Zach’s Mail Stack 11/12


It remains to be seen if Florida had a “Perfect Thursday” on the practice field, but it certainly had one on the recruiting trail.

The Gators landed one of the state’s best defensive ends in Jachai Polite and had two recruits (JUCO athlete Dre Massey and TE Darel Middleton) list them on top.

UF is also days removed from an SEC East title and could now flip two Rivals100 members, QB Feleipe Franks (LSU) and WR Eli Stove (Auburn), after their visits Saturday.

Not a bad week for Jim McElwain & Co.

On to the questions!

With the new commit, is the DE board down to Brian Burns or Janarius Robinson? Also, how are we doing with Jordan Woods and Shavar Manuel? — @DevinLamarr

Correct. With four commits at the position, Florida doesn’t have room for many more defensive ends. However, one or two of the current commits may back off their pledge. More on that below.

The Gators would love to have Burns and Robinson, but I doubt they could get them both with Under Armour All-American Antonneous Clayton already in the fold at their position (weakside DE).

UF’s best chance is with Burns, who recently named Florida and Georgia co-leaders. The Bulldogs once had a strong lead in his recruitment but the Gators have closed the gap.

Woods could play end or defensive tackle, but UF has higher priorities at both positions. Five-star recruits Manuel and Dexter Lawrence are the top DT targets.

Despite Manuel declaring LSU his leader last month, the Gators still have a better shot with him than Lawrence. They’ll try to sway Manuel to The Swamp when he officially visits.

With Demarcus Robinson underwhelming a little this season, does he stay for another year? If so, would that affect WR numbers this cycle? — @dwm08e

Robinson hoped to have a 1,000-yard season this year, which isn’t going to happen. So that’s been a bit of a letdown.

He may even have a hard time matching his 2014 production in yardage (810), but with 45 catches he’ll surpass last year’s total (51). Robinson does still lead Florida in receiving and is coming off his best game of the season.

The staff is telling recruits that he’s turning pro. If Robinson didn’t and came back, that would allow the coaches to take only five receivers and could cost them a top prospect.

But the chance of Robinson returning is slim to none, and Jim McElwain has been pumping him up to NFL teams.

“As I’ve told all the scouts, this guy has come farther than any guy in our program,” McElwain said Monday. “I’m proud of him.”

Is it a bad sign that the Gators are recruiting a three-star OL committed to Vandy? Are we in the hunt for any four- or five-star OL? — @Airgator007

That’d be Houston (Texas) offensive tackle Braden Kopp, who attended Florida’s game against Vanderbilt. And no, it’s not a bad sign.

It just is what it is.

This is a bad recruiting cycle for offensive linemen. Parker Boudreaux is really the only elite prospect from Florida, and he committed to Notre Dame over the Gators. The other top OL recruit in the state is Ohio State commit Tyler Gerald, but he came from Ohio to attend IMG Academy.

UF still got the massive Stone Forsythe and Brett Heggie, the state’s second-best center. Both are three-star prospects along with Marcus Tatum, who is likely Florida’s next OL commit. Despite his rating, Tatum holds more than 20 offers including both SEC schools in Alabama and Mississippi.

But again, it’s not a great year and that’s why UF is exploring options such as Kopp. The 6-foot-6, 285-pounder has only played football for one year but is now getting discovered. Vanderbilt didn’t start recruiting him until last month.

The Gators don’t have any five-star OL targets, but they’re in the running for the nation’s No. 1 offensive guard, Terrance Davis from Maryland. Florida is scheduled to receive his last official visit.

With LB being such a priority, how many do you think UF lands this class and who? — @njnovo, @justiwood

UF currently has two linebacker commits (Vosean Joseph and Jeremiah Moon) and needs to add at least one more.

The No. 1 target is five-star Lyndell “Mack” Wilson, who is publicly favoring Florida. The Gators are also in the mix for four-star linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch of Houston, Texas.

Two in-state linebackers with UF offers, Zach McCloud and Josh Uche, both decommitted from Miami this week. Florida could also make a run at Shaquille Quarterman, another Miami LB commit.

Of the current commits, who is most likely to defect? — @bradweenawalene

As I alluded to above, the Gators should land at least one more defensive end in Burns or Robinson.

That would give them five commits at the position, and I just don’t see Jaquan Bailey and/or Eric Mitchell sticking with a group that big. Both plan on taking official visits to other schools.

The other potential decommitment is C.J. McWilliams, who has also made official visit plans.

Florida has added three cornerbacks to its class since he pledged, and all are more highly touted than McWilliams. And that’s not including Rivals100 member Chauncey Gardner.

How many recruits do you think we sign? Any attrition coming? — @Clayton04J

UF has 21 scholarships available for 2016 before attrition. The Gators expect to have at least seven more spots become available after potential transfers and juniors turning pro.

Robinson, Vernon Hargreaves III, Keanu Neal and Kelvin Taylor will all be gone after this season, possibly Jarrad Davis and Marcus Maye.

The 2016 class is currently at 22 members. I think Florida loses the three aforementioned commits and then adds nine more recruits to finish with 28 signees.

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