2016 awards and 2017 preview: Florida Gators recruiting podcast

This GatorCountry podcast, focuses on the Florida Gators recruiting news as we recap the 2016 class one more time, plus we give out some awards for most likely to play next year and more.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre. also start to look ahead at the 2017 recruiting class, as we break down what the Gators need at each position for the class of 2017.

Andrew and Nick finish off the podcast by previewing the rest of the week for basketball, softball and baseball as the Gators get ready to take the diamond.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? This is your man, Andrew Spivey, with Nicholas de la Torre. What’s up, Nicholas?

Nick:                         Not bad. I’m all over the place today. Did a little basketball. Did a little bit of softball. They start on Friday, the three-peat on their mind, and we got basketball tomorrow, on Tuesday, and then baseball coming up in less than two weeks now. So there’s no football, but there’s always recruiting, and there’s some good sports, some good stick sports coming up in Gainesville.

Andrew:                 The diamond really has a chance to be owned by the Gators this year. Baseball and softball really have a chance to go to Oklahoma City and Omaha respectively and come back with gold.

Nick:                         Yeah. It would be a third for the softball team. That’s unprecedented, and baseball, everyone kind of gets on them for not getting over the hump. Softball maybe winning back to back championships isn’t helping them at all, but it’s actually really hard to win a championship. There’s only one team a year that gets to win it in their respective sport. It’s not something that everyone gets to do. So baseball is loaded though. Sully has got the arms. They’ve got some power. I mean really you look at Pete Alonso and JJ Schwarz you might have 40 home runs in the 3-4 hole from those guys. That’s not an unrealistic expectation or a goal with Pete going into his junior year, and JJ going into his sophomore year.

Andrew:                 Softball is legit as well. #1, #2 player in the country come in on a stacked team already. As they say in Tuscaloosa for football, the rich get richer. Wednesday’s over with from last week. Signing Day’s out of here for 2016. The recruiting world goes on. 2017 guys are already starting to get offers. The coaching staff is back from their little mini vacation, and the movement, the Swamp ’17 movement is out there. That’s the hashtag for this year, and it’s out there already.

Nick:                         It’s quickly. It’s that quick. This class kind of gets to, or this coaching staff kind of gets a one to two day reprieve, and then they’re back at it. So recruiting never sleeps. Recruit daily or die, and the big thing for me with the signing class of 2017 is that the state of Florida is really loaded. I kind of wrote about it last week. I think Jim McElwain and the coaching staff did a very good job specifically in Alabama. Obviously getting Tyrie Cleveland from Texas, from the Houston area. He does have ties to the state of Florida, and they did a good job in Georgia as well, but I think that there will be a little more emphasis on the state of Florida this year with the 2017 class.

Andrew:                 It will be. You and I talked about this when you were writing the story. Florida lost some guys in state in 2016, but outside of the receiver position it was kind of a down year in the state of Florida, for the majority of the class. Offensive line is one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time.

Nick:                         That’s kind of been a typical thing of the state.

Andrew:                 Yeah, but 2017 is really good. You got two of the top guys in the country in Orlando and Pensacola that are two of the top offensive linemen in the country. Now they are committed to Alabama, Auburn respectively. It’s a different story.

Nick:                         And I say that, and four of the five starting offensive linemen, David Sharpe, Martez Ivey, Tyler Jordan, and Fred Johnson are all from the state of Florida. So maybe I should take that back.

Andrew:                 I see your point though. It’s usually a deal like that, but you look at the defensive line in 2016, it was down. You look at the quarterback position, it was down. You look at the running back position, no offense to anybody, but there wasn’t really a running back in the state of Florida last year that I would have taken. Sorry. Just kind of where it is. You look at tight end, outside of Nick Eubanks it was nothing. I see your point, and everyone has a very valid point there. You want to take the state back. You can’t say we’re going to take the three start kids or the two star kids just because it’s an in state kid over taking someone out of state. I see your point, and I think they absolutely have to do a better job of that. So I think that things will be better in 2017, and also Torrian Gray, the new defensive back coach, with his ties to Lakeland may be that the #1 receiver in the country is, guess where? Lakeland.

Nick:                         I think when you look at 2017 right now Florida in the Rivals 250 you’ve got Jake Allen and then Kadeem Telfort. Telfort is gigantic. This is a massive human being, 6’6”, well over 300 pounds. You’re starting to make some headway there. I think getting Torrian Gray in, we talked about it a little bit, but Kirk Callahan was really getting negatively recruited, and I think with Torrian Gray being a second round pick, being a guy who’s played in the NFL, spent a lot of time as a coach, nine years at Virginia Tech, I think there is a certain level of respect, and you’re not going to have other coaches saying to prospects, why do you want to go play for this guy? He’s never played. Stuff like that. You can’t really say that about a guy that’s played in the NFL. Lakeland, the state of Florida, the Tampa area, you mentioned the #1 receiver in the country is in Lakeland. South Florida, my area, my people, it’s always loaded.

So I look for this staff to make a bigger impact on the state of Florida. It’s like you said, you’re not going to go and take a two star kid over a kid that you have a chance to land from Georgia just because one of them’s from Florida. I think in my opinion when we were at the Under Armour game I was really impressed with Carlos Becker. I understand he was committed to Florida State, and not everybody, just because, if you’re listening to this you’re probably a Florida fan. Just because you’re a Florida fan doesn’t mean every five star kid from Florida grew up rooting for Florida. So not everyone wants to come and be a Gator, and you want to find guys who want to come and be a Gator.

I thought Kristian Fulton was a great player, but maybe you could have spent more time with a guy like Trevon Mullen or more time with a guy like Carlos Becker, rather than trying to pull a guy from Louisiana. So there is a balance in every recruiting cycle. Every recruiting class will be different, and I just think, as you mentioned, the in state class, in state crop of kids in 2017 is very strong.

Andrew:                 I mean, not to beat a dead horse, but Carlos Becker was a failure. It was. It is what it was. There was some position coach didn’t like him, and they didn’t. I remember Keiwan Ratliff telling me about this time last year, he was like, “This kid’s a damn good football player.” It was a mistake, and it was there. 2017 is big, and they got to right the ship. It is what it is. I mean there is no way to hide the fact that 2017 is loaded, and you’ve got to go big there.

You got the quarterback, and he’s going to be your alpha male of this class. He’s going to be the guy that’s going to, he’s going to be the one talking it up. He’s going to be the one on Twitter. He’s going to be a quarterback that, I might even say since Tebow that has been a vocal leader. Will Grier, Treon Harris were not vocal about wanting players to play with them. Maybe they were behind the scenes, not in public they weren’t. Feleipe Franks, if you heard him say, “My name’s Feleipe Franks,” you were doing good. Kyle Trask was out in Texas. He was there. Allen is going to do well for Florida. It’s always great to have your quarterback doing well, out recruiting. Him and Daquon Green are going to do really well. I think that’s going to be very good as we go into that 2017 class.

Before we go to 2017 though, let’s make a couple things here. Let’s go back to 2016. I kind of came to the table here with a couple topics that I wanted to ask you about, and we can discuss it. I’ve got a couple of things that want to go. Just looking at the 2016 class, Nick, who are you expecting to have the biggest year next year?

Nick:                         I really have a hard time picking anybody out from the Signing Day players. When I think of guys that can come in and make an impact right away I really lean heavily towards those early enrollees. I don’t know if that’s a cheap answer, because it’s like, of course, they’re already on campus. They’re already going through the program. To me, when I think of guys who can have an impact I’m looking at Mark Thompson. Kelvin Taylor, Jim McElwain has shown, I wrote a story about it before last season, and the carries last year show it. Jim McElwain likes to find one running back, and that one running back really gets the bulk of the carries.

There was only two years in McElwain’s history at Alabama and at Colorado State where there was kind of a timeshare in the backfield, and that proved to be the case again last year. Kelvin Taylor had 259 rushes. The next running back that was closest to that was Jordan Cronkrite at 44, and then Treon Harris, not all of these assigned runs, had 96. So I think really you’re going to be looking for one back. Mark Thompson’s a guy that’s coming onto campus thinking one year, best case scenario I’m here one year. Worst case scenario I’m here two years. There’s not a feeling out process for him. He’s an older guy, and I think in his head that time clock is already ticking down of I need to make an impact, and I need to do it quickly.

Andrew:                 Just to throw my opinion in. I think I’ll go Mark Thompson as well, and if it’s not Mark Thompson I’m going to go Chauncey Gardner. I think Gardner plays. No, I’ll say that. Chauncey Gardner is out there. I’ll say that there. I’m going to go with a receiver. I’m going to go with Josh Hammond. I’m going to go with Josh Hammond. That’s going to be the guy that I think when we look back this time next year that we say he had the best year out of the class. Mark Thompson may. I’m with you there, but since you said it I’m going to go Hot Sauce Hammond. I’m going to go Josh Hammond. Receivers are needed. I think him and Tyrie Cleveland and Freddie Swain all play next year, Dre Massey as well. I’m going to say that Josh Hammond is the guy that wins that from me.

Nick:                         If you would have stuck Chauncey I would have thrown in the caveat, all five receivers can play, because after Antonio Callaway, yeah. All five of the guys coming, the four freshmen and Massey, all of them will have opportunities to see the field. So to me, anyone at receiver is kind of a recurring theme each and every season. It’s kind of like Bueller, Bueller. Is the receiver here? Who’s going to complement Antonio Callaway?

Andrew:                 Exactly. Here’s the question that I wanted to ask you next. Sleeper of this class. Who do you think the sleeper was?

Nick:                         I really think the sleeper, you know early on the pick would probably be Antonneous Clayton, ended up becoming a five star after a tremendous Under Armour game. I think the sleeper in this class is Josh Hammond, and my reasoning behind that is I think he’s kind of getting lumped in with Frankie, and almost the situation of he’s not being overshadowed by Frankie, but it took Frankie Hammond a while to hit his stride. It really wasn’t until his senior year, his redshirt senior year, where he made a big impact. Josh is a completely different player. Much taller, longer, bigger, more a possession type receiver than the speedster that his brother was.

I was very impressed with him, and I had kind of been down on him before seeing him in person at the Under Armour game. So to me I think that’s somebody that maybe fans take for granted. Okay. He’s a legacy, so he was going to be a Gator anyway. Didn’t have to worry about his recruitment, and it’s kind of like the early enrollees in general. By the time Signing Day comes the guys who are already on campus you’re not even excited about, and now the class is a total failure, because we didn’t get these three guys on Signing Day. You’ve got guys that are on campus already, already helping the team. So I think Josh Hammond might be my sleeper pick for this class.

Andrew:                 Interesting. You know one of mine’s Perine. I’ve been on that case. I’ll continue to be on that case. Since you know that, it’s tough, because I’m going to go with a guy that I think is a guy that we talked about, but maybe haven’t given him credit for his performance on the field. That’s Jawaan Taylor with an A, the offensive lineman, the road grader. He’s a big boy. He lost all that weight, sure. That’s a great story. Proud of the guy. On the football field though, his coach and I had the chance to kind of a spend some time together at the Under Armour game, and he was telling me. He was like, “People don’t understand he was 380 pounds and could move. He’s 340 pounds and can really move for his size.” I think Florida wants to get bigger up front, and I think that’s going to be big here. I think he’s a year, maybe two years, away from being that really stopgap in there, putting him there. Being that guy that’s a starter every game. I think maybe he’s a redshirt freshman or redshirt sophomore before that happens, but I definitely think he’s a guy that’s going to be really good at that guard position now that he’s a bigger guy.

Nick:                         Kind of a different narrative from past seasons is that it’s going to be harder to kind of break into that line now though, which is a good thing for Florida. With returning Sharpe, Jordan, Dillard, Ivey, Fred Johnson, it’s going to be a little tougher for guys. It will be interesting to see if the coaching staff continues to want to rotate in 9, 10 guys. Jim McElwain has said that he’d like to have 10, 11 guys that he’s comfortable with playing.

Last year they had a healthy rotation throughout the year. I don’t know if that was Trip Thurman’s shoulder’s being held together by bubble gum that we put in there every Friday night before the game on Saturday, and we want to keep him healthy. We’ve got these freshmen that we want to get some experience, and that’s why you have the rotation. Now that you have all of these guys who are going to be juniors, sophomores, you maybe not want to have as much of a rotation, because now they’re experienced because of that rotation last year. So it’ll be interesting to see how that dynamic breaks down.

Andrew:                 Exactly. That’s something we’re going to see. The last question I have, I don’t do the overrated thing. So if people are wanting that question I don’t. I think that’s a bad assessment to make. Nick, would you agree with that?

Nick:                         Yeah. When you talk about college I think people, you see a kid on a website, or you read a story, and guys like me and you are interviewing them, and you kind of forget that they’re 16, 17, 18 years old, and you forget how you were when you were 17, 18 years old and going away to college, and how difficult it is. Then you’re putting on them now you have to perform at the highest level in college football on top of all of that other stuff. To say a kid is a bust or a bust potential because he doesn’t have an All-American freshman season I think is a little much, but I understand where you’re trying to go with this, and I would say just because of the expectations I would put Tyrie Cleveland on that list. I think it’s because fans might be expecting him to come in and have 1,000 yard receiving season next year.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         I don’t know if that’s in the cards for him or for any freshman. You can point to someone like Christian Kirk or someone like Calvin Ridley. People forget that Calvin Ridley was 21 years old as a freshman.

Andrew:                 Ridley only ended up with what? 1,100, something like that?

Nick:                         Only.

Andrew:                 No, but what I’m saying is not only, but you think about as big of a season as he did he barely reached the thousand yard mark. You know what I’m saying?

Nick:                         Right. That’s kind of what I’m saying about Cleveland. Listen, if he has 600 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns next year, that sounds like a good season to me.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         It’s more about the impact they make than the actual numbers. I just think that somebody like him, a big four star, five star, coming in from out of state, flip on Signing Day, people get excited, and maybe the expectations can become unrealistic.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s kind of what I was saying. What guys do we need to be patient with as they develop? That was kind of what I was looking at in this. I was going to go with Jachai Polite. He’s a guy that I think is going to be a very good player. I think we just need to wait on him to develop, and I say that in he’s still could play D end, could play D tackle. We still need to wait on him to develop, and that’s not to say that I don’t, I think he’s going to be a good player. Just wait on him to develop, and that’s kind of what I was going to ask you, before you knew the question, is who are we needing to be patient with? I agree with you on Tyrie Cleveland. He really, any of these receivers, because the quarterback factor’s still there. If del Rio’s really good, could either one of these guys have a breakout year? Absolutely. If quarterback plays like Treon Harris last year, then we got problems. None of them are going to have a big year.

Nick:                         Guys, I think we need to be patient with. Are you ready for my list? Rick Wells, Kyle Trask.

Andrew:                 Yup.

Nick:                         Jeawon Taylor, the safety from Montgomery, Alabama.

Andrew:                 See, I disagree. I think Jeawon’s going to play football for the Gators next year.

Nick:                         I just think it’s a tough position. They say the closer you are to the ball, the harder it is to make that adjustment. Obviously playing safety you’re not close to the ball, but there’s so much mentally that goes on there. He’s not an early enrollee, so you’re kind of asking a lot for somebody to come in, playing a quarterback like type of position where you need to know the responsibilities of 10 other people on the field. It’s not like a cornerback where it’s, you’re doing this. The guy next to you is doing this, but just cover that guy in front of you. So it’s a little different. I think physically, yes, he’s ready. Physically very good player. Ton of skill. I think it’s just the mental part of the game and the speed of the game. That’s why I put him there.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         Jordan Smith, I think is another player. There’s so many. Jeremiah Moon, Christopher McWilliams.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this.

Nick:                         Wait, wait. Feleipe Franks. Let me get that out there. Feleipe Franks, be patient with Feleipe Franks. Don’t start calling for Franks to be the starter when del Rio throws an interception.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Quarterbacks are going to throw interceptions. Feleipe Franks needs you to be patient.

Andrew:                 Very patient. You and I have both heard too that Kyle Trask is having, has probably started to outperform Franks a little bit in off season. You and I have both been told that by multiple people, and I even had one person tell me Trask has the strongest arm of the four quarterbacks on campus. That to me was, Franks has a big arm, but if Trask is outperforming him there, then it’s kind of good. It’s good to have competition there.

Let’s transition to 2017. We talked enough about the 2016 guys, and it’s a good class already. There was a lot of good players there, and I know you’re looking forward to getting to know them and get them on campus. Let’s go to 2017 here. I want to take a quick look at just a couple things. I want to look at what the needs are. You know me. I don’t like the star thing. I like the can you get the needs. Let’s start with quarterback. Jake Allen’s your quarterback. I think they’re good with one quarterback. Agree or disagree?

Nick:                         I think that you are, because you were able to get basically three in the last recruiting class. You can kind of, if you want, because you get Austin Appleby in you could theoretically redshirt both of those guys, Trask and Franks, and then redshirt Jake to create separation between them. You could redshirt Franks, not redshirt Trask, and then now you’ve got one quarterback, and redshirt Jake Allen when he gets there. Now you’ve got a quarterback in each class, even though you had two in this class. Now you’ve created separation between all of them. So getting a grad transfer in, especially for the spring, was important for Florida. So one quarterback, to me, you can get away with that, and I think Florida, if something pops up I don’t think they would turn somebody down and say, “We filled that need,” but I think they’re happy with Jake Allen, and Florida can get away with one quarterback this class.

Andrew:                 I agree. I think the biggest thing is does, and this is going to sound crazy, because here it comes. If del Rio has a monster year and decides, I’m done with football, I’m going to go pro, then you got to look at getting two quarterbacks in the class. That’s the only way I say, and I say that meaning that it’s a possibility. Del Rio’s eligible, and Appleby’s there, so if something crazy was to happen and those two guys were to leave, then you’ve got to have two, because you’ve got to have four scholarship quarterbacks on campus.

Nick:                         Yeah. You need four. I don’t anticipate that happening.

Andrew:                 I’m saying that would be the only way I think.

Nick:                         It’s a wild, it’s not out of the, I don’t think it’s going to happen, but it’s a possibility.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         It’s not plausible, but it’s possible.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s what I was saying. If that happens, then you would say you got to have two quarterbacks in this. To running back, I think it’s one or two. I think it’s one or two. You look at you’ve got Scarlett, Cronkrite, and Perine and Thompson. Thompson, in my opinion, probably heads to the league, unless he just has a really bad year. So you’ve got three on campus. If you get one in the next class you’ve got four. So I’m between one or two, depending on who wants in this class, how Scarlett and Cronkrite do this year. Are you afraid one of them leaving as a junior? That kind of thing. I think you kind of one or two in the class.

Nick:                         Listen, if a running back, unless a running back is injured they’re going to leave as a junior, because the way the NFL works right now is you’re trying to get to your second contract. So I would expect, unless Mark Thompson gets hurt or gets surpassed by somebody else and doesn’t get any carries, I would project him to leave early. Then you’ve got two other juniors in Cronkrite, following the next year in 2017, you have two juniors, a sophomore in Perine, and you’d like to have a fourth. So I think at least one, maybe two can kind of give you some flexibility, but definitely one running back in this class.

Andrew:                 That’s my opinion as well. We’ll see. I mean, if two really stud running backs want in, you take them. Bama hasn’t had a problem with that. I think it’s a who wants in kind of deal. Shoot for the stars at the beginning. Try to get the best one. At receiver, I’m still three or four. I know you signed five this year.

Nick:                         I think that number really changes depending on what you get this year.

Andrew:                 Yeah, but I mean, the receiver position is so bad that basically right now you have six receivers. You have the five you signed this year and Callaway. So if you sign three or four are you going bad? You know what I’m saying? Are you going bad? I think three or four.

Nick:                         Yeah. No, I’ll stick with three or four. I don’t know if you want to get more than that. I think three or four is good, because I think you really need to load up at tight end after not getting one this class, and you really look at only having, in my opinion, I know there’s four, but in my opinion you really only have one tight end in C’yontai Lewis, because DeAndre Goolsby is not really…

Andrew:                 Camrin Knight didn’t play bad. I’ve heard high praise for Knight. So it’s really two, but are you counting Knight as a H back, or are you counting him as a tight end?

Nick:                         I’m counting him as a roster spot.

Andrew:                 Okay. That’s fine.

Nick:                         He’s on the roster.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         He’s listed as a tight end. I say that DeAndre Gooslby is more of your H back. If we were going to just lump H back and tight end together then I’d say you have two tight ends.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         I’m just saying Goolsby and C’yontai Lewis are playing different positions, even though they’re both listed at tight end. They’re being used differently.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         I really think you need to get somebody in. I think you need to get more than one, probably two tight ends.

Andrew:                 I think you need to get a big tight end that’s like a Tre’ McKitty that’s the 6’4”, 225 kind of guy, and then you need to get a guy like a Goolsby that’s that H back kind of guy. I think you need to get one and one in this class. I think you need to get one and one and go for that and have replacements there. That’s just my opinion. I think you need to get two, and one and one wouldn’t be bad.

Nick:                         Why don’t we just find another Gronks, someone that will do them both?

Andrew:                 Yeah. Can’t we? The Gronks, the Hernandezes of the world are kind of there. Goolsby could do that. I’m not going to say that he can’t. We’ll see. I think they need one and one though. I think they need two in this class, and it’s a class that is still being evaluated at tight end position, because really only one true tight end offer out, and that’s to Tre’ McKitty, and Florida’s got a great shot there. That’ll be something you see coming down the line for spring ball.

Moving to offensive line, last position on the offensive side of the ball. Four again. I say you take four in every class. I know people say…

Nick:                         Four to five in every class, depending on that.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, people say you don’t want 20 in the roster being taken up by offensive linemen. That very rarely happens. People either leave the program or transfer, that kind of stuff. Florida signed three. They signed three, but they’re probably going to get another one, whether it be a transfer guy, a grad transfer, or a guy that comes in from another school. So maybe four, probably four. I still say four. I’ve been on record as saying that I like four in every class. That gives you 16 on the roster if you have four in every year. I’m going to say four again. Preferably some inside guys this year. Well, preferably two and two, two inside guys, two outside guys.

Nick:                         I think every year, I’m on the same page as you here. Every single year you need to get four guys, if not five, and it’s just about reloading, like you said. Stuff happens. Florida’s had some really bad luck with guys.

Andrew:                 You wouldn’t say?

Nick:                         Florida’s had some really bad luck with guys injury wise. You never know what’s going to happen. So to me I really think you need to kind of make sure that your numbers won’t be, hey, we have six offensive linemen going into spring practice. That can never happen, and the way to prevent that from happening is signing four to five guys every single class.

Andrew:                 It’s a monster year at that position this year. Let me just tell you. It’s a good year, especially in the state of Florida. Let me just run off a couple of these names in the state of Florida. Calvin Ashley, committed to Auburn. Florida’s got a chance there. You got Tyrell Slaton, 6’6”, 349, from American Heritage. You’ve got Leatherwood that’s committed to Bama. You got Kadeem Telfort. You’ve got Kai-Leon Herbert. Telfort’s already committed, but you go after some of those other guys in state. You’ve got a guy in Blake Vinson from North Marion, just committed to Clemson. That doesn’t mean anything. So you got a lot of good in state prospects for the first time in a long time. Florida may be able to fill their offensive line class with in state guys, and that’s something that we haven’t seen a ton over the last few years.

Nick:                         There’s a couple guys, Calvin, I believe he is Dr. Phillips.

Andrew:                 Dr. Phillips. Jim McElwain’s home away from home.

Nick:                         McElwain has had some experience and a fair amount of success at Dr. Phillips. I wonder if Calvin got out to watch any of Florida’s bowl practices out there.

Andrew:                 He said no. He just, he hurt, he tore his labrum, and so he was in physical therapy, but he said that he hears every day that McElwain is part of the Dr. Phillips family. Not a bad thing if you’re recruiting a five star offensive lineman from that school.

Nick:                         Not at all. Then I guess if we’re moving on, we’ll stay on the line though, I think Florida really needs to get some interior help coming here at defensive tackle, nose tackle. Some of those guys to play down inside.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this. Hold on a second, Nick. Let me ask you this real quick. Question for you. So we talk about the inside guys. I think what Florida needs is, I think Cece’s going to move inside a little bit, and I think Polite ends up moving a little bit inside. I think they need to go and get a monster nose tackle. I think that that’s something Florida needs is to go get just a big old monster of a nose tackle.

Nick:                         Your Terrence Cody.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Your Terrence Cody. Your big guy that is a run stuffing, a Vince Wilford. Just a big guy that’s inside that can do that. I think they need to get that guy, and then to go get a guy that can replace Caleb Brantley, a guy that’s athletic enough to rush the passer, but big enough to stop the run.

Nick:                         I think I would say that it would take a pretty poor year for Caleb Brantley to play two more years in Florida. So I expect him to kind of…

Andrew:                 He’s gone. Let’s just say it.

Nick:                         I would expect for this to be it.

Andrew:                 He’s getting the Vernon Hargreaves treatment. He’s getting the retirement.

Nick:                         When you look in state at that position you’ve got Ja’len Parks, who’s an FSU commit. Cam Spence, who unfortunately goes to IMG Academy.

Andrew:                 Hold on.

Nick:                         Florida can just pack up shop and say, “We’re done at IMG.”

Andrew:                 Let’s be fair with Cam Spence. Cam Spence is from Maryland. So let’s be fair.

Nick:                         Nobody that goes to IMG is from Bradenton, Florida.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Then they don’t go to Florida.

Andrew:                 People say Florida doesn’t do well at IMG, and that’s an in state school. That’s not an in state school. I mean, it’s in state because it’s in Bradenton, but very few of those kids are from Florida that go there. So let’s just be fair there. Then the thing is you’ve got Ja’len Parks and Cory Durden are both from Newberry, but they’re godfather or some relative or another is one of Florida State’s coaches. So it’s going to be tough to pull those guys, and guess what? Georgia’s loaded at defensive tackle again for next year. Surprise, surprise.

Nick:                         There is a kid, Neil Farrell, from Murphy down there in Mobile, Alabama, where McElwain has had some success. No Florida offer yet, but there’s guys. It seems to be kind of limited in state. You might have to go out of state to find somebody to fill that role, but it is important, and I think you need to, like you said, get that big nasty nose tackle, get another defensive tackle. Frankly, if Cece keeps playing the way that he played last year, and keeps progressing, you only have two more years of him, and you need to keep replacing. That was something I mentioned before the 2016 cycle even really started. I think it was 2015 Signing Day. Jim McElwain can’t rest on I have a good defense, there’s so much to do on offense. You’ve got to keep recruiting at that same level to keep the defense playing at the level where they’ve been carrying the offense for the better part of a decade really.

Andrew:                 I think they need two to three defensive tackles in this class. One of the guys that I really like, not that we’re getting into names, but is Aubrey Solomon out of Georgia. Florida’s right there in the mix for him. Big old boy. I have him listed in the 6’4”, 290 range is what he told me, 6’3”, 290 range, somewhere around in there. Big boy. I think Florida’s got a really good chance there.

Let’s go to defensive end. The Super Bowl told it all. You want speed, and you want a lot of speed, and go get two more. It’s a really good year for Florida in state. Probably one of my favorite guys in this class is Zach Carter out of Tampa Hillsborough. Lightening quick. Go get him, and get another one. Continue adding speed. I mean, last night I think it could have been really the defensive line versus the Panthers, and Denver would have still won. Would you agree with that, Nick?

Nick:                         Yeah. Vaughn Miller.

Andrew:                 Demarcus Ware.

Nick:                         Demarcus Ware.

Andrew:                 Where is Demarcus Ware from?

Nick:                         Troy.

Andrew:                 Hey, I finally got it.

Nick:                         I’m going to go back to my favorite school, IMG Academy. What about Josh Kaindoh? I think I’m saying that correctly.

Andrew:                 Guess where he’s from.

Nick:                         Where is he originally from, because I know he’s not from Bradenton, Florida.

Andrew:                 Maryland. Florida’s got an uphill battle with that, but we’ll see. It’s a guy that they’re on early. I think they got a shot for sure there. It’s just a guy that is kind of, I don’t know what the best word is, just I guess having vacation in Florida for high school. So we’ll see on that guy. There’s a couple of other guys that I really like. Jarez Parks is a guy that’s kind of that outside linebacker/defensive end guy. I really like his game, and I like Zach Carter’s game a lot. We’ll see on those two guys there. Linebacker, Nick. Three more. Got to go three more. I mean, it’s a weakness, and it’s a weakness that Florida’s got to continue to go. Wouldn’t it be nice to get the #1 player in the country? Dylan Moses from IMG.

Nick:                         Back to IMG.

Andrew:                 He’s a monster.

Nick:                         We were really impressed with…

Andrew:                 Hold on a second. Sooner or later.

Nick:                         Law of averages.

Andrew:                 Something. I mean, it’s like if you’ve got 50 kids there at least one. I mean.

Nick:                         The law of averages is in Florida’s favor. Somebody who attends IMG Academy will end up in orange and blue.

Andrew:                 Maybe we should put out a poster that says, “Wanted. Who wants to be the first IMG player to go to Florida?”

Nick:                         Dylan Moses. Here’s something that plays in Florida’s favor.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         The fact that Dylan Moses is IMG does not play in Florida’s favor historically. The fact that Dylan Moses is no longer at University Laboratory school, which is on LSU’s campus, the fact that Dylan Moses won’t be living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that helps.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I’ll be honest. I’ll say this. I don’t think he goes to LSU.

Nick:                         We went and saw him play, and in the background of his stadium…

Andrew:                 Was Death Valley.

Nick:                         Death Valley. So to get him, listen, would you rather him be at St. Thomas? A proud St. Thomas alum, of course I’d love to see him play linebacker and running back at St. Thomas, absolutely. To get him out of Baton Rouge and away from LSU, maybe he doesn’t like LSU, but there’s no doubt about it that kids in Baton Rouge, kids south of Highway 80, feel pressure to stay home and play football at LSU.

Andrew:                 Do you have to, if you’re a recruiting writer do you have to put him on an official visit every day he goes to school?

Nick:                         I guess.

Andrew:                 Technically he’s on campus.

Nick:                         Every single day on campus.

Andrew:                 What do you say when he takes a visit?

Nick:                         That might be a pretty cheap official visit for LSU to host.

Andrew:                 Might be a pretty cheap official visit. Hey, boy, go stay in your dormitory on campus.

Nick:                         The official visit, we can’t really pay you to walk across the street.

Andrew:                 Do you want to go on vacation and be paid to come back? We’ll do that here. He ain’t making very much money there. I mean three more, four more wouldn’t be bad in this class. It’s a good class, again. Guess what, though? Not very good in state from a lot of perspectives there. We’ll see. It’s a good around the area. Four is the number there. Moving to corner and safety, defensive back. I’ll just call it defensive back.

Nick:                         You kind of got to load up here.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You kind of got to go big again. Here it’s…

Nick:                         That’s the price you pay when you sign guys like Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson, Vernon Hargreaves. You’re not going to get that four or five year window from them.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, I know people are saying, you’re loading up on the defensive side of the ball, and it was. It was a big year on offensive side of the ball. So guess what? The next year has got to be big on the defensive side of the ball, just it is what it is. It is. You think about it. We just said one at cornerback, one at running back, three there at receiver. That’s five scholarships. That means you’re loading up on the defensive side of the ball, and there’s some good players in the state. Little Quincy, Marco Wilson, is one of those guys as well. Florida should have absolutely no problem whatsoever loading up in state and at the state of Georgia for 2017 at the defensive back position.

Nick:                         There’s one that I really like, have watched him a little bit, Shawn Wade. He’s currently an Ohio State commit.

Andrew:                 He’s Ohio State just on a letter. I was told this. It’ll be interesting to see if this story comes out, but I was actually told that he stopped answering calls from Ohio State.

Nick:                         And he goes to Trinity Christian.

Andrew:                 That’s not IMG.

Nick:                         Send Nick Washington, the original, the inspiration for our recruiter of the year award. Send Nick Washington back home some Fridays to do a little friendly recruiting for Florida.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Definitely do that, and then guess what? Gus Scott’s there. He’s there. He’s on campus. So that’s there. Speaking of recruiter of the year award, Nick, let’s release that Tuesday morning. Tuesday morning, lunchtime? Recruiter of the year for 2016. It’s pretty easy guess. In case you’re surprised, we’ll release that. Overall, I think they get 25 men in this class, around that area, and they go there. The one thing I was going to ask you about. We didn’t talk about it. Is it time to recruit a punter? We’ve got Johnny Townsend will be a junior.

Nick:                         I don’t want to talk about Johnny Townsend leaving.

Andrew:                 I think it is. I’ve think you’ve got to get a punter.

Nick:                         Don’t ruin my day.

Andrew:                 I think you’ve got to get a punter. Punters are people. Maybe they can put you on that campaign.

Nick:                         If Florida pays me I will go and find a punter.

Andrew:                 If Florida pays you. Okay. There you go. There it is. So that kind of rounds up this one. We’ll talk on Friday. We’ll preview baseball, softball. Softball starts this weekend. Has a little home tournament, and should be good tournament this weekend. Excuse me. Not a home tournament. They’re at USF this weekend. Should be a good start to the season as they go down there to south Florida, University of South Florida, to play Michigan, Virginia Tech, and USF. Michigan was the team they beat in the world series.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’ll be interesting to see. You probably get a run rule on Friday.

Andrew:                 Illinois State.

Nick:                         Get a run rule on Friday, and then right back at it with #2. #1 versus #2 in Michigan. So that should be a great showdown. Then will they play Michigan again? I know they’ll have a double header on Sunday.

Andrew:                No. It’s Virginia Tech and South Florida. I think Michigan doesn’t want two losses on their schedule.

Nick:                         Not that early on. It’ll be interesting to see what Coach Walton does with the pitching. Who do you throw for your season opener, and are you saving somebody? Do you go ahead and throw a freshman?

Andrew:                 Do you throw Ocasio on Friday against Illinois State? I mean, she is the veteran. I think you have to. But here’s my question. Do you throw Delanie Gourley, the lefty, against Michigan? She caused some problems for them in the College World Series. Or do you go the #1 pitcher in the country in Kelly Barnhill?

Nick:                         I think you could, and that kind of serves as, hey, Kelly, you were #1 for a reason. You were very heavily recruited. You came to Florida to play in games like this. Here you go. First game. First time you put on that jersey, or first time you step in the circle, and it’s against #2.

Andrew:                 Here’s another thing though. It’s a girl they’ve never seen before. They’ve seen Ocasio, and they’ve seen Gourley. So it’s a mixture of you’ve never seen her, so have at it.

Nick:                         To me, I don’t think, I think, especially coming off of two championships, I don’t think Tim Walton would lose sleep over losing to Michigan on Saturday.

Andrew:                 I don’t know now. I don’t know.

Nick:                        Will he like it? No.

Andrew:                 Walton doesn’t like losing.

Nick:                         I know he doesn’t like losing, but I think if you’re looking at it in kind of the grand scheme of things I don’t think he’s…

Andrew:                 No. It’s a statement game, boss. It’s a statement game. It’s we’re back. Michigan, you’re still #2. You got to win that game. This is no if, ands, or buts about it. That’s a must win game for the early non-conference hand. You and I will disagree on that, but it’s okay. That’s what this podcast is all about. So we’ll talk about that on Friday. We’ll preview some baseball, softball. Florida basketball plays Ole Miss Tuesday night. Women’s basketball took out Texas A&M last week. #16 in the country. That’s the highest they’ve been ranked since 2009. It’s the first time I’ve watched this team play and say, this team can beat just about anybody. Play South Carolina, #2 team in the country, on Thursday. That’ll be a test. Big week for Gator sports. Lacrosse won opening game on Saturday. Women’s sports and men’s sports in the spring are, quite frankly, dominating.

Nick:                         It’s not just a football school. It’s an everything school. There is a lot to be excited about, even if you aren’t excited about the men’s basketball team. The women are playing well, and Florida’s about to clean up the diamond. They’re about to polish up on the diamond. That wasn’t my best pun.

Andrew:                 What about strike out the competition?

Nick:                         That’s not great either. I promise, if you follow us on Twitter we will come up with better puns. @NickdelaTorreGC, @AndrewSpiveyGC, @GatorCountry. Also, we’ll go ahead and release the recruiter of the year on Instagram tomorrow. How about that? As an incentive to go over to Instagram.com. It is TheGatorCountry over there. We’ll release that about lunchtime tomorrow. Might not be a surprise, but we’ve got some great edits, and we’ll release it over there.

Andrew:                 Yes.

Nick:                         Follow us on all the social networks.

Andrew:                 One quick thing. Last year it was the Hager bomb for softball. I need a new one. Help me out. If you got any cool little metaphors I guess you could say, or cool little things.

Nick:                         You might have to adopt one of my old ones, and that is this team that doesn’t have Hager, doesn’t have Bailey, there might be a little more small ball being played. Maybe you have to take the hashtag bunting is winning.

Andrew:                 Oh no. I love bunting, and you know I do, but Tim Walton likes the long ball. So hit me up with those. I’ll give you a shout out for giving me the good ones. Butch, Mark, you know the drill. Your teams aren’t very good in softball, for sure. So go Braves, and chomp, chomp.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.