After a couple weeks away from this for Christmas break and Under Armour week, it feels good to open the Mail Stack back up and answer your questions again.
Thankfully, we have a lot to talk about now.
McElwain and his assistants have been working the phone lines like crazy this week as they try to get things in order for the contact period, which resumes in less than a week.
It’s about to be a very busy month for UF recruiting. The new coaches will be visiting the homes and schools of dozens of prospects, and already more than 20 total visitors are scheduled to take officials for the last three weekends before signing day.
On to the questions!
How do you think the class will shape out? Any surprises or players you feel comfortable that would sign if today was NSD? — @KB_NinoBrown, @toddmillhouse, @cragg326, @briwash4
Having met with McElwain again this week as well as the defensive assistants (we see the offensive coaches today), I definitely feel like this staff is capable of closing out the 2015 class on a high note.
This is an impressive group of coaches, from their personalities to their track records. I have no doubt that recruits will be attracted to them. Whether they’ll actually take that leap of faith and sign with Florida is the question.
It’s safe to say the Gators won’t sign the maximum number of recruits they can (currently 28) or finish with a consensus top-10 class like they’ve done over the past several years. However, UF will still land a few top-notch recruits and even some surprises. And yes, the coaches might have to “reach” on a couple kids.
As long as each position other than tight end adds at least one more quality prospect and the class has around 20 signees, it will be a win for the Gators.
If today were signing day, I’m comfortable saying Florida would land Byron Cowart, Martez Ivey, Ryan Davis and Rayshard Jackson, who a linebacker from Miami who received an offer from Randy Shannon on Wednesday.
Can Randy Shannon live up to high expectations and are they fair? Does his name/rep REALLY connect with top recruits? — @GatorsVino
The answer to your second question is a resounding yes. Shannon is one of the best recruiters not just in the Sunshine State and South Florida, but nationally as well.
He’s a respected, well-known coach who is very personable and knows how to relate with recruits and their families. More importantly, he can identity the talent and character of a high school kid.
He had some great achievements as an assistant at Miami, and while he didn’t produce enough results on the field as the Hurricanes head coach, his recruiting efforts were outstanding. His consensus top-five class in 2008 was a thing of beauty.
He’s expected to accomplish a lot at Florida as a recruiter and linebackers coach, but his resume and reputation suggests he should excel in both roles. And after speaking with him Thursday, I imagine he embraces those expectations, fair or not.
Who are your No. 1 recruits for UF at every position? — @ryantodd2, @gatorsfan1977, @DevinLamarr, @McHarnish
These are the prospects who I believe sit atop each position board. Some of these players said the coaches told them they’re the No. 1 target at their position, while it goes without saying for some others (Cowart, Ivey).
If Florida can land most or all of the recruits listed below, which certainly seems possible, it will give the Gators a very impressive core group for the class.
QB: Deondre Francois (FSU commit) — visits UF Jan. 23, very fond of McElwain
RB: Jordan Scarlett (Miami commit) — visits UF Jan. 23, could be Florida’s best chance at a high-profile flip
WR: Ryan Davis — Rivals100 member who talks to McElwain several times a week, will officially visit
OL: Martez Ivey — almost committed to UF at the Army All-American Bowl, but is now taking his recruitment to NSD
DL: Byron Cowart — visits UF Jan. 23, will also visit Auburn and FSU before his signing day decision
LB: Jeff Holland — battle between Auburn and UF, plans to visit both schools plus Virginia Tech and UCLA before NSD
DB: Da’Vante Davis — committed to Texas buts visits UF Jan. 23, could be a Miami recruit Shannon flips
Crystal ball prediction, who will be the next recruit to pull the trigger? — @ChanDangle_
If the Gators don’t get a commitment before the dead period is over, they might flip one or two defensive backs the first weekend of the contact period.
Ohio State commit Carlton Davis and Kentucky commit Jeremiah Dinson — both recruits from Miami — plan to officially visit Florida on Jan. 16.
Dinson was offered by UF on Monday, while Davis set up his trip to Gainesville this week. Both were recruited by Shannon at Arkansas and have strong relationships with him.
That Miami connection as well as Florida’s closeness to home could work in the Gators’ favor.
How we look at signing receivers Auden Tate, Ryan Davis, Van Jefferson and Antonio Callaway? — @timdjohnson35
The good thing for UF is all of them plan to officially visit this month. Any time you can get a recruit on campus this late in the game, you have a chance.
Tate and likely Davis visit Jan. 23, and Callaway and Jefferson will be in town the following weekend.
I personally think the best bets for Florida are Callaway and Davis because they’re uncommitted and have relationships with UF coaches and players (Treon Harris and Shannon for Callaway, the Tampa products on the team and Kirk Callahan for Davis).
Jefferson seems like a long shot to me, while Michigan may be the biggest threat to FSU for Tate with Jim Harbaugh and D.J. Durkin now there.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to leave your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below.