Zach’s Mail Stack 9/3


Welcome back to the Mail Stack!

I’m sure you all are as excited for college football as I am. Hopefully the offseason treated you well. As some of you know, I got married in the spring and took a few trips this summer.

That got me re-energized for football and recruiting coverage, and it’s been great getting back into the groove of things this past month. I’m anxious for Florida’s season to start this weekend.

There’s finally some excitement and intrigue surrounding this team, and that has sparked the interest of recruits. Friday Night Lights and the days that followed created a lot of momentum for the Gators and it should pay dividends for them this fall, especially if they can show improvement on the field.

On to the questions!

Top 5 most important potential gets for the Gators, and where we currently stand for each? — @ryanponczek, @WaffleWolf90

1. WR Nate Craig-Myers
Florida gained significant ground on him this summer. With his brother now committed to the Gators, they’re considered the team to beat right now.

2. DT Shavar Manuel
Another five-star recruit UF has a great chance with. At FNL he named the Gators one of his leaders and spoke highly of defensive line coach Chris Rumph.

3. WR Sam Bruce (Miami commit)
Another FNL visitor who attended Florida’s spring game and will be at Saturday’s season opener. With Jake Allen and Jordan Scarlett working him, a flip to UF seems inevitable at this point.

4. DE Antonneous Clayton
The top-100 overall recruit hit it off with Jim McElwain at FNL. The Gators have his attention after putting three straight D-linemen in the first round of the NFL draft. An Auburn-Florida battle.

5. OT Marcus Tatum
His recruitment took off in May and he has several several SEC schools pursuing him, including Alabama and Auburn. Tatum has the Gators in front with Miami or Tennessee being the biggest threat to UF.

Is this staff being more aggressive towards highly talented offensive playmakers, and do you think we land any? — @joelw524, @NicJanvier

Without a doubt. From the moment McElwain took over and evaluated the roster, he put an emphasis on improving Florida’s offensive recruiting. The 2015 class saw three late additions from South Florida, all of whom will play as true freshmen in Antonio Callaway, Jordan Cronkrite and Jordan Scarlett.

With three senior receivers and Demarcus Robinson likely going pro following this season, McElwain made WR the No. 1 position of need for 2016. Four months into the recruiting cycle, he had three commits on board.

One of them, Isaiah Johnson, has since decided to play tight end in college, but McElwain and his assistants have put the Gators in contention for a half dozen elite receivers.

Outside of local four-star prospect Freddie Swain, UF wasn’t a factor under the previous staff for Bruce, Craig-Myers, Tyrie Cleveland, Cavin Ridley and Benjimen Victor. With the recruiting efforts of McElwain & Co., Florida is now at or near the top of the leaderboards for all six wideouts.

At this time, I think the Gators land Bruce, Swain and whoever pops first out of Craig-Myers and Victor to go along with current pledges Josh Hammond and Rick Wells.

Staff seems to prioritize locking down Tampa/SoFla and has now expanded into Alabama. Any other areas they’d love to build in? — @Eli_Marger

The South Florida and Tampa areas are definitely priorities for the coaches, and so far they’ve done well there. Outside of the Sunshine State and Alabama, where they’ve had success in this class, look for the staff to get more results in Georgia and Mississippi.

The Peach State has always been a target area for Florida, but it’s been difficult in recent years and didn’t produce any UF signees in the 2014 class. However, five of the 16 commits McElwain landed for 2015 were from Georgia, and the Gators have received interest in this cycle from top-100 recruits Clayton, Demetris Robertson and Nigel Warrior.

Geoff Collins and other former Alabama assistants now on Florida’s staff regularly recruited the state of Mississippi during their time in Tuscaloosa, and they’ll be able to use those connections with the Gators. Collins has already flipped former MSU safety commit Quincy Lenton.

Also, Rumph’s South Carolina background and recruiting ties could help UF with any prospects they’re pursuing in that state.

Who will most likely be Florida’s next commit? @jroc287 

I’d say either Tatum or one/both of the teammates from Citra North Marion, Swain and defensive end Jordan Woods. I’ve made Crystal Ball predictions for all three to UF. Swain and Woods are scheduled to visit this weekend, and Tatum may make it as well.

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