GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as quarterback Matt Corral joins the podcast to talk about the Florida Gators recruiting class of 2018.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre talk to Corral about why he committed to Florida, plus who else he’s trying to recruit to Gainesville.
Andrew and Nick also recap the first week of fall practice for the Gators and update the quarterback position.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, football season, which means one thing. People are going to hear a lot of you and I, and our guest, for the next, what? Six months, seven months? Let’s go.
Nick: Yeah, we’re back at it. I didn’t really get a break, because of baseball, but we’re fine with it, and we’re back into the swing of things in football. So we’ll be here, you and I, three times a week, and I think you are developing a new recruiting podcast that everyone will be wanting to hear about. Expect to hear us on iTunes four times a week until January.
Andrew: Yeah. Zach and I, Zach Hughes is going to join me. We’re going to do a special recruiting one. Won’t be the hour long like Nick and I have, maybe 30 minutes once a week. He’ll talk the latest basketball recruiting updates. We’ll bring the latest football updates. So we’ll have about 30 minute show every week, and sometimes it’ll be more basketball related. Sometimes it’ll be more football related. It’ll just go like it is. But today, Nick, we got a special podcast coming their way.
Nick: Yup. We do. All thanks to you too. You did the leg work here.
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, the teamwork makes the dream work. We’re going to bring in Mr. Five-Star Quarterback, Matthew Corral, Matt Corral. To my knowledge, first interview he’s done since he committed Florida. He’s going to join the podcast here in just a second. He’s going to talk why he came to Florida, the recruiting he’s done. I mean, let’s just face it, the man is the most active recruiter I’ve seen in a long time.
You and I created the Nick Washington Award, because Nick Washington was a machine on the recruiting trail. Matt makes Nick look bad, and that’s saying something, because Nick was a good recruiter. Matt’s done a great job to really boost this class. We’ll talk to Matt about that, really ask him what it is and why, why he wants to be so involved in recruiting.
Nick: Yeah. A guy that was committed to another school. Decommitted from USC. But I think the biggest thing is how active he’s been, like you said. That’s kind of the thing multiple players have told us. I think it was Iverson Clement said it at Friday Night Lights, “Once we get that piece, people want to come and play for a quarterback. Once we get that piece, everything’s going to start rolling.”
It’s not just getting a piece. He’s out there retweeting everything, tweeting at people. I’m sure texting, calling guys, Facetiming guys. I can’t explain or tell you how big of an impact Matt Corral will have on this recruiting class and the next recruiting class.
Andrew: That’s exactly right. It’s one of those where a quarterback’s always going to be the best recruiter for a team, for a class. It’s always going to be that, and it’s no different for Matt. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think it would be as much as it was, with him being a Cali kid. I say that tongue in cheek, because I know Matt’s personality, but also knowing that he’s from Cali, doesn’t have the personal relationships with the guys from down this way as other quarterbacks could have.
But he’s really kind of thrown a jab at me, because it’s been the opposite. You look at a guy Jamar Chase. He says one of the main reasons he committed was Matt Corral. You look at Jacob Copeland, committed last week. Big factor was Corral. I’m sure that’s going to continue on throughout this class of guys committing. They’re going to say, “Well, Matt was one of the big recruiters for me, was on me.” That kind of stuff. And pushing up timelines, I think, as well, because guys now see they either hop in, or they’re going to get left out.
Nick: That had been a big issue in the past, right?
Andrew: Yeah. When you look at last year, for instance, you had some guys commit to Florida that you thought they were locks to Florida for a while, but they waited. Well, that was about to happen this year. Guys like Jacob Copeland said he wanted to wait to January. Other people say they want to wait, but we’re hearing they’re moving their decision timelines up. One of those guys being a William Barnes, who says now he could commit at any time. For a while he was saying Signing Day.
When you look at that kind of stuff, you think, it’s good for Florida not to have to wait till January or February, and say, what happens if we miss that guy? You don’t have to worry about it if they’re already in the class. You can start to fill them out. Also have backup options, but already have them in the class, and that’s a huge factor.
Nick: Having backup options is huge. I think the biggest part is, McElwain said it, it might have been on Friday. Joking around, “What is a silent commit?” I think that was kind of a message to people, maybe to recruits. If they’re listening, or if we’re retweeting it, it’s like that whole silent commit thing might not work anymore, because you want to go ahead and silent commit? Somebody wants to come out and commit, and maybe tweet out that chomp, chomp. They might take your place. So if you want to be a Gator, it’s time to go all in and not wait around and make us wait around.
Andrew: Exactly. Let’s not make anybody else wait, Nick. Let’s go on to Matt.
Nick: Speaking of waiting around.
Andrew: Yeah. Let’s not make people wait. Everyone loves hearing you and I, but I’m sure they’re about to love hearing from their quarterback.
Andrew: Hey guys, we’re back with Mr. Matt Corral. Matt, first of all, we appreciate you coming on, and I guess, welcome. Welcome to the class. Welcome to Gator Country.
Matt: Thank you. I’m excited. I’m excited to be a part of this whole thing.
Andrew: You kind of seem like you just jumped in and was full force in. Not to say too much, but kind of took a little bit of the rivalry already in. You just seemed to jump in and feel a part of things. How has the welcome been from fans, from the coaching staff, from really all of Gator Nation?
Matt: Well, to start, as soon as I committed, I’ve never been around that much energy. Because when I committed, it was in Coach Mac’s office, like we kept it a secret from Coach Mac. I told Coach Nuss, and then Coach Skip knew. I think they were the only two that knew, and then like a couple of guys. Then we were supposed to keep it a secret.
So four hours later I tell Coach Mac in his office, because he expected me to do it next week, because I told him I would. Coach Skip was the one that made me feel comfortable to pull the trigger sooner rather than later. As soon as I committed, I told Coach Mac, and his reaction was funny. Because my mom was there, so he wasn’t really doing anything crazy.
Then as soon as I walked outside the building, walked outside his office, like literally I’ve never seen anything like it. Everybody just went crazy. It was like a domino effect. Like you heard one office like cheer, the next office came out, and then the next office came out. Then it was just like a domino effect. It was pretty cool after I committed. Then there was another one, like that same day, probably 10 minutes after. Then it was the same exact thing. It was cool to be around all that.
Andrew: Take us back real quick, Matt. What drew you to Florida? What drew to come out there, to visit Florida? Once you got on campus, you instantly seemed to love things. What made you fall in love with Florida once you got to Florida?
Matt: Well, my coach is from Florida, the one that I visited with, and he was telling me about it. He was comfortable with it, and I’m close with him, known him since I was like in eighth grade. Just him talking to me about it, I think, that made me feel comfortable. I’m not the one to be scared of going too far from home. I’m all about doing new things and experiencing new things.
I just think that being around the type of coaches that Florida has, it’s like a family. They were telling me that on Thanksgiving when come kids can’t go home, they invite them over to their house with their family, and they have their own little thing. I’ll be there with Coach Nuss’s family, just eating dinner at Thanksgiving. That’s big. That’s huge. Rather than just being in my dorm on Thanksgiving.
Also, the quarterback position it’s open as soon as I get there. That wasn’t a bad deal. And it’s SEC, which is what I wanted.
Nick: It was your first time to Gainesville to see everything. What was it? Obviously, the coaching staff makes you feel comfortable, the guys. But what was in your mind that just clicked and said, “It doesn’t matter how far away this is from home, I’m ready to do this right now. I don’t need to see it twice. I don’t need to see what they do in the season. I’m ready to do this right now.”
Matt: Mainly how comfortable my coach was about it. Like saying, “This place is nice. This place is for you.” Just my offensive coordinator talking like that. It just made me feel comfortable. Like I said, I’m not one to feel uncomfortable, but I’m sure I’ll get homesick. I mean, that only happens for like a couple months, and then I go back to normal. Just, like Gainesville, it’s completely from California. Raining every day. Exactly the same exact time, for 20 minutes, and just stopping out of nowhere.
Nick: I’m born and raised in Florida. Welcome to that. We say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes.”
Andrew: Matt, you come on campus. Obviously, the quarterback position at Florida has been an open revolving door since Tebow left. How big was that for you to know, I come to Florida, and there’s an opportunity to play, being a competitor life yourself? But also, does that bring added pressure to that? I’m sure you welcome the pressure if it does.
Matt: Yes. The expectation that, of course, the fans have for me. They expect me to do, obviously, bit things there. Like my coach always says, “There’s no such thing as pressure if you’re prepared.” I don’t really pressure. Pressure is self-inflicted. It’s just if I’m not ready, then I’ll feel pressure, but I’ll be ready.
Nick: I like that. You got to keep that with you, that little saying from your coach.
Andrew: Matt, so you commit. You commit on that Saturday. The following day, on the Sunday, one of the biggest receivers in the country, Jamar Chase, commits. This past week Jacob Copeland commits. It’s kind of been like a trickle down effect of guys committing. They’ve all had one thing in common, and they said, “Matt’s been a big part of it. Matt’s talked to me.” I guess, as a quarterback do you feel like that’s something you needed to do, or is that just your personality?
Matt: To be honest, I wasn’t really doing that when I was committed to SC. I was just like whatever about it, like I’m committed. That’s that. I wasn’t too big on like bugging kids about come join me. I don’t know. When I got to Florida, I just really do not know like what made me do all that, to be honest, but I think it was because Coach Skip told me about all the guys that were supposedly coming. They all followed me, like on Twitter, the guys that were supposed to commit. They all followed me, so I’m assuming like they followed me for a reason. So I’m waking them up, and I’m going to ask them.
Then next thing I know, I got this thing going. Then I have Jacob Copeland. I promise you, we got a lot of guys. Jacob Copeland, Jamar Chase. We got a whole group chat of who’s committed that aren’t even committed yet, and there’s a solid like 20 something guys in there.
Nick: Matt, feel free to drop any of those names and break commitments here on our show. What do you think it was? Don’t want you to brag on yourself or anything like that, but you are a very highly rated quarterback, a name that a lot of guys know. Do you think that you committing to Florida kind of got the ball rolling in a sense for these other guys? Now they’re saying, “Listen, Florida might only be a piece away.”
Matt: I don’t really see that as like cocky, but that’s exactly the piece they were missing, and that’s exactly what made—like the coaches were telling me if they had that piece, then everyone would start committing. That’s why Coach Skip didn’t want me to wait. That extra week, we probably wouldn’t have Jamar Chase. We probably wouldn’t have had Jacob Copeland. I’m actually kind of glad I did it when I did, because you never know.
Andrew: As a guy that’s a quarterback, obviously you’re telling the receivers, “I’m going to be the one throwing you the ball.” What do tell defensive players? I know one of the biggest guys you guys are after is a guy like Channing Tindall, the linebacker out of Carolina. What do you tell a defensive guy about Florida? Is it more just what you’ve seen, or what is it? If you don’t mind sharing.
Matt: Like I said, we have a group chat, and I only talk to offensive players. I only talk to defensive players when they need me to. Some kids, like Iverson, usually Iverson would get the defensive guys, or a DB that I know would get the defensive guys.
Andrew: Okay. Let’s kind of move forward a little bit here. You’ve obviously said you’re shutting down the process. You’re early enrolling. What games do you think you may get to to Florida?
Matt: I’m for sure going to the Michigan game, Week One. I’m going to official visit the FSU one. That’s going to be my official, and then I’m going to go to LSU. I want to try to get to the Tennessee game.
Nick: You’re trying to hit all the marquee matchups this years.
Matt: Yeah, pretty much.
Andrew: We’re going to give you an open forum here a little bit. You’ve got the podcast. We reach a lot of people. Is there anything that you maybe want to say to anybody, any recruits, fans, anything else? You got the open forum.
Matt: I don’t know. If you want to be a part of this, this whole recruiting class is going to be big, something that no one else expected. So if you want to be part of it, you just got to hit me up, or one of the Florida coaches, and that’s it.
Andrew: Last thing before we get you out of here, Matt. What are you thinking about this season? High expectations? What are you thinking?
Matt: To be honest, I don’t really care. I mean, of course I care how I do, but the way I’m prepared, the way my coaches prepare me, I don’t think I should have a bad game at all. I should finish the season with a 70% completion rating, with at least 40 touchdowns, at least.
Andrew: How do you see the Gators playing out this year?
Matt: They’re going to do a lot better than what they’ve been doing, 9-4. They’re for sure going to win the SEC Championship again.
Andrew: There it is, guys. You heard it from Matt, Mattie Ice. By the way, I’m a Falcons fan, so you can have Mattie Ice. We appreciate it, Matt, so much. Nick and I both, we really do. We appreciate it so much. We both personally wish you the best of luck. Thank you for coming on with us.
Matt: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Nick: Thanks, man.
Matt: No problem.
Andrew: Nick, that was Mr. Matt Corral. Good stuff from Matt, and, Nick, I don’t think that we can say it enough to Matt, we appreciate him trusting us to come the show and allowing us to have really the first big interview with Matt.
Nick: Yeah. Confident kid. I think I told you, man. We got a different kind of swag down here in South Florida, and they got a different kind of swag out there in California too.
Andrew: Yeah. I say this, and I get taken some hits for it when I say this, but you want your quarterback to be a cocky SOB. I’m sorry. You want him to be cocky, and you want him to be confident.
Nick: You want him to be those two things more than you want him to be timid, that’s for sure.
Andrew: Yeah, and that’s the truth. When you think about it, you think, my quarterback’s got to go out there, and I say my quarterback. I’m talking about my quarterback for anybody, whether that’s the Falcons, whether that’s Florida, whether that’s the local high school team. My quarterback, as a head coach, needs to be the guy that believes, A, I’m going to win, and, B, I believe in the guys around me, and, C, I believe in my coaching staff. If you don’t, you have problems.
I’m going to say guys in the past haven’t been confident and cocky about it. I say cocky, and it’s not a bad cocky. It’s a good cocky. A confidence that when we go out there, we’re going to win the game. As a quarterback, that’s what you want.
Nick: You got to have a certain swag, a certain kind of confidence, arrogance. I think a lot of these quarterbacks you’re always teetering on the line of arrogant, cocky, and confident. Sometimes you’re on the wrong side of the line, and you go back and forth. You got to have it. This is a kid that’s super confident in himself. You have to be. There’s only one ball for a room of five, six guys.
Do I think he can start next year? That’s tough. It depends, but the opportunity is there, and I think that’s what Florida told him. Said, “Listen, the opportunity is there. Here are the guys that will be here next year, your freshman year, and if you early enroll that only helps.”
Andrew: Mark my words, Nick, and I’m telling you this. Does Matt start? I don’t know, because Feleipe may have a great year this year. I don’t know. But mark my words, Matt’s coming in to start. He’s coming in to start.
Nick: He’s not coming in with the attitude of, “Well, I’m going to sit and learn from everyone that I can this year, and 2019 will be my year.” He’s coming in with the attitude to get it done year one.
Andrew: Yeah. To close out recruiting, we’re going to get to football here in just a second. To close out on recruiting, it was a piece, and most people had told me. They said, “Watch when the quarterback comes. Things are going to roll.” That was the biggest thing. People thought Florida couldn’t recruit a quarterback, so other schools were using it against them. You get a quarterback. Look what happens.
I mean, we can talk about Mac signing this three-star or that three-star, whatever it may be. The guys Mac signed, outside of quarterback, has been hell of good players. When you look at guys like Antonio Callaway. When you look at Lamical Perine, Jordan Scarlett, those guys. When you look at the entire offensive line that is signed by Mac, you’ve got good players. You’ve got really good players, outside of quarterback position.
Feleipe may still end up being a good quarterback, but he didn’t have that same draw, personality. Because he committed so late, but also he wasn’t as active.
Nick: He didn’t really have that kind of draw at LSU either. This is kind of, I’m making no comparison to Tim Tebow as a player.
Nick: But I think, maybe John Brantley too. I think John Brantley might have had that kind of impact on recruiting. John Brantley’s such a known guy in the state of Florida, that it was I want to go play with him. But I don’t think Florida’s had that kind of draw at quarterback since Brantley, Tebow. Where you have guys saying, “I’m jumping on that train, because I trust him as a quarterback. Wherever this guy goes, he’s going to be a winner. I want to be a winner in college. That’s where I’m going to go, because he’s there.”
Andrew: Right. Social media has a lot to do with it. I mean, when you look at social media, and it’s not just Florida guys. It is national guys, CBS guys, saying, “Florida dominating the summer in recruiting.” Stuff like that. Just about every recruit are following these national guys, or are following people like myself. We’re retweeting it, and guess what? They’re probably hitting that link.
They’re checking it out, and then they’re saying, “Man, what’s going on down there? I know Florida’s good. They didn’t have a quarterback, but now they got a quarterback. So everything that other people’s told me bad against Florida is out the window.” You’re seeing guys start to look that way. Like we said before, guys are moving the process up for fear of getting left out. Years past, not being talked about.
Nick: No. I used to joke about that with you, about if you could make a recruiting class of guys were either silent commits to Florida or told Florida they were coming on a visit, and then never showed up for the visit, you’d have a national championship team. It seems like Mac and his staff had that same feeling of maybe we’re being too nice in not saying, “You got to commit, because we’re not going to have space for you if you don’t.” Maybe they thought they were being too nice.
But it’s like Nuss telling Matt, “I know you want to do it next week, but you do it this week, and here’s what could happen.” Just having that faith in the coach to say, “Listen, I haven’t been recruiting so-and-so, but if you say that, and I know I’m going to come here anyway, why do I need to wait? Let’s see if you’re right.” Then you commit, and all of a sudden, like he said, dominos fall. One, two, three, four guys after you, and it’s like, okay. Start that trust early.
Andrew: That’s exactly it. Before we get out of this part of the podcast, Nick, how incredible is the receiver recruiting under Mac been? I mean, let’s just think about it. Of the guys that was here when he was here, guys that were borderline SEC material were starting.
Nick: Is Callaway them?
Nick: Callaway was late.
Andrew: Callaway was Mac. Yeah.
Nick: Okay. I’m trying to think. I don’t think there was any receivers left over from the Muschamp era then.
Andrew: He didn’t recruit receivers. Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. Then you look. I mean, look at it. You go to the Panhandle, pick up one of the best receivers in the country in Copeland. Go to Louisiana and pick up one of the best receivers in the country in Chase. You’re starting to pick up some talent. A like Tyquon Thornton out of Booker T down there in Miami is a guy that’s not talked about enough, but if you say he’s your third best receiver in the class, you’re thinking, “This class is pretty damn good.”
Nick: Yeah. You take it. Don’t forget about your tight end. You’re starting to get a running back in Iverson Clement. It’s finally, and people told us—I think I’ve said this before. People told us that we were being homers or making excuses. Well, I’ve never been called a homer, but they said I was making excuses for these guys who can’t recruit. I always said, “Year 3 is when those relationships that you started building from when you first started are starting to pay off. In Year 3 and Year 4 is when you’re finally on a level playing field.”
Now you see that they’re on a level playing field. You see the potential that this coaching staff has to get kids to come on to campus, to get kids to jump on and believe in the program. It’s not because, the selling point of going to the SEC Championship isn’t the selling point, because a kid can easily look at that and say, “Well, I have an Alabama offer. Why wouldn’t I go to Alabama?” They’re selling them on the program and the future and things like that, and not, “We’ve gone to the SEC Championship twice and gotten our butts whooped by ‘Bama.” They’re saying, “Come here. Be the team that helps us knock off ‘Bama.”
Andrew: Right. I think another thing, and you and I have said this from Day 1, and that’s that Mac and his staff really care about their guys. That’s not to say that other staffs don’t care about their guys, because I’m sure every staff cares about their guys.
Nick: The last staff cared about the guys. Will Muschamp retweeted Rod Johnson today, because Rod Johnson’s graduating. Matt Rolin’s graduating. I think he got a retweet from Coleman.
Andrew: That’s what I’m saying. But Mac definitely goes the extra mile for his guys, and guys respect him for that, and love him for that. That’s something that shows there.
Nick, we got to go on and talk football, because as much as we would love to talk recruiting all day, or as much as I would love to talk recruiting all day, you want to talk about football. You had Media Days on Wednesday. Florida took the field on Thursday for the first practice. That was a separate of the newcomers. Then Friday they all came together. Nick, Friday afternoon something big happened. Again, trust Mac.
Nick: That dude, Stunna J, comes on, and very curious timing, right after the media is kicked out of practice, Stunna J shows up. That’s important. He’s a five-star, four-star. I don’t know. Jeremy Foley always said, “What seven-stars did we get this week?” He wasn’t a big fan of stars. I’m not a big fan of stars. A very talented receiver, another piece on offense that can help you. The big thing here is you get 28 practices in the fall. He’s going to get 27 of those 28. Really just missed a little bit of install, but he’s back with the team.
I think another thing that, to touch back on recruiting a little bit, the way that Mac went to war for James Robinson. James is going to tell people about that when they come on campus. “Hey, I shouldn’t be here. Most coaches wouldn’t have stuck their neck out for me like that. Other coaches didn’t stick their neck out for me like that, and that’s why I’m here at Florida, or part of the reason why I’m here at Florida is because Mac went out of his way to wait for me and wait for me and wait for me, and press the university. To say, this is a good kid. Let him come in. We can help him.” I think that’s going to go a long way for recruiting. Then also for people on the team to see just another of what you said, that this coaching staff really cares for their players.
Andrew: Exactly. It’s big for James to get in. Overcome a lot of different things. Some of his own doing, some of his not own doing. He overcame those and got in. Like I say, props to Mac, because he took a chance with him and Adarius Lemons, two guys that were borderline, questionable to get in. He took a chance, believed that they were going to do the work that they did. They did the work that Mac and his staff told them to do, and they directed them in ways that they needed to improve. They did. They got into school.
Guess what? Florida got two damn good football players now on campus. People’s already asking you and I on Twitter, “Is James going to play?” I’ve had people tell me, and I’ve asked around to people, and they’ve all said, “James, as good as he is, he’s still a little raw. Still needs to develop in some areas, route running.” I expect him to play a little bit like Tyrie Cleveland did last year, and that’s 5-10 plays a game. He’ll have certain packages, certain routes and plays running for him that he’ll get in the game.
Is that bad thing? No, because Tyrie’s ready to go. He’s ready to take it to that next level now. James is the same way. He’ll be ready to go. That’s not to say by Game 8 if James is improving, and James is averaging 100 yards a game that he’s not going to get more plays. Game 1 against Michigan, I would expect that he would get in a few plays.
The biggest thing that hurts James is, two things, he didn’t get the workouts and the meals that the rest of the guys did that enrolled in late June, and he didn’t get the early meetings and that kind of stuff. That’s kind of what will set him back a little bit. But if James overcame what he did, wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t overcome this. Like I said, he’s not going to be given the whole playbook to learn. He’s going to be given a little bit at each time to learn.
Nick: That’s the biggest thing is not putting too much on somebody’s plate early. But it’s easier to play early the farther away you are from the ball. Talking about wide receivers, cornerbacks.
Andrew: Well Mac says it’s not easy to play early anywhere.
Nick: Look at the defensive backs, the secondary at Florida. It’s going to be easy for a freshman to play, because multiple freshmen are going to have to play. He avoided my question there.
I think people just kind of fall in love with recruits and expect them to come in and do things, and then label them as a bust when they don’t do it. I think there’s fans that would have labeled Tyrie Cleveland last year as a bust. Maybe they forget about it when he has the 98-yard touchdown catch against LSU, but I don’t think Tyrie Cleveland’s a bust. He had a typical freshman year. Not everyone’s going to have a freshman year like, I think Julio Jones had a crazy freshman year. Christian Kirk at Texas A&M had a crazy freshman year. These guys are outliers. Just because you’re a four-star, five-star, you dominated in high school, doesn’t mean you can step right into college and step into, frankly, and offense that has been terrible, and all of a sudden be a freshman All-American.
Can James Robinson have a huge impact? Yeah. He’s talented enough to be a player that can have a huge impact. But there’s so much more that goes into a year, your freshman year, than just talent. It’s knowing your plays, getting opportunities, showing your coaches that you know your plays, and enough plays, to earn trust to be in to more packages. Then you’re in more packages, you’re on the field more.
Then just some luck. Okay, James Robinson might be the first option on a play. Quarterback hits option number two, or dumps the pass off. Same thing goes. I was the fourth option on a play, quarterback went through four reads, threw me the ball. I made one person miss, and now I have a 70-yard touchdown. That’s not how the play was draw up, but all that stuff adds up into a huge year.
Andrew: Right. Exactly. That’s exactly what I think will happen with James. James, that was good. That was cool, and it was pretty funny to see that he kind of like walked out and was almost like entering the superstar or something. He got his own little entrance. Then I noticed he got to talk to the team, so that was cool. Congrats to James for getting in. That was big.
Nick, you got to see the first two practices. Zaire, Franks splitting reps, as usual, with Del Rio. Early thoughts?
Nick: My early thoughts are there’s been some, I don’t know if it’s nerves or whatever, but there’s been some inaccurate throws going on. A lot of balls going through receivers’ hands too. Even Antonio Callaway. Offensive line is big.
Brad Davis, he doesn’t waste time. We’re watching, they’re going through stretching and going through their flex period, and he’s walking up and weaving through his offensive line, and just hammering in tiny little details. To me, that’s just a great use of your time. It’s not just, “They’re stretching, I’m going to sit back here and BS with Coach Skip, because we don’t have to start coaching yet. We’re not doing individual drills.” He’s walking in between all of his guys, and he’s talking about hand placement and footwork. When we do first drills, this is what you need to focus on. I loved that aspect from Brad Davis. No wasted time out there at practice.
I’m really excited about the three linebackers too. I don’t know what you have after them. Well, you got Jeremiah Moon after them, but after them is very young and inexperienced. I am excited about those first three linebackers. Interested to see how safety shakes out. I think right now I’m expecting Jawaan Taylor to kind of assume that role, take that starting role. That would allow you then to keep Chauncey Gardner down at nickel or at corner. Then hopefully you wait for a freshman, a Marco Wilson, a Brad Stewart. I think CJ Henderson’s probably still a year away. One of those guys takes over at corner, and you move Duke and Chauncey in and out kind of freely.
Andrew: I expect Brad and Marco to both play. I mean, I think that they’re talented enough.
Nick: I want to hear your thought on this. Brad has been, the first two days, from what we’ve seen. Obviously we’re out there for 15 minutes of an hour and a half, two hour practice. Brad, from what I’ve seen, has been at safety. I thought maybe a guy that could play that nickel spot.
Andrew: Yeah. I thought that Brad would maybe start at corner, simply because corner is a little bit easier to start out at. You don’t have to make those calls. I remember going back through the process, the recruiting process, and thinking to myself, “Brad could be a really good safety.” He’s athletic as all get out, and he’s a smart guy too. So I personally like the move, because I think that’s where his future is. Start him there and see.
And it pushes those guys. It pushes the Jawaan Taylors of the bunch, and it pushes the Quincy Littons, Nick Washington, to continue to get better. It gives you options. I mean, as Coach Mac says all the time, “You can never have too many options.” Options are a good thing. I like it.
I’m going to be interested to really see how Jawaan and Quincy Litton both do. Didn’t have a freshman year per say, because they both got hurt. I know Jawaan played a little bit. I’m interested to see how they do, because I was high on both of those guys. A little bit biased with Jawaan, because I got to see him play a lot more, but they’re both really good players. Interested to see how that goes. If it doesn’t happen, and Chauncey has to move back to safety, do you end up …
Nick: That just creates trouble for you, I think. You know what I mean?
Andrew: Right. That’s what I’m saying. Do you end up then having to move a Brad Stewart down to play nickel? What do you do there? I think if you move Chauncey back, you don’t have a nickel. You don’t have a corner. You know what I’m saying? I think that you have to figure out where you’re best at. Do you have a guy best at safety with Chauncey playing corner, or do you have a corner that’s best there if Chauncey goes to safety? I think you have to weigh your options there.
Nick: My thinking behind it is Florida’s lucky. The secondary is not where they need it to be. That comes with guys leaving early. The guys that have come in to play secondary at Florida, they’re not four year guys. They’re only here for three, and you’re finally feeling that attrition. Also, you get a guy like Deondre Porter, how that played out. JC Jackson’s over in Maryland playing this year.
For me personally, Duke Dawson’s a better nickel than he is a corner. Him coming back for his senior year, you’re saying, “Listen, we’re going to give you the benefit of the doubt. We’re going to let you play corner, because that’s going to help you at the next level.” If you can tell the Rams, or all the NFL teams, all 32 teams, I can play inside, outside, and here’s some film from my freshman year where I’m playing safety, that’s great. Now you can play anywhere. We’re going to put you on special teams. You’ve just taken one roster spot, and we can put you in five different spots. That’s going to help you make a team. So you let Duke do that.
For Chauncey, I don’t think he plays well outside, and I don’t think he’s there yet in his career. So if you can have a freshman step up and say, “Coach, you’re going to be able to trust me at nickel.” We can move Chauncey to safety. That’s good. He played there at the end of last year, had a great bowl game at safety. If you can say, “Coach, Jawaan Taylor’s got safety locked down, and we’ve got these two freshmen that they can lock down the other cornerback spot.” Boom. We can leave Chauncey at nickel, where we think he’s better than he would be outside.
I think not only getting six defensive backs in the last class is huge, but I think the quality that they got. And it’s a bunch of guys that will be available to play early. I think that’s a huge thing too.
Andrew: I say it like this too, with guys like Marco and Brad Stewart, and that is you can trust those guys to be where they’re supposed to be, because they’re football smart. I mean, Marco’s been preparing for this since he was old enough to put on cleats with Chad down there. He’s been able to watch Quincy. He’s a polished player. Is he where he needs to be? No. No freshman is. Is Brad where he needs to be? No. No freshman is. I think both of those guys are capable of playing and playing well, so excited to see that.
To switch back to what you said about Jeremiah Moon, Nick. I heard a little thing, and I’m interested to see how it works out, and that is that they plan to use him a little bit like a Jason Taylor kind of player, like a Von Miller at A&M, where he plays some linebacker, but he also is able to drop down and be that rush end off the edge. We got to watch Jeremiah in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game. That’s what he did well was dropping back into space a little bit, but then also coming off the edge to be a great pass rusher. I’m interested to see that.
I think that’s one way that they can really get Jeremiah involved. Let’s call it like it is. There’s a lot of question marks about who’s going to be a guy that can get to the passer. Having Jeremiah do that, I think adds another piece to the puzzle that’s a positive thing. Especially if they do like Mac says, where sometimes they move Cece inside. Drop Jeremiah down. You’ve got really good pass rushers up front now.
Nick: Yeah. You’ve got a lot of pass rushers. That’s another issue. The thing that I’m worried about with the defense is does Randy Shannon have to dumb things down? Do they not have enough confidence? Last year, “We’re going to blitz.” “Why are you going to blitz?” “Because we have three guys that we feel comfortable saying, Quincy you cover him. Jalen, you’re covering him. Duke, you’re covering him. You’re on an island. Marcell’s up top. He can’t help out all three of you, but we’re going to blitz everyone else.” They had the confidence to be able to send seven guys, because we have those four guys in the back end.
Do you have that confidence this year? Can you get pressure with just four? I think that’s where someone like Jeremiah Moon can come in, where it’s as long as we show that he can do some in coverage. He’s an athletic guy. Can he run with a tight end? I think he can. Show that, and now he’s on the field, and you can start building in more exotic packages where you have guys coming out and blitzing from places where you’re not showing it as a normal blitz spot every week on film.
Andrew: Right. Exactly. Nick, we’re about to run out of time here. We’ll hit a couple more things real quick. Florida will go in shells Monday? Monday, right?
Nick: Yeah. It depends on what they do this weekend. The weekend is completely closed.
Nick: I’ll be interested to see. They could even do a damn walkthrough on Saturday or Sunday, and that counts as a practice in shells.
Andrew: Right. They’re practicing on Saturday, so that would be.
Nick: That would be in shells.
Andrew: Right. So that’ll be in shells. So next week we’re looking at Tuesday or Wednesday.
Nick: Next week will be full pads.
Andrew: Going in full pads. That’ll be something to watch, of course. That’s always the best days there. Anything else you want to hit on, Nick, before we get out of here?
Nick: No. Good to go.
Andrew: Good to go.
Nick: We’ll be back three days a week, so expect updates coming on heavily.
Andrew: We’ll be back on Wednesday. Then we’ll be back on our usual Friday. Be talking about all that good stuff, practice updates. As the season gets nearer, we’ll be doing that. Nick and I are going to be heading to Dallas. We’re both very excited about that. Haven’t been to Jerry’s World yet.
Nick: No. We sent Richard for the Final Four, our boy Dick Dick.
Andrew: We don’t like Raji anymore. He got that trip. That should be a lot of fun. There’ll be plenty of things coming, as we said. With the podcast coming, we’ll have plenty of stories. We got Zach killing the basketball recruiting. We got football recruiting, and Nick and Baileigh are constantly hitting football updates. Got Kevin doing things now. We got a lot of different people doing a lot of different things, and we’re going to try some new things. If you got any new ideas for us, let us know. We’re always trying to improve. If you haven’t joined us yet, you’re listening to the podcast. Hit us up. We’ll get you a good offer to come on and join the site. Perfect time to join, because football season’s coming, and you know where the scoop’s coming. It’s coming on Gator Country. Nobody else.
Nick: Yup. www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. Website has our podcast on it. You can also find the podcast on iTunes, just search @GatorCountry. Follow us on social media. It’s @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter, @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. Make sure you’re following us on Instagram. We’re trying to push up to get to 10,000 on IG before the season starts. That way we can start linking stories and stuff over there. You can follow me, @NickdelaTorreGC, and him, @AndrewSpiveyGC.
Andrew: We appreciate it, guys. We really do. We know we’ve had a little bit of a break from the podcast, but you can bet it’ll be back full force, three times a week. We’re bringing the heat.
Nick: What better way to kick it off other than with Mattie Ice?
Andrew: Yeah. Mattie Ice. If you know of a guest that you want to hear from us, let us know. We’ll do our best to that guest. We’ll give you guys a little hint that coming up either this week or next week Jacob Copeland will be joining us, and making plans to get Iverson Clement on. We’ll be having several guys on in the recruiting class, and then as football gets near we’ll be calling on some of our friends. Probably get our good buddy, Barrett Sallee to come on, now with CBS. Probably get him to come on. Anybody you think you want to hear from, let us know. We’ll do our best to get them on. We’ll go forward. If you haven’t joined the site, come join us.
As always, guys, we appreciate it. Chomp, chomp. Go Braves. Mark, Butch, sorry. Your year’s are going to suck.