Zach’s Mail Stack 12/27


Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and are enjoying the holiday season.

Florida fans got a late Christmas present Thursday with UF hiring of offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.

Now the Gators must find their next offensive line coach, and the leading candidate appears to be Stacy Searels. He’s been the O-line coach at Texas since 2011 and previously held the same position Georgia and LSU, where he worked with Will Muschamp for two years.

Searels could choose to stay at Texas if the new head coach wants to retain him, ala Clay Helton, but right now I think he’s the guy for who asked.

On to the questions!

How is Roper as a recruiter? Rolando, C-Slim, David, Uncle Willie Sam, WoodyBass

Reading through some of the commitment stories of kids he recruited, they spoke about the relationship he was able to build with them. Since most of the prospects he landed weren’t highly rated or heavily pursued by a lot of schools, it’s hard to gauge how good of recruiter he is in terms of winning competitive recruitments.

But Roper has experience recruiting in SEC territory from his time at Ole Miss and Tennessee. He’s also familiar with the state of Florida as well, having landed a commitment for Duke from a Florida quarterback in the last three recruiting cycles — Nicodem Pierre (Miami Coral Reef), Parker Boehme (Jackonsville Sandalwood) and Thomas Sirk (Glen Saint Mary Baker County).

Do you think the Gators will get a bump with the hiring of coach Roper? Do you see some new targets on the board? — Keith

If they do, it probably won’t be until next month. The majority of recruits on Florida’s board know little to nothing about him unless they were recruited by Duke (which most weren’t) or live near Durham (which most don’t).

When the dead period ends Jan. 16 and Roper can start having face-to-face contact and in-home visits with prospects and their families, you’ll start to see some recruiting results from him.

As far as some new targets, last week I listed Pierre as a second QB option for Florida in 2014. Roper’s hire could actually make it happen, but he may not want to go after one of Duke’s commits.

Looking at some of the top recruits from North Carolina, I think Roper might help Gators become more involved with running backs Derrell Scott (Havelock) and Donte Thomas Williams (Durham Hillside) and receivers Trevion Thompson (Durham Hillside) and De’Andre Thompkins (Swansboro). That is, of course, if both parties are interested.

Dalvin Cook and Ermon Lane — Micah, Ryan, Kevin, Dee, Logan, Glenn, Scot

Many of you asked about these two again and whether I think they will stick.

As of now I just don’t see it happening. Although they claim to be committed, their recent actions, some of which I touched on in the previous Mail Stack, aren’t good signs for Florida. Additionally, Florida State running back and Miami Central alum Devonta Freeman posted an Instagram picture Wednesday saying Cook is a ’Nole and welcoming him to the FSU family (see HERE).

Lane and 2015 receiver Da’Vante Phillips, who decommitted from UF on Tuesday, plan on following Cook wherever he goes. At this time, it doesn’t look like that will be Gainesville.

Do we have any legitimate backup plans for Cook and Lane after they “officially” walk away? — Phillip, Dee, Charles

Gainesville’s Tony James (Oregon commit) and Immokalee’s D’Ernest Johnson are two I mentioned last week, and the aforementioned North Carolina prospects at running back and receiver are also legitimate options if Florida can and/or wants to get in the mix with them.

Five-star athlete Adoree’ Jackson of Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra is obviously not a backup plan, but he would produce for the Gators at slot receiver as well as cornerback if they can land him. Another Cali recruit, Eric Lauderdale of Saddleback C.C. in Mission Viejo, could also makeup for the potential loss of Lane.

Niceville receiver Tyre McCants was evaluated by Joker Phillips earlier this month and could get an offer eventually.

Besides Grier and Cook, assuming he stays with UF, who could have the most impact from the 2014 class?Ryan

I think defensive tackle Khairi Clark, tight end DeAndre Goolsby and offensive linemen Nolan Kelleher and David Sharpe have the potential to be great players by the time their college careers are over.

If he can stay in shape and build the stamina for a lot snaps, Clark has the size to plug up the middle of Florida’s defensive line. Goolsby catches well, stands 6-foot-5 and could be the total package at tight end with some more weight on his frame. Kelleher and Sharpe will need time to develop like all linemen do, but they have athleticism and versatility that can’t be taught.

Zach, it seems like Muschamp will miss on some of these recruits. Transfers also will open up scholarships, but I feel like we will be missing out on quality players. Do we hold onto these scholarships until next year or fill them with whoever we can get? What is your opinion? — Allen

If the UF coaches can’t find viable replacements for their transfers or the top recruiting targets they miss on, then it would definitely be best to save the scholarships. The state of Florida is loaded with talent in 2015.

The Gators need players that can help out right away or contribute down the road, and if they have to wait until next year to find more then so be it. You don’t want to just take kids for the hell of it or to fill roster spots, especially with the way last season went.

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


  1. Zach,
    As much as I like the 4 and 5 star game changing commitments, I’m disappointed that the gators can’t keep depth at positions. What happened to the 2 and 3 star commitments from players such as wondy Pierre-Louis and the mccullom brothers and Kenny tookes and jermaine Cornelius and so on during my time as a student that produced when their number was called and stayed in the program for all 4 years no questions asked for the love of the gators. That’s how you build depth and develop players and find solid players.

  2. Recruiting is often fickle. Who knows what Cook and E. Lane may finally do? At some point we’ll be talking about who we have instead of who we missed. Right now Mr. Cook mseems to be enjoying the tease. Wherever he chooses to go to school, if he can’t back up the hype about his talent, no one will even remember his adventures in recruiting.

  3. Zach…in the past did you pick Howard, Aglohar and Diggs to be Gators and then they went elsewhere? Just wondering? What % of recruits did you pock correctly over the years? Just trying to gauge your correctness here..maybe you will be wrong about Cook too

  4. Maybe Scarborough reconsiders the Gators more seriously if Cook goes to FSU. Lane will be a bigger loss in my opinion. He could play early for the Gators at WR. But again, maybe his loss would open up opportunities for Lauderdale and others. No one or two players will make or break the Florida program, no matter how good they are. It is about the entire team and coaching. Hopefully, Roper will be an OC that knows how to call an aggressive game and coach up players during the week. Neither of which Pease did.

  5. So Zach are you going on the Cook decision based on tweets and instagrams from rival players? And if you are so certain then why wouldn’t our coaches? In other words I am sure they read the same “stuff” you do…and based on what you just responded..Howard et all told others they were coming to UF and then changed at the last minute similar to what you do we know they aren’t doing the same to the players at FSU ( telling I am coming to FSU)? Anyway..if it is so obvious now that they are flipping..why do our coaches allow them to embarrass our university like this if it is a foregone conclusion?

    • mb,
      Aside from Grier, Cook is the most important and talented player on Florida’s board. The coaches aren’t going to just move on from him. I also don’t think it’s a forgone conclusion that he’s FSU bound. It just certainly seems that way at this time. But he could change his mind during Under Armour week, who knows. Stranger things have happened. You don’t give up if you’re Muschamp, though.

      Most people, including myself, think he’s not coming to Florida based on more than just social media. He declined to officially visit UF but took one to FSU and Miami. Both head coaches from those schools had an in-home visit with Cook, while he says Muschamp did not. Lastly, he claims to be committed to the Gators but is making a final decision on Thursday. That usually spells doom for the school that has the commitment going into an announcement.

  6. Who cares we have Taylor for at lease the next 2 yrs.We should be able to find a speedy rb within that time frame.God blesses him where ever he chose to go.People acting as if he’s gonna change the program on his own,don’t think so.

  7. I think Lane and Cook are both scared of competing in the SEC, their talent levels will not be as obvious as it would look like in the Almost Competitive Conference. That school out west being in the BCS championship game is a joke based on the competition they played. If you want to be the best you have to play with the best.

  8. We’ve seen this act so many times before, sometimes working out well for us, as with Dante Fowler, Jr. At least with Roper on board and Will Grier’s enthusiasm about the hire, recruits Cook, Lane, Lauderdale et al know we’re going more wide open with greater opportunities for skill guys.

  9. I don’ know about Lane, but I think it’s time to move on from Cook. The most telling thing with Cook is Phillips decommitment. Phillips is real close to Cook right? He knows more about what Cook’s thinking than we do. And yet mysteriously just days after seeming 100% committed to the Gators he decommits. Sure looks like he knows Cook isn’t going to UF to me. I’m disappointed that Cook didn’t want to come here, but we’ll just have to beat him at that school out west now. Simple as that. We’ll be fine.

  10. Zach,
    I know everyone expects the Gators to be fine on the defensive side of the ball but I have a feeling that it will be some type of drop off next year. The schedule is brutal next year and I feel like our secondary will be exposed against teams with great WR corps like BAMA, UGA, FSU, MIZZ. I know we have VH3 and possibly Marcus Roberson but I feel our secondary will be our weakness next year. Who are some guys who can contribute from this 2014 class right away?

  11. Thanks for the updates, Zach, but I’m like many others on this post. The dudes are committed until they ain’t, grammatically speaking. Listen-these guys have been recruited hard all year and DC has been committed for quite awhile. No college coach worth his salt is just gonna give up on a recruit because he ‘says’ he’s committed. You just have to wait it out & hope the guys stick it out. If they choose to go elsewhere it could get ugly watching these guys commit elsewhere on national tv. Looks like that idiot Les Miles could slip in & get a good bit of them next week. I’m nervous but still confident that they will side with UF. Also is there any chance that there could be an early signing period on the horizon? This would eliminate all this back & forth wavering. GO GATORS!!!!

  12. Ton be honest I think an early signing period would only make things worse. Sure guys like Grier would sign early and that’d be great, but do you think guys like Dalvin Cook and Demarcus Robinson would even consider signing early? I don’t. And then instead of eliminating the wavering you’ve just added more speculation and confusion with people asking “how committed is he if he’s not willing to sign yet?” and the like.

  13. Greta points, AZ Gator but the guys that want to be with a particular school would sign, thus eliminating all of the flippin’ & floppin’. I see where you’re coming from though. In the end I still think both stick with the Gators. GO GATORS!!!

  14. I believe Cook has already committed to FSU and remains committed to UF, as a means of dragging the coaches and affecting our backup plan. It would not shock me, at all, if Fisher didn’t tell him to continue to claim he is committed to UF, just to keep other recruits away. The same goes for Lane. I have held out hope for getting both of them, until recently. There’s too many recruiting experts who believe they are bound for FSU and other signals that make it difficult to think otherwise. Fisher believes he has a chance to put his foot on our neck and protect his job, for years to come. He would probably do anything that he thinks will help him keep his foot where it is. To make matters worse, we are our own worse enemies. I have never seen Gator Nation consume itself, like it has over the past few months.

  15. Well GI…that would certainly tell me a lot about the character of those two players then and dumbo fisher….I bet we are still recruiting back up in spite of them and how do you know that they aren’t doing the same to sow? Make them think they are “truly” committed to them only to pull a fast one on them like Fowler did to them….

  16. A couple of points about Cook. Grandma was pissed about Freeman’s tweet welcoming him into the FSU fold saying that wasn’t the case. Also, Muschamp did get that final visit with Cook, so I’m not sure why you’re saying he didn’t. “Coach (Will) Muschamp did his in-home with me after the state game,” Cook said. “He tells me the words like trust and loyalty. Those words stuck out to me because Coach Muschamp, he’s a great person and I have a great relationship with him. He was telling me to stick with him until they found an offensive coordinator and they did.”

    And another comment by Cook about Roper: “I’ve been doing my research on Coach Roper,” Cook said. “I’ve learned his offense is an up-tempo offense. He tries to get it going early and he tries to get his playmakers the ball. I can see myself fitting into that offense because that’s the type of offense I want to play in.”

    Another comment: “I watched Florida a couple years back when they had Percy (Harvin), (Chris) Rainey and (Jeff) Demps and they changed Florida,” Cook said. “That’s the type of program is and they need speed guys and a home run guy like myself.”

  17. The problem is Dalvin will have to be on campus on nthe day of the National Title game so I doubt that won’t have anything to do with him or the other early enrolees.
    Lava, Cook told Zach that Muschamp did not get an in home visit thus the reason he reported that he didnt. Since then he has now started saying Muschamp did get an in home visit and all that. My opinion is Dalvin isn’t coming here. He’s been playing gaes all along so I’m not very likely to believe anything he says because the next day he’ll probably say the opposite. Devante Phillips is a close friend of Cook’s and wants to follow him wherever he goes.Phillips has recently decommitted from UF. Coincidence? Hopefully, bugt I doubt it.