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.