Zach’s Mail Stack 1/17


Florida’s big recruiting weekend was tainted Thursday with Dan Quinn’s departure to the NFL.

The former UF defensive coordinator will still be in Gainesville when the Gators welcome three of their top targets and a total of 10 verbal commitments. With Quinn on campus to give recruits some closure and linebackers coach D.J. Durkin already hired as his replacement, Florida is able to avoid the instability and uncertainty that usually comes with a coaching change.

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Almost every question I received this week was about Quinn in some form or fashion, so I’ll provide as much insight as I can in this blog.

How does the loss of Coach Quinn affect recruiting?Darrius, Brian, Herb, Joe, Kaleb, Ken, Marcus, Mike, Tony

First of all, it looks like UF coach Will Muschamp won’t lose any members of his 2013 class as a result.

Most recruits gravitated toward Quinn’s abilities on the sidelines, not the recruiting trail. He was definitely a personable coach and could build relationships, but his NFL background attracted prospects more than anything. Fortunately for Florida, it can still offer that with defensive line coach and future Hall of Famer Bryant Young.

Not to take anything away from Quinn and the phenomenal job he did at UF, but this has been and always will be Muschamp’s defense. He may not call the plays, but all of them go through his headset and his imprint is evident all over the field. Recruits recognize that and want to play in his system.

The most likely commits to waver because of Quinn leaving were defensive tackle Caleb Brantley and defensive lineman Antonio Riles, but both spoke with The Sun on Thursday and said they are still solid with the Gators.

Brantley: “That’s a big loss but I think we’ll be OK. I’m not going anywhere. Coach Young is my primary recruiter and will be my position coach, so he’s really the coach that matters the most to me.”

Riles: “It really hit me. But it’s going to be a better deal for coach Quinn and his family, so you have to understand where they’re coming from and learn to live with it. Coach Young is going to be my position coach when I slide inside (to defensive tackle) and he told me they’re still going to run the same scheme. So I have nothing to worry about.”

The last defensive lineman commit who is not enrolled early is Jordan Sherit, and he weighed in on Twitter along with others.

DE Jordan Sherit: “It’s still Muschamp’s defense. I wish Coach Quinn nothing but the best, one of the realest coaches I’ve ever met. … All this means is that in 4 years I’m trying to head to Seattle!!”

DB Nick Washington: “Congrats to Coach Quinn and his new job, wish I could have played for him. I’m still a solid commit to the Gators though.”

DB Keanu Neal: “I wish Coach Quinn the best. A pretty big loss, but life goes on. We’ll be fine.”

CB Vernon Hargreaves III: “Coach Quinn is a Gator at heart! Always.”

LB Alex Anzalone: “Sad to see a great coach and man leave in Coach Quinn, but he had to do what was best for him. Go Gators.”

LB Matt Rolin: “Sad to see not only a great coach but a great person leave. Wish Coach Quinn the best of luck with the Seahawks!”

DT Darious Cummings: “(Durkin) is a great coach.”

The only recruit who seems affected by Quinn is 2014 defensive tackle commit Travonte Valentine.

“It’s tough,” he said. “Coach Quinn definitely had a big impact on my recruitment. I wouldn’t say it hurts Florida’s chances, but it definitely hurts me that he’s gone. I’m going to need some time to think things over.”

Quinn shouldn’t have a negative impact on Florida’s 2013 defensive tackle targets because they are primarily recruited by Young, who works exclusively with the interior linemen. I could see this hurting the Gators at defensive end, but Auburn commit Tashawn Bower might be the only realistic option left. Both USC commit Jason Hatcher and Mississippi State commit Chris Jones said prior to the Quinn news that they will no longer visit UF, and Elijah Daniel has reportedly ran into academics issue again (more later).

As for Durkin, I think it’s a great move by Florida. He deserves the opportunity and is one of the best recruiters on the staff. In fact, he was the National Recruiter of the Year for the 2012 class.

Do we have any shot with Robert Nkemdiche? — Uncle Willie, Marcus, Matthew

The slim chance Florida had is now like Quinn — gone. I know Muschamp is the lead recruiter and filled the defensive coordinator opening fast with Durkin, but Quinn was close with Nkemdiche and would have been his position coach.

Regardless, Nkemdiche is a long shot for UF because of his heavy ties to Ole Miss. As most of you know, his brother plays for the Rebels and their mother wants them to attend the same school. Here’s a great Q&A with her and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Nkemdiche’s recruitment, although that interview was before Florida became a factor (or at least a visit destination) for him.

What’s the latest on Elijah Daniel? — Tamayo, Matthew

The Avon (Ind.) defensive end has always had grades concerns and it kept him from taking an official to UF in the fall. However, in early January he told several media members, including yours truly, that his academics had improved. He maintained that position with me up until last week.

But reports have since surfaced that suggest Daniel’s latest semester didn’t go so well and his Feb. 1 visit is unlikely. If he doesn’t make that trip, he won’t be in Florida’s class. Daniel has not responded to my calls or texts this week, which leads me to believe he has come up short in the classroom.

If things remain that way, look for the Gators to make Bower their top priority moving forward.

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



  1. Dang shame about Daniel. Always liked him. Quin should have waited at least till after NSD to give the next guy a fresh start. Really thought he would stay. Good Luck to him. Hope Valentine realizes that our needs and training is not going to change with the loss of one man. We still need him and our core is the same.

  2. It shows real character and commitment from these young men that are still GATORS. These are exactly the types of players and persons that we want attending Florida and representing the school. With good hearts and stern wills our team will be very difficult to beat! GO GATORS!

  3. You maybe right fanan but just the same would have waited. 17yr olds make rash judgements off one man most times. If they just come they will still be taken care of and respected. Playing time will still be earned the same way. Out work the man in front of you. Scheams shouldn’t a big concern when the core is stable.

  4. Will we ever go a couple seasons without losing a coach, a coordinator at that? Our coaching turnover rate is about as bad as our transfer rate. Wish Coach Quinn the best, but I had a great feeling about all of our coaches been committed to UF and bringing a National Title back to Gainesville. UF is the coaching tree that everyone picks from it seems. However, I am happy for Durkin and I was worried about him possibly leaving this offseason or next. Muschamp will keep things going I just hope we aren’t sitting here a year from now writing about another coach leaving. Maybe we can do whatever Bama is doing for Kirby Smart because I honestly do not see how he is still there. Is he waiting for Saban to leave? Or for Mark Richt to have another bad year and get canned? I do not see why more schools are making runs at him for head coaching jobs or NFL teams for DC jobs. Something is a little off there.

  5. We would be naive to think that NONE of these kids will change their minds between now and signing day. Like anyone else they need time to digest this whole situation. Hence the art of recruiting. I am confident Muschamp & Co are trying to re-recruit our current commitments and keep working the other kids out there that are undecided or wavering on their current commitment to another school.

    Go (current and future) Gators!

  6. GaGator02, There are a lot of things that Bama gets away with that UF never does because we never will. I/E, Dunker had paid for that stolen scooter in Bama you would have seen bama police say, “hay boy great game go get anoder tidel.”

  7. Coaches leaving for higher positions is to be expected in a system that is working. I would be more worried if no one was pursuing our staff. These kids need to look at the system, not place all their eggs in the basket of one single personality. That being said I think we should hire D Walkers man-friend as DE coach. And Musburger told me Saban has pictures of Smart on a motorcycle with AJ McCarrons girlfriend.

  8. Zach, while losing Quinn is disappointing for Florida, we probably have significantly less coaching staff turnover than most if not all SEC coaching staffs this year. Could you do a coaching staff turnover report for each SEC team sometime for us–a lot of work I know, but that’s why you get the big bucks and are the best at your craft!

  9. Zach, things look good at the moment with our committed recruits to remain Gators. With Ramsey visting USC this weekend, Bostwick and Collins at Miami, Clark at Clemson, and Adams at Bama do we have a legit shot at any of these players? Knemdiche is Ole Miss bound. Champ is great at recruiting but getting Knemdiche would take a blessing from above. Family ties send him to Mississippi. Shame about Daniel. I think he wanted to be a Gator!

  10. GaGator02-I’m with you dude…I can’t see how UF always seems to lose 2/3 coaches every cpl of yrs while other teams hardly have any turnover…seems to me that Smart & Chavis at Bama & lsu respectively would have been long gone but they’re still there…I was certain this would hurt recruiting but it hasn’t & it was good to hear the recruits sticking with their original pledge…I was nervous however that Nkemdiche was gonna cancel his vosit but seems that he’s still coming…I hope that Coach Boom can sway him to flip to UF as his defense is still the best in the conference & he can only add to the chaos that they create for other teams…lsu fans are excited about him coming to BR for a visit & possibly to come here…NOT!!! Dude is NOT coming to lsu & I really think UF has a legit chance with the style of play on defense…Go Gators!!

  11. If we have another good year next year, we can probably expect to lose Pease and Young. Frankly, if it was me, I would stay in college but I understand coaches wanting to prove themselves in the pros. Sucks for us.
    We are going to lose some kids no matter what. That is the nature of recruiting. Everyone will look at Quinn leaving as the reaosn but it would happen even if he stayed. Happens to every team.

  12. As Muschamp said, Coach Quinn had never called defensive plays as a DC before he got here, and did quite well as we know.
    Coach Durkin is bright and energetic and a good teacher and will have Muschamp to lean on during games. Durkin is also our best recruiter.

  13. As far as recruiting, I don’t think we will have a problem, all we have to do is show the recruits how many NFL players are from the SEC and even more, were Gators. The one problem is the recruiting competition we have with Georgia and Alabama being so close. I do believe we need to win the recruits that Georgia is getting out of the state of Florida. The bulldogs are coming into our backyard and getting top recruits. This needs to stop. Or we need to start searching out top recruits in the states of Georgia and Alanama and beyond. The weather alone should help entice kids from up north.

  14. @ East ATL Gator
    I wouldn’t count on Pease jumping ship so quick. He’s made it quite clear that he’s found out that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and he’d rather stay where he’s happy and wait for the right opportunity. He’s said that he’s really happy at Florida and really likes who he works with, so I don’t think he’ll leave unless he gets just the right offer. Then again I thought Meyer was true to his word that UF was his dream job and he’d never go anywhere or do anything to hurt UF, and look what happened there. However, everyone is not lying pieces of crap like Meyer, so I doubt Pease is lying to us.

  15. Coach Richt is trying to flip Antonio “Tee” Riles this weekend at UGA according to a big article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this morning. Apparently, during “Tee’s” recruitment by UGA some of his phone calls were not returned and he committed to the Gators. Of course, UGA’s DC Grantham is under consideration for the Eagles DC. Go Gators Always!

  16. Zach,

    More of a comment than a question for the mailbag. Do not be surprised if Alex Collins ends up at Arkansas. He has been a lean towards Wisconsin for months and now that Bielema is the head coach at Arky it is likely he follows him there. His HS coach is close with Bielema.

    Just in case anyone cares….

  17. This is who I would like to see fill the last 6 spots:

    1. DE: Nkemdiche/Daniel/Bostwick
    2. DT: Adams/Reed
    3. CB: Alexander/Ramsey
    4. WR: Clark
    5. OL
    6. RB: Collins

    Most seem unlikely at the moment for many different reasons, but this would be a nice way to close the class.

  18. We all can feel sorry for Daniels BUT he held his future in his own hands for quite some time now, this was not an overnight thing. I TRUELY hope some of the high school sop, and juniors look at what is happening to Daniels right now and realize that all the talent in the world does not TRIMP the education. They are called STUDENT AThletes, The word STUDENT is first. That means the academics come FIRST. NO GRADES , NO GAME.. I also hope some parents see this also, EDUCATION FIRST!!! Go GATORS!!!!

  19. Can we just have Hearns hit the road so we can free up the scholarship. He is always 80-90% committed but taking trips. It seems he is just trying to hold a spot in case he decides UF is the best place for him. Is he really that good of a player that we would want to play that game instead of getting a better player this year or holding the scholarship for an uber recruit next year? It seems that the rest of the class is made up of kids that really want to be here. Before you flame, I know they are just kids and are all over the place.

  20. Quinn is a great DL coach, and ran the system well last year, but it exactly that, a system. Durkin is as good a coach as we have, and our best recruiter… We will be fine, as long as we can get a DL/DE coach as good or better than Quinn, and looks like we just might have… Our D will continue to be the same as long as Muschamp is our HC. If Pease is allowed the flexibility to call his game in year 2 on offense, we should be much improved and play much “faster” on that side of the ball…

  21. If DL is out top remaining priority, than DB is a close 2nd. It is the only area where we really struggled on defense last year, except safety, of course. The same kids were pretty consistently burned regularly, and still saw a lot of playing time… This leads one to surmise that depth and youth is a huge issue w/ the DB’s, specifically the corners… It may be the key to our defensive improvement…

  22. Zack, Even though I know he’s lieing I can’t help but get excited when i hear Robert Nkemdiche saying all schools are even , and that he likely won’t visit LSU. What’s your percentage on us landing him?