The Outbox 10/26


Heeeeeere comes the future!

We’re old friends now, you and I.

We’ve been meeting each week for these mailbags since early August. You’ve tuned in to read all of our recruiting stories and blogs on and our new recruiting database, You’ve even made my catchphrase world famous.

I have to admit something to you — recruiting is crazy, and covering it sometimes seems like herding cats.

Just last week in this space, I reported that Patterson, La., linebacker Lorenzo Phillips was still verbally committed in the Gators’ Class of 2012. I even posted a quote from his high school coach expressing frustration with all the drama surrounding Phillips.

Turns out where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Phillips hasn’t returned phone calls, text messages or emails. Meanwhile, and have reported his decommitment. He’s interested in LSU (shocking), Houston (he has high school teammates committed to the Cougars), Alabama (who wouldn’t be?) and Louisiana-Lafayette (another close-to-home option). With Florida out of the picture, the Gators simply move on in their search for another outside linebacker commit.

I think the top target is four-star Josh Harvey-Clemons of Valdosta, Ga., Lowndes. At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, he has a frame that would give Florida a potential star athlete. JHC is just about ready to go on a whirlwind of official visits. He’ll start with LSU at Alabama on Nov. 5, then hit Georgia at Auburn on Nov. 10, followed by Florida-Florida State on Nov. 26 and wrap up with an official to Georgia on the weekend of Dec. 9-11. I think he’ll come down to Florida and Georgia. He’s said he will announce in the 12th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Florida could eventually have some other highly touted options at linebacker, but it’s too early to say. Stone Mountain, Ga.’s Ukeme “Markuss” Eligwe (6-3, 210), who gave his verbal to FSU over Georgia and Florida back in April, has expressed more interest in visiting Florida since the Seminoles have had some struggles this season and their vaunted class has seen some defections. Two other shaky in-state verbals are four-stars Keith Brown and Raphael Kirby for the Miami Hurricanes. They have also expressed interest in UF. However, it would only seem to be flirtation until either prospect sets an actual visit.

OK, that wasn’t too painful. Let’s get to your questions …

Kent Taylor is set to make his decision. Where do you think he’ll go, and what could he bring that we are currently lacking? — @RealGatorRuss via Twitter

Full disclosure: GatorRuss is one of my favorite Gator fans on the planet. He is the volunteer admin for the Gatorsports Message Board, famously known as the GSMB. It’s a thankless job, and Russ has been excellent for a long, long time.

Everyone and their brother says Taylor is going to pick Florida over Penn State and Alabama on Thursday during his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey presentation. Even recruiting fans/readers are going on Twitter and message boards to make this bold prediction. Here’s a newsflash — no one is surprised. I’ll join the chorus and say Taylor is going to announce his verbal to UF. He really became hot for the Gators when FSU accepted the verbal of tight end Christo Kourtzidis in June.

Taylor had a solid showing at Friday Night Lights in July and began to develop closer relationships with Florida coaches Charlie Weis, Brian White and Derek Lewis. He also became close friends with another Florida tight end commit, Colin Thompson. Taylor’s interest in Florida also grew around that time in late July when Penn State, the team he grew up rooting for, accepted the verbal commitment of a second tight end in their 2012 class.

At 6-5, Taylor has a terrific wingspan, and on the tips of those wings are some fantastic hands. At 215 pounds, he’ll need to gain weight in order to operate in the middle of the field and do some blocking. But make no mistake, Taylor is going to be a stretch-the-field tight end and quite possibly a threat as soon as next season. Given Florida’s current struggles at the tight end position and the transfer plans of sophomore Gerald Christian, Taylor could bring his hands and athleticism into play right away.

With recent transfers, refresh my memory: how does the new oversigning rule affect UF? Will we remain under the limit because we can’t sign more than 25? — @Spencer_Duhm via Twitter

Whoa! First GatorRuss and now Spencer Duhm? We have a celebrity alert, y’all! Another disclosure: I used to be a huge fan of TV reality juggernaut “Survivor” back when I had time to watch (read: before recruiting took over my life). So I was positively honored to see Spencer following me on Twitter. Spence ditched school at UF to take part in Survivor: Tocantins. In fact, he was the youngest contestant ever on the show. I thought he was unfairly booted far too early in the show and was just starting to be a very entertaining competitor. Alas, I only watched a couple more seasons before the show truly lost my attention with Jimmy Johnson as a contestant. I mean, seriously? How is that guy going to truly compete for a million dollars when his hair alone is worth $10 million?

OK, the recruiting question — I’ve gotten this one a lot since Tuesday’s announcement of the transfer plans of Christian and former high school teammate Robert Clark. Florida has seen nine players leave or plan to leave since Will Muschamp took over. The Gators are down to just 72 scholarship football players, including four walk-ons and not including linebacker Neiron Ball, who is recovering from a ruptured blood vessel in his brain. So there are 11 seniors coming off the roster, and who knows how many more transfers. Also unknown is if the scholarships given to redshirt junior Scott Peek and redshirt sophomore Tim Clark were just for this year … or if Ball will ever make it back onto the roster.

There are a lot of unknowns, so we have to operate within what we do know. When the season is over the Gators will be down to either 59 or 61 scholarships, depending on those two walk-ons. The roster limit is 85, which leaves between 24-26 scholarship openings. The oversigning rule does not allow more than a 25-man class, but schools are still allowed to count some early enrollees back to the previous class. So if the Gators can count back the six verbals who want to enroll early (I listed them in last week’s Outbox), they could potentially exceed the new limit of 25 that way. What cannot be exceeded is the 85 scholarships on the roster.

I think it’s fair to speculate that there will be another transfer or two. But I would not predict any sort of mass defections. The number 27 is still the most Florida has signed in any one class since Urban Meyer was the head coach. I could see Muschamp at or possibly just over that number. With Phillips’ decommitment, Florida’s Class of 2012 currently stands at 16.

Where do we stand with Landon Collins and what are our chances of landing Tracy Howard? Rivals claimed we are in Howard’s top 2. Those two would add much needed secondary depth and could both compete for a starting spot next year. — Titan_Gator via blog comments

Rivals did post a video this week of five-star cornerback Tracy Howard saying his top two are Florida and Florida State. I’d say that gives UF a pretty good chance at a tremendous cover cornerback. Howard is a student of the game, which translates to excellent technique on the field. He’s also got good size at 6-0, 175. Howard is just warming up to the recruiting process. He plans to take all five official visits and then announce at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. He’ll take an unofficial visit to see his top two teams play at The Swamp on Nov. 26. The Gators are working hard on Howard, as defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson visited Howard’s school last week. It will be interesting to see how much bigger Florida’s class is by the time Howard is ready to announce. If Florida plans to sign 25 players, it might be hard for UF to wait on Howard. Another factor could be depth charts, as Florida has a younger secondary than Florida State. The Seminole coaching staff is no doubt using that in selling Howard on early playing time.

Another five-star talent, safety Landon Collins, is far less likely to end up in orange and blue. He plays high school ball in Geismar, La., just down the road from Baton Rouge for goodness sake! Everything I hear with Collins is LSU. He reportedly took an official to LSU for the Florida game on Oct. 8. That game may not have been an easy selling point for the Gators, but the need for a hard-hitting safety probably stood out. Collins is set to take another official visit to see the Tigers play next week at Alabama. I just don’t think Florida has a chance here.

Do you think WRs Nelson Agholor and Stefon Diggs are favoring Florida and do we possibly have a legit chance at taking away Avery Johnson after his official? — Morgan via blog comments

Yes, yes and yes.

Agholor and Diggs don’t talk about recruiting very often, but when they do it’s very positive for Florida. I see the Gators as a finalist at worst for both, and with their connections to the program and their favorable visits, I could imagine both of them in this class. The Gators have been working very hard on Agholor, with Weis and White in Tampa to see his game last weekend. Diggs has been planning to return to Florida for an unofficial visit with his mother ever since his interest in UF grew after participating in Friday Night Lights. He’s set to be in the south end zone for the Florida-Florida State game on Nov. 26.

Johnson is an interesting case. He recently told Rivals he is closer with Florida wide receiver coach Aubrey Hill than any other coach and that they talk weekly. Hill visited Johnson at his high school last week. The brother of former Tiger CB Patrick Peterson is considered a soft verbal to the Tigers and is planning to take an official visit to Florida after the season. I’m not sure Florida has room for four receivers (Latroy Pittman is already on the commitment list), but Johnson certainly could give the Gators more options at a position that is clearly in need of more.

With regards to the 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes, what do you see as the MAJOR ISSUE needing addressing most with the Gators? I know most people are saying OL and WR, but taking into account players graduating and weakness of play I feel there may be bigger needs elsewhere as well. — Adam Foskey of Santa Monica, Calif., via email

Adam, thanks for reading and emailing. You certainly have the right positions in mind, but since you asked about the next two recruiting classes, I will say the major issue is star power. I’ve been beating that drum for a long time. I know a lot of folks like to get all in-depth about recruiting. But it’s such an inexact science (I call it educated guessing). To me, the success of a class is not in its number of four- or five-stars, but in the number of actual stars. What Florida needs are players who make a big difference from Day 1 like Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes. You could make an easy argument that Meyer’s entire success was based on the recruitment of those three stars in the Class of 2006.

I think Muschamp and Co., get it. Their best chance at star freshmen might not truly arrive until this recruiting cycle (during their first year) is over and the heat is turned up on the Class of 2013. There looks to be tons of star power in that class. But in the meantime, Muschamp and Weis are grabbing all the high-character prospects they can for positions of need — tight end, offensive line, linebacker, running back. They will look to finish off this class with some potential stars in wide receivers like Agholor and Diggs. Marcus Maye could be a big hit at safety. Florida is in good shape to land some incredible prospects for the defensive front seven, an area that is sorely lacking star power.

Meyer was able to pull the No. 1 recruiting class after his first year. Muschamp may not equal that, but it’s important to note that right now he still has a shot. But again, it’s not about the rankings and ratings of scouting services. It’s about star power. And even if Florida’s Class of 2012 is at all short on star power, it has the potential to make up for that with character and players who fit the new coaching staff’s schemes. With a solid foundation in 2012, Florida could very well burst with star power in 2013. That’s a long way off, but in recruiting it’s just around the corner.

Gunner Keil is supposedly opening his recruitment back up, saying he will take some officials to games. Heard Bama was his other finalist so distance isn’t a factor. He’s the one QB I was hoping the staff would go for this year, and in fact has an offer from us. What are the chances we get him on campus? — Watson via blog comments

I have not heard a single mention of Keil having interest in Florida. I’ve heard Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan and Alabama. It’s late in the game for five-star quarterbacks, so his decommitment could have an interesting ripple effect.

OK, we’re done here. I’ve been beating around the bush for weeks, but I’m just going to come right out and say it — I need more questions from you folks! The last couple of weeks I’ve answered just about every good question I’ve gotten.  Help a brother out …

• Post a question in the comments of this or any blog.
• Post in the Recruiting Board on the GSMB
• Follow me —
• Email me —


  1. Jeff,
    Just a broad recruiting question. We seem to be getting pushed around by the physical defenseive lines we have played so far this year, the trifecta, “Bama, LSU, etc. It was not too long ago that we crowed about our strength and conditioning program and how Mickey M. was the greatest. Now, not so much. In fact, I hear murmurs that Mickey M. is off his game and we are not as strong as we once were, or could be now. Or, as I suspect, are we simply soft on O-Line, and if so, have we been out hustled in recruiting O-line men since the Pounceys? Regardless of the answer to the above, are we close to getting some real big, physical, low playing earth-grader type O-line men? Champ says the SEC is a line of scrimage league (Which one is not?) but what is he doing about it, and will we have anything to show for it soon?
    Go Gators!

  2. Well, you’re hearing wrong on about all counts. Many speculative criticisms about Uf’s S&C program and being “pushed around” have their reasonings behind them. 1) Bama’s and LSU’s DL’s didn;t exactly push UF’s OL around, it was mor etheir large, physical, quick LB’s did AFTER, and let me repeat that, A-F-T-E-R John Brantley went down to injury. When he did, every team we face d loaded 8 in the box against our true freshman QB’s and shut down our run-game because without Brantley, we couldn’t force Bama’s, LSU’s, or AU’s defenses to defend the entire field. This is a new OL that is working together this year mostly for the first time, and they;re also using a new playbook and not running a zone blocking scheme like they did in the spread/option system of Meyer’s. They’re young too, and physical development is a matter of patience, especially when it’s OL’s, who take longer to gell than DL’s do. Luckily, we have two LB’s in our new class who project to the 250+ lbs. size of Bama’s LB’s, as well as Stewart already on the roster who projects around the 250 mark too. UF has a lot of size and strength coming in so in a transition year, yes, we got pushed around some, but a lot of our problems stemmed from having only ONE QB in Brantley who could actaually run the offense.

  3. “What Florida needs are players who make a big difference from Day 1 like Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes. You could make an easy argument that Meyer’s entire success was based on the recruitment of those three stars in the Class of 2006.”

    An “easy argument,” huh? You’re crazy. The only validity in that comment is in regards to the impact they had on our recrutiing class. Sure, they helped recruit other players in 2006 and after. But saying Meyer’s entire success was based on those three recruits is extremely shortsighted and does an injustice to all of those players and their contributions.

    In 2006, Meyer’s first NC season, Spikes had 15 tackles and neither Tebow or Harvin were starters.

    Football’s a team sport. The 2005-2009 teams were chock full of NFL talent, from top to bottom. Haden, Hernandez, Cunningham, Dunlap, Wright, the Pounceys, Murphy, Cooper, RayMac, RFN, Moss, Siler, Marcus Thomas. All of these players and more were critical to our success. Come on, man.

  4. Our O-line class this year will most likely be the biggest, most physical and talented O-line in the nation. Jesseman Dunker, DJ Humphries, and possibly Avery Young will absolute dominate any D-Line they face. Nothing wrong with our S&C program. But we do need to recruit better along our front 7. Lorenzo wouldn’t have fit our system anyways. We need two of the following at LB: Noor Davis, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Raphael Kirby, Dante Fowler, Tyriq Mccord, Jordan Jenkins or Keith Brown. We need a DT desperately, really anyone would do at this point. The JUCO prospects we are recruiting aren’t too bad, along with the DE?DT hybrids such as Leonard Williams and Jonathan Bullard. Noah Spence and Darius Hamilton are reaches but would fit the system well. I have a feeling that Muschamp is going to be a great closer once the postseason approaches.

  5. And about Tracy Howard, never count out West Virginia in the recruiting race for a Miramar player. He recently enjoyed a trip up there and his head coach Damon Cogdell, 2012 Heisman contender Geno Smith, Ivan Mccartney, and Stedman Bailey all are Mountaineers. The offensive coordinator at Miramar is also a huge Canes fan and, before the Shapiro mess, I felt Tracy and the other Miramar players was a strong lean for the Canes. Verdict: The Miramar players love the hometown Canes, but with the scandal going on and the continuous decline of the program, will be forced to make “business decisions” for their commitments. Tracy Howard will choose between FSU, West Virginia, and UF (in that order as of now). As the season ends, I expect it to be an FSU vs. UF deal with FSU coming out on top, unless we start recruiting him a little harder. FSU coaches (including Mark Stoops) have been at most of his games, while we have only had Coach T-Rob attend one of his games.

  6. I live in NE Georgia and keep hearing that Brice Ramsey is a Mark Richt committment instead of a UGA committment. By the time this is posted next week we will know the outcome of the Florida Georgia game (not Georgia Florida) and Richt’s job will either be in dire jeoprady or secure. What are our chance’s of flipping Brice and the big Yulee running back committed to UGA?

  7. Hi Jeff,

    Some sports pages have recently noted that Gators have been in effect punished for not over-signing in years past. For example, from 2008-2011 the Gators signed exactly 85 players (equaling the maximum scholarship number) whereas LSU signed 102 and Alabama signed 109 in that same period. Regardless of good intentions, what this means is that combined with natural attrition any school goes through, including LSU and Alabama, the Gators only have 60 players on scholarship whereas LSU has 80 and Alabama 82.

    My question is, given the SEC’s new rule that caps the number of players a school may sign at 25, won’t it make that much harder for Muschamp to get the Gators back to 85, considering we’re already down 25 before the seniors even graduate? Next, does the SEC have exceptions for schools that are so far below the scholarship limit? And, finally, won’t this cap in time strengthen other conferences that don’t have this rule, because SEC-caliber talent may be forced to sign elsewhere?

  8. Jand3K, I have been up there for the Lowndes vs Valdosta high game (which is like a mini superbowl, by the way) and unfortunately you are CORRECT. That high school is strictly a UG and FSU feeder school. It will be one of those two schools for Josh Harvey-Clemons.

  9. Jeff,
    My complaint is about us and Tracy Howard. Scout reported that we sent T-Rob to one of Howard’s games and FSU sent Mark Stoops to numerous games and he even brought Jimbo to a game with him. WHAT KIND OF EFFORT IS THIS? Why doesnt our head coach go see Howard? Plus you just said we may not have room for Howard if we are to sign 25 players. Are you kidding? I fear that we are giving the best cornerback in the country to FSU and it simply doesnt make sense!!!

  10. @Jand3k

    I attended high school at Valdosta High and the reason why FSU and UGA are popular there is because they actually visit. UF does not spend enough time in Valdosta. We spend more time in North Georgia and I think that is just plain stupid.

    @ GatorGeorge

    It is a mini superbowl man!!!!!!

  11. What are the chances that Darius Hamilton, Noah Spence or both are Gators next season? I know Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd are from those areas up north. Maybe they can convince one or both of them to come down south for college.

  12. Since the TENN debacle of multiple pass interference and holding calls, our secondary has been seemingly well behaved. Coach was blasted by many for his vehement exchange with any official within earshot. Two questions: 1) Do you think the officials have eased up on the PI calls(please see “Jordan Reed Mugged at Auburn”) in the SEC? and 2) How much do you think players and recruits are influenced (good or bad) by his actions?

  13. I would like to see smarter blocking during a running play, in other words if the play is run outside we block inside and when the play is an inside play we block to the outside. Let’s get a new attitude and that is let’s play as one unit. I am a true Gator fan living in Northeast Georgia. GO GATORS! Beat those Bulldogs.

  14. @ Gator Todd, with all due respect, I am going to believe my eyes and not your writing, and I see O-Line men getting pushed around. Young? Patchen and Wenger do not sound young to me. True enough, we have seen different combinations and maybe they have not “jelled.” But why would the coaches mix and match? Maybe it is because they are getting pushed around? Just sayin . . . .
    Go Gators!

  15. Di anyone see part of the ewe Miami game tonight? I think Gator fans put more buyys in the seats at Dolphins Stadium Sunday for Gator NC celebration and Tebow’s coming out party then the total that showed up for the ewe game. Place was more than half empty. Looked like they were holding a private event for frineds and family, plus the usual cadre of old can gangbanger mentality alums in the luxury boxes. Those explayers are doubly pissed. They cant win, even at hoome against an ACC team that lost 7 straight home games going in to tonight and they can’t get away with paying players anymore.

    There was almost no one there!

  16. It hurts to watch a team that has so much professional coaching experience being outcoached. Is our offense so complicated that a true freshman cannot succeed at all? Even Brantley wasn’t lighting it up the way we thought he would after benefitting from all that ‘professional coaching experience’. Bottom line is that Weis is past his prime and opposing coaches, pro and college have had him figured out for some time now. Even Patriots coach realized it. This experiment is going terribly wrong. Hit the gym Gators!

  17. I agree Weis appears to be a little washed up and has lost his creativity. He appears to make bad player decisions on who is playing (Reed, no Gillisle) and he failed to have the freshman backups ready to step in for a wounded brantley..No excuse!!

    You are also correct in that Brantley was nothing to write home about in his first 4 easy games and had a very hard time putting us in the endzone. i will be surptrised if john makes it through the half againsty georgia. I will also be surprised if Jacoby does not come in and have a very good game.

  18. Wow.
    Step away from the ledge! Who could have had any freshman QB ready for ‘Bama, LSU, and Auburn? Weis washed up, are you kidding? Guys, they have coached a total of seven games, that is it! All with players they did not recruit, many they would have never recruited, and have not even had a full season with them yet. Calm down! Let’s look at WRs just for a second. The WRs Urban brought in were here to mainly block down field for the “plus one” match up of either Tebow, Harvin, Demps, Rainey, and every now and then, Hernandez taking a pitch, screen, or shovel pass. They would hit a seam, and the WRs were down field blocking. Passing? Tebow would not have known a 3, 5, or 7 step drop if it hit him inthe face. Not his fault, that is not the way you pass out of the spread. Thus, our WRs NEVER ran timing patterns for routes. The number of steps in the QB drop is the key to the timing pattern, our WRs just did not do it.
    So now Coach Wies is running a pro style offense with WRs who just do not know it that well. And have you seen their hands? Come on! I still have better hands than any of these guys! If you appreciate how bad the WR’s hand are, then you know why Jordon Reed gets the deep balls.
    Cutthe coaches a break. Weis is not washed up, the jury is still out on Champ, and Quinn seems to be doing allright. Sheesh!
    Go Gators!

  19. Very well put Rooferman! I love the hires, and totally agree that given time, Weis will have this offense hitting on all cylinders! Looking forward to a big game today. By the way, as others have stated, Brantley was looking pretty darned good against a stout Bama D before he got hurt. In the first four games, the opposition couldn’t stop our running game, so Brantley wasn’t going to put up huge numbers. I do think he made some nice completions on third downs to keep drives moving. Give the guys time to get there system in place with the propert personnel to run it. GO GATORS!!!!

  20. Weis didn’t even leave the press box at halftime yesterday. My buddy was there and said he ate two entire xtra large meat lover pizzas are half-time. You would think that his contract requires him to meet with the team at halftime. I bet Muschamp can not wait to fire his xtra large butt in December. What a waste!

  21. Wow! To those of you giving up on Weis already.. To run the power I you have to have a power back Duh’ and a true blocking tight end and a downfield threat at reciever. We have one maybe playmaking wideout in Debose and thats a maybe and he has durability issues, no true NFL tight end, and two running backs that weigh 190 soaking wet. We just got the top two tight end’s in the country and two running backs that are both coming in at over 200 pounds, and,,, i bet we land at least one big time reciever in Diggs or Aglohr. Give the coaches a chance. You cant run the “I” with spread personel. Come on guys give em a chance!

  22. And no to mention no team will be any good with Brantley under center. He doesnt have any of the intangibles it takes to be a winner. How do you miss your last 13 of 14 passes with the game on the line? Your a loser. Any person on this blog could go out there and complete more than 1 pass in 14 attempts against anyone. And these are not impossible throws, a simple slant to Rainey? Weis could make that throw. Let’s hope that “Driskett” or w.e was pans out b/c we need em.

  23. Jeff, love the articles great job. We are in need of some playmakers on both sides of the ball. How interested and what do you think the chances are in getting players like DT Ellis McCarthy, JHC, Kwon Alexander, Diggs and Aghlor, Tracy Howard, Jonathan Bullard, and who i think we need more than anyone Noah Spence who looks to be the best pass rushing end in this class..?

  24. I agree with you Gabe that you cant run the I with spread personell but give Brantley a break. He played good given the circumstance and two slants he threw to Rainey went right through his hands both couldve easily been touchdowns if he wouldve caught them. Its time to move past the Rainey, Demps tandem and give Gillislee and Brown a chance. Demps and Rainey are great special teams players and thats about it.

  25. @ Kendall, yes they were right through his hands but Brantley never puts any touch on the ball. You don’t throw the ball as hard as u can to a running back on a slant route. Brantley doesn’t have a running game to take the pressure off him but he really isnt even a “good” quarterback. Mclroy was a “good” QB, you just have top be able to make the easy throws and through 2 and half seasons it’s obvious he cannot do it in the SEC.