Zach’s Mail Stack 11/28

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How you all enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday and stuffed your faces.

We’ve reached the last week of the college football regular season, and it’s amazing how fast this year has gone by.

Fortunately for Florida fans, this coming weekend marks the end of one coaching era and what will soon be the beginning of a new one. It also means recruiting is about to heat up, as the contact period starts Sunday.

We’re about to see a lot happening with UF football program over the next couple weeks.

On to the questions!

How much will the outcome of the Florida State game affect recruiting? If it’s close or the Gators win, who will be the most affected? — @DevinLamarr

This is typically a huge game for recruiting. Both schools pursue a lot of the same prospects, and many of them use this matchup to compare the two programs.

This season’s game, however, probably doesn’t hold as much recruiting weight as in years past. Florida State is the defending national champions and in line for another title shot, while UF went 4-8 in 2013 and has a lame duck coach.

Recruits understand these programs are on different levels right now, and they don’t need this game as a measuring stick.

A loss by the Gators may be viewed as insignificant by some because they know change is coming to Gainesville.

The same can be said about a Florida win. Many recruits would take notice if UF pulls off the upset, but they’re not going to give the next coach brownie points for a game that Will Muschamp and his staff won.

If there are any recruits looking to take something from Saturday, it would probably be five-star defensive end Byron Cowart and wide receiver Ryan Davis. The close friends from the Tampa area want to attend college together, and both have UF and FSU near the top of their leaderboards.

To what extent would recruits be drawn to UF simply based on a heading coach search? Optimism or pessimism? @CosgriffEmpire

That’s an interesting question. I think this coaching search creates more curiousity than anything.

A big-time hire would definitely garner some optimism and excitement, and it might even spark interest in a few kids who aren’t considering the Gators at this time. Until then, however, recruits are just intrigued about who the next coach will be and what direction he’ll want to take the program.

The majority of prospects, especially the elite talent, aren’t pessimistic about the coaching change. They understand college football is a business, and a lot of them say choosing a school is a “business decision.”

Cowart told me after Muschamp was fired that the Gators showed him they’re “serious about their football.” And he meant it in a good way.

How much thought is going into hiring a coach sooner rather than later to salvage a decent recruiting class? — @GStubbsUFGators

Jeremy Foley won’t rush his hire to salvage Florida’s 2015 class, but he keeps up with college football recruiting more than most athletic directors and wants the Gators to do well.

Foley sent a letter to all of UF’s commits last week, urging them to stick with their pledges and stay patient as he finds their future coach.

Foley plans to have the hire done by Christmas, but for recruiting purposes, it would be ideal if it happens around Dec. 8.

That would give the new coach and the assistants he decides to retain a full week to recruit before the month-long dead period begins on Dec. 15.

We know about the big time prospects, but what underappreciated prospects could UF land? — @tshoemaker2423

It’s hard to say at this point because we don’t know which lower-tier prospects the next coach will choose not to recruit and which new ones he’ll add to Florida’s recruiting board.

There’s also the possibly that some of his commits at his current school will want to join him at UF, especially recruits from the state of Florida.

Here are some prospects I could see the next coach making a priority: running back Jordan Cronkrite, wide receiever Tristan Payton (former UF and current USC commit), tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe, offensive tackle Fred Johnson, linebackers Darrien McNair (Mississippi State commit), Charles Perry (Miami commit) and Zedrick Woods (Ole Miss commit) and cornerbacks Mike Hughes and Jeremy McDuffie.

Keep hearing UF’s facilities are under par. Does this REALLY hurt recruiting or is it the least of our worries? — @ryan_grimaldi

Not winning games is hurting the Gators in recruiting more than anything. That’s the most influential thing that can attract prospects to a program.

UF is one of those schools with a strong enough brand name, academic reputation and NFL pipeline that facilities don’t matter as much.

I haven’t been inside any football facilities other than Florida’s, but I didn’t walk away from the tour I went on thinking UF’s weight room or locker room sucked.

Moreover, a few recruits have told me over the years that they like how Florida’s facilities are within walking distance of the campus, dorms, dining hall, stadium and practice field.

But I honestly don’t believe any kids make their decisions based on how nice or convenient a school’s facilities are. It certainly helps when they’re top-notch, but it doesn’t hurt a program that has as much to offer as Florida.

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

29 COMMENTS

  1. Exactly aux. why does this have to show up in the comments section? Maybe you should write the column. It’s why Tate visited UF. If FSU could swing Cowart they’d take Davis and drop Tate to sweeten the pot for Byron. Any time a recruit says it’s a business they have just talked to Coach Tim. It’s recruit code speak. What Florida (and the new UF coach) have going for it is they have recruited so few in state players that there are some very good 4&5 star players that are not takes at FSU but may just want to stay home.

  2. The biggest recruiting issue is the identity of the new coach: Freeze, who could be coming off four losses in five games; Swinney, who ‘s trying to beat Spurrier’s Gamecocks for the first time in six years; Malzahn, who could be coming off two bad losses to UGA and Bama; Patterson, who’s built a dynasty at TCU; “mid-major ” coaches McElwain and Holliday, whose teams both were upset Friday; Gruden, an erstwhile NFL coach without college experience. Who else? Someone’s going to inherit a loaded group of redshirt freshmen, sophomores and juniors along with a fan base eager to love the next coach. It’s gonna be interesting. Is there a home run hire obvious to anyone right now?

  3. I wonder how many fans have actually seen our facilities. They are rather impressive. We don’t have an indoor facility…. we are in Florida where the weather is nice year round. Its hot in the summer, we want it hot so we can function during the game and the other team can’t. We might miss a couple practices a year due to lightning. That’s not enough to really worry about imo.

    If we get a good coach in here who starts winning and opens up the offense that is what will bring recruits to UF. Kids don’t go to Alabama or FSU because the weightroom is fresh. They go because those schools are potential champions.

  4. Entirely agree with you, GatorKen. We’ve had four years of underwhelming recruiting in offense, poor player development on offense, a revolving door of assistant coaches, and angry profane tirades against under coached players who’ve been loyal. I’m eager for this change.

  5. Will Muschamp got to coach in one of the perceived best two positions in his field for millions of dollars, enjoyed the patient endurance of his athletic director and large majority of Gator fans. Even more so, he had the support of several dozen young men who physically sacrificed at his direction to enable him to succeed. Though he failed, he was dismissed amid much blessing by his employer ‘s representatives and walks out the door with an estimated $6.3 million. So what lasting memory does he create for Tevin Westbrook, one of his most loyal foot soldiers who was recruited to play defensive end, was moved to tight end because Muschamp and his staff failed to develop any real tight ends he recruited. Westbrook made two mistakes this season amid otherwise sound contributions. What is his enduring memory of his head coach? I hope Will Muschsmp apologizes to Tevin before he takes his time off for himself.

  6. Muschamp should apologize to Tevin??? No. Tevin should apologize to Muschamp and Gatornation. Muschamp needed to be fired and did not get it done at Florida, but that game was a failure of the execution, NOT coaching. Muschamp was absolutely right. Tevin has a SCHOLARSHIP to the UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA. He is basically being paid to catch the ball so he needs to CATCH THE BALL! You know what happens if he doesn’t drop it and it doesn’t get intercepted for a TD? WE WIN THE GAME. Now the loss isn’t all on Tevin. There are plenty of other players who didn’t execute in moments contributing to the loss, including 2 missed field goals and dropped 3rd down conversions. I have been the first one to criticize play calling ever since the Alabama game, but this game was not called poorly. it just wasn’t executed. It’s gonna be hard to score when your line isn’t opening up holes for the running backs, the QB is throwing inaccurate passes, and the receivers are dropping balls. Some people make me sick! Muschamp has already been fired. we got what we want! What kind of a classless scumbag kicks a man while he’s down?? Muschamp was a great guy. He did great things at UF, they just sadly were not on the field. He was beloved by staff and players. If those “tirades” are so bad then why didn’t the players turn against him?? Bet none of you can answer that! Muschamp is a passionate coach. A passionate coach who cared more than I’d say most of you and wore his emotions on his sleeve! And you’re going to attack him for this? After he’s already been fired?? You should be ashamed of yourselves!! I would say I hope all you kicking him while he’s down get fired and have people attack you while you’re down, but then again I’m not as classless as you lot, so I don’t wish that on you. All the best to you, Champ! Hope you learn to fix what you failed at here and find great success!

  7. Wow, That Guy, you truly believe that loss hangs on a single player, a guy with 11 career catches, on a single play and a fast ball thrown behind him, just a little off the mark? You are a bit simplistic. It was instead an entire lack of ability to successfully execute an offense, despite numerous short-field opportunities. It’s been that way all four years. Muschamp “did it the right way ” and surely is a likable guy. But Westbrook didn’t deserve to be treated that way. There was no screaming at the guy who threw the pass a bit off the mark. Goes to coaching, my friend. And for what it’s worth, I’ve supported Muschamp against the grain of all my fellow Gator friends right to the end. Go Gators !

  8. “Now the loss isn’t all on Tevin. There are plenty of other players who didn’t execute in moments contributing to the loss, including 2 missed field goals and dropped 3rd down conversions.”

    No I do not believe the loss hangs on a single player nor did I say that or ever even insinuate it. I made sure to make sure I said the exact opposite. But while he didn’t solely lose the game, he could’ve prevented it. While he didn’t solely lose the game, he did play a big part in it. That interception completely flipped the momentum, took away a chance for us to score, and gave them an automatic 7 points (when their offense couldn’t do anything). No the throw wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly catchable and he’s a scholarship player. That”tirade” you talk about was a short catch the ball, you’re on scholarship at the University of Florida to catch the ball so catch it. I’ve had worse from my coach on things I believe were way less my fault. Did I hate my coach, or get depressed, or angry, or feel unjustly victimized? No. It motivated me to play better, and if ANYTHING made me sorry I let down the coaches I love. If you really thin what muschamp did is gonna ruin Tevin’s experience or memory of UF then you’re sorely mistaken. and if you’re right, then Tevin is far too emotionally fragile for football anyways.

  9. Oh and who was it saying we wouldn’t have a chance because Winston was “the ultimate gamer”?? 12/24 for 125 yards, 2 TDs and 4 interceptions?? yes FSU won, but they won in spite of Jameis not because of!I’d say from that game Cook was way more of a gamer than Winston.

  10. No need to hate on Tevin, our anemic offense lost that game just like all the others. ( 6 pts off 4 turnovers ) I know from personal experience, that he is feeling bad enough on his own. Had a similar thing happen 40 years ago on a much smaller stage, and the feelings of disappointment in self, etc are still fresh in the memory. I hope he can put it behind him and be successful in whatever he does in life. He was a team guy that agreed to try and learn a position he wasn’t recruited to play for the sake of UF. What happened to the “top 5” TE’s that were recruited for that position? Lack of development or flat out misses on recruiting? Either way that’s on Champ! Loved the great defense, but couldn’t stand to watch another down of that pathetic offense. Ready to move on to another HC. Thanks for your services coach Champ! Nothing greater than a Gator!

  11. I was the one who wrote that Winston is the ultimate gamer. He still is, but he was Jeff Driskel Surday. As for sayimg UF wins the game if Westbrook catches the pass, that’s nonsense. I feel pretty confident that FSU would have still found a way to win, after all even if UF went up by 16 that is not anything that would faze the FSU team, and we know that from past experience. It wasn’t Westbrook’s fault anyway, it was a poor pass that was behind him and lacked touch. The reason UF lost the game is why UF was throwing the ball in the first place. FSU shut down UF’s running game. UF is a team that needs to run the ball well to win, they are not a team that can win if forced to pass. FSU forced UF to pass the ball. Taylor and Jones are on some milk carton, they vanished in the game. It’s one of the axioms of football that the team that runs the ball better wins, Saturday was not an exception to that.
    The story is the same one going into next season as every season since Tebow left: “Will UF have a decent quarterback?” UF is in for some serious rebuilding, and it’s going to take a while. The only area of strength returning is the secondary. Every other area has huge question marks. The receivers are still mediocre. The running backs ar average at best. The offensive line was a veteran unit this year, who knows who’ll start next year. The same goes for the defensive line and linebackers. We have no idea who will be on the team. The transition to a new coach will probably mean transfers and there already have been substantial rumblings of players wanting to leave early for the NFL. Recruiting is a mess. Will UF even get a linebacker or running back?
    There are some who view the close loss to FSU as a positive. I don’t. I view it as more evidence of the vast gulf between the two programs. FSU had Jeff Driskel at quarterback and five turnovers, yet still won. Has UF ever won such a game? I think the rebuild is going to take three years at a minimum. The expectations need to be realistic, not like they usually are. UF was the team they were expected to be this year. The line to start the season was 7.5 wins. If UF had the Idaho game, they would have won seven. UF also upset Georgia, so, based on realistic expectations, it wasn’t a bad year. If UF expects the new coach to have UF winning any kind of championships in year two, for instance, it’s not based on reality. There’s a reason UF is hiring a new coach, and it’s not because UF is a good football team.

  12. db, I agree. i don’t hate on Tevin. I don’t want to kick a man while he’s down. That is why I am making it clear that the loss is not his fault. But I do HATE people who want to kick Muschamp while he’s down and keep trying to nitpick stupid crap just to attack a GREAT man who has already been fired. they should be ashamed of themselves.

  13. @Aux, I would respond, but I can’t respond to anyone who calls our backs “average at best”. Kelvin Taylor is an amazing athlete who has produced when his line does their job. Adam Lane and and Brandon Powell have proven to be well above average backups. No they are not proven starters yet so I’m not saying they’re “proven backs”, but they’re definitely well above average backups. not to mention guys like Herndon and Masline who may not be the big name guys, but produce when they’re on the field and are definitely above average for 5th and 6th string backs.

  14. Zach, I have a very important Coaching Retention QUESTION:
    Who made the final decision on which WR’s would play on Saturday’s? Was it Leak, Roper, or Muschamp? Same question concerning the TE’s and RB’s? Was it the position coach, the OC, or the HBC?

    The coaching choices on which players to put on the field (or not) puzzle me more than anything else. What the heck was ‘stone hands’ Westbrook still doing in the FSU game? I hope for his sake that he has or gets his UF degree, cause he’ll never be a next level TE. A good kid and student/athlete, but not TE material imo. Driskel zero plays (2012 Driskel 37 – 26 reFSUcks), A.Lane zero carries, and on and on….

    Where the heck were they all season:
    WR Valdez Showers Jr 6-0 195 — 2 for 31 yds, 15.5 yds/rec
    RB Adam Lane rsFr 5-7 222 — 8 for 72 yds, 9.0 ypc, good receiver. (only 8 carries all season)
    TE Moral Stephens Fr 6-3 247 — As a senior, recorded 56 catches for 1,105 yards and 14 TD’s.
    TE DeAndre Goolsby 6-4 230 — Named offensive co-captain of the 2013 Kansas All-State team.
    (especially after TE McGee got his leg broken in the 1st game)
    Westbrook and C.Burton had already proven imo that they were only backup quality at TE, both former DE’s.

    WR Michael McNeely Sr 5-8 176 — 2 for 36 yds, 18.0 yds/rec, 1 TD, plus fake FG TD. (when the other WR’s couldn’t get open or catch the balls that were thrown to them)
    And especially with the crappy play of every receiver except for Robinson, and maybe Dunbar.

    WR Case Harrison rsFr 6-0 191 — As a senior, named first team all-area and had best performances on 2 occasions: 6 for 113 yds with one TD and also 5 for 170 yds with 3 TD’s. At UF he was awarded ‘Most Determined’ and also achieved an academic award. He was an AP scholar and a Cambridge scholar. (so don’t tell me he couldn’t learn/remember the playbook)

    WR D.L. Powell rsFr 6-0 183 — HS dual threat QB and another Scholar/Athlete.

    WR Alvin Bailey rsFr 5-11 185 — HS dual threat QB and part-time receiver. Invited to the ‘Opening’ and to the UA AA game.

    WR Ryan Sousa Fr 6-0 189 — Selected to play in the 2014 Offense-Defense AA Bowl. Named to the Florida Class 5A All-State 1st Team his Jr year and the Class 7A All-State 1st Team his Sr year. He ended his HS career with 246 catches for 4,107 yds and 53 TD’s.

    The new HBC will have a very good returning roster, even with 3-9 going early to the NFL. New HBC’s tend to get a recruiting class in the 10-20 range, and if they’re the right kids, UF will be fine in 2015 with plenty of talent to get the job done.

  15. “I was the one who wrote that Winston is the ultimate gamer. He still is, but he was Jeff Driskel Surday.”

    Sorry Ox-twit, but 8 criminole incidents and counting Shamous Jameous will never be anywhere in the neighborhood of Top Quality Character & Citizenship Jeff Driskel. Unlike you, we can be proud of the Man that (already a UF Graduate) Jeff is.
    Jeff was the Gator starting QB for only one game vs reFSUcks and he kicked their butts on Ron Zook Field 37 – 26.

  16. To HAMMER this Comparison NAIL home:
    2014 – Shameous Jameous, Soph 2nd year starter, at home:
    11-0 FSUcks 24 – 19 UF (6-5, -5).
    2012 – Jeff Driskel Soph 1st year starter @ Ron Zook field:
    11-1 ACC-C FSUcks 26 – 37 UF (11-2, +11)
    As always, comparing stats between an SEC SoS QB to an All Cupcake Conf. SoS QB is comparing Apples to 2nd banana’s. But even so, Driskel, in the UF vs FSU game, is the already proven better QB.
    Live with it…. :~p)

  17. Zach, a few months ago you did a breakdown of the total amount of scholarships that UF would have available for next season. With all of the medical hardships declared recently and players leaving for the NFL early, how many scholarships are available currently? Also, how many scholarships do you think Florida will hand out per position? Thanks!