Florida Gators recruiting mailbag: December 22nd edition

Gator Country’s popular Florida Gators recruiting mailbag is back to its weekly spot on Thursday’s as we answer your recruiting questions.

The Gators recruiting class is looking to finish strong in the month of January to secure a top class.

This week members had a lot of questions on the status of the Class of 2017 and we answer your questions here.

Remember to get your questions in on Tuesday for the Florida Gators recruiting mailbag each week.



MrB-Gator: Your feeling about staff changes……and how will they affect recruiting?

AS: I think any changes made will be a positive affect on recruiting because Mac would have to make an upgrade hire. For instance when you hire a guy to take Collins place it will help things.


UFsports24_7: Who is the next guy to pop for us? The recruits have to see we have no momentum, I’m hoping one of our top guys commits and gets the train rolling. (James Robinson possibly?) Who do you think will be the next guy in the class for us? And is there pressure from the coaching staff to have these kids commit sooner than later??

AS: At this time none of Florida’s targets have an announcement date so it could happen at anytime honestly. A guy like James Robinson is waiting until national signing day and that’s what most kids are doing if they aren’t announcing at an all-star game.


FLfan: Have you heard any rumblings about EE player(s) being iffy to qualify academically?

AS: All of the early enrollees are good to go as of Monday when I last checked. Florida also makes sure of that stuff before they let the player take an official visit.


Lurkingator1: When will all the EE be enrolled? Did Alex Leatherwood sign a financial agreement with Alabama?

AS: January 4th is the first day of classes and January 10th is the last day to drop a class so they have to be in school between those dates. I don’t believe Leatherwood did but even if he did, it doesn’t mean anything. It only binds the schools to him and not him to the school.


Hogtown: Is there a big surprise headed our way? Jake Allen tweeted something along those lines. What have you heard?

AS: I don’t think any surprise is a for sure thing right now, I know a few prospects have tweeted that but neither are for sure things. Florida will hire a coach in January and that should create a little momentum.


Heights112: Out of the current committed recruits, who do you see as an immediate starter or eventual starter? Great job as always AS.

AS: I think Elijah Blades, Marco Wilson, Shawn Davis and Kyree Campbell will all see playing time next year maybe not as a starter but playing time. Those guys will be eventual starters. It’s really tough to say anyone is a for sure starter until they go through practice.


Tito22: Anyone you know will be a Gator that isn’t getting talked about on this message board?

AS: Offensive linemen Tony Gray and Stephan Zabie aren’t talked about a lot and Florida has a decent chance with both them. Also defensive back Brian Edwards is someone that Florida has a good shot at that isn’t talked about a lot.


Dhainer24: Zo has mentioned a flip.
Zo has also mentioned a commitment from someone who others will follow.
Jake Allen tweeted about good news coming.
Zach Carter tweeted about good news a couple weeks ago.

I don’t expect you to ruin any kid’s moment, but maybe you can answer a few generic questions. How many separate guys are we talking about here? What is the timeline for each (assuming there is more than 1? Will we get good news in time for it to positively affect other guys?

AS: There are multiple guys and each one of the post were about different guys. Two of them are underclassmen. Of the two 2017 guys only one guy has offer and is being heavily pursued by Florida and a flip from that player could be in January but isn’t a guarantee.


McLeanti: Xavier McKinney are we still after him?

AS: Florida visited him during the one week on the road but I don’t think there is serious interest there. McKinney is likely heading to Georgia or Clemson.


Mrgator: Buy or sell: top 10 recruiting class after all is said and done?

AS: I think it will be tough to be top 10 but Florida is after a lot of top tier guys that could push them there. Right now I say no but it wouldn’t be an absolute complete surprise if they snuck in there.


Gatorjnyc: How strongly are we after Henry Ruggs and what percentage do you give the good guys at landing him?

AS: Florida is strongly after Ruggs and right now Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Auburn are all battling for him. If he leaves the state of Alabama then I like Florida’s chances.


Kirkb919: We just offered 3 star NC State LB commit Nick Smith. Could this be an indication that we are going to miss on our more highly touted LB targets?

AS: Florida has slowed down on the pursuit of Rahyme Johnson so that’s the biggest reason for the offer. Florida also really liked his senior year tape and his play in the state championship so that’s why the offer.


Scooterp: – Who is the strongest 2018 lean at the moment …or next to pop?

– Between the top offensive line prospects left – Kai-Leon Herbert, T.J. Moore, Tony Gray, Tedarrell Slaton – where on the line do you see each one fitting?

– Aside from the usual (receiver/defensive back) is the state stronger in a particular position than normal for 2018?….top prospects?

AS: Strongest lean for 2018 would probably be a guy like defensive end Malcolm Lamar who has had rave views for Florida and visited multiple times this year.

Herbert is a tackle, Moore can play either or but likely a tackle in collee. Gray is a tackle and Slaton is a guard at the next level if he’s on the offensive side of the ball.

Defensive back is again really solid next year as is receiver. The offensive line class is a little better next and so is the running back position. Overall it’s about the same as 2017 instate.


Evanscott: What are our chances of landing Levi Jones/Rahyme Johnson?

AS: Florida has basically gotten out of the Johnson sweepstakes and it’s a Texas A&M/Florida battle for Jones. Jones has ties to Randy Shannon so that helps Florida but they have to hit it out of the park during his official visit.


Ufgatordad: When all is said and done, do you think we will have a better defensive tackle class than we did when we had our former 3 commits?

AS: I like Campbell more than any of the three that were committed to Florida so that’s a good start. I think that Florida has a decent shot at landing better class but they have to finish down the stretch.


Juggernautz: Do you think Randy Shannon will stay as our defensive coordinator?

AS: I personally think that Shannon will be calling plays next year but the question is will there be a co-coordinator thing again. This is a way to lure coaches from other schools to your program and not have to pay buy outs to other schools.


Gator78: I recently read an article where South Carolina already has EE’s participating in bowl practices. They can not travel or play in the bowl game, but it’s a huge advantage to essentially have 2 full Springs of practices for these guys.

How come UF doesn’t have any of these type of EE players and why have I never heard of this until this year? Is it a new loop hole and what does a player have to do for this to happen?

AS: I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t know why more schools don’t bring kids in for bowl practices but it’s a rule that allows them to practice once they arrive on campus. My guess is that teams like Florida don’t want kids to be slowing down practices but that’s just my guess. This is something that I’m going to look into more though.


TebowNut6: Is there anything to the Jeff Stoutland rumor? Or is this mostly smoke right now? … And if there’s something possibly to it, what’s he like as a recruiter? I know he was at Alabama and Miami, but those places either recruit themselves or have a history of bag men that facilitate success. So naturally I’m curious if these guy is not only a superior offensive line coach, but a dude that’ll bust his butt on the trail and relate to recruits.

AS: Stoutland is a good recruiter who has had success getting players because he has a good personality that kids can relate to. As far as the rumor goes, I think it would take the Eagles staff being let go for him to leave the NFL for the college game again. Mac and him are friends though so it’s something where Mac may be able to persuade him to come to Florida.


GatorNorth: Is the national perception that our recruiting has as little momentum as the Florida fan base thinks it does. Seems we have no energy and no pied piper around our recruiting this year.

Mac’s style seems to be lost somewhere b/t a guy like Saban (An iron fisted CEO with incredible results) and Dabo (a great cheerleader who relates incredibly well to the kids). What’s his special sauce to take the next big step forward and get the program exciting again (other than needing a qb, b/c that doesn’t change his personality)?

AS: Florida doesn’t have much if any momentum right now, that’s why the bowl game is so big to win. Winning the bowl game, getting the coaching situation squared away will help a lot. Mac is a guy that is laid back but he’s selling the big picture of good football and life after football. He’s a good recruiter but just needs a few more people around him to help get the guys.



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