Zach’s Mail Stack 1/23


You can feel it with each day that passes.

As signing day nears, many Florida recruiting fans are starting to worry about how this 2015 class will pan out. It’s been over a month since the Gators landed a verbal commitment, and before that it had been more than four months.

In addition, the buzz surrounding Will Muschamp and Auburn’s recruiting efforts with some of UF’s top targets only adds insult to injury.

When Jim McElwain was hired and got a positive reaction from recruits, I thought he had a chance to have a better class than most head coaches do during their transitional year because there were — and still are — so many uncommitted prospects with interest high in Florida.

However, with Muschamp and Travaris Robinson going to Auburn, it’s created a scenario where several in-state recruits who would have probably went to Florida may now sign with the Tigers. If Robinson had stayed and Muschamp ended up in Texas (at A&M or Houston) or the NFL, the state of UF recruiting for 2015 is totally different right now.

But that’s the hand McElwain and his assistants were dealt, and those guys are doing all they can to try and salvage this class. Some big-time recruits visit this weekend, and there will be more than a dozen official visitors next weekend.

Regardless of what the results are on signing day, it’s important for everyone to realize the tough predicament these new coaches are in. It’s not that you shouldn’t feel disappointed or frustrated if Florida doesn’t land the recruits you wanted.

I’m just saying don’t hold it against the staff. Not this year.

Save your judgments for the 2016 recruiting cycle. Our football beat writer Robbie Andreu had a great blog about that today.

Does it hurt or better our chances with Byron Cowart, CeCe Jefferson and Jeff Holland if they are in fact a package deal? How serious are they? — @jmercer0036, @rdasilva16, @timdjohnson35, @odessagator, @jozzroman9220

If they’re serious about it, I’d say it helps the Gators’ chances because they’re one of only two teams who are finalists for Cowart, Jefferson and Holland.

The other team is the Auburn Tigers, who’ve put themselves in great position with all three recruits. However, I don’t know if all of them are leaning toward the same school.

Jefferson recently named Ole Miss his leader and returns to Oxford this weekend with Holland, while Cowart takes his official visit to UF this weekend and named Auburn and Florida his finalists on Thursday.

Cowart and Jefferson might also reconsider the Seminoles with former Gators defensive line coach Brad Lawing now at FSU, but that’s a school Holland doesn’t have in the mix.

So if it’s not Auburn or Florida, those three won’t pick the same school. Cowart and Jefferson both said they will visit UF before signing day, but Holland seems up in the air about it. I don’t see him committing to the Gators if he doesn’t take that trip to Gainesville.

There’s still some uncertainty and moving parts in their recruitments, so the best thing to do is grab your popcorn and watch it play out.

Top 5 in order of importance on both sides of the ball with percentage we can land them? — @DevinLamarr

If the Gators can land half of these 10 prospects, that will be huge for them. Alabama linebacker Adonis Thomas commit is definitely a top target, but he appears very solid to the Tide coming off his visit to Tuscaloosa.

1. OT Martez Ivey — 80%
2. WR Ryan Davis — 65%
3. QB Deondre Francois — 40% (FSU commit)
4. RB Jordan Scarlett — 55% (Miami commit)
5. OT Tyree St. Louis — 50% (Miami commit)

1. DE Byron Cowart — 55%
2. DE CeCe Jefferson — 45%
3. LB Jeff Holland — 45%
4. LB Richard McBryde — 50% (Auburn commit)
5. DE Shareef Miller — 60%

What is the status of WR Derrick Dillon? I haven’t heard much recently and was wondering if he is still solid to UF. — Todd Harrell, @iragator 

McElwain and director of player personnel Drew Hughes have put the full court press on him ever since LSU got involved in his recruitment.

He officially visited the in-state Tigers last weekend but didn’t flip like some expected.

Dillon is scheduled to take an unofficial visit to Florida next weekend, and if he makes that trip from Louisiana on his own dime, it’s likely he sticks with the Gators.

They’re trying to sign four receivers in this class, but Dillon in my opinion would be their best signee at the position and could make an immediate impact next season.

Do we have a legitimate shot at getting Jaason Lewis to flip from ASU or just another case of getting a free visit? Also do you see us taking one RB or do we get two?bamagator

It’s hard to get a read on Lewis because he won’t do interviews, and I don’t know anybody from his neck of the woods (Virginia). I was told he had a great time in Gainesville from people who were with him, but heard nothing that suggests he will flip to Florida.

With the scholarship room they have, the Gators would definitely take two backs and may end up with the ones who are visiting together this weekend (Jordan Cronkrite and Scarlett). They should land at least one of those guys.

Do you think we will get any commitments before NSD? If so, who? @ChrisSavery, @dwgtennis, @kerrdog

Linebacker Rayshad Jackson plans to commit Sunday after (or possibly during) his trip to Florida, and N.C. State defensive lineman commit Jabari Zuniga will make a final decision Monday following visits to Arkansas and UF.

I think the Gators will get both prospects and gain some much needed recruiting momentum heading into the final week before signing day.

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


  1. I met coach TRob today in Atlanta Airport, he seemed very confident on the big 3 defensive players. I hope we get some good talent this class I’m a realist if we can get the offensive lineman we need for depth and a couple linebackers I’m happy…What’s your feeling on DE S.Miller, OL PELLAGE, OL Clark, & OL Horton???

  2. I fully agree with you Zach. This year’s recruiting is all about this staff just doing the best they can. The 2016 Recruiting Season will be the one to watch. I am a firm believer that these kids have a right to choose their next four years and cannot be expected to do so without the one year eye test on the field.

    I am confident that we have a staff capable of character building, player development and talent being utilized properly and more aggressively on offense which obviously takes more pressure off the defense and the 2016 recruits will see for themselves thru our performance on the field 2015.

  3. briwash4

    what are you talking about???? T-Rob is at Auburn. Why would we (or he) care about UF’s chances with CECE COWART and HOLLAND? Or was he telling you he is confident in Auburn’s chances of getting them? Or was he saying he is confident in their abilities in general?

    Or do you mean Coach TSkip, our new RB coach? In any event, Why would either of them be in the airport on a friday afternoon when Official visitors are en route/in town to Auburn/Gainesville?

    Explain what you’re talking about

  4. We are already making excuses for the new staff? Sure I agree give them time but one verbal and a class ranked behind FAU and FIU? Mcelwain needs to get this class a little bit better otherwise it will be long time for us to be relevant

  5. I do not see this article as making excuses. There are reasons and there are excuses. I see this as reasons. I see the article as realistic and factual. Michigan, even with the splashy hire they made, has pretty much the same mess. First classes for new coaches will be even worse these days than they were in the past due to the dead period we now have from 12/15 to 1/15. Urban, Zook, etc were not handicapped by this. The Mus-ChUmp-TRob to Auburn thing hurts too as most of the high ranked folks we are waiting on to decide were on the D side of the ball and have long relationships with those two. Who do you trust, feel most comfortable with, and know more, folks you have known a long time or those you just met? In the end, we will be fine. I love the head coach hire and the staff hires. I always hated the ChUmp hire as there is NO good reason for us, a top 5 program in terms of the head coaching position, to EVER hire a head football coach with no head coaching experience. The ChUmp hire was flat out dumb and misguided, and the recruiting woes are due to his rank incompetence. Anyway, do not judge this class at least until we see who we actually sign (it ain’t over til the fat lady sings) and do not judge this staff until they have been here a reasonable amount of time. This is a process, but in 2-3 years, you are going to be very happy.

  6. My “read” on recruiting is that T-Rob is wonderfully optimistic, a vital trait of a great sales rep. Of course, he’s exuding confidence about the Sunshine State Trio. However, in the end each guy will do what suits himself. Not sure we land Holland or Jefferson, as they have been ambivalent toward our new staff, tilting this way and that, but I believe Cowart becomes a Gator. He says it’s vital that his Mom feels good about the new staff and his future. These coaches have experience recruiting for Bama, Southern Cal, Miami and even Florida (Summers, Callahan) among other schools. These three weekends are their only opportunity to bring in prospects. It’s finally their turn at bat. Give them their chance before passing judgment and closing the books on their initial class.

  7. Its amazing how many arm chair recruiting experts we have on this site. Of course it will be a tough recruiting year. It is a brand new coaching staff with limited familiarity with kids we were recruiting. Throw in the fact they have not won a game for FL yet and there is a lot of uncertainty. I’ll say this, there’s a lot better chance our coaches are still here in 4 yrs.then say Muschamp anf T-Rob still being at Auburn. We will end up w/ 15-20 decent recruits come NSD. Will it be everyone we want? Probably not, but we will win with these kids and we will be back in top 5 recruiting classes w/i 3 yrs. The future looks very bright! Go Gators!

  8. Its amazing how many arm chair recruiting experts we have on this site. Of course it will be a tough recruiting year. It is a brand new coaching staff with limited familiarity with kids we were recruiting. Throw in the fact they have not won a game for FL yet and there is a lot of uncertainty. I’ll say this, there’s a lot better chance our coaches are still here in 4 yrs.then say Muschamp anf T-Rob still being at Auburn. We will end up w/ 15-20 decent recruits come NSD. Will it be everyone we want? Probably not, but we will win with these kids and we will be back in top 5 recruiting classes w/i 3 yrs. The future looks very bright! Go Gators!

  9. With so much Florida talent that should have been UF locks this is a downright embarrassment. Unfortunately I think with the impatience of our fan base we will never know if McIlwain is the coach of the future. With a recruiting class this bad and the cupboard as bare as it is we will have at least 2 or 3 losing seasons. I think he was a poor hire to begin with, not because he isn’t a good coach but because he wouldn’t bring in big name players. And guess what he hasn’t done a thing….we are going to lose the big 3, no QB, WR and RB are a mess. McIlwain will be fired long before he is able to show what he can do. Muschamp is having the last laugh, Urb is on fire, FSU, Georgia, Alabama are LOADED with amazing recruits. Not doing more to retain TRob and Lawling was a huge mistake. I honestly can’t think a positive thing UF has done in over a year and our arch rivals are tearing it up. Other than that GO GATORS!

  10. I totally agree with the premise that the new coaching staff should be completely absolved of blame if the current recruiting class is below expectations. What is surprising is that Auburn is considered the main rival with the top uncommitted guys left on the board. As seen with Lawing, and many others, assistant coaches are nomadic, even UF’s “veteran,” Summers, has only been with UF a year and his history shows he also changes jobs frequently. The head coach is what matters, and unfortunately for UF, McElwain is an unknown quantity. That will change next year, and if UF, even if the record is not much better, doesn’t look inept on offense, UF will be able to attract the top players in Florida. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see a stunning turnaround in the next two weeks, but that would be as big a surprise as the poor quality of the current class, from normal classes at UF. Humans are animals, and right now I compare the present situation to a herd of animals fording a river filled with danger. No one wants to be the first to jump in, but the rest follow the intrepid one. UF needs a top prospect to be brave and jump in, until that happens there’s little hope of a good class.

  11. You know what Prino, just jump off a building why don’t ya. We are 8 days removed from the dead period and before that Mac had a week. So basically he’s had 16 days with the recruiting door open. This class will define the staff or our season next fall. We still have a great roster that we can win 9 or 10 games. So let the staff at least get one month of recruiting and actually coach a game before making yourself look silly with the whiny ass rants.

  12. I’ve been a Gator fan since 1966 and I’m amazed at all the experts out there who can predict exactly what’s gonna happen this year during NSD. And they can see in the future and tell exactly what is gonna happen years down the road. I read that some “yahoo” is already predicting that Coach Mac is gonna get fired. Why can’t Gator fans sit back, relax, let the coaches recruit, do their job, blend the new guys in with the returning players, go through spring practice, summer workouts and get ready for fall practice, then on to the regular season. The playing is done on the field, not on paper or in these websites.

  13. Amen, Scooterp! Some of these “fans” are so overcome by fear, panic and negativity that it makes me think that they live in a state of high anxiety. There’s plenty out there to induce an attitude of doom these days. Our news media thrives on it as do their attentive audiences. Much is legitimately fearful. The Florida football programs’s short-term and long-range future is not. I recall similar skepticism when LSU hired successive coaches, each from previously long-suffering programs considered well beneath SEC calibre. Nick Saban and Les Miles turned out well enough, I’d say. It’s very likely Jim McElwain will, too.

  14. Scooterp, how do you figure we are loaded with a great roster? The OL is a mess, RB average at best, QB totally unproven, WR average at best…. the only bright spot I see is the secondary, past that totally up in the air. At this moment a 7 win season would be doing well.

  15. Some of the negativity on this web site is unbelievable. Coach McElwain will turn out to be an amazing hire. He and his staff have been onboard for a little over a month. It will take two years go get us back where we want to be. This staff will do amazing things, but they’re not miracle workers.

  16. We keep Lawing and TRob and I think we pull in a good class. Coach Mac is not a big enough name yet to pull in these guys on his own. Maybe they are willing to write this class off and play for next year when we can load up (hopefully), I just don’t see the talent or depth to get us there.

  17. Two highly touted QB recruits, one the Nat’l Gatorade POY, Florida high school record-setting RB, DeMarcus Robinson and Ahmad Fullwood. Outstanding tight end receiver Jake McGee… Top-notch secondary, McAlister, Bullard and a depth of young talent left behind by the previous staff on a defense that had to succeed with little help from the offense four four years. Finally we have a head coach and OC with a commitment to and grasp of productive, attacking offense. If Muschamp could coax six wins and three or four near-misses out his under-achieving, buming “attack”, it’s reasonable to believe we’ll improve enough in offense while remaining very competent defensively. Really tough schedule but a shot at nine wins.

  18. Gatormac, We could debate those comments, JD was the top player at QB his year. It all starts at QB and we are hurting there. I love TH but he’s not gonna get us there long term. Love to see him coming into the wildcat scenario, WG the starter but he hasn’t played a down yet.

  19. I’m quite sure prospects/recruits read the recruiting blogs of every major university including this one. Recruiting is a team sport and the fans are part of the team. Instead of making excuses for why we may or may not have a good recruiting class,or may or may not have a good season lets back the coaches and staff for this recruiting class. If I heard we weren’t going to be good for a couple of years, I wouldn’t come to Florida, Would you???

  20. yeah, Stan’s right. time to fire this staff and move on. shoot, they’ve had almost 3 months to get this thing going, they’re obviously incapable. don’t they know this is the university of Florida? we’re better than this!
    Lord, help us. you fire the whole staff and hire someone these guys have never heard of and who, by the way, has a worse winning percentage as a head coach than the guy Gator ‘fans’ couldn’t wait to get rid of, and you expect everything to turn up rosy immediately? are we really this stupid as a fan base? it’s embarrassing.

  21. Don’t jump off a cliff people, everything will be okay. There’s no reason to start second guessing a coaching staff that just arrived on campus. They will pull in a decent recruiting class and hopefully bolster the o-line and add depth at other positions. This is just the early steps a rebuilding process. If the team shows success on the field then the recruits will start coming. Have a great day everyone!!

  22. G2, I think Gatormac addressed the roster concern. Never said we were loaded, but there is enough talent to win a lot of games. OL depth is obviously the biggest concern and thin at LB. And this nonsense I keep reading that he should have kept Lawing and trob just so we can land a couple of stud recruits is ridiculous. You build a staff with people your comfortable with to coach football, not to make Byron Cowart happy…Jesus sometimes I’m embarrassed for our fan base

  23. I took the time to check the Michigan recruiting sites. The esteemed Jim Harbaugh inherited six verbally committed recruits. Two are early enrollees. Four are 4-star guys, the other pair 3-stars. There’s tremendous attention being focused on this weekend, as Harbaugh hasn’t added a single verbal. Nine of their visitors this weekend is among the nation’s “elite” and new Gator target Chris Williamson, a fast-rising 4-star, is among their top five targets on campus. D.J. Durkin is mentioned as a key recruiter. Is anyone right now going to write off Harbaugh’s future at Michigan because of the sorry situation with recruiting he inherited? They would be foolish to do so. We’re probably in better shape than they are.

  24. It is truly sad at the way most of you act as if the gators are the only thing keeping you alive . We must give the coaching staff a chance to work they came in right after the season is over they missed a 1/3 of the year for recruiting …You remind of spoiled brats

  25. It is an exciting time. We never know how things are going to turn out.
    Remember last year, defensive lineman Gerald Willis III was 94% likely to end up at LSU by Crystal Ball predictions. He choose Florida.

  26. Yeah, Willis’ determination to stick around, go to classes and petition to get back on the team includes his family’s support. He has a chance. Is so, he ‘ll be a big factor for starting status come this fall.

  27. I would not let him back on the team. I feel like he’s a jerk and the only reason he’s trying to stay at UF is because he would have to sit out a year if he went anywhere else. UF knew he was a problem child when they signed him, he was a jerk the minute he showed up on campus, and has never changed. You don’t think Muschamp saying that he would have kicked him off the team was just because he was an idiot in the FSU game, do you? The adage about one bad apple probably applies to this guy, and I think UF will rue the day they let him back on the team. Who’s he going to punch out next, the kicker?

  28. No surprise Moosedump let 6’4″ 230lb QB Chris Wilkes warm rthe bench for 2 yrs (2013-14) Let’s hope coach Mac doesn’t do the same. “As a senior at Dr. Phillips (Orlando) threw for more than 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns.” (stats and quote from GatorZone). Another Chris Wenke?

  29. I forgot I need to agree and be positive at all times. My bad….hip hip hooray for the 88th ranked recruiting class. You’re right Scooterp Here’s to 6-5 seasons for life! What a dunce. Sorry, Gator football means a little more to me….you’ll be the same guy calling for this coaching staffs heads when we go 6-6 3 years in a row.

  30. Guys!!!! Dont jump off roofs!!!!!! IF you really do your homework then if you look at the schedule for recruiting then you should know that the dont touch policy means the coaches could NOT visit until Jan 15th! That is only 10 days counting today for our staff to catch up!!! That means that in a little over a month Coach Mac had to get hired and get moved to somewhere to live, meet the staff, Evaluate the team, go to a bowl game and then work the phones and hire 6 coaches!!! He did that in 5 weeks!!!! In the mean time…This is the Florida gators!!!!! We have the swamp and tradition and we are THE university in the State of Florida….There are 8 commits now and you dont think that there are 22 more great players in the State of Florida and the Nation that wont want to come to Gville????? You watch, the next week and even by monday if the commits dont start happening and we will see the first this week and then the avalanche will begin!!!!!!IF these players are tooooo stupid to NOT understand what its like to be a Gator then they dont belong….I truly believe that we still get a top 20-25 class as if you know how the math works…Just add up 22 players with an average of 3-5 stars and that number will bring us to #20 or so……I know Coach Mac and his staff are getting ready to turn the tcorner this week and when the word gets out there will be some FSU and Miami Flips! Go Gators…Bob in Jupiter

  31. Take that to the bank!!!!!! And do you know that in the last 20 years that the University of Florida has more national championships in football and basketball than any other University? Florida 5, Miami 1 FSU 1……..Bama 3!!!!!!! and we are in contention for the National All sports trophy every year!!!!!!! You cant even find FSU amd Miami in the top 25!!!!!!! Im an alum and tick holder and booster!!! Do your homework instead of reading papers!!! Go Gators
    FYI Miami went 6-7 and lost a bowl and is about to lose their coach next year!!!! We have our new coach in place and WE have a stadium!!! Good grief what can Miami offer vs Florida??? Nothing!!!! Shannon will flip some of those guys!!!! Watch for the 4 and 5 stars to sign on NSD Go Gators

  32. Zach:

    Out of the gate this staff seemed very sanguine about the quality of this recruiting class. Do you sense that was false bravado or the real deal. If the latter has their confidence continued to remain where it was 4 weeks ago?