere
Ooh, I love a good debate in the blog comments section. Let me jump in. Muschamp wants to create competition for the remaining spots in this upcoming class. A couple of pledges after that Bama game would do the trick. Redshirt sophomore Jordan Reed is indeed entrenched as the tight end position, and the coaches are high on true freshman A.C. Leonard. But where’s the depth? Gerald Christian may look like a fantastic athlete, but I haven’t seen what he does best yet — blocking or pass-catching. When Leonard fully recovers from his knee injury in another week or two, I expect we will finally see Weis run some two-tight end packages with both guys running routes. It cannot be overstated how important tight ends are to Weis. He views them as lethal weapons when defenses stack the box to stop the running game. And finally, the Gators still have room to take one or two receivers and two more offensive linemen. Three tight ends could happen.
That’s all, folks! Thanks again for your questions. Let’s meet here in one week for another round. Here’s how you can submit your presents, I mean questions for next week …