Zach’s Mail Stack 8/8


With National Signing Day six months away, it’s time to open up the mailbox once again and answer your questions on Florida football recruiting.

I hope you all enjoyed my coverage this summer of Will Muschamp’s football camp, Friday Night Lights and Gridiron Kings, among other things. It was a very eventful time and there was a lot of news to bring to the Gator Prospectus.

Now that football season has arrived and Florida’s 2013 class is nearly full, there won’t be as much content on here as the past two months, which had a couple weeks where I wrote a blog everyday. I still plan to give you guys at least two blogs a week in addition to this one, but Zach’s Mail Stack should serve as one of your main sources of information from now until February.

If you haven’t already, another thing I strongly suggest you do is follow me on twitter (link HERE). I tweet about UF recruiting on a daily basis and stay up-to-date with any news taking place.

On to the questions!

What players are still being pursued? Along with an alternate selection. What is your gut feel on those players?Gators79

First of all, the Gators can’t add more many prospects as they are already three spots over their scholarship openings for 2013.

Florida currently has 79 scholarship players, six under the NCAA maximum limit of 85. With 13 seniors on the roster, UF only has room for 19 signees right now. But the Gators are expecting to have one-two transfers and lose three-four juniors to the NFL, which would allow them to sign around 24 recruits.

That looks to be the target number for Muschamp, who is heavily pursuing defensive end DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville/Sandalwood) and safety Marcell Harris (Orlando/Dr. Phillips). There are obviously others on the board, but these two are the top targets overall with mutual interest. The ESPN150 members are believed to be favoring Florida and have visited Gainesville numerous times.

Walker, who is scheduled to make an Aug. 24 announcement on ESPNU, has UF in his Top 5 along with Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Tennessee. But his decision will be between the Gators and the Tide. It’s also a two-team race for Harris as Florida and Texas are his front-runners (privately). He’s been to UF more than any other school and will make his third trip to Texas on Sept. 1 for an official visit.

Should Florida miss on Harris and Walker, which I don’t think they will, there isn’t really an alternative selection at those positions. Georgia safety commit Tray Matthews (Newnan, Ga./Newnan) plans on taking an official visit to Florida this season, but the Gators aren’t expected to flip him on the trip. Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) isn’t a realistic option either. He no longer has interest in UF because the coaches basically stopped recruiting him once Nick Washington (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian) committed and they ran out of room. Greg Gilmore (Hope Mills, N.C./South View) is the only viable recruit left for Florida at strongside defensive end, but he’s all-LSU.

Where do we stand with some of the guys listed at the bottom of your Aubrey Hill blog?Charles and others

This answer addresses many of the prospects you all asked about individually:

Sources have said it’s only matter of time before receiver commit Rodney Adams (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood) gets dropped by UF for his low grades. The coaches could have already replaced Adams with Gainesville WR Chris Thompson and may not take a fourth player at the position. But if they do, Marquez North (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek) and Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete Monee) would be at the top of the board.

Both prospects were supposed to visit Florida in July and didn’t make it in, but they still plan to take an official visit sometime in the fall. However, whether they show or not, it’s very unlikely they join this class.

Alvin Bailey (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) is the replacement that Gator fans want the most. The problem is he has yet to be offered and doesn’t have Florida in his Top 8. Furthermore, Bailey had two chances to camp at UF and refused to come because he felt he didn’t have to prove himself to the coaches. With that kind of attitude and interest level, it appears this ship has sailed. By the way, I’m told the rumors that Muschamp and the Armwood coaching staff have beef over this is not true.

Stacy Coley (Oakland Park, Fla./Northeast) is another receiver who was a fan favorite early on, but he’s been off Florida’s radar since the spring. The Gators offered him and led at the beginning of the year, but his academics and other off-the-field issues caused the coaches to cool on him. They won’t warm up again unless he shows drastic improvement in his areas of concern.

Levonte Whitfield (Orlando, Fla./Jones) and Taj Williams (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) are two more receivers that could be options for the Gators. However, they are not being actively recruited and don’t have committable offers. That could always change down the road, but I doubt it. I think UF is done at the position because of the limited spots left.

Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) is obviously the No. 1 priority in this group, but the Gators are currently No. 3 for his services behind Georgia and Alabama. The Bulldogs, although he won’t say it publicly, have the edge right now and would receive his signature if today were NSD. Despite living a half hour away from Gainesville and growing up a Gator fan, Tunsil quite frankly just doesn’t want to go to Florida. He’s very concerned (again, he won’t say it publicly) about having to compete with D.J. Humphries at left tackle and doesn’t want to play on the right side of the line. Tunsil says Muschamp & Co. are recruiting him harder than any other school, but there’s no thrill-factor for him when he visits UF and it’s hard for the coaches to make a strong impression. This one is still far from over even though things aren’t so promising at the moment. Muschamp will fight for this kid until the end.

Kenny Lacy (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe) is the next target at tackle and has been in constant contact with offensive line coach Tim Davis over the last couple weeks. Lacy has already set up official visits to UCLA, Arkansas, Nebraska, Cal and Oklahoma, but if Florida offers as expected, he will cancel one of those trips and head to Gainesville instead. Like Tunsil, Lacey is planning to announce around NSD, so by then the coaches should know where they stand with both prospects. The situation with offensive tackle commit Rod Johnson will be clear by this time, too.

The Gators are one of three finalists for Joe Fennell (Fort Myers, Fla./South Fort Myers), but they are third place in the race. Fennell wants to play on the defensive side of the ball and Nebraska and South Carolina are recruiting him as a defensive tackle. Florida, on the other hand, wants him as an offensive lineman. Fennell attended Friday Night Lights and will return for another visit, but his desire to play defense could be the deciding factor. Maybe UF can convince him otherwise.

The other linemen I listed — Ander Bodkin (Marianna, Fla./Marianna), Tyrone Crowder (Rockingham, N.C./Richmond County) and DeVondre Seymour (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) — all list Florida among their favorites, but they aren’t in the coaches’ plans at this point.

Is there a possibility of a 2013 version of Fowler? A recruit that surprises and flips at some point?Brett and James

There is, but I’ve been asked by this player to not release his name, position or future plans (yes, he is scheduled to visit Florida). The only clue I will give is that he’s committed to the same school Dante Fowler once was. Whenever I can give more information, you guys will be the first to know.

Who is our most underrated commit?James

I have to go with Dade City Pasco defensive lineman Joey Ivie. I love his tape, which you can watch HERE. He plays with a high motor and is very explosive at the snap. I think he can become a productive player for Florida once the coaches find a home for him at tackle or end and get his weight and strength where it needs to be.

That’s all for this week! Be sure to put your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below!


  1. I respect your keeping that kids privacy, and I will not put a Denton I mean dent in your honor by guessing. Does Ivey remind you of Justin Trattou? Although Trattou was higher thought of out of college.

  2. Zach, Are the coaches looking to add another OL or to replace a current OL commit? Also, are we only going to have three WRs in the 2013 class or are the coaches looking to add another WR? If so, in your opinion, who will it be? Plus, do you really think that the FSU commit will flip to the Gators (does a current commit have to decommit for this to happen?)? Thx.

    • Robert,
      The coaches are hoping to add a second tackle in addition to Rod Johnson, but if they lose him then they must at least get a replacement. I think they will stick with Fulwood, Hawkins and Thompson at receiver unless they are able to add Coley, North or Treadwell (which I doubt). And to your last question, I’m not predicting that the FSU commit will definitely flip to UF but I know he wants to, and yes one of Florida’s current commits may have to leave for it to happen.

  3. Zach,
    Great article. Keep the info coming. Just curious though. What happened with Florida and Derrick Henry. I remember reading articles a few months back about him hanging out at a lot of our practices. Now all I here is him being a tide lean. Don’t get me wrong I’m perfectly happy with the rb’s we have and I know they will be beasts but just curious if he would still be an option pending we bad room for him. Thanks again. Go Gators!!!!!!!

  4. Just guessing. Levenberry, Jones, Stevens, and Denson are the only dudes our coachs would have talked to so i would assume one of them. Not that important but nice thought. Zach, are we going to see the coaches consider going after the former PSU commit at OT? He is the top 50 number 2 OT by rivals.

  5. zack-i see where tunsil does not have fla. in his top 5.there is a lot of fla. boys waiting for a muschamp is building a power on defense and the offense will catch up.we will be back on top shortly.go gators.

  6. The coach at Columbia is Brian Allen former Nole and Carolina Panther. The staff at Columbia is a mix of all Columbia graduates ranging from UF, Miami,FSU, and South Florida. The AD is a gator and the biggest booster is a gator.They do not steer a player to a particular college, however they do steer them to college.

  7. I live in madison and ran into ira denson the other night at the mcdonalds. when his big ass walked in i knew who he was right away. I was decked out in florida gear, so he turns to me and says “go gators”… so i said ” i thought you were commited to fsu and i seen you beating up calab brantley at the opening?!?” he srugged his sholders and said” we we will see on signing day” and he added ” brantley is a beast, that was a bad day for him”

  8. I guess the transfer of Story changes things a bit, hmmm? North, Treadwell anyone? Hoping for a change of heart on Bailey. That kid is special. Not to forget….. isn’t that kid from Pennsylvania (Robert Foster) is on our radar? How close are we to him, Zach? McRoy now Story….. what is the deal where we can’t hang on to WRs??? Haven’t they seen Harvin, Nelson and Murphy (for a little his rookie season) flourish? We have a good history w/WR’s. What’s the holdup? Sounds like some signing day under the radar Andrades surprise coming up…..

  9. (1) The Gators do indeed have a good history at the WR position. The ‘present’ has been a problem. REASONS: a) Player evaluation and b) instability at the WR coaching position. Remember, for many kids recruiting starts about 2-3 years before LOI day. The transfer of Story is not significant; he simply is not good enough, (2) The class should be a good one but, for some reason, will come up a little short in OL. It looks like for the second years running the best OL in Florida will end up in Athens. (3) One more class after this one should set the stage for a valid evaluation of where the program starts against the conference elite.

  10. I would like think the WM is in the process of addressing this situation. Namely, UF needs a replacement for the departed Hill. And, no, a graduate assistant is not a ‘real’ assistant coach. The situation as it now exists is the very essence of ‘instability at the WR coaching position’. If you want to improve the quality of recruits at the position name a good WR coach to the job. And, of course, I acknowldege that I am a ‘troll’, a ‘loser’, a ‘nole’, a ‘dog’, etc—–etc.

  11. EMK….

    I think all the GOOD WR coaches are currently working under contract, mostly one year contracts, at other universities and in the NFL. Muschamp will most likely have to wait until after the season to go get a GOOD WR coach. Sounds like the best strategy to me.

  12. Zach,

    With the decommitment of Tre Bell from UF, do we have a chance to get Mackensie Alexander? With him alongside VHIII, we would have the top two CB’s in the country which would be a real program changer. Also, even though I am relatively new to the recruiting scene, it seemed like I never really heard about a bunch of our recruits having academic issues or refusing to go to workouts in previous classes. Is this a new thing? And with Ja’Juan Story’s transfer, how many scholarships do we have right now?

  13. The NCAA needs to bring major changes to the recruiting scene. Once upon a time serious recruiting started in late November-early December with NSD in February. Now, schools must offer scholarships to some guys in 10th-11th grades; kids who are basically unknown to the coaches (if school ‘A’ offers then school ‘B’ better do so). Recruiting ‘stars’ are given to guys who have not even played their senior season in HS. Grades, character, HS injuries: just offer now and think about the other stuff later. These ‘camps’ are nothing more than a place where guys 15-18 audition for college programs. A ‘commit’ is nothing more than a ‘current preference’. Crazy but all legal.

  14. Zach,
    You seem pretty confident in Harris and Walker, but what exactly have you gathered from the two that makes them seem Florida bound? Harris seems very intrigued with Texas and many believe Walker will roll with the tide. Also, does the de-commitment of Rod Johnson help with Tunsil at all? If he is concerned with competing with D.J. then it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that UGA is so enticing to him after they landed the stud OT from Jax last year. However, recruiting is recruiting. There’s always the wacky situations that never make sense.

  15. So-called ‘decommitments’ are not necessarily bad. But when youhave: (a) a position of need, say OL and (b) no good prospects are left on the board that is not a good thing. And, be assured Tunsil is going to Georgia or Bama. Lacy is a West Coast guy. In the OL department, its 3:00 AM and last call has been made. To repeat: This year UF will come up short in OL and WR and will need another year to have talent to compete with Bama, UG, USC and Auburn, the conference elites.

  16. I agree that they are not necessarily bad in the most recent cases because these guys were academic liabilities (high risk). It is my belief that WM had a talk with these guys letting them know that they would be better off moving on now rather than later for both parties. I believe the situation that happened earlier this summer (about three weeks ago) caused him and his staff to look at the potential academic casualties and make some adjustments. THIS IS JUST MY OPINION, but it seems a bit strange that all of the academic risk are falling out so quickly after such an incident earlier this summer. Again, if my theory is correct or somewhat correct, this is another CLASS act by WM in allowing the (rejected) to leave on what is considered their own terms. If true, again I applaud MR. WM for having integrity. GO GATORS!!!! Again, JUST MY OPINION!

  17. Creek Gator: I agree with your comments. I think a significant part of the problem is the crazy recruiting time table that has developed. It seems that schools are forced by the competition to make offers first and then try to evaluate all aspects of the kid later in the process. In August-September the school learns (perhaps) for the first time that there may be problems with the kid to whom a scholarship has been offered. This recruiting system is something all HC are having to adjust to. I think it needs to be ‘fixed’ to give coaches a chance to evaluate before making an offer. How that can be done? I’m not sure.

  18. Zach….. on the next Mail Stack….. what’s the real word behind the decommits and who are we going at to replace Johnson and Bell or are we at all? Can you give us a general Top 10 board of who the staff wants most @ this point in the recruiting process?

  19. Here’s the ‘real word’ (see: Zach’s article above under Offensive Line) For Johnson: Tunsil or Lacy or (possibily) Fennel. UF will get none of the three and will ‘pass’ on a ‘warm body’ for the position. For Bell: UF is currently in ‘good shape’ at the corners and will not feel any pressure to ‘replace’ Bell in the current class. Unfortunately, OL is a potential weakness in this class. The lack of production at WR for the past couple of years speaks for itself.