Zach’s Mail Stack 9/19

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Who’s ready for some SEC football?!

Sure there’s been games going on since Week 1, but Florida final starts its conference schedule this Saturday versus the Vols.

As anticipated, a who’s who list of recruits will be on hand for the rivalry game. With no other marquee matchups in Gainesville until the regular season finale against Florida State, this weekend is a big one for the Gators.

Check out my preview story on GatorSports.com later tonight.

On to the questions!

Will Florida land another running back in this class? — Connor, Tamayo

Looking at the limited scholarship numbers for 2014, Florida might have trouble signing a second tailback. However, it appears the UF coaches are trying to make it happen.

Two running backs are planning to attend the Tennessee game — five-star Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) and Alabama commit Bo Scarbrough (Bradenton IMG Academy). Mixon is scheduled to be in town on an official visit, but there are reports his trip may be pushed back to the weekend of the Florida State game (UPDATE: Mixon’s trip has been postponed).

Despite already being pledged to a school, the Gators have a better shot with Scarbrough than they do Mixon, who most feel will stay on the West Coast for college.

Florida tight end commit C’yontai Lewis is Scarbrough’s cousin and close friend. The two were teammates at Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Northridge before transferring to separate schools this past summer. They visited UF together in June and will both return Saturday.

Scarbrough’s move to Bradenton has also taken him away from the pressure of attending the hometown school and made it easier to visit Gainesville, and vice versa. UF running backs coach Brian White was at his game Friday.

Florida’s top priority is keeping Dalvin Cook in the fold. But if Scarbrough makes multiple trips this fall and the Gators can make room for him, there’s definitely a chance he flips.

With De’Shawn Hand switching his visit dates, is that good or bad for the Gators? — Mark

Due to his SAT exam Oct. 5, the nation’s No. 1 defensive end out of Woodbridge (Va.) Senior was forced to reschedule the last two official visits he had planned. He will now take his trip to Alabama on Oct. 26 against Tennessee instead of its Nov. 9 showdown with LSU, and he will visit Florida on Nov. 9 for its homecoming game with Vanderbilt rather than Oct. 5 against Arkansas.

This is good news and bad news for UF. The good news is Hand was willing to miss Alabama’s biggest home game just to see Florida, and now the Gators get his final visit. The bad news? That trip comes just five days before Nov. 14 decision, and he won’t have a lot of time to process what he experiences in Gainesville. Hand basically has to fall in love with the place. With Michigan being his presumed leader for so long, can a last-minute visit to Florida change his mind? That’s the million-dollar question.

Cory Thomas has good size at 6’6, 270. What’s are chance to pull him out of Alabama? — Tom

His Top 5 in order is Mississippi State, Tennessee, Florida, Clemson and Florida State, so pulling him out of Alabama won’t be an issue. The Gators are third on his leaderboard, and Hand is the top priority at the strongside defensive end position.

However, Thomas will attend UF’s game against the Vols and then return for an official visit on Nov. 30 (FSU). So the Gators have a chance to make up ground this weekend, and they will also know Hand’s destination before Thomas takes his official.

His recruitment will be one to watch moving forward, but some factors need to change if Florida is to become a serious contender.

What do you think the odds of Florida landing Adoree’ Jackson are? Many recruiting sites show USC in the lead but recruits seem to be put off by them at the moment. — Jake, Christopher, Tamayo

Florida’s odds are outstanding, and I think the Gators currently lead for the two-sport athlete from Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra. As I reported after Friday Night Lights, UF track coach Mike Holloway is a major player in Jackson’s recruitment and has already given the five-star prospect personal workouts. Holloway is the only track coach Jackson speaks with — or at least he was for a while — and he appears to be closest with the football coaches at Florida.

The success of both sports at UF coupled with Southern Cal’s disastrous start to the season only bodes well for the Gators. The Trojans are believed to be the biggest threat, but Jackson could be cooling on them with Lane Kiffin on the hot seat. Jackson is also originally from Illinois, so the prospect of staying in Cali probably isn’t a big factor for him.

Do you think Jeff Driskel’s lack of development into a star QB has any impact on recruits? If so any specifically in this year’s class?  — Ky Gator

The only recruits it might impact are quarterbacks. Some might feel like Florida is unable to develop their skills. However, I can tell you those concerns aren’t there for QB commit Will Grier. He and his father/high school head coach, Chad, have all the confidence in offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

Prospects at other positions just don’t really care about the juniors and seniors on Florida’s current team. Those won’t be the guys they play with for the next four years, and that’s who they’re worried about. Grier and his potential — not Driskel and his struggles — played a huge factor in landing receiver Ermon Lane.

Does Florida only recruit players from the large high schools or will they take a look at players from small schools? Wondering how the UF coaches determine if a player at a small high school (or lower class) can compete at UF. — Mason 

They recruit both, and Grier is a perfect example. His high school, Davidson (N.C.) Day, faces terrible competition. Florida freshman running back Kelvin Taylor played against Class 1A, 1B and 2A teams at Glades Day.

That’s why UF has these kids come to camp so they can see what their talent level is and how they respond to coaching. If the staff determines a quarterback or skill player has what they’re looking for, that matters more than their competition level in high school.

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

32 COMMENTS

  1. Speaking of recruiting small schools…how are the relationships between UF’s staff and Travis Rudolph developing? Is he still considered the #1 remaining WR prospect? I can’t recall the last Crusader to hang up blue and gold for orange and blue. Is his recruitment still between the Tigers, ‘Canes and Gators?

  2. Zach I hear WR Deon Cain (Tampa Bay Tech) will be attending but still hasn’t been offered. Do you know of any qualifying issues with him or any other reason why we would not extend (at least_ a conditional offer? He got off at FNL and showed he is a playmaker and his film looks like James Clark of last year’s recruiting cycle. He could be a sleeper. Thanks! Go Gators!

  3. To add to the last question, CB commit Duke Dawson is from a small school. Dixie County is about 45 minutes from where I used to live and is a rival to my old high school, Trenton. Trust me teams out there aren’t the big schools. Not at all.

  4. If Murphy performs well the rest of the season can you see a scenario where Jeff leaves for the Red Sox and opens up another scholarship? Reason I ask is because Driskel has no pocket awareness and I can not see a future for him in football. If this happens is there anyone out there we are not hearing about that could sneak into our class, maybe another late flip by Muschamp?

  5. I hate for anyone to be injured but the blessing behind it is our team and coaches are being forced to grow now. “He (Muschamp) just doesn’t see me but if I ever get the chance, he will know who I am.” – Tyler Murphy. Divine Intervention? Had we used JD the way we played Murph, we easily blowout UM and we ’d be a much better team already! Go Gators!

  6. “Muschamp not surprised with Murphy’s performance”…oh and don’t think Murph has always been this good; according to Muschamp he only just took a step forward while Jeff was out with the appendix – the only other time we were forced to give him the time of day, how ironic! Muschamp, C’mon Man! Go Gators!

  7. TigerCatZeroZero, I wish you would stop reading my mind. I never wish for a kid to get HURT, but I’m always happy to see someone else get an opportunity like this. Most people know I’m not a big JD fan but you never want to see a kid get HURT. In this case I’m really glad for Tyler Murphy and the Gator Nation. YES, he will have some problems also BUT it appears that Tyler is more decisive and quicker to make that decision,effective pass or run, or throw the ball away. Get to work Tyler! GO GATORS!!!!

  8. Zach,

    Driskel should be eligible for a redshirt, I believe…So, he would have 2 more years of eligibility, instead of just one…Would that have any impact on Will Griers’ decision to attend Florida?…It would seem like the original plan was for him to redshirt, while Driskel played his last year….That scenario, of course, has changed…..

  9. I think Will Greer will come in a compete for a starting job even if Driskel is a Jr or a Sr. Before the season is over, Murphy will be clearly the better QB between him and Driskel. Driskel just does not have that “it” that successful college QBs have….and you have to be blind to not see that in my opinion….and many in the national media as well. Holtz clearly stated such after the injury and watching Murphy play.

  10. Mason….

    re-check the commitment list. I believe the best WR in the state committed to the Gators…….5-star, Lane.

    But when will Fulwood and Robinson make contributions receiving? Did we recruit Robinson only for his blocking skills?

    And how long will the coaching staff go with a TE (Burton) that has little or no receiving skills?

  11. Zack….

    Did the empty seats on Saturday have any impact on the recruits? That upper level in the eastern portion of the stadium was very void of fans. It has been all year. What is up with that? If those people are not going to the games….can we get them to donate their tickets to local kids and their parents who would love to go to the games.

    By the way….I believe Marcus Robinson did make the block that set Patton off on his long TD catch. But I would love to see Marcus running patterns down the field more….and Fulwood. They are big WRs that the Gators need, in my opinion. Not sure why they do not play more.

  12. Finebaum on ESPN’s CFB Daily:
    “The Florida program is headed in the wrong direction.”

    Dari on ESPN’s CFB Daily:
    “Florida’s offense is setting college football offenses back 100 years.”

    1. All the other SEC schools should demand equal time when Finebaum is on ESPN promoting everything Bama.”

    2. Obviously, Dari did not watch anything but the first quarter of the Vols game.

  13. @Tampa Gator – that is the student section. Seems as the admission standards for UF get tougher that section gets more sparse – LOL! I agree with you, at least give some local kids a chance to see the games. I’d like to see little leaguers with their own jersey on up there – that’d be cool and encourage fandom with the young-uns.

  14. Tampa Gator, I don’t know if we’ve set college football back, but UF football has definitely reverted back to the mid/late 80’s…back when everyone lost all confidence in our offense. We had plenty of great talent come into the program, but things didn’t completely come together until we brought in Spurrier and his leadership. Hopefully with Tyler’s spark this team begins to pull together, and confidence becomes contagious again …at least that’s what Creek Gator and I are thinking! Go Gators!

  15. Tyler souldn’t expect to have any expectations, he’s been sitting the bench for 3 1/2 years obviously the coaches don’t expect much from him. I don’t want any of the players to get hurt so that someone else gets a shot, their shots should be earned (misfortune is part of the game), take advantage of the opportunities that you get. Yes, I’m glad that Tyler is getting his shot. By the way Tampa Gator, TigerCatZeroZero did relay my sentiments earlier, hopefully this will spark the OFFENSE and we can start moving the ball and scoring some points on everyone NOT JUST SMALL SCHOOLS and third tier Universities. GO GATORS!!!!

  16. I have been most impressed with Scarborough. I have seen him in several video clips running plays in practice and live and he looks like a solid running back. I hope Florida will give him an opportunity to be a Gator! Go Gators!

  17. macjbe, I have expectations of growth for our team and hopefully our program. JD did his best while out there but as a team we were not growing…from week to week, game to game we were right back to where we had started – uncertain. I believe Tyler will do well; he’ll make mistakes, but he’ll do well. But above all, the team will grow…hopefully the coaches will grow with them! Go Gators