This edition of the Gator Country podcast we break down the need for the Florida Gators recruiting class this year as the coaches are now on the road recruiting.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre go through the top four position of needs this year, plus give you who’s committed already and who the top targets are for this year.
Andrew and Nick finish the podcast by projecting who will be in the class at each of those positions, plus talking about why these positions are huge needs for Florida.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? This is your man, Andrew Spivey, with my minion, Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, talk to the people.
Nick: I am nobody’s minion. I am probably the reason people tune into this show, quite frankly.
Andrew: People don’t call you the goat. When they start calling you the goat I’ll believe that. Until then, just call me sir. That’s what I want you to do. I want you to start referring to me as Sir Goat.
Nick: That’s a negative, Ghost Rider, but I’m sure Twitter will call you that.
Andrew: Yes, because Twitter respects greatness when they see greatness. I am up there with the likes of Michael Jordan, Derrick Jeter, LeBron James, Chipper Jones. I’m up there.
Nick: Do you see what you’ve created, podcast listeners? Do you see what you’ve done to Andrew Spivey’s ego?
Andrew: Nothing. When people talk about the podcast world they talk about me. Just like they talk about Chipper Jones in Braves. It’s like they talk about LeBron James in basketball. When they talk about greatness in the podcast world they talk about Sir Andrew Spivey.
Nick: All right. I’m going to let Andrew continue to inflate his own ego over there. Today, without a game, normally we would bring on somebody to talk about the upcoming game. No games this Saturday, but recruiting season is heating up, and you guys have heard a ton from Andrew about recruiting, but for me, from following the team a little more. I mean, Andrew follows the team, but it’s my job to follow the team more so than to do recruiting. Andrew and I figured it’d be a good back and forth, a good conversation for us to have on here about what I think Florida needs to get, as far as what they have returning on the roster, and what pieces they need to plug in quickly, what recruits can plug those pieces in as far as being able to contribute and play as freshmen, and kind of that outlook. As far as what does Florida need in 2016.
Andrew: This is a big class for the Gators.
Nick: Big as far as impact and in size.
Andrew: This is what I call the retooling year. This is where Florida, Mac gets his pieces. The defense is good. He got some players last year, but you’re starting to see him find the pieces that are the missing pieces to his success with the Gators, his success with his offense. We’re going to talk about this in a minute. Getting a bigger tight end, getting bigger linemen. This is the class. This Florida football team will not look the same this time next year that it does this year. There’s going to be a big class. It’s going to be huge. It’s going to hit spots that this team needs depth. Mac is not going to be embarrassed again the way he was this year on offense, and that starts with this recruiting class.
Nick: Right. I think that kind of disappointment, embarrassment, whichever way you want to spin it. I think that is kind of fueling him. You see the way that this coaching staff very quickly, probably as soon as the plane touched down in Gainesville from Atlanta, which is about a 30 minute flight, as soon as you reach cruising altitude you’re coming back down. I think he was right back out on the recruiting road seeing Eddy Pineiro right away, the next morning down in Miami. The coaching staff’s going crazy.
Andrew: Most of the coaches never left Atlanta. Most of the coaches went back to the hotel, game planned, and then went their separate ways. Tim Skipper went to see Mark Thompson. Randy Shannon went to Texas. Nussmeier was out in Texas visiting Kyle Trask. So it was take off your coaching clothes, put on your recruiting clothes. Let’s go.
Nick: Yeah. I think some of that is feeling like, we’re a little late, because we had the game. While we were prepping for the game everyone else in the country that wasn’t playing in a conference championship game was out recruiting. Making up for lost time a little bit, but also we’ve talked about how this coaching staff is still a little bit behind relationship wise on this class. That’s just a product of how recruiting is nowadays. It’s not, we’ll start looking at kids when they’re juniors. A lot of these kids are getting looking at as freshmen, or getting looked at as eighth graders even. This staff has done a good job of kind of closing that gap that was there, and really the 2017 class will be the first one where they’re on the same relationship level as other schools, and they’re not playing catchup. Despite playing catchup, they’re doing a great job in this class.
Andrew: This staff isn’t going to use that as an excuse for that. They did a very good job of getting these kids on campus. You and I talked about it. The summertime was insane the amount of times they got some of these kids on campus, the spring, this fall. You think about games against New Mexico State, against ECU, against FAU, Vanderbilt. They were getting a lot of big name guys for those dump teams, those bad football games that they were getting those guys in for. You look at a guy like Nate Craig. He showed up to the New Mexico State game, the first game of the year, when most prospects don’t take visits. So they did a good job of building that relationship quickly on there.
They won’t use it as an excuse. I’ll give them a pass on some of this. Maybe some of these guys that committed early, for instance Jacob Eason. Are we having this conversation about Eason going to Georgia if Nussmeyer and McElwain were at Florida back then? I can’t say that we are. He may have been committed to Florida for 18 months just like he was Georgia. We’re not exactly sure where that’d be. Good things for Florida next year. All cards are even, and it’s setting up to be a monster class in 2017.
Nick: Yeah. We’ll see, depending on how many guys they get in and guys they can count back, we’ll see what the number can be for next year. To see the job they’ve been able to do kind of without a full deck is impressive.
Andrew: They’re at 72 scholarships this year, 72. That’s 13 under the limit. That’s not cool.
Nick: They weren’t left with a full box of crayons. That’s for sure. I don’t think anyone’s arguing that, except Will Muschamp, South Carolina head coach. Let’s get into our list. We’ve got them ranked sort of by importance.
Andrew: The first one’s going to be a long snapper?
Nick: We’ve got them ranked sort of by importance, but also need as well. So when we’re talking about that we’re talking about Florida needs a player here, so that position is important, but what do they already have? Something like offensive line might come a little bit later than another position. Obviously you need a lot of offensive linemen, more offensive linemen, but they already have three. We’ve seen a lot of growth from three freshmen and a sophomore in David Sharpe, so it might not be as important as our first position, which of course is quarterback.
Andrew: I mean, yeah. It’s like exactly what you said. This is a different football team against Alabama. This is a different football game all year long if the Gators have a quarterback. It is what it is. I’ll argue that this might be the biggest position and need for the last five years. Kevin Camps had a good story on GatorCountry.com the other day for us about Florida having bad problems under center lately, and it does. Florida needs a quarterback. It needs a quarterback bad. They need a good quarterback bad. Jacob Eason is that dude. He’s a dude to bring energy to the program. He’s a dude to play early. He’s the dude that the Gators need.
Nick: Yeah. My opinion, I’ve watched Kyle Trask’s practice highlights, because he’s not a starter at his high school. Big arm, big kid, needs to redshirt. Needs a lot of work. Feleipe Franks, a kid that I’ve seen in person, saw him first when he was a sophomore in high school. I’ve seen him when he was a junior, seen him when he was a senior in person. I’m not very impressed. I think he’s a project. All the physical tools are there. You can’t teach that height. He does have a big arm. There’s just accuracy issues.
Nick: Mechanics, stuff like that. I don’t think, and I get this question all the time, despite answering it all the time on Twitter. Feleipe Franks is not your Day 1 answer next year. If the only two quarterbacks in this class are Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks, then you’re hoping that Luke del Rio is your starter versus Massachusetts next year. That’s just it. In my opinion Franks is a guy that needs to redshirt, sit a year, and maybe as a redshirt sophomore he’s ready to play.
Andrew: Here’s the thing too. This is what I go back to. What do we know about Franks’ ability to read a defense? You know what I’m saying?
Nick: We don’t.
Andrew: He runs that kind of one read offense kind of deal in high school, kind of like Treon did. That’s what Treon’s struggling with. What do we know about Franks’ mental makeup? We don’t know. My biggest thing is I think Feleipe Franks could be a very good quarterback in four years. When we’re talking in four years, and someone told me he’s a first round draft pick, I wouldn’t tell you you’re crazy, because I think he has tremendous upside. Do the Gators have time for tremendous upside? No. That’s the thing. They don’t.
They’ve got to get a guy like a Dwayne Haskins, like a Jacob Eason, that plays from Day 1, is able to get on campus, maybe not start Day 1, but is able to compete Day 1 with Luke del Rio, and then compete with Will Grier when he comes back from suspension. They need that guy. They need that confidence to gain in the recruiting world from receivers to do this. You hear people say, “Jake Allen’s 2017.” Jake Allen’s not a guy that’s ready to go from Day 1. Now, I say that, maybe we’re talking in a year and he is ready. He’s still a junior in high school, still going through the process. He’ll learn a lot this off season. As of right now I don’t think Jake Allen is a guy that is ready to go from Day 1 at Florida. you need a guy this year to do that. You have primer opportunity to do that.
Nick: We both agree there’s nothing wrong with taking a kid who’s a project at quarterback.
Andrew: No. I love Kyle Trask.
Nick: Especially when you have Jim McElwain, who’s a noted quarterback coach, Doug Nussmeyer, also a noted quarterback coach. It’s fine to take those kids, but it might be getting to the Atlanta this year, and the kind of season that Florida has had, might be a little bit of a curse for Jim McElwain. I remember after Will Muschamp went 11-1, and the team went to the Sugar Bowl, the expectations for the next year were kind of crazy when you consider what was coming back on offense. Florida might be looking at coming into the season with starting a freshman or starting a transfer who’s on his third school. To be able to get a freshman in, and the only freshman I think that could play right away is Jacob Eason, but I think you might want to pull back expectations a little bit, because, yes, Jacob Eason is a college ready quarterback in my opinion. He’s still a freshman. There’s still learning, and there’s still growing pains that will happen there. I do agree with you. Florida needs to get a quarterback. I don’t think there’s room for three in the class, maybe they can make room, because the class does have enough spots, but you’ve got to fill in, and we’ll talk about that, you’ve got to fill in these other spots as well.
Andrew: No. I’m willing to bet big time dollar three quarterbacks aren’t in this class.
Nick: That’s what I’ve said, I think, from the beginning. I don’t see it. You can probably get a class of up to 32, but you’ve got other spots to fill. You can’t rest on your laurels on defense, because you could have some players leaving. You need to continue to, instead of rebuild on defense, you need to reload on defense. There’s a lot of work to do on offense, but you can’t neglect the defense.
Andrew: Exactly. That’s the thing, but my thing is you don’t need three quarterbacks in a class. Three quarterbacks in a class is too much.
Nick: No. That’s just a recipe for somebody transferring or two transferring.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, Kyle Trask is this, I think Kyle Trask could end up being a really good quarterback. He’s got the tools. He’s 6’6”. He’s got a rocket of an arm. Chad Wilson said it best from Great Iron Studs, Quincy Wilson’s father as well. He was telling me he said he’s watching film of Trask, and he was like this guy plays pretty much every high school in the state of Florida if he transfers, but he’s from Manville High School, the guy ahead of him is going to TCU. They run a spread offense, so he goes there. I think Trask has the ability to be a really good football player if he does learn the system under a guy like Nuss and Mac. I wanted to point out that I think he’s a guy that is different than Franks in that everyone knows that he’s a guy that’s coming in to be a project. Franks is a guy everyone thinks is coming in to play from Day 1, and it ain’t happening.
Andrew: It ain’t happening.
Andrew: What’s your next position?
Nick: It’s probably one that most schools really worry about, of course I’m talking kicker.
Andrew: Kicker, oh Lord.
Nick: It’s not really a position that many schools worry about. We got a kicker. Some schools don’t even hand out scholarships for kickers. They just get walk-ons. Given what Florida has had since Caleb Sturgis left, Chaz Henry might be the best kicker Florida’s had since Caleb Sturgis, and he was a punter. It’s kind of a hot topic, and there’s really, as far as I know, only one on the board. That’s Eddy Pineiro, my south Florida brother who is the specialist.
Andrew: Are ya’ll twins? Both Cuban kids.
Nick: No. We are not twins. We don’t even have the same last name. To me, he’s a guy who’s kicking 77 yarders. Of course nobody in front of him, but kicking 77 yarders and posting those on the internet. Florida needs a kicker. Jim McElwain has made it very clear that he’s going to find a kicker. So clear, in fact, that I think Austin Hardin’s days are numbered or done, maybe both.
Andrew: Yeah. Exactly. If it ain’t Eddy Pineiro, Johnny Kicker, somebody’s playing kicker next year for the Gators, maybe even Jim McElwain is asking for things. Someone’s kicking the ball for the Gators next year. That is very clear of that. I think that’s probably the second biggest thing. If they don’t get Pineiro, bet your bottom dollar they have some guys in the waiting areas they’re waiting to offer, but Pineiro’s an early enrollee, and quite frankly he’s the guy with the best leg right now. I know everyone says, “He hasn’t kicked in a game.” Florida’s watched him kick in person. They feel good on him. They’re going all in on him. If they miss on him they’ll go for other guys.
Nick: Even if Eddy sticks with Alabama, Florida will bring in a kicker, whether scholarship, walk-on. Florida will bring in a kicker this year.
Andrew: Yes. There will be a kicker in the 2016 class for the Florida Gators, whether it’s Eddy Pineiro, Andrew Spivey, Nicholas de la Torre, somebody’s kicking for the Gators next year.
Nick: I think my hamstrings are too tight. I don’t know if I have the flexibility to kick.
Andrew: Kickers are weird. I don’t want to be a kicker.
Nick: Florida fans are angry enough to be like, absolutely, kicker, important. It’s not just being able to kick field goals. When you look at Florida’s offense with Caleb Sturgis, who was pretty much automatic from 50 and in, and could hit from beyond 50, it changes the offense. It opens up things in the playbook. We’ve talked about this a little bit before, but having a kicker that you can depend on, even if your kicker doesn’t have that big leg, but he’s accurate. Let’s say we know our kicker is good from 40 yards and in. That let’s you know.
Andrew: It’s a weapon.
Nick: Yeah. Right now we have a 45 yard field goal. We’re kind of close, maybe we go for it here. Or, we know that we’re inside of our kicker’s range, we’re confident he’ll make it. 3rd down, let’s take a shot. Whereas now you don’t have any confidence in a kicker, and it changes, it really handcuffs you as a play caller when you’re trying to execute, and you’re trying to pick plays that will put your offense in a position to be successful.
Andrew: That’s exactly right. I think it’s a thing where you look at Bama with Adam Griffin. They feel good in him. You look at FSU with Ricky Aguayo. It’s that 3 points that Florida’s not, any team in America is not scoring touchdowns every play, every series. They need those 3 points. You’re going to see games where it’s a 17-13 kind of game where you need the field goal kicker, and it’s a weapon, a weapon the Gators need.
Nick: A weapon, and also it can be like a safety blanket. I guess what I was trying to say too.
Andrew: The thing is this, and I told you about this yesterday. Jim McElwain has a background in special teams coordinating. You already knew that. I wasn’t aware of it. That’s another reason this is personal for him. He is personal about finding a kicker. Now here’s my next thing for you, and this kind of leads into where you want to go next, I’m sure, is offensive line. Special teams has to do a better job of getting a push on field goals for the kick to get up. Every one of Austin Hardin’s blocks weren’t on Austin Hardin. Most of them were, not all of them were. So getting better up front helps with this as well.
Nick: Yeah. I’m encouraged by the offensive line. So that’s the first thing. I’m encouraged because of David Sharpe, because of Tyler Jordan, Martez Ivey, Fred Johnson. I’m encouraged because of these guys. I don’t even put all of the blocked kicks, because that’s not just all offensive linemen there. You’ve got all kinds of people down there.
Andrew: Right, but you notice the FAU game it came right over the left guard’s, I call it guards, depends on what you call it, but you usually have two guards playing left side of the long snapper. The block came from that side in the FAU game.
Nick: Okay. Still, when we talk offensive line I’m talking more about offense and less about how low your boy Austin Hardin is kicking his point afters.
Andrew: I know. I’m trying to lead you in to where you wanted to go next. I was sure of going to offensive line, but I’ll turn it over to you. What’s your third biggest need position wise?
Nick: My third, I’m going to switch it up. I think you thought we would be going offensive line next, but I’m going to go to wide receiver.
Andrew: You don’t like Dancing with the Stars anymore?
Nick: This is why. Demarcus Robinson told me in the locker room he hadn’t thought about coming back or not. I call BS. I think he will be leaving early.
Andrew: Want a bold prediction?
Andrew: He ain’t a Gator next year.
Nick: I don’t think so either. Then you look at wide receiver, and what does Florida have left, outside of Antonio Callaway? Don’t worry, I’ll wait. That’s why, for me wide receiver is that more important. Committed right now you have two early enrollees in Josh Hammond, Little Hot Light Hammond is what I’ll be calling him from now on, and Freddie Swain, who was a big get for Florida, another early enrollee. You also have Rick Wells and Isaiah Johnson. Four committed right now. Recruits, guys they’re still going after, Benjamin Victor, Nate Craig, Tre Nixon, Eli Stove. Florida is going to have a huge wide receiver class, and they need it. Every guy on this, I think, right now, I think the two early enrollees. I’m not sure about Wells and Johnson, but then I think Stove, Nixon, Craig, and Victor, along with Hammond and Swain, all could be guys who could make an impact next year. That’s what Florida needs.
Florida needs a playmaker in the mold of Antonio Callaway that can come in and give Florida some juice, whether it’s special teams, offense. Callaway was able to do both. You don’t necessarily need a freshman to do both. If they can only give you contributions on special teams, that’s fine. If they’re going to give you contributions only in the slot in certain packages, that’s fine. Florida need playmakers. If they don’t have a guy that’s the complete package, but a guy that can do one or two things well and that can be utilized on Saturday, that’s what they need. Florida needs playmakers. I’m going to put wide receiver needs slightly ahead of offensive line, just because how encouraged I am with the freshmen and David Sharpe, how they looked this year.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s a couple things here with the receiver. A, Florida, Mac, Kerry Dixon, they want to overhaul the receiver position in general. That starts with this class. Freddie Swain and Josh Hammond are very good football players. They probably play next year. Wells, Johnson, whatever. They’re okay. The key to going forward with the rest of those guys you mentioned, Tre Nixon, Nate Craig, Benjamin Victor, get a quarterback. If Jacob Eason lands at Florida those guys are there. Nate Craig is that guy that you say, “We’re going to get the ball to him seven times a game,” and they’re going to find ways to get it to him. Benjamin Victor is a guy you’re going to get it to. Tre Nixon, elite speed that Florida thought they were getting in Brandon Powell. Nick, when we were talking about this I forgot, Juco athlete Dre Massey.
Nick: Dre Massey also. You can put him in the line as receiver, but I think he’s a different kind of player than a Hammond or a Swain or Victor or Craig. He’s more of that Brandon Powell where you’ll see him…
Nick: Everywhere. Getting a hand off on sweeps, slants, inside/outside. Yes, sort of a receiver, but more of an athlete than a receiver.
Andrew: Yeah, but he’s a guy that him and Nixon provide that elite speed Florida needs. Hammond and Swain are guys like Callaway that can play anywhere they want. They can play X, Y, Z, F. They can play all four of the receiver positions that there is. Massey, Nixon are more your inside, your Z or Fs, depending on how you call your offense. I’m going to call it an F, because that’s what we called the inside slot receiver, what we called the flanker receiver. That’s your guys that are there. Massey plays next year. Hammond plays next year. Swain plays next year. Craig, Victor play next year. That’s a lot of playing time there. Get Eason, Victor, starting to lean back to Florida, could land him.
Nick: Quarterback is obviously a very important position, but it’s like you said, everyone wants a winner, and at least the perception. It might be the reality, but at least the perception right now is that is Eason. If Florida gets Jacob Eason you’re thinking they got their quarterback. They’ve got their franchise quarterback, so, like you said, you might start seeing some guys move on over.
Andrew: Exactly. Florida needs playmakers. Florida needs guys that are guys that can just go get the football and make a play, make a freaking play. I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. Is anybody scared of Demarcus Robinson? No. The only person on this team they’re scared of is Antonio Callaway. You need players that the opposing defense is scared of. Opposing defenses have to double team these guys. Guess what? That opens up the running game. Get me some of those guys.
Nick: I would be scared of Demarcus if he just got out of his own way.
Andrew: Right. What I’m saying is right now.
Nick: I don’t know if he’s going to do that.
Andrew: Right now, as a football player. Was Alabama scared of Demarcus Robinson Saturday?
Nick: Maybe as a gunner. That was a nice tackle on the first play.
Andrew: Yeah, but I’m saying you need dudes that you’re scared of.
Nick: Dudes that you’re spending time Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday worrying about, game planning. Guys that are keeping defensive coordinators and secondary coaches awake at night.
Andrew: Right. You need dudes like Treadwell, Travis Darrell, Malachi Dupre, Calvin Ridleys, Antonio Callaway.
Nick: Devon Durant had a nice year at West Virginia. Got to know him through recruiting last year.
Andrew: That’s what I’m saying. You need dudes like that they’re scared of. These guys we’re talking about do that. Nate Craig scares teams. Benjamin Victor scares teams. Dre Massey scares teams. That’s what I talk about. You need guys that you’re scared of. Dre Massey.
Nick: You literally just said his name differently twice in the span of 10 seconds.
Andrew: Dre Massey, whatever. Can you imagine him going up against Reggie Ragland for Alabama? That’s scary. Receiver is a need. I’ll give you that.
Nick: Where does Florida end up? There’s four right now. What is the sweet number?
Andrew: I think they get six.
Nick: So we mentioned earlier, so Florida has a lot of chips to play with in this class. We’ve mentioned that there’s a lot to do. You’re making up for lost time and terrible offensive recruiting over the last four years, so it’s interesting to see how they’re going to divvy up those chips that they have. Like we said, you can’t just rest on your laurels and neglect the defense. Putting six chips into wide receiver is a big commitment, but I think you and I both agree it’s a commitment they have to make.
Andrew: It has to be made. You don’t win football games unless you score points.
Nick: Trip Thurman told us that. He said, “Defense wins championships, but you can’t win a game if you don’t get it in the end zone.”
Andrew: We’re about to talk about cornerback here in a second, and, oh hell, they’re going big there too. They’re going big there. This is a 30+ class.
Nick: You’re jumping the gun again, but go ahead. 30+ class.
Andrew: This is a 30+ class coming your way. They’re going to spend a fifth of it at receiver. You bet your damn dollar they want to score points next year.
Nick: I think that also tells you, we’ve talked a lot this year about reading between the lines, I think that also tells you the frustration level with that position.
Andrew: What did Mac say?
Nick: Mac won’t come out and call guys out, but the fact that they’re going to spend a fifth of a gigantic recruiting class, it’s not like, “We can only take 20 guys, and we need some receivers.” They’re going to spend a fifth of a recruiting class on one position. That says something about their happiness level or lack thereof with the receivers on the team.
Andrew: Yeah. Mac said, “We have to catch the football.” This team didn’t exactly catch the football.
Nick: I can catch a football.
Andrew: So can I. What these receivers do, I don’t know. You look at Alvin Bailey, for instance, and we’re going to move on. FAU game he’s running by himself and just falls. Could have had a 1st down, and just falls. Okay. Whatever. Who cares?
Nick: Moving on from Alvin Bailey, and moving on to our next position. I’ve switched it up a little bit on you. I think the next important position is cornerback.
Nick: It’s because of this. Before the year we talked about how deep Florida was at cornerback. You talked about Vernon Hargreaves, Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson, JC Jackson, DeAndre Porter. You have five guys right there that you thought you could count on. Jackson and Porter obviously no longer with the team for getting into legal trouble. Vernon Hargreaves leaving. Now you’ve got two guys. You have two cornerbacks. That’s not good. What happens when a team goes four wide or five wide? And you’re looking at two guys in Quincy and Jalen who could leave early after next year, and then what do you have after that?
Andrew: I think they got Chris Williamson that’s a really good player, but he’s still maybe a year away.
Nick: He’s a guy who’s kind of dealt with injuries this year, so you wonder what was his progression like? Do you know what I’m saying?
Nick: He might end up taking a medical redshirt, or a redshirt, but it’s not like somebody like Nick Buchanan who wasn’t injured and took a redshirt, and was able to practice and participate and get after it and learn. Whereas Williamson, if he was injured enough to keep him off the field, especially with the numbers being low, you wonder how much was he actually doing versus how much was he just trying to get healthy?
Andrew: Exactly. They got some guys committed already. I’ll let you call their names out, but they hit the nail in the spot. They’re going full force here.
Nick: They are. Chauncey Gardner, who’s an early enrollee. He’s a guy who I think you and I can both maybe agree that he’s kind of like a Marcus Maye, more of a cornerback than Marcus Maye is, but somebody that you could play outside, inside, and maybe if you needed to in a pinch could put him and play him at safety. Just a guy that is super versatile, and maybe someone who could even start at nickel next year with Brian Poole leaving.
Andrew: I think he starts at nickel. I would say he’s maybe somewhere, he’s a better athlete, but this is the comparison of a Duke Dawson or Jalen Watkins. He’s a better athlete and a better player than that.
Nick: We’re not saying that’s the type of player he is. We’re saying that versatility is what he’s going to bring to the table.
Andrew: Right. I do think Chauncey Gardner is your nickel next year.
Nick: There you go. Andrew Spivey, hot take.
Andrew: Hot take.
Nick: After that at corner you’ve got McArthur Burnett. I am on record. Give me defensive backs from Pahokee all day, every day. Those kids know how to play. They’re fast. They’ve got a mean edge to them on the field. Sign me up. Tony Nelson, from your neck of the woods in Alabama, and then maybe one of the most slept on guys in the recruiting class in Aaron Robinson, down from my area, the 954.
Andrew: Yeah. Aaron Robinson in my opinion is a stud. I’m on record as saying that he ends up…
Nick: He shut down my alma mater, St. Thomas, and they have got some very talented receivers in Sam Bruce. I’m forgetting the other one right now.
Andrew: Trevon Grimes.
Nick: Trevon Grimes. Two very talented receivers, and Aaron Robinson had no problems.
Andrew: He down Benjamin Victor as well. He’s a guy that is a pure cover corner in this class. I really like that.
Nick: An island type corner.
Andrew: Yes. I like Robinson a lot. He’s a pure athlete, good speed, good physicality. I’m on record as saying he’s going to be the best cornerback in this class.
Nick: I’m on record as saying if they have dreads they’re good at football, and he’s got dreads.
Andrew: Pretty much. Burnett may be your best athlete of the class at the cornerback position. He’s a speedster, and, as you said in the opening, he’s a guy that’ll play on special teams next year. Mark it down. He’ll play on special teams next year. Then you have Chauncey who is a guy that is just going to, A, he’s probably going to talk you to death, so you’re probably going to get mad and fall asleep when he talks to you, but he’s a guy that is going to play good football. He’s got a ball hawking skill, fast as all get out. Good leaping ability, and a phenomenal football player there. He may be the best football player of the bunch. Burnett may be the fastest, and Robinson may be the best cornerback.
Nick: Kids from the muck, the Pahokee area, kids from the muck they don’t care what it is. They just want to have a helmet and pads on, and they want to be playing. When you look at Burnett’s size, speed, physicality. Yeah. Put him on special teams. He’s a guy you put at gunner, and you say, “Go get me the ball.” It’s just, “Yes, Coach. Got you. No problem. I’ll be right back with it.” Love that as far as in attitude. I’m not as familiar with Tony Nelson. I’ll start watching more.
Andrew: Tony Nelson’s a guy that he is a guy that is long. He’s a basketball player. He’s a point guard. Number 1 point guard in Alabama. Long, lanky.
Nick: The thing for Florida at corner is you’ve got your two starters next year.
Nick: You have Quincy and Jalen. They’ll be on either side. Duke Dawson will probably compete with Chauncey Gardner in the spring, since Gardner will be there, at nickel. So a guy like Tony Nelson, if he’s not ready that’s okay.
Andrew: That’s the thing.
Nick: You’ve got those guys in. What you need to do in this class, and what they’re doing with four guys so far, is building that depth. We haven’t even touched that they’re still recruiting Kristian Fulton, who I think is a very good player, and still, even though he decommitted, recruiting Javaughn Myers.
Andrew: Yeah. The thing is with Nelson, he’s a guy that when he stands up his arms about go to his knees. He’s long, very long. Very good football player that is still learning the position. Kristian Fulton, he’s a guy that when you say he’s a good football player, give me him. He’s a good football player. I say this, and I’m going to get shots. I’m going to try to explain this the best way I can. Vernon Hargreaves may not be the most talented cornerback, but he’s the smartest cornerback. That’s kind of what Kristian Fulton is. Kristian Fulton may not be the best cornerback from an athletic standpoint, but he’s going to probably beat you to the ball and look like a great cornerback.
Nick: It’s just that football IQ.
Andrew: And instinct. Right. I’m sure someone’s going to say, “Vernon’s going to be drafted in the first round.” Yes. He is. He’s a very good cornerback, don’t get me wrong. I think Jalen Tabor is the best pure cornerback on the Gators team, but doesn’t have the instincts and the mentality of the mental makeup of a Vernon Hargreaves. That’s what Kristian Fulton is. Javaughn Myers is another guy that’s just long. He’s a long, athletic cornerback that can play some safety.
Nick: Some projecting going on with Myers and Nelson a little bit.
Andrew: Yeah. More your projection. They’re guys that are just long guys, like Jalen Tabor. Just long guys that are guys that are going to line up, probably put their hands on you, and try to beat you off the line, or beat you down on the line. It’s there. I’ll say this. Kristian Fulton, if it was up to Kristian Fulton, Kristian Fulton’s a Florida Gator. It ain’t up to Kristian Fulton completely. His parents are from New Orleans area. They want him to stay close to home. If mom and dad get convinced, don’t be surprised if the Gators don’t go to the 504 and bring a cornerback to DBU.
Nick: How about that?
Andrew: There you go.
Nick: Only one early enrollee. I think that’s fine. You can get away with it during spring. It’s not like offensive line where you’re worried about guys going down at corner. Moving on to the offensive line. I think that is a position where Florida needs, they did a good job last year. So obviously when you’re playing three freshmen there’s some need, but you did a good job finding kids who are smart enough and ready to come in and play. Now you need to continue building that depth.
Andrew: I think is kind of the best way to say it. You need four to five offensive linemen in every class, every class.
Nick: Every single class.
Andrew: You’re going to have guys transfer out, usually.
Nick: Transfer out, guys can leave early.
Andrew: Guys redshirt.
Nick: Guys redshirt. Florida’s had really bad luck with offensive linemen taking medical redshirts.
Andrew: Right. Get those guys. Do I think any of these guys in this year’s class will be asked to play next year? Probably not, unless they get a Juco guy. You look at the guys they got, real quick, Nick. You got Brett Heggie, the center. He’s a guy that is probably a year away. Okay? They got Stone Forsythe. He’s a project. He is a two year project of getting him in better shape.
Nick: You get him in as an early enrollee, so you can kind of start that process. It’s not like, he early enrolled, so he’ll be ready to play Massachusetts first game next year. No. He’s still a two year project, but you can get him in early and start that weight loss process. Start that body transformation earlier.
Andrew: Right. Then they got Jawaan Taylor. He’s a guard. He’s a guy that very well could see some playing time. He’s the guy that lost 50 some pounds, and he’s a massive road grader when it comes there.
Nick: We talked about it when we had him on the podcast. To me, that kind of says everything I need to know about him. To go ahead and say that you want that offer, you want to be a Florida Gator so much that you lose 50 pounds. That’s like an Olsen twin back in the Full House days. You lost an Olsen twin. To me, that’s impressive and shows just how much he wants to be a Gator. You want people on your team that will go ahead and do things like that. The Lamical Perine story where he’s washing cars to buy a bus ticket to get to Gainesville. Jawaan Taylor who’s losing 50 pounds so he can earn an offer. You want those guys who will do anything to be a Gator.
Andrew: Yeah. You look at the targets. Marcus Tatum is a tackle guy. He needs to add some weight, kind of like David Sharpe did. Everybody I’ve talked to said that he’s going to be a first run draft pick. He has the potential to be a first round draft pick if he continues to get better like he is. He’s 255 right now. They want him to be 280, 285, kind of like what David Sharpe was, gain weight. Then you got a guy that Florida’s visiting on Tuesday, Jakori Savage, offensive line prospect from Baldwin County in Alabama, committed to LSU. They’re going on him. They got a couple other guys they’re still monitoring right now to get this. Believe it or not, the Gators needs tackles. Next year they have three tackles on their roster, Ivey, Halter, and Sharpe.
Nick: Not Halter.
Andrew: I mean Sharpe, Ivey, Fred Johnson. Maybe a Richard Desir-Jones, maybe there.
Nick: He’s been really playing inside.
Andrew: Right. So they need tackles bad. Tatum’s a tackle. Stone’s a tackle. Jakori Savage is a tackle. They’re going for that in this class to again add depth. This is a depth adding year.
Nick: Yeah. If you look at it you really think you have three starters in Ivey, Sharpe, and Johnson. You need to find two more.
Nick: Tyler Jordan, you probably have four starters there. So you really to find just one starter, maybe Cam Dilliard, maybe somebody else. Then just build on the depth.
Andrew: Right. Continue to build depth. Never have a problem where you’re sitting there again with one starter returning that has played serious minutes. That’s bullshit, and it needs to stop.
Nick: We started the year with 10 starts on the offensive line, and all those were Trip Thurman.
Andrew: Yeah. Never ever should you have a class of 2-3 offensive linemen in the class. That’s bullshit.
Nick: We’ll get five in this class.
Andrew: The goal is five. The least they will get is four. I am very comfortable in saying they get four, but I think they get five. That is the goal.
Nick: Five offensive linemen, six wide receivers. Now you’re up to 11. Then cornerback you’re thinking four or five?
Andrew: I’d say four.
Nick: That’s almost half the class in those three positions, which is why they’re on our list as the most important positions of need for this recruiting cycle.
Andrew: As Mac says, you have to hit the places that you’re weak at and get better at. They’re going to hit that. Guess what next year will be? They’ll hit the defensive line and other places.
Nick: We’ve got one more. We didn’t talk about linebacker. You’ve got two committed, Vosean Joseph, Jeremiah Moon. The recruits, David Reese, who is an early enrollee, and then the Mack truck, Mack Wilson. What’s the number Florida’s looking at here? You’ve got to consider Antonio Morrison is gone. Jarrad Davis, Alex Anzalone comes back. Matt Rolin looked good last week in the SEC championship game, but hadn’t played a ton. What will he be next year? Then really only Rayshad Jackson after that.
Andrew: I think they get three in the class. I think they get three. Reese is an early enrollee, and if he does early enrollee at Florida then they could possibly go for four with Mack. Reese is a guy that plays from Day 1, in my opinion. Mack’s a guy that plays from Day 1. Joseph, Moon, probably needs a year there.
Nick: I love Mack Wilson. I love his style of football.
Andrew: He’s going to knock the hell out of you and not care.
Nick: That’s what I like to see.
Andrew: Antonio Morrison play again, because I love watching Morrison play football as well.
Nick: You’ll see him in Birmingham.
Nick: Mobile. What am I saying?
Andrew: Senior bowl week, definitely. Nick, we’ll reconvene here on Friday. Do a little talk there, preview some Alabama/Mississippi All Star game preview. Basketball is going on as well. You guys take a look at Cassidy’s stuff. Nick, tell the people where they can find us. Let’s get out of here and stop boring the people.
Nick: @NickdelaTorreGC, @AndrewSpiveyGC, GatorCountry on Twitter. TheGatorCountry on Instagram. www.GatorCountry.com. All the latest, greatest breaking news stories, notes, tidbits, nuggets on your Florida Gators can be found there.
Andrew: Definitely. Good stuff going all along. Recruiting’s going wild. Be on the Jacob Eason watch all weekend, all week. Coaches are on the road as well. We appreciate you guys. Mark Richt, you know the drill. As always, go Braves, and chomp, chomp.
Nick: You stay classy, Gator Country.