In the latest episode of Gator Country’s podcast, Nick de la Torre and Andrew Spivey recap the Florida Gators first junior day and it was successful one that saw the Gators land two highly regarded prospects.
In this podcast you can also learn about several other big time prospects that visited Florida last weekend or who are planning to visit the Gators this weekend. We also recap the Gators weekend on the diamond as both the baseball and softball team played SEC series this past weekend.
Stay tuned to GatorCountry.com for many more podcast on the class of 2016 recruiting plus much more on the baseball and softball teams that are both having very successful years on the diamond.
* * * TRANSCRIPT:
Nick: What is up, Gator Country? We’re back here with another podcast. Nick de la Torre joined by the man, the myth, the recruiting legend, Andrew Spivey. How are you Andrew?
Andrew: I am wonderful man. It is spring football, brother, and I am excited. That little video of the new era starting kind of rejuvenated me. I thought about calling coach and asking him if I could bring my whistle and do a little action today.
Nick: They might need you to play offensive line. They’re pretty much taking anybody right now, and you might be able to slide in there.
Andrew: Never mind, I don’t want to say what I was going to say, so we’ll just move on.
Nick: We have some sad news to attend to first. Your softball team didn’t have a great weekend.
Andrew: I think I talked too much shit. I think that’s the problem. I think I talked too much.
Nick: Your mouth.
Andrew: My mouth got me in trouble. The corndogs came to Gainesville and took two of three. Let’s just be fair. They took two of three, and in all honesty they could have swept. LSU came in and played better ball. Am I concerned? No. This is still a very good softball team. Florida’s still, in my opinion, the better team there. I think it’s just a matter of Florida came in at home, knowing they were the team to beat, and they just got walked all over.
Now let’s also give them credit where credit’s due. They won on Friday. They go down 9-0 in the first inning on Saturday. They rebound to make it 10-10. They have a third strike in the seventh inning that’s not called. The next pitch, and boom, hit for a grand slam. Florida loses 14-10. I guess credit where due. Am I worried? No. This team was really bad in the mid to late SEC play last year, and they won a national championship. LSU is a damn good team. Nick, you got to see my preview the other day. I mean, I think everybody could have expected this to be a good series.
Nick: Yeah. Well, we questioned LSU road to getting to that point where they were undefeated, and they didn’t the same tests that Florida had had playing the Oregons and the Arizona States and Michigan, but it’s kind of like we said when Will Grier was being recruited, it’s like he’s not playing the toughest competition, but he’s doing what you need to do when he’s playing bad competition, that’s dominate. LSU had just been dominating bad competition. They got their first test this weekend in Florida, and took them two out of three. It’s a great weekend for LSU, but like you said, not worried about Florida. Still a very good softball team, and they’ll bounce back from this.
Andrew: LSU’s nonconference schedule kind of reminded me of Florida’s nonconference schedule in baseball a little bit. Florida had Miami, which LSU had the one game against Arizona and a couple against Notre Dame, so there was some kind of a three game thing, kind of like Florida. So, I guess was Florida maybe taken a buy in their first game against Tennessee? You were out of town. I was covering the game, and you were like, this should be an easy game for Logan Shore. He should dominant. Boom, 5-0 right off the bat. I guess, where do you think that what went wrong on Friday? Was it Florida maybe playing Maine and being unable to rebound, or what was it?
Nick: No. I really think that Florida just ran into a really tough pitcher, and that happens. You always say in baseball that great pitching beats great hitting every single time, and Florida just ran into a buzz saw. LSU’s Friday night starter just has his stuff, and Florida had no hits through eight innings. Sometimes in baseball you’re going to run into a guy that’s just on. His fast ball’s got some movement. He’s spotting and locating his pitches, and even when you are hitting the ball you’re hitting it at people.
So there’s just you’re going to go through days like that, and Florida was able to bounce back from that, which I think shows a lot, because this baseball team starts regularly five freshman, four freshman, in the lineup. So to be able to see how freshman specifically are bouncing back from a loss, and a loss where you didn’t even have a hit until the game was almost over. To see them bounce back and come back on Saturday and score in the first inning, and come back on Sunday and score in the first inning. It shows a mental toughness that you would seem from maybe a team like UCF that has 13 seniors, but on a team like Florida where you have two seniors, and you’re starting mainly sophomores and freshmen, that’s a nice mental toughness and resiliency to see.
Andrew: Yeah. I think that’s kind of the same thing with softball. Softball has usually three freshman playing, one of them being their starting pitcher, most of the time. Then there’s a balance. There’s a lot of girls who still play, have played in the World Series, have National Championship rings. So that’s why I’m not overly concerned about softball as well. I think you and I both can agree we’ve been in this sport, both of us, basically all our life, losing a baseball game and a softball game is not like losing a basketball game or a football game, because you got the opportunity to bounce right back. Florida has that opportunity to bounce back against Alabama. Baseball already did that against Tennessee in two games, and then against a big unrivalry game this week against Florida State. So everything can be righted in the next couple days.
Nick: Absolutely. Florida the baseball team is getting into the SEC schedule, so now it’s kind of we’re hosting FSU on Tuesday, and then we have another SEC schedule. Then we have a midweek game after that, and then another SEC game. So you can’t really get tied up in they lost on Friday to Tennessee. Well, okay. You win the series, and now you’ve got another SEC series to kind of get ready and look forward to.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s a game of a battle of, I know softball plays close to 70 games. Baseball’s what? 50 now, 60, something like that. Again, everything’s fine. Florida’s still number one in baseball, and softball will probably be number two tomorrow when it comes out. Everything is right on the diamond, just trying to get back and get there.
Recruiting was hot. That gave some Gator fans a little bit of intensity this weekend, picking up two commitments.
Nick: Let’s talk about those first two commitments. It was a huge weekend with maybe 30 kids on campus. Florida had a ton of talent, a ton of kids on campus, and they came away with a couple commitments. Andrew, talk about who Florida got, what they got, and how solid are these commitments? Because we’ve seen how recruiting can get, where a kid will commit early on in the process, and then by the time signing day comes you forget that he was ever even committed, because he’s been decommitted for so long. Tell us a little bit about these two kids.
Andrew: Let’s start off with Chauncey Gardner. My opinion is the biggest trash talker since Deion Sanders. Nick, you and I heard him at Friday night lights. We were six rows up in the Swamp, and we heard him talking crap to some little 5’10” midget, no offense, but 5’10” little guy out there trying to play that was probably a junior guy that never played college football. He’s talking crap to him. It was nice for Florida to get him back in the mix. He decommitted in December when T Rob and those guys left. He came back. He said he’s got a great relationship with Kirk Callahan.
In my opinion he’s a guy that’ll get things rolling. He is a Quincy Wilson type of player where if you don’t know him personally you know of him. That’ll be good for recruiting other guys. He’s already starting to recruit on Twitter. He goes by the same StillDat1 on Twitter, if that doesn’t talk enough trash. That was a good pickup for Florida to get him back into the mix. You think, well cornerback’s not a big need, but yes it is, because you’re going to lose Vernon next year. You’re going to lose Brian Poole next year. You start to have some guys, Jalen Tabor and Quincy will be juniors next year. So you need to add some depth and some quality there.
Then the next guy was JaQuan Bailey, a guy that was maybe a little unknown, came in at 6’2”, 245. He’s going to be that [DN/Buck] or whatever Jeff Collins calls it now in his defense. He’s a guy that loves Florida, said that as soon as he got the offer he was going to commit on the spot. He got the offer Saturday, committed on the spot. He’s teammates with Rick Wells, who is probably Florida’s biggest recruiter already. So that’s two teammates from Raines High School, a good start.
It’s nice to get a Junior Day commitment. I feel like we hadn’t had a Junior Day commitment in two years. This weekend felt like an official visit weekend. Nick, you know. I mean the articles have been pumping in. There was a lot of action on campus this weekend, and that speaks volume to McElwain and this staff. It’s crazy.
Nick: Well, looking on the offensive side of the ball we talk about how Florida needs play makers, and they need receivers, specifically. I know your favorite prospect of the class was on campus in wide receiver Benjamin Victor. Have you got a chance to talk to him? How did his visit go? Why is he your favorite?
Andrew: First of all, he is my favorite because when you turn on the tape it’s one handed grab after one handed grab after one handed grab. Nick, you watch the team just as much as I do. Florida has Demarcus Robinson, and he’s very, very good. Don’t get me wrong. He’s very good, but he’s not that Julio, AJ Greene guy that when you throw the ball his way you just feel like something special’s going to happen. Benjamin Victor’s that guy. He’s 6’4”, 170, 175 depending on where it is. When’s the last time Florida had a 6’4” receiver? It’s been a while, Urban Meyer days. So it’s nice to have that guy.
In my opinion he is the second best receiver in the country behind Nate Craig that’s committed to Auburn already, that Florida still has a shot with. Victor had a nice time. Him and Trevon Mullin, his teammate from Coconut Creek stayed overnight with Quincy Wilson on Saturday night. They had a good visit. Update will be coming later this evening. He said nobody’s leading, but he’s planning on possibly coming back next weekend again. Any time a prospect comes back two weekends in a row we all know that’s good news. He talks daily to McElwain and Kerry Dixon, so Florida’s got a great shot here. In my opinion this is the top receiver that Florida needs to be going after, besides Nate Craig.
Nick: Okay. Then defensive side of the ball, Florida took no linebackers two years ago. Took one linebacker last year, and I think it’s more of a project situation there. So, on the defensive side of the ball, you’re going to be replacing guys like Jon Bullard, might be replacing somebody like a Keanu Neal at safety. You talked about Vernon’s probably gone after this year, then guys like Jaylen Tabor and Quincy are leaving at cornerback. So while there might not be a need for corners this year, it’s coming soon. Defensively who are the names that people need to follow that were on campus this week, and how did Florida, specifically Jeff Collins and Randy Shannon, what kind of impression were those two able to make on recruits?
Andrew: Jonathon Jones is a guy from Oak Ridge in Orlando. He came on campus, and Randy Shannon thought he already knew about his offer. He didn’t know about his offer. So it may be a miscommunication there somewhere. Anyway, he came on campus. He sat down with Randy Shannon, and we all know you can disrespect Randy Shannon for being in Miami all you want, but when you start to look at guys he’s put in the league, Ray Lewis, the late Sean Taylor, guys like that. He knows what he’s doing on defense, and he kind of spelled that out to Jonathon Jones, and Jonathon said he wasn’t bragging. He was just simply showing me his resume, and it spoke for itself. So that’s a guy that in my opinion is somebody to watch.
DJ Durkin’s done a great job for him in Michigan already. He’s got some family in Kentucky, but Florida should never lose a prospect to Kentucky, and that’s no disrespect to the Wildcats. So Florida needs to be battling Michigan. Good news is he’s supposed to be coming back on campus this weekend with his buddy Tyrek Tisdale, who in my opinion is a strong Gator lead. So that’s one guy to watch at linebacker.
Then a couple guys else. Darius Wickfield from the Mobile, Alabama came on campus this weekend. Defensive tackle, he said his Florida visit could not have gone any more perfect. He loved every minute of it. He’s a Gator fan. One key thing is his brother is Josh Castor that plays for Alabama. So that’ll be something to watch. Will Florida and his love for Florida be enough to overtake that? We’ll see. Alabama hasn’t offered, could be coming soon.
Then my last guy is Trevon Mullen. If Chauncey Gardner’s not the best cornerback in the state, Trevon Mullen is right there. Long guy, he’s teammates with Benjamin Victor, like we just said. He was on campus with Victor. He’s a 6’2” guy, so he’s kind of a long, lanky corner. He visited and come on campus for the first time ever. He has another good relationship with Kirk Callahan. The thing that Florida was doing was they were playing catchup. Mullen didn’t like T Robb. So now you’re having to play catchup here. LSU’s done a really good job. Florida State’s done a really good job. But Florida got back in the picture there.
So those are the three defensive guys to look out for. There’ll be more coming on campus this week. Janarius Robinson is a defensive end committed to Florida State. Probably the number one defensive end in the state, not named the guys from ING. We won’t talk about those guys, but in high school football. He’s coming on campus the 18th. So that’ll be big to go for, but positive atmosphere so far.
Nick: I see, you’re talking about guys coming in next week. I think Carlos Becker, another like you were just talking about, long cornerback coming in. Where is his interest level with Florida? You see a guy like Quincy come in, and people immediately said, he’s big. He must be stiff, play him at safety. Then you look at guys like Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, and there’s so many guys in the NFL playing cornerback that are bigger and longer, not your typical 5’10” guy that runs a 4 240. Is Florida trying to attract more of those type, those physical bigger type of cornerbacks? Talking a little bit about Carlos Becker, does he kind of compare to a Quincy Wilson just body type wise?
Andrew: Yeah. Nick, you and I we watch a lot of ball, and you’re starting to see more bigger receivers going one on one with these corners. You looked at Amari Cooper last year. He’s a little bigger than Vernon, and they’re both very good players, but the bigger guy kind of won out. So you’re starting to look at some of these guys like a Quincy, like a Carlos Becker. The good news for Florida fans is Carlos Becker is coached by Keiwan Ratliff. We all Keiwan Ratliff is the biggest Gator there is. Becker probably is Florida or Florida State right now. He’s visited Florida State, will visit Florida this weekend. In my opinion he’s the Gator’s to lose right now, because of that relationship with Ratliff, plus his relationship with a guy like Kirk Callahan, who is at UCF right down the road from Kissimmee.
Maybe the guy to look out for the most next weekend on defense is safety Spencer Perry. He’s going to come in for the third time in a month. I don’t have to tell you what that means.
Nick: When you say that my ears start to twitch a little bit, and I start to think that’s a little peculiar that he’s coming back to campus and there isn’t a commitment yet.
Andrew: There you go. 6’3”, 210, safety. He is a Reggie Nelson kind of guy that just knocks your head off. Again, he’s friends with Chauncey Gardner, who just committed. So that’s good. They’re talking about the DBU and all that good stuff. He’s a guy to watch out for this weekend. In my opinion Florida needs to add a good safety or two in this class. He’s a guy to watch out for. Him and Becker coming on campus this weekend’s good.
Going to linebacker, Trey Lamar is a guy that’s coming in from Georgia. Big kind of linebacker, can play that mike linebacker position. He’s already 6’3”, 240. That’s a monster playing on linebacker. Florida’s done a really good job on him. Jeff Collins has a relationship with him. So those are the three guys to watch out for on the defensive side of the ball this weekend. Of course, it’s spring practice. More guys are going to be coming in. So just got pay attention to the boards and to the site to see who’s all coming in.
Nick: Before we get out of here I’m going to put you on the spot. No names. Do you think Florida gets a commitment next weekend?
Andrew: I think they get two commitments next weekend.
Nick: Okay. Well, that’s it. You’re going to have to stay tuned on the boards and on the website. Andrew will have coverage of all the kids coming in. We’ll all have coverage of spring football, which starts this week. Andrew, any other parting thoughts on recruiting, spring football starting. If you’re going to be in Gainesville, in pads, playing guard, because we need bodies on the field. Anything else you want to put in there?
Andrew: I think I can play center. Real quick here. I’m going to take John Carlo Stanton on Wednesday from you in your fantasy baseball league. I’m just going to rip it apart. Also, I thought we should do…
Nick: You’re lucky that I’m honest, because if it’s just me and my roommate, and we’re both in the league. What we did is we put all 10 names in a hat, and I filmed it. We easily could have just deleted that first video and refilmed it. So what happened now is Andrew’s picking five in the draft. I’m picking six, and I can just picture him stealing guys away from me all draft long. So I’m going to make sure I get my fair share of Braves on the roster to have a little trade bait for him.
Andrew: There you go. By the way, if you win the March Madness I will send you an autographed photo as my prize to you, Nicholas.
Nick: An autographed photo of yourself.
Andrew: Of myself. I’ll just sign it.
Nick: Is that if I win the bracket, or if I lose? I feel like that’s an I lost, here you go.
Andrew: No. That’s a win. That’s something you hang above your bed, and before you go to bed every night you throw the peace sign at it.
Nick: You say tomato. I don’t know if that’s a winning prize.
Andrew: There you go. All right, Nicholas. Let’s sign off of this thing.
Nick: You stay classy, Gator Nation.