Zach’s Mail Stack 12/13

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After a busy few days last week and the Muschamp story last night, the Mail Stack returns.

Sorry I’ve keep you all anxiously waiting, but when news breaks about coaching hires, that takes precedence.

It’s been an eventful 10 days with Jim McElwain taking over at Florida, and that’s great for UF recruiting after three weeks of being in a holding pattern.

On to the questions!

Given the amount of time that offensive line coach Mike Summers and recruiting ace T-Rob have spent with Coach McElwain on the road, is it safe to say both are probably going to be retained? Have any candidates surfaced for the OC and DC jobs? — Ken Eats Gainesville, @JacobHunter86

Early Friday night it appeared Robinson was likely to remain in Gainesville, as I reported, and McElwain told a junior college offensive lineman Summers is being retained.

I don’t anticipate anything changing with Summers, but Robinson is a different story. With Will Muschamp taking the defensive coordinator position at Auburn, it could throw a wrench in the works with Robinson and UF.

As I mentioned in my post about Robinson, Auburn is his alma mater and where he started coaching. 247 reports that he’s expected to join Muschamp there.

The Tigers will have to pay if they want Robinson, who currently makes $510,000 at Florida, but he’s well worth it. I think UF should try to give him another raise, but sometimes loyalty is greater than money.

There’s a chance that D.J. Durkin could stay on as defensive coordinator, and former Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is one of the leading candidates for the Florida position.

What does or can Coach Mac do to counter the negativity when talking to recruits? — Woody

Good question, because obviously there has been a lot of negativity — uncertainty more than anything — surrounding the football program.

One pitch he has used is telling recruits that the main reasons they’ve had for liking Florida are still there.

The campus life, education, SEC competition, national exposure and NFL opportunity hasn’t changed. He’ll eventually announce the current assistants who will be retained, and he’ll proclaim that the new coaches coming in are “top of the line,” so to speak.

The only thing essentially changing with McElwain, he says, is the offense. He maintains it will be fixed, the defense will continue to dominate and all the factors that make UF a great school remain in tact.

To McElwain’s credit, the latter part of his message is true. He’ll have to sell the rest of it based on his offensive track record and the defensive players (and possible coaches) he inherits.

Mac has been putting in the work. What recruits do you think will commit or flip soon? — @KruzanJr_

The JUCO lineman who revealed the news about Summers is Brandon Pertile. He’s committed to Oklahoma State but officially visiting Florida this weekend.

The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder attends Mesa C.C. in Arizona but played for Clearwater Countryside in high school. If Pertile enjoys his trip to UF, he could flip to the in-state Gators and sign with them Wednesday.

Tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe will probably be the first prep prospect who pops for McElwain. He had a great visit Tuesday night with him and his brother, and now Imatorbhebhe is down to Cal and Florida.

He’s an early enrollee and wants to decide soon.

Which highly rated uncommitted prospect do we have the best chance at signing? — @McFly_22, @vhcombs, @scharf15, @NickStow15

It’s too early in the coaching transition for me to confidently predict something like this, but I feel good about Florida’s chances with five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson.

He spoke highly of McElwain when he was hired, his father is a die-hard Gator fan and his family lives a half hour from Gainesville. Jefferson also previously stated he could end up coming to UF regardless of what the coaching situation is.

That being said, he’s very close to Durkin, Robinson and defensive line coach Brad Lawing. If any or all of those coaches leave, it will undoubtedly make things harder for McElwain to land Jefferson.

But if I had to bet on which five-star recruit Florida will most likely get out of Jefferson, Byron Cowart and Martez Ivey, I’d go with Jefferson.

Can you list recruits that Coach Mac is re-engaging/visiting even though they have committed elsewhere? — @Commando074, @DevinLamarr, @tedsmall,  Bob, @Splash_Boi_Jike, @justiwood,  @gatorskin77, @UFgatorsforlife , @Peoples_Champ03

McElwain visited at least 10 recruits committed elsewhere this week. For the list of his visits, click here.

He appears to have made the most progress with Florida State quarterback commit Deondre Francois and Miami running back commit Jordan Scarlett.

Both have decided to officially visit UF in January after the dead period ends (Jan. 14). Florida is now a legitimate option for Francois, according to sources close to him.

UF was the third offer for Francois and he grew up a Gator fan. However, he wants to play for an offensive-minded head coach and Muschamp didn’t fit the bill. With McElwain now on the job, that changes things.

He also prefers to go to somewhere that’s not crowded at quarterback. When Francois went through his recruitment in the spring and summer, he wasn’t looking at schools that already had a QB commit. It wasn’t until an Elite 11 regional competition against De’Andre Johnson that Francois started considering Florida State because he outperformed the FSU pledge.

But with the Seminoles having two other quarterbacks in their class (Kai Locksley) and UF expected to return just Treon Harris and Will Grier next year, the Gators’ depth chart might look more appealing to Francois. However, a potential flip will likely hinge on how well his visit goes next month and what kind of relationship he builds with McElwain.

Many of you asked what Florida’s chances are with Tampa recruits Ray-Ray McCloud III and Auden Tate.

With McCloud deciding not enroll early at Clemson, that gives the Gators more time to recruit him. I don’t think he delayed his enrollment solely because of Tuesday’s visit from McElwain, but it could’ve had an influence. Still, UF has a better shot of flipping of Scarlett at this point than McCloud.

Tate plans to take an official visit to Florida in January, but he and fellow Tampa area receiver George Campbell seem solid to FSU.

Has or is Coach Mac making an effort to reel back in the commits we just lost? — Bob

Not to my knowledge.

Neither of them of called a UF coach before they decommitted, nor did they wait to talk to McElwain, which I’m sure rubbed him the wrong way.

Offensive lineman George Brown, despite his comment after Muschamp got fired, didn’t act like a strong commit with trips taken to Mississippi State and LSU, the school he flipped to last weekend. Summers staying helps the Gators with Brown, but they may not be willing to hear him out if he starts reconsidering them.

Jones backed off his pledge less than a hour after McElwain’s introductory press conference ended. It felt like he watched it, decided he didn’t like the guy and immediately decommitted. Jones said he had to do what’s best for him, and I think he didn’t see himself as a fit in McElwain’s offense.

Florida could continue recruiting them, but it’s hard to pursue kids — especially from Cali and Ohio — who don’t want to be at your school.

What’s the LB board look like? Is Jeff Holland, Adonis Thomas and Te’Von Coney still possible? — @DevinLamarr, @mevansfl

UF is still after Thomas and visited him Wednesday, but he’s locked in to Alabama and has favored the school for a while. Another linebacker from Georgia, Roquan Smith, is heavily leaning toward the in-state Bulldogs right now and visits them this weekend.

Florida’s best shot at an elite linebacker remains Holland, though Muschamp going to Auburn makes the Tigers an even bigger threat. In addition to Coney, a Notre Dame commit, McElwain is also trying to flip Derrick Graham (Arkansas) and Charles Perry (Miami).

How many signees do we need to make this a respectable first class for coach McElwain? — @tdirby12, @SFosser

I don’t anticipate him filling all the scholarships he has available, which is currently 24 and growing. Signing a full class of 25 would be ideal for McElwain, but he won’t reach on some kids just get the numbers up.

I’d say 21 signees would be a respectable class. That’s the triple the number of commits UF has now, and adding 14 more members at positions of need with a few top-100 recruits included would be a job well done.

The staff hires coming up and the last two weeks of the contact period in January will be key to McElwain closing out strong.

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

24 COMMENTS

  1. He was rated as a top 20 recruiter by rivals when at bama. Again this T-Rob stuff overblown by some in the gainesville media. No way do you pay him more than 500k as a position coach. T-Rob has missed out on many recruits and we have a solid seconday for next few years with what is in place

  2. We have a good defense coming back next year so Macs influence on offense is important. Winning changes everything. This class may not turn out very good but but our future is brighter with this coach than it has been in 6 years.

  3. Someone tweeted TRob is at UF practice this morning. Seems like he may stay. Long-range, doesn’t matter a lot. Mac will build a really good staff that balances the priorities on offense and defense. His track record at Bama and Colorado State includes amazing privation from RBs, receivers , quarterbacks who play smartly and efficiently. And big time OL such as Martez Ivey. I think we land Ivey, Jefferson and Holland, hopefully another top prospect or two. Next recruiting year will be much better.

  4. Gatormac-I hope thats the case w/ TRob. I really feel that if he leaves then most recruits will immediately drop UF from consideration. I don’t agree with Zach about the Cali/Ohio thing. I mean if Brown chose lsu-which is quite far-why would that be a problem to come to UF? Lets hope this doesn’t deter them from picking UF & maybe the news of a better offense can help. GO GATORS!!

  5. It seems like someone, if they are an early enrollee, needs to announce this week that he’s coming to UF. There’s only a couple of more days ft that coaches can initiate contact, then there’s a month long period where only the recruit can make contact. It would seem to be important that UF gets someone, anyone to say yes this week. A month is a long time to have a terrible class still sitting around without more that a rumor that it will get better. Another reason to be optimistic about the chances with Francois is that FSU also has a pledge from a mega recruit, Malik Henry, for 2016. I personally think that the best players don’t worry about the depth chart, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high.

  6. I don’t want T-Rob to go but if he does I’m not loosing any sleep over it..Short term it might hurt but coach Mac is stuck trying to fix the mess the former coach left behind anyway..I am thinking long term and if coach Mac could get just a few great pieces and win like I feel he will do, we will be fine..There are more great position coaches out there that can recruit and this is Florida..This place has made so many coaches careers and the next young gun is chomping at the bit to get his chance here..

  7. Baton Rouge… the Cali/Ohio distance Zach refers to has nothing to do with the kid flipping to LSU and still being far from home, but everything to do with Coach Mac seeing as many recruits as possible. No need to travel to California to re-recruit a kid who didn’t even have the respect to speak with him before decommitting, when he can use the same time to visit three or four kids in the southeast that may want to be Gators. Time is limited, let’s not waste it on long plane rides.

  8. narcissism is a wonderful thing. we gators have it in large doses, myself included. rule #1 is sooner or later the narcissist is gonna get mad – really mad, and we have some there already. for me to get there its going to require a lot more than whatever is upsetting people today. rule #2 is narcissist love a good ego feeding. after a while spurrier and some of the other coaches got tired of that aspect of the job, my vote is its being Christmas lets either feed our egos somewhere else for a while or better yet be more non narcissistic for a while. rule #3 is when they are flying high narcissists are a lot of fun but of course they get too high and burn their wings off. so when things get better and they will, lets not get too crazy, lets just have fun. rule #4 is that the whole process matters even though narcissists just hone in one thing. Zach your in a bad spot here as you are on the front edge of the process and everyone forgets there is a lot more than just what you cover.

  9. TO THE RECRUITS READING THIS, uncertainty is a part of life, and it’s a challenge you’ll face the rest of your life. At UF, Coach McElwain has moved in and at least you’ll have the comfort in knowing he is going to be a HUGE stabilizing foce to UF Football.

    Come Srping time, all of this uncertainty will be well behind UF and you the recruits, and life will be going on as usual.

    Be part of something special, tell your families and friends you decided to make a difference somewhere.

    It’s about Faith and belief in yourselves.

  10. Great insight, WhoGator. I can see your point. It’s gonna be hard to get any guys to commit until the all star games. Us fans will have to wait it out to see where the chips fall. GO GATORS!!

  11. We will be fine. Our defense is deep enough to survive one down recruiting cycle—although we could use a couple LBs and another pass rusher—and Coach Mac will bring in a solid offensive class because kids will see a realistic chance of early playing time at a prestigious SEC program. If you want a realistic shot at early playing time AND a realistic shot at playing for an NC, Florida is your best shot because the SEC West schools are going to continue to beat each other up. And I suspect we’re about to return to the recent historical trend of owning Georgia. The indoor practice facility business is probably a non-issue because we apparently have one in the works. As for Muschamp, no way he stays at Auburn more than one or two seasons, and prospects undoubtedly realize that. The fact that he even interviewed for the Houston job means he wants to be a head coach again more than he wants to stay in the SEC. And Spurrier is short time now. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Muschamp take over at South Carolina in 2016 or 2017. South Carolina will revert to being a recruiting challenge when Spurrier retires, but they could probably hire Muschamp. Or Kiffin. I will be just a little bit surprised if T Rob leaves because Auburn isn’t going to pay a secondary coach $500,000 just to incrementally improve their recruiting in Florida, especially with the deal they just gave Champ. Remember also that if they pay T Rob that kind of money (1) somebody who is still there will have to go, and (2) it may throw a weird dynamic into the compensation scale of their other assistants. It’s certainly possible, but by no means a forgone conclusion. That said, there will always be attrition of good assistants at great programs. Stoops, Strong and Mullen were all Gator assistants. The main guy you need to hang onto is the HC. He’s the program.

  12. Stoops,Strong,and Mullen all left for better jobs…They left to be head coaches..T-rob leaves it will be to do the same job for not too much more money..Honestly if I was T-rob I would want to get out of Muschamp’s shadow..

  13. @ Gator Guy, coach Mac’s problem is offensive, the “D” is stable and we should try to keep it that was “IF it aint broke don’t fix it”. Recruiting this year is very important in how fast we can get this program turned around. you don’t just change everything for the sake of change and we are going to make massive changes. “NO RECRUITS,NO PROGRAM change! GO GATORS!!!!

  14. Stan don’t underestimate the value of T-Rob, he’s more than just a secondary coach. He’s a pretty good secondary coach, our BEST recruiter (especially in South Florida). I read one mention that he has missed on many top notch recruits, but so has SABAN, and he’s considered the best in the Nation at getting who he wants. This guy is a recruit magnet, kids are drawn to him, he has something and look at the job done at secondary with all those FRESHMEN, give the guy some credit. if we have to increase his salary a little bit it may be worth it. Muschamp surely was not worth what we are still paying him, at least T-Rob is PRODUCING in more ways than one for the salary is is taking home. GO GATORS!!!!

  15. What players are on Colorado State’s board that McElwain was recruiting who may switch to Florida? Any in state players? Also, at Alabama it seems that they signed qbs that were not 5 stars. Is this a sign that McElwain can judge talent out of high school or did they excel in that system or were they developed by the college coaches to be successful?