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recruiting podcast previewing Friday Night Lights

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Written by Andrew Spivey, July 21, 2016, 0 Comments,
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GatorCountry brings you a new Florida Gators recruiting podcast as we preview Friday Night Lights and the Gators quarterback camp that starts on Thursday and runs through Saturday.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the big name players that will be in attendance at Friday Night Lights, plus the quarterbacks that are in town as well.

Andrew and Nick also recap Jalen Tabor’s trip to New York that took place on Tuesday, plus how Jim McElwain did in Bristol at the ESPN car wash on Tuesday.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator County? Once again, your man, Andrew Spivey, here. My man, Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, from Birmingham in the AC to this week, football camp in the heat. Two different mindsets, I guess, is what I would say. Now you’re in my territory.

Nick:                         Yeah, I guess. I guess I’m in your territory. I’m really kind of just hoping that we don’t get rained on. Last year Friday Night Lights I remember it raining. Not like torrential downpour, just that rain that’s just enough to piss you off. It’s cold. It’s like a nagging, annoying rain. Fingers crossed that we’ll get better weather this year.

Andrew:                 Here’s the thing.

Nick:                         Then how am I supposed to fire off tweets. It’s raining. I can’t bring my phone out.

Andrew:                 Here’s this new little thing. They got this little thing over there in the indoor practice facility. It’s got this thing called a roof.

Nick:                         You’ve been in the indoor. You can’t fit all the people that were at Friday Night Lights and media inside the indoor. You know that.

Andrew:                 We’ll see.

Nick:                         The indoor’s not holding 400 people.

Andrew:                 I don’t need it to fit all the media. I just need it to fit myself.

Nick:                         It may not. Just the campers and coaches.

Andrew:                 Maybe split it off. If you’re good, come on. If you suck, camp’s over. Sorry, go home.

Nick:                         Sounds like an NCAA violation waiting to happen.

Andrew:                 Sounds like it. Who knows? Who cares? Yes, we do care. Let me not joke there. No, it’s a good week. Three day week this week. Three day camp this weekend, that Thursday, Friday, and then seven on seven/camp on Saturday. There’s even another thing with the big quarterback camp coming this year, the first under Jim McElwain. I think it’s really cool event. You’re going to have Mac and Nussmeier there, of course. George Whitfield, who is on ESPN with the Game Day on Saturday, but is also a big quarterback guru there. Quincy Avery is another big quarterback guru, does the Elite 11, that kind of stuff, out of Atlanta. A guy named David Morris, runs this camp called Quarterback Country, a big thing going on now. Lavelle Durant’s another coach. He was Jacob Eason’s personal quarterback coach. Don’t take it out on the poor guy. Eric Kresser, Jake Allen’s quarterback coach is there. Then, of course, Charlie Fry, who is a former NFL quarterback, also an Assistant Director to the Elite 11.

Kind of some big names right there. If you’re a quarterback, got to be itching to work with those guys. Not only the Florida staff, but the guys that are there. I mean, when you’re talking about guys that are coaching the Elite 11 they’ve coached some big name quarterbacks in the past. I don’t know about you, Nick, but I’m personally excited for that quarterback camp. I love watching quarterbacks go, but also I think I can probably even learn something from the teaching going on.

Nick:                         I really enjoy watching quarterbacks. I think it’s a strength for me as far as being able to evaluate just that position, and that is a Who’s Who of quarterback coaches, and probably most notably Whitfield, who has worked with everybody, Johnny Manziel, Russel Wilson. He seems to work with all the big name guys every year before the draft, and then continues relationships with guys even after they’re already in the NFL. Knows the position, very knowledgeable. Really excited to see him work. Someone even like Charlie Fry. Charlie Fry knows the position. All of these coaches that are going to be there really know the position. It’s kind of like an evolution almost of Friday Night Lights. It started off with Urban, and it was very exclusive, and it grew into something that was probably too big for itself, and not even as good of a recruiting tool as it was meant to be originally, into Mac splitting it up into three days. I think this is a really cool way to split it up, and I’m excited, probably more so for Thursday and the quarterbacks than I am for Friday or Saturday.

Andrew:                 The quarterbacks go all week, all three days.

Nick:                         I mean just the quarterback specific night.

Andrew:                 Right. Here’s another thing that I was kind of thinking about. It really just dawned on my while you were talking about it, but it’s kind of how the Elite 11 has gotten where they have quarterbacks come in, work, and then they do the Opening, and that’s kind of how this is going to be. They’re going to come in, do some work, and then they’ll get to throw on Friday night to other receivers that are there to work out to possibly get an offer or already have an offer. I think it’s going to be really cool. I think it’s going to be a cool event. The one thing, and we’ll talk about this in a second, Nick, is you brought it up, quarterbacks from seven different states are coming in. There’s some hotshot quarterbacks coming in that maybe wouldn’t have come in had you not had this quarterback camp. That’s a plus there.

Let’s start the podcast. Let’s talk about Tabor takes over NYC yesterday. Kind of overshadowed Jim McElwain being at the ESPN car wash yesterday, but who’s to complain? You got your media day with Jalen Tabor.

Nick:                         Yeah. Thank, God. I wish I was there for it though. It’s kind of maybe a blessing. This is not something that was reactionary to anything. To have the kind of day that Jalen Tabor had it takes weeks of planning, but you get a day where all these coaches, you got Bret Bielema making omelets on Sports Center and doing fun stuff. Jim McElwain’s answering questions about freshmen that are arrested. Even on Paul Finebaum he says, “It’s a learning opportunity for these guys who made a mistake, and it’s also they’re going to have to learn from today. I’m sitting here going through shows, going through interviews on the radio, and we’re the defending SEC East champions, and all anyone is asking me is what happened to these two guys?” Probably nice to have some kind of distraction in the form of Jalen Tabor, who, as I told you, would have for Media Days been fantastic, was great everywhere he went yesterday. Good stuff from him.

Andrew:                 He represented the program well, and that’s it. I even tweeted this, Nick, I even texted you this, I said, people can say what they want to about Jalen Tabor. Has he tweeted some controversial stuff? Sure, he has.

Nick:                         He admitted to that.

Andrew:                 He has an opinion. Nick, I mean how many times have you really, maybe not tweeted stuff, but said something and five minutes later you’re like, maybe I shouldn’t have voiced that opinion. You know me and my smart ass, my stupidness. I tweet stuff all the time, and five minutes later I’m like, maybe I shouldn’t have tweeted that, or maybe I shouldn’t have made that comment. That is what it is. I thought Tabor handled it well. Tabor’s a confident guy. I don’t want to call him cocky, because he can back it up. Confident guy who got that out there, but at the same time also focused on his teammates. One thing that stood out to me, and this is no surprise to you and I, we’ve been calling for it for months, he brought up Quincy Wilson’s name almost in every interview, talking about how he wished he was more talked about, how he’s one of the best cornerbacks in the country that just doesn’t get talked about.

Nick:                         Yeah. I’ll get to that in a second, but I think you remember this. We were talking to Antonio Morrison at the Senior Bowl, and he asked us what we thought of Jalen Tabor. I don’t know if you were there. It was a conversation I had. We said, “We love Jalen. He’s a great quote, one of the best players.” He said, “Good, because he’s going to be the face of the defense next year.” That’s kind of been Jarrad Davis, I think because he’s a senior and because he brought him to Media Days, and because he’s getting a lot of media attention right now, but I do think that Jalen Tabor is the face of Florida’s defense. That’s your best player. That’s going to be your highest draft pick. Jalen Tabor is the face of your defense. Sure, he’s had problems in the past where he tweeted some disparaging things about the UAA after he was suspended for the Tennessee game, but it’s kind of like he said. He was an 18 year old kid from the inner city, and all of a sudden he’s on this stage, and he doesn’t know. A lot of these kids don’t know. They’re growing up with Twitter, so they don’t understand. They’re growing up in the social media era. It’s just a way for them to communicate with friends. They don’t realize that stuff I say here, now that I’m playing football at Florida, isn’t just me talking to my friends or me venting. It’s a national news story. Some people have to learn that the hard way.

Andrew:                 Hell, I got talked about and was told I should be fired because I tweeted about the Braves on my Twitter account.

Nick:                         Maybe you should be fired. You’re not tweeting enough about the Marlins.

Andrew:                 Whatever.

Nick:                         Who are now nine games over 500 and in the playoff contention.

Andrew:                 Congratulations. We can talk baseball in a little while if you want. You know me, never shy away from that. I think back to Tabor though, Tabor did really well. Like it or not for Florida, it is another defensive player that’s your face of your program. Quite frankly, here’s the thing. Jarrad Davis is a great football player and is a great quote and could be a great face of your program. Me personally, I like Jalen Tabor because me and him share one big common interest. Any guess of what that is, Nick?

Nick:                         What is that?

Andrew:                 Our hatred for the Tennessee Volunteers.

Nick:                         You share that.

Andrew:                 That is one thing we share. Jarrad Davis shares that as well. Not only that, but I think he just is a guy, New York wasn’t too big for Jalen Tabor. It wasn’t too big for him. It’s funny the things he got to do, but best of luck to him. I’m glad he got it, because he did get snubbed. Just a shout out to you, Jalen. You missed nothing in Hoover that you didn’t get in New York.

Nick:                         Might even have a better day in New York. Instead of being in Birmingham, Alabama, you’re in Times Square. You’re seeing Sports Illustrated, the set of Good Morning, America.

Andrew:                 NFL Network.

Nick:                         I will take Times Square over Birmingham 10 days out of 10.

Andrew:                 10 days out of 10. It was good though. Like you said, Mac had spoken a little bit. Nothing we didn’t hear at Media Days from Mac during that. Kind of the same old, same old.

Nick:                         Mac’s best interview came on the radio with Finebaum.

Andrew:                 Yes, it did.

Nick:                         Jim McElwain has personality. He just doesn’t, and chooses not to, answers questions. When you’re in the local media you have multiple opportunities to learn what he’ll react to, how he reacts to different questions, how to word things. When you’re in the national media, we have Jim McElwain Wednesday, but we’ve got to do this on Monday, Tuesday. So you’re going to do some homework, but it’s not something that you’re doing all the time. So I knew him going on all these different shows they’re going to ask him the same questions, the exact same way, and you’re going to get the same canned answers that Jim McElwain gives. It’s we have freedom of choice, not freedom of consequence. The same canned answer. So people are like, why do they even bring him on these shows, because you know what he’s going to say? You can get different answers, and I think Paul Finebaum, who has talked with him and has a better relationship with him, was able to ask questions differently, and you really got the most intimate and the best interview from the Finebaum Show.

Andrew:                 The saying always is…

Nick:                         Which I can’t believe, because the Finebaum Show is Jerry Springer.

Andrew:                 I love the Finebaum Show. That’s not a surprise to anyone. The saying, and this phrase is thrown out a lot, but a stupid question gets a stupid answer, and that really applies to Mac. If you give a dumb question to him, or give something that’s not very well thought out, you’re going to get a stupid answer. There’s several different things. You hear it every day in the press conference room, who’s going to start at quarterback? Well, you know what you’re about to get. You better go deep into your thing when you ask a question about that. It is there. Last thing I wanted to kind of talk about…

Nick:                         I know you’re defending him right now. I’m not trying to like bash him, but you can even attest to this where I’ve called you the night before a press conference and been like, this is what I want to get out of Jim McElwain, and you and I have just been sitting there, maybe even like 20 minutes, like I need to go think about this, and I’ll call you back, and we come up with he’s not going to answer that question. There’s no way you can word it. He’s not going to answer that.

Andrew:                 No, and I agree with that completely. I mean, you and I said it before. Mac has a point he wants to get across in every press conference or every day of the week he has, and no matter the question you ask, he’s going to circle it back to his point. Right now is point is freedom of choice, but not freedom of consequence. Now it’s great, because of what’s going on. So I agree with you, but what I’m saying is there’s some questions that people ask, who’s your starting quarterback? Get the hell out of here. You’re not getting that answer.

Nick:                         Which I think is silly, but we probably disagree.

Andrew:                 No. I mean, I’ve said it. It’s silly.

Nick:                         Jalen Tabor even said it during one of his radio spots on Tuesday. We’d rather have a quarterback named sooner rather than later, because we’d like to have one guy to follow behind. I don’t understand the whole not naming a quarterback. It’s becoming, not just Florida, it’s becoming widespread.

Andrew:                 Thank you. That’s what I was about to say.

Nick:                         Where there’s only three quarterbacks at SEC Media Days. That’s crazy. Name a quarterback. These aren’t nuclear codes that you’re hiding. One quarterback’s going to start slacking off in practice, because he’s not the starter. Screw him. That’s not the attitude you want in a starting quarterback anyway. Name your starting quarterback. Give your team a face and an identity, and go from there. Muschamp would do it. We’re not going to name a starting quarterback, and then you trot Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett out there on the same play, the first play. Garbage. Just name someone. Pick somebody.

Andrew:                 You hit it on the head, though. It’s everyone.

Nick:                         It’s everyone. It’s across the board. It’s stupid.

Andrew:                 Here’s the deal. I agree with you. Now, the one thing I will say, and this is where we disagree, and that’s cool. That’s why our podcast is the best podcast out there. Little plug. At the same time, make the rest of the team compete. Make the team compete. See what happens. I get it. I’m just telling you from the coach’s perspective of McElwain, that’s what he’s trying to do, make everyone compete.

My last thing to go here is this, and that is that I think that Mac and Tabor both represented the program well. I think that if you’re a fan of the program, if you cover the program, you’re happy to see those guys represent your program, because you know they represent the program well.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s the thing. People will say what they want. I had some guy tell me, I said, “Jalen Tabor’s going to do a great job,” and I had some guy tell me, “He said MF on Periscope, so I know all I need to know about him.” I’m like, “Okay. You watched him for 20 minutes, so you know the kid.”

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Get out of my face, clown.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Come on now. Some of these kids, and here’s the thing, and I’m going to say this. I know we said we were going to move on, but here’s the thing. Rick Wells and Tyrie Cleveland are going to get their time and justice. They’re going to get punished, whatever else. Same thing I said about Antonio Morrison. Antonio Morrison is a wild person, and he was a different guy, but he wasn’t a violent person you thought was going to go kill someone. Rick Wells, same light. Rick Wells is one of the nicest human beings you ever met. He’s a child, made a mistake. Again, no excuses for it, but it is what it is there. Just because of what you see in the media don’t act like you know him for that.

Let’s move on to something positive, Nick, Let’s talk about the quarterbacks that are coming in for this week. Nick, I know, like we said, we talked about it earlier, exciting things. Seven different quarterbacks, I mean, seven different states are sending quarterbacks there. You’ve seen the list. What did you think about things?

Nick:                         That’s pretty unusual maybe, or at least pretty cool to me, that you’ve got, what is it, like 10 quarterbacks, 11 quarterbacks, from seven different states? Not even including Jake Allen in that number, just the 2018 and the one 2019 kid. To me, it’s interesting that you’re getting these guys coming in, and that they still want to compete. Maybe that’s because they’re a 2018 kid, but that they’re all going to throw, and I wonder if they would be throwing if they didn’t have all of these coaches. Maybe it’s a kind of situation where, I don’t want to throw; I’m a four star kid. I don’t need to throw for them; they can come and watch me if they want to watch me. When you get the chance to throw in front of George Whitfield of some of these other coaches, maybe they’re like, might as well take advantage of it.

Andrew:                 Exactly. The biggest thing for me is this. Florida has only offered two quarterbacks in the 2018 class. You want to start getting your 2018 quarterback either committed or find out who you’re going to get committed. That way they can start working, recruiting, that kind of stuff. I mean, Jake Allen committed June of last year. You want to start identifying who you’re going to get at quarterback now. That’s the biggest thing. You look at all the quarterbacks, except for Jake Allen, are next year’s quarterbacks, except for one, who’s a 2019 kid. Again, I think there will be more names. These are just the names I’ve confirmed for that.

Let’s just talk about a couple of guys that I’m very excited to see. First off, Emory Jones. Emory Jones is a guy that I am very excited to see. I would say he’s probably the top guy on Florida’s board right now. I see different things listing him at 6’1”, some are 6’4”. I was told he checked in at 6’2.5”. Don’t know. We’ll see. I’ll see personally. Nick, you’ll see personally. I’m interested to see Emory throw the ball really well, because I’ve heard he has a rocket.

Another guy is Dorian Thompson Anderson out of Bishop Gorman. He’s playing behind Tate Martell right now, who’s an Ohio State commit. If he’s the starting quarterback there, he probably has every offer in the world right now. Bishop Gorman’s kind of a lot like IMG, even your boys at St. Thomas, where they recruit and get guys to come in every year.

Nick:                         Whoa with your unfounded comments about St. Thomas recruiting. How dare you?

Andrew:                 Okay. If you don’t think St. Thomas recruits, then you got problems. Very interested in those two. Artur Sitkowski from Jersey is another guy. Pretty excited to see him. Another 6’4”, 6’5” quarterback, very excited to see him. Then I’m going to throw out a name that people don’t know. Of course, he’s from Alabama, so I’m a little biased, but a guy named Swift Lyle. Yeah, Swift is his first name, and Lyle’s his last name.

Nick:                         He’s got the name down.

Andrew:                 Yeah. He didn’t get to play his sophomore year due to an injury, but a lot of people at his school and around that really think highly of him and say that he has a chance to be an AJ McCarron type of quarterback. That’s high praise for a guy like him. I’m excited to see him. He worked out in the Pensacola satellite camp for the Gators. Nuss really like him a lot, so I’m interested to see that and just to kind of see out of the other guys who really takes over. Then also I’m interested to see how Jake does. Jake is a guy that is gaining strength and is getting better. I want to see how Jake does. Has Jake gotten much better, or how is things going with Jake?

Nick:                         Is Jake going to throw Thursday?

Andrew:                 I believe so, from what I’ve been told, Jake is planning to throw. You and I both know Jake ain’t scared of no competition.

Nick:                         No, because he’s a St. Thomas Aquinas Raider, and they’re not scared of anything.

Andrew:                 Okay. Alright. Yeah, I think he is. I think it’s good. I think it’s a good thing to get that three day camp. I was hard on Florida a little bit about this not being a bigger camp. Florida State has those long camps, and then Auburn has the picnic. I thought Florida needed to generate a buzz, and having a three day camp like this is, in my opinion, going to generate the buzz that’s needed. Excited to see it, and excited to see some good players at Friday Night Lights finally.

Nick:                         The list for quarterbacks is a little bit smaller. The list for Friday Night Lights, as always, is pretty large. Give me five guys that you’re excited to see about, or five guys you’re excited to see live going through drills, or to see in person on Friday.

Andrew:                 Okay. Outside the commits.

Nick:                         Outside of the commits, and outside of the quarterbacks, because we just talked about the quarterbacks.

Andrew:                 Okay. I’ll stick with the 2017 guys. Let me do this. I’m going to give you five 2017 guys, and two 2018 guys. The five guys I’m looking for out of 2017, first and foremost is Devon Hunter. I personally think he’s the best safety in the country. He’s a manchild. Really looking to see Devon Hunter, even if he doesn’t go through there. Can’t forget about Alex Leatherwood. I mean, man’s already got a million dollar contract as a left tackle in the NFL; he just doesn’t know it. That’s it.

Another guy that is a guy that is an under the radar guy, but is a guy that I’ve heard a lot of really good things about, is Tory Bateman. He’s an offensive lineman out of Alabama. I know, but is a guy 6’6”, 300 pounds. A good friend of mine was at an offensive line camp and said he looked really good. Doesn’t have an offer from Florida yet. He’ll likely get that offer from Florida, and then watch out what happens there. Another offensive lineman, that’s three offensive linemen, is Navaughn Donaldson. Is a Miami commit offensive guard, a guy that I’m really high on, and Florida’s trying to flip him. I’m very excited to see him. Then defensive tackle, Fred Hansard, out of Jersey is a guy that is an elite defensive tackle. Could be a guy that really makes this defensive line class turn into be really good. Very interested to see him.

Then out of the 2018 class, I’m going go with two guys. One is defensive tackle, Timaje Porter. He’s a guy from Lamical Perine’s high school. Big defensive tackle, good looking kid that Coach Rumph really likes. Interested to see him. Then another guy that I’m very interested to see is a running back, Ricky Slade, out of Virginia. Some have him as high as the #2 rated running back in the country for 2018. Very excited to see what he looks like. He’s more of a speed guy than a power guy, but I’m still very interested to just kind of see how he looks, how he runs, and just is he a guy that can play in a pro style offense?

Nick:                         Let’s go back to Devon real quick, Devon Hunter. I’m not sure how you pronounce it. 6’1”, 200 pounds, from Chesapeake, Virginia, and I think it becomes interesting, because a lot of people assume Virginia Tech here, but you get Torrian Gray down from Virginia Tech. That relationship is already built in, because Gray has been recruiting Hunter while at Virginia Tech. It gets into two things. Now what we’ve talked about before is how do coaches, I think we talked about it when it was Willy Muschamp who’s been at three schools in three years, how do you go from saying, school A, school for you, best school. Now I’m at school B; school B, best school for you. Best school I’ve been to. How do you separate that? Then does that kind of change the relationship at all? Does a player start to think, does this coach have my best interest at heart?

Andrew:                 Two things, not only does he have Torrian Gray there, but quality control guy, Mark Debiasse, is a guy that was from Norfolk State up in Virginia, and his son and Devon are best friends. So there’s a relationship there already. Then with Torrian, I think Devon understands this. I mean, we joke that kids don’t, but Devon knows Torrian got an upgrade in jobs. He may not want to say that publicly, and I would never ask him to say it publicly, but he knows that. Torrian’s from Florida, and also, is Virginia Tech ACC still, or are they Big Ten now? They’re ACC still, right?

Nick:                         They are still ACC.

Andrew:                 Yeah, so ACC to SEC. It’s a jump. We’re not using the Geoff Collins lateral move crap. I don’t think that’s an issue there. I know people say Virginia Tech is the school beat. Florida’s the school to beat. It’s Florida/Virginia Tech battle. If I’m picking today, I’m picking Devon Hunter as a Gator. Third trip down already this off season. Florida has done a great job there. They’ve got to get Devon Hunter. He’s a guy that plays from Day 1 on the field for the Gators.

Nick:                         That’s going to be a big position of need at safety as well. You do get a couple this year, this past recruiting class, but still going to be a big position of need, and I’m excited to see him play. That’s a big kid. I want to see how he moves. Seven on seven stuff isn’t the best showcase for safeties, but you can showcase some versatility there in that kind of setting.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You’re right. It’s interesting to see their ball skills. You can see their ball skills. A guy like Devon Hunter, I’m trying to say this the best way I can, he’s kind of more of a, he can hit you, for sure, but he has really good ball skills as well. He’s more of a free than a strong, and that’s just kind of where that is. I think he’ll do okay there. When you look at some of the other guys in the DB, Marco, Marco Wilson is going to do really well, if he works. I’m not sure he’s going to work out. I think he may. Hamsah Nasirildeen is a safety that’s going to come down. If he works out, he should do well. Deangelo Gibbs is another safety. I don’t think he works out, but I’m just saying all these guys that are coming in at DB are all guys that are, those four guys are all guys that could get on the field very early if they choose Florida. You’ve said it numerous times. I’ve said it numerous times. You’ve got to restock the DB board. Good start by getting all these guys in.

Here’s another thing though, and this is something else I wanted to kind of talk about. Everyone is tough on Florida about the linebacker position, and you look at the linebacker position, and you’ve got two guys that are really good players coming in, outside the commit of Ventrell Miller, and that’s Nathan Proctor out of Maryland, very hard hitting 6’2” 220 pound kid, and then a guy like James Houston down in American Heritage. He just tore his ACL, so it’s going to be interesting to see how Florida approaches that with him having a torn ACL. They still go full on after him, or wait? We’ll see how that goes. Those two guys are big time linebacker targets that are going to be there as well. So I’m interested to see that. Then one name I did forget on the DB board is Shawn Davis. Can’t forget about him. A guy that’s risen on many people’s boards and is thought to be a big time Gator lean.

Nick:                         Is anybody, I’m sure there is, is anybody on commit watch? Maybe you don’t have to give me names.

Andrew:                 Are you a fan, or are you Nick?

Nick:                         I am the voice of the fan right now. You don’t have to give me names, but this is obviously, we’ve talked about this. We’ve talked about perception.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         We’ve also talked about, fans, get a grip. The class is probably already half full, and it’s July, but there is still a perception, and that perception that fans bitch about on Twitter trickles down to recruits. Recruits might say, maybe Florida’s not that spot right now. So, perception wise maybe Florida needs to get a commit. Numbers wise they might not. Is there a number? Do you think that somebody commits, somebody pops this weekend? How, not stingy, but how carefully is the coaching staff trying to piece together the rest of this class? Like we said, you’re probably half full or close to half full already.

Andrew:                 If any of those guys that we just talked about that is on our visitors list of the big name prospects wanted to commit, I think they would take the commit, except for maybe one or two. I’ll say this. Every year, Nick, Florida gets a commit. It’s every year. It doesn’t matter. They get a commit. I think that continues. Maybe one in 2017 and one in 2018. They don’t have a 2018 commit yet. I think that changes. They get a commit. I ain’t naming names. You know me. I don’t like to do that. I do think they get one and one, for sure. For sure I think they get one. I would say for sure they get one at least, because it always happens with somebody.

Nick:                         I kind of pulled back when I said who, because we’re not in the business of ruining it for kids. There will be some hints if you are on the message board. I know you are firing away over there, but I pulled back, and that’s why I just asked for a number, or if it will happen. I am curious more so into the how selective do you have to be?

Andrew:                 I mean, I think you do have to be somewhat selective, because, like you said, you’re getting there. When you run this group of guys we just kind of talked about, and that are on the message board right now on Gator Country, these are all your top targets. You don’t tell Devon Hunter no. You don’t tell Shawn Davis no. You’re not telling Alex Leatherwood no. You’re not telling those guys no, because these are all big name guys that you’re after. I do think you do have to be somewhat selective, but at the same time these are some of your top targets. So, no, I don’t think you’re selective there. I do think they’re selective in maybe offering some Plan B guys, some project guys that maybe you’re going to offer in January or December. You have to be careful of not loading up with Plan B guys right now. You have to make sure you’re loading up with the guys you want. If any of the guys that are their top targets want to commit, you have to take them.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s kind of always the case, right?

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, even more so now. Last year you saw Florida load up and get a big kind of class, because there was some fear of how the season was going to go, and then they wanted to get the perception of getting kids to commit. I think that it’s different now, because of the selective numbers. Not only that, but where Florida is in recruiting.

Nick:                         Certainly, we’ve talked about it, perception thing this year, but certainly you’re in a different spot recruiting wise than you were a year ago. You got answers last year. The first six weeks you really saw what Florida can be, even though they didn’t have all their pieces. Jim McElwain’s not going to have a roster full of his guys for three years.

Andrew:                 At least.

Nick:                         You got a sneak preview of it. So you’re definitely in a different position this year than you were last year. Last year it was just question marks. They’re telling us they can do this. This is what he did at Alabama with these guys. This is what he did at Colorado State with these guys, but you didn’t know. You still don’t fully know, because it’s not his team yet as far as guys that he’s recruited, but you definitely have a better idea, and you’re in a different position than you were a year ago.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s what I was going to say. It’s definitely there with the not where you are a year ago. Here’s the thing. 2018 is the class that Florida is finally on level ground. 2017 they were behind. 2016 they were behind. 2018 is the first class they’re on level footing with, and you’re already seeing several guys saying Florida’s their leader. They’re mentioning Florida. Florida was on me the earliest, that kind of stuff. So that, in my opinion, is where things are going. That’s why the hope is there that things are going to get better. Still some question marks on the offensive line. Perfectly okay to be questioning that. I’m one of those people that question that. We’ll see. Need to bag Alex Leatherwood.

Nick:                         I mean, there’s really no pressure about what the team’s going to look like, because the season’s already over. Tennessee won the East, so you’re kind of just playing the other games.

Andrew:                 We’re talking recruiting right now, Nick. Do not start this. We’re talking recruiting right now.

Nick:                         Just saying, there’s no pressure in recruiting, because everyone’s going into it, and you’re thinking, it doesn’t matter what Florida does, because the East has already been decided.

Andrew:                 Well, that’s because they’re getting their recruiting off of preseason hype instead of what happens. We’ll talk about that again in a later podcast. Nick, a couple things real quick. We’ll have it covered Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. You and I will be there. We’ll have some of our interns out there with us as well. The David Bowie will be shooting photos. So tell the people where they can find us. We’ll get out of here and see everyone on the boards and on Tweeter this weekend.

Nick:                         It’s, as always, www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. TheGatorCountry on Instagram, Gator Country on Facebook, and @GatorCountry on Twitter. I am @NickdelaTorreGC. He is @AndrewSpiveyGC. If you are following this from the website, go ahead and do us a favor and check us out over on iTunes. Just search Gator Country or GC Podcast, and that’ll pop up. That’s all I got. Thank you for listening, as always. We would love a comment or a rating over on iTunes, and any constructive criticism. What can we be doing better? Let us know.

Andrew:                 If you’re going to be out at the Swamp any of the three days, shoot Nick and I a message on Twitter or on the site, or if you see us say hello, and we will definitely meet you guys. Definitely like to meet everyone that is a fan of the Gators and follow along with us. So do that. If you aren’t a member of Gator Country, get on there. Ain’t a better place to be. Look, my man, Nick, destroy football news. We got the recruiting news. Things only going to get better. I mean, it is what it is. You’re not cocky if you can back it up, as my man, Jalen Tabor, says, and Nick and I can back it up. If you’re not a member, shoot one of us a message, and we might can come up with a way to get you on there for a little smaller price. Hit us up. Don’t get left behind in recruiting news this weekend. As always, go Braves, and chomp, chomp.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew Spivey

About 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.

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GatorCountry brings you a new Florida Gators recruiting podcast as we preview Friday Night Lights and the Gators quarterback camp that starts on Thursday and runs through Saturday.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the big name players that will be in attendance at Friday Night Lights, plus the quarterbacks that are in town as well.

Andrew and Nick also recap Jalen Tabor’s trip to New York that took place on Tuesday, plus how Jim McElwain did in Bristol at the ESPN car wash on Tuesday.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator County? Once again, your man, Andrew Spivey, here. My man, Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, from Birmingham in the AC to this week, football camp in the heat. Two different mindsets, I guess, is what I would say. Now you’re in my territory.

Nick:                         Yeah, I guess. I guess I’m in your territory. I’m really kind of just hoping that we don’t get rained on. Last year Friday Night Lights I remember it raining. Not like torrential downpour, just that rain that’s just enough to piss you off. It’s cold. It’s like a nagging, annoying rain. Fingers crossed that we’ll get better weather this year.

Andrew:                 Here’s the thing.

Nick:                         Then how am I supposed to fire off tweets. It’s raining. I can’t bring my phone out.

Andrew:                 Here’s this new little thing. They got this little thing over there in the indoor practice facility. It’s got this thing called a roof.

Nick:                         You’ve been in the indoor. You can’t fit all the people that were at Friday Night Lights and media inside the indoor. You know that.

Andrew:                 We’ll see.

Nick:                         The indoor’s not holding 400 people.

Andrew:                 I don’t need it to fit all the media. I just need it to fit myself.

Nick:                         It may not. Just the campers and coaches.

Andrew:                 Maybe split it off. If you’re good, come on. If you suck, camp’s over. Sorry, go home.

Nick:                         Sounds like an NCAA violation waiting to happen.

Andrew:                 Sounds like it. Who knows? Who cares? Yes, we do care. Let me not joke there. No, it’s a good week. Three day week this week. Three day camp this weekend, that Thursday, Friday, and then seven on seven/camp on Saturday. There’s even another thing with the big quarterback camp coming this year, the first under Jim McElwain. I think it’s really cool event. You’re going to have Mac and Nussmeier there, of course. George Whitfield, who is on ESPN with the Game Day on Saturday, but is also a big quarterback guru there. Quincy Avery is another big quarterback guru, does the Elite 11, that kind of stuff, out of Atlanta. A guy named David Morris, runs this camp called Quarterback Country, a big thing going on now. Lavelle Durant’s another coach. He was Jacob Eason’s personal quarterback coach. Don’t take it out on the poor guy. Eric Kresser, Jake Allen’s quarterback coach is there. Then, of course, Charlie Fry, who is a former NFL quarterback, also an Assistant Director to the Elite 11.

Kind of some big names right there. If you’re a quarterback, got to be itching to work with those guys. Not only the Florida staff, but the guys that are there. I mean, when you’re talking about guys that are coaching the Elite 11 they’ve coached some big name quarterbacks in the past. I don’t know about you, Nick, but I’m personally excited for that quarterback camp. I love watching quarterbacks go, but also I think I can probably even learn something from the teaching going on.

Nick:                         I really enjoy watching quarterbacks. I think it’s a strength for me as far as being able to evaluate just that position, and that is a Who’s Who of quarterback coaches, and probably most notably Whitfield, who has worked with everybody, Johnny Manziel, Russel Wilson. He seems to work with all the big name guys every year before the draft, and then continues relationships with guys even after they’re already in the NFL. Knows the position, very knowledgeable. Really excited to see him work. Someone even like Charlie Fry. Charlie Fry knows the position. All of these coaches that are going to be there really know the position. It’s kind of like an evolution almost of Friday Night Lights. It started off with Urban, and it was very exclusive, and it grew into something that was probably too big for itself, and not even as good of a recruiting tool as it was meant to be originally, into Mac splitting it up into three days. I think this is a really cool way to split it up, and I’m excited, probably more so for Thursday and the quarterbacks than I am for Friday or Saturday.

Andrew:                 The quarterbacks go all week, all three days.

Nick:                         I mean just the quarterback specific night.

Andrew:                 Right. Here’s another thing that I was kind of thinking about. It really just dawned on my while you were talking about it, but it’s kind of how the Elite 11 has gotten where they have quarterbacks come in, work, and then they do the Opening, and that’s kind of how this is going to be. They’re going to come in, do some work, and then they’ll get to throw on Friday night to other receivers that are there to work out to possibly get an offer or already have an offer. I think it’s going to be really cool. I think it’s going to be a cool event. The one thing, and we’ll talk about this in a second, Nick, is you brought it up, quarterbacks from seven different states are coming in. There’s some hotshot quarterbacks coming in that maybe wouldn’t have come in had you not had this quarterback camp. That’s a plus there.

Let’s start the podcast. Let’s talk about Tabor takes over NYC yesterday. Kind of overshadowed Jim McElwain being at the ESPN car wash yesterday, but who’s to complain? You got your media day with Jalen Tabor.

Nick:                         Yeah. Thank, God. I wish I was there for it though. It’s kind of maybe a blessing. This is not something that was reactionary to anything. To have the kind of day that Jalen Tabor had it takes weeks of planning, but you get a day where all these coaches, you got Bret Bielema making omelets on Sports Center and doing fun stuff. Jim McElwain’s answering questions about freshmen that are arrested. Even on Paul Finebaum he says, “It’s a learning opportunity for these guys who made a mistake, and it’s also they’re going to have to learn from today. I’m sitting here going through shows, going through interviews on the radio, and we’re the defending SEC East champions, and all anyone is asking me is what happened to these two guys?” Probably nice to have some kind of distraction in the form of Jalen Tabor, who, as I told you, would have for Media Days been fantastic, was great everywhere he went yesterday. Good stuff from him.

Andrew:                 He represented the program well, and that’s it. I even tweeted this, Nick, I even texted you this, I said, people can say what they want to about Jalen Tabor. Has he tweeted some controversial stuff? Sure, he has.

Nick:                         He admitted to that.

Andrew:                 He has an opinion. Nick, I mean how many times have you really, maybe not tweeted stuff, but said something and five minutes later you’re like, maybe I shouldn’t have voiced that opinion. You know me and my smart ass, my stupidness. I tweet stuff all the time, and five minutes later I’m like, maybe I shouldn’t have tweeted that, or maybe I shouldn’t have made that comment. That is what it is. I thought Tabor handled it well. Tabor’s a confident guy. I don’t want to call him cocky, because he can back it up. Confident guy who got that out there, but at the same time also focused on his teammates. One thing that stood out to me, and this is no surprise to you and I, we’ve been calling for it for months, he brought up Quincy Wilson’s name almost in every interview, talking about how he wished he was more talked about, how he’s one of the best cornerbacks in the country that just doesn’t get talked about.

Nick:                         Yeah. I’ll get to that in a second, but I think you remember this. We were talking to Antonio Morrison at the Senior Bowl, and he asked us what we thought of Jalen Tabor. I don’t know if you were there. It was a conversation I had. We said, “We love Jalen. He’s a great quote, one of the best players.” He said, “Good, because he’s going to be the face of the defense next year.” That’s kind of been Jarrad Davis, I think because he’s a senior and because he brought him to Media Days, and because he’s getting a lot of media attention right now, but I do think that Jalen Tabor is the face of Florida’s defense. That’s your best player. That’s going to be your highest draft pick. Jalen Tabor is the face of your defense. Sure, he’s had problems in the past where he tweeted some disparaging things about the UAA after he was suspended for the Tennessee game, but it’s kind of like he said. He was an 18 year old kid from the inner city, and all of a sudden he’s on this stage, and he doesn’t know. A lot of these kids don’t know. They’re growing up with Twitter, so they don’t understand. They’re growing up in the social media era. It’s just a way for them to communicate with friends. They don’t realize that stuff I say here, now that I’m playing football at Florida, isn’t just me talking to my friends or me venting. It’s a national news story. Some people have to learn that the hard way.

Andrew:                 Hell, I got talked about and was told I should be fired because I tweeted about the Braves on my Twitter account.

Nick:                         Maybe you should be fired. You’re not tweeting enough about the Marlins.

Andrew:                 Whatever.

Nick:                         Who are now nine games over 500 and in the playoff contention.

Andrew:                 Congratulations. We can talk baseball in a little while if you want. You know me, never shy away from that. I think back to Tabor though, Tabor did really well. Like it or not for Florida, it is another defensive player that’s your face of your program. Quite frankly, here’s the thing. Jarrad Davis is a great football player and is a great quote and could be a great face of your program. Me personally, I like Jalen Tabor because me and him share one big common interest. Any guess of what that is, Nick?

Nick:                         What is that?

Andrew:                 Our hatred for the Tennessee Volunteers.

Nick:                         You share that.

Andrew:                 That is one thing we share. Jarrad Davis shares that as well. Not only that, but I think he just is a guy, New York wasn’t too big for Jalen Tabor. It wasn’t too big for him. It’s funny the things he got to do, but best of luck to him. I’m glad he got it, because he did get snubbed. Just a shout out to you, Jalen. You missed nothing in Hoover that you didn’t get in New York.

Nick:                         Might even have a better day in New York. Instead of being in Birmingham, Alabama, you’re in Times Square. You’re seeing Sports Illustrated, the set of Good Morning, America.

Andrew:                 NFL Network.

Nick:                         I will take Times Square over Birmingham 10 days out of 10.

Andrew:                 10 days out of 10. It was good though. Like you said, Mac had spoken a little bit. Nothing we didn’t hear at Media Days from Mac during that. Kind of the same old, same old.

Nick:                         Mac’s best interview came on the radio with Finebaum.

Andrew:                 Yes, it did.

Nick:                         Jim McElwain has personality. He just doesn’t, and chooses not to, answers questions. When you’re in the local media you have multiple opportunities to learn what he’ll react to, how he reacts to different questions, how to word things. When you’re in the national media, we have Jim McElwain Wednesday, but we’ve got to do this on Monday, Tuesday. So you’re going to do some homework, but it’s not something that you’re doing all the time. So I knew him going on all these different shows they’re going to ask him the same questions, the exact same way, and you’re going to get the same canned answers that Jim McElwain gives. It’s we have freedom of choice, not freedom of consequence. The same canned answer. So people are like, why do they even bring him on these shows, because you know what he’s going to say? You can get different answers, and I think Paul Finebaum, who has talked with him and has a better relationship with him, was able to ask questions differently, and you really got the most intimate and the best interview from the Finebaum Show.

Andrew:                 The saying always is…

Nick:                         Which I can’t believe, because the Finebaum Show is Jerry Springer.

Andrew:                 I love the Finebaum Show. That’s not a surprise to anyone. The saying, and this phrase is thrown out a lot, but a stupid question gets a stupid answer, and that really applies to Mac. If you give a dumb question to him, or give something that’s not very well thought out, you’re going to get a stupid answer. There’s several different things. You hear it every day in the press conference room, who’s going to start at quarterback? Well, you know what you’re about to get. You better go deep into your thing when you ask a question about that. It is there. Last thing I wanted to kind of talk about…

Nick:                         I know you’re defending him right now. I’m not trying to like bash him, but you can even attest to this where I’ve called you the night before a press conference and been like, this is what I want to get out of Jim McElwain, and you and I have just been sitting there, maybe even like 20 minutes, like I need to go think about this, and I’ll call you back, and we come up with he’s not going to answer that question. There’s no way you can word it. He’s not going to answer that.

Andrew:                 No, and I agree with that completely. I mean, you and I said it before. Mac has a point he wants to get across in every press conference or every day of the week he has, and no matter the question you ask, he’s going to circle it back to his point. Right now is point is freedom of choice, but not freedom of consequence. Now it’s great, because of what’s going on. So I agree with you, but what I’m saying is there’s some questions that people ask, who’s your starting quarterback? Get the hell out of here. You’re not getting that answer.

Nick:                         Which I think is silly, but we probably disagree.

Andrew:                 No. I mean, I’ve said it. It’s silly.

Nick:                         Jalen Tabor even said it during one of his radio spots on Tuesday. We’d rather have a quarterback named sooner rather than later, because we’d like to have one guy to follow behind. I don’t understand the whole not naming a quarterback. It’s becoming, not just Florida, it’s becoming widespread.

Andrew:                 Thank you. That’s what I was about to say.

Nick:                         Where there’s only three quarterbacks at SEC Media Days. That’s crazy. Name a quarterback. These aren’t nuclear codes that you’re hiding. One quarterback’s going to start slacking off in practice, because he’s not the starter. Screw him. That’s not the attitude you want in a starting quarterback anyway. Name your starting quarterback. Give your team a face and an identity, and go from there. Muschamp would do it. We’re not going to name a starting quarterback, and then you trot Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett out there on the same play, the first play. Garbage. Just name someone. Pick somebody.

Andrew:                 You hit it on the head, though. It’s everyone.

Nick:                         It’s everyone. It’s across the board. It’s stupid.

Andrew:                 Here’s the deal. I agree with you. Now, the one thing I will say, and this is where we disagree, and that’s cool. That’s why our podcast is the best podcast out there. Little plug. At the same time, make the rest of the team compete. Make the team compete. See what happens. I get it. I’m just telling you from the coach’s perspective of McElwain, that’s what he’s trying to do, make everyone compete.

My last thing to go here is this, and that is that I think that Mac and Tabor both represented the program well. I think that if you’re a fan of the program, if you cover the program, you’re happy to see those guys represent your program, because you know they represent the program well.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s the thing. People will say what they want. I had some guy tell me, I said, “Jalen Tabor’s going to do a great job,” and I had some guy tell me, “He said MF on Periscope, so I know all I need to know about him.” I’m like, “Okay. You watched him for 20 minutes, so you know the kid.”

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Get out of my face, clown.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Come on now. Some of these kids, and here’s the thing, and I’m going to say this. I know we said we were going to move on, but here’s the thing. Rick Wells and Tyrie Cleveland are going to get their time and justice. They’re going to get punished, whatever else. Same thing I said about Antonio Morrison. Antonio Morrison is a wild person, and he was a different guy, but he wasn’t a violent person you thought was going to go kill someone. Rick Wells, same light. Rick Wells is one of the nicest human beings you ever met. He’s a child, made a mistake. Again, no excuses for it, but it is what it is there. Just because of what you see in the media don’t act like you know him for that.

Let’s move on to something positive, Nick, Let’s talk about the quarterbacks that are coming in for this week. Nick, I know, like we said, we talked about it earlier, exciting things. Seven different quarterbacks, I mean, seven different states are sending quarterbacks there. You’ve seen the list. What did you think about things?

Nick:                         That’s pretty unusual maybe, or at least pretty cool to me, that you’ve got, what is it, like 10 quarterbacks, 11 quarterbacks, from seven different states? Not even including Jake Allen in that number, just the 2018 and the one 2019 kid. To me, it’s interesting that you’re getting these guys coming in, and that they still want to compete. Maybe that’s because they’re a 2018 kid, but that they’re all going to throw, and I wonder if they would be throwing if they didn’t have all of these coaches. Maybe it’s a kind of situation where, I don’t want to throw; I’m a four star kid. I don’t need to throw for them; they can come and watch me if they want to watch me. When you get the chance to throw in front of George Whitfield of some of these other coaches, maybe they’re like, might as well take advantage of it.

Andrew:                 Exactly. The biggest thing for me is this. Florida has only offered two quarterbacks in the 2018 class. You want to start getting your 2018 quarterback either committed or find out who you’re going to get committed. That way they can start working, recruiting, that kind of stuff. I mean, Jake Allen committed June of last year. You want to start identifying who you’re going to get at quarterback now. That’s the biggest thing. You look at all the quarterbacks, except for Jake Allen, are next year’s quarterbacks, except for one, who’s a 2019 kid. Again, I think there will be more names. These are just the names I’ve confirmed for that.

Let’s just talk about a couple of guys that I’m very excited to see. First off, Emory Jones. Emory Jones is a guy that I am very excited to see. I would say he’s probably the top guy on Florida’s board right now. I see different things listing him at 6’1”, some are 6’4”. I was told he checked in at 6’2.5”. Don’t know. We’ll see. I’ll see personally. Nick, you’ll see personally. I’m interested to see Emory throw the ball really well, because I’ve heard he has a rocket.

Another guy is Dorian Thompson Anderson out of Bishop Gorman. He’s playing behind Tate Martell right now, who’s an Ohio State commit. If he’s the starting quarterback there, he probably has every offer in the world right now. Bishop Gorman’s kind of a lot like IMG, even your boys at St. Thomas, where they recruit and get guys to come in every year.

Nick:                         Whoa with your unfounded comments about St. Thomas recruiting. How dare you?

Andrew:                 Okay. If you don’t think St. Thomas recruits, then you got problems. Very interested in those two. Artur Sitkowski from Jersey is another guy. Pretty excited to see him. Another 6’4”, 6’5” quarterback, very excited to see him. Then I’m going to throw out a name that people don’t know. Of course, he’s from Alabama, so I’m a little biased, but a guy named Swift Lyle. Yeah, Swift is his first name, and Lyle’s his last name.

Nick:                         He’s got the name down.

Andrew:                 Yeah. He didn’t get to play his sophomore year due to an injury, but a lot of people at his school and around that really think highly of him and say that he has a chance to be an AJ McCarron type of quarterback. That’s high praise for a guy like him. I’m excited to see him. He worked out in the Pensacola satellite camp for the Gators. Nuss really like him a lot, so I’m interested to see that and just to kind of see out of the other guys who really takes over. Then also I’m interested to see how Jake does. Jake is a guy that is gaining strength and is getting better. I want to see how Jake does. Has Jake gotten much better, or how is things going with Jake?

Nick:                         Is Jake going to throw Thursday?

Andrew:                 I believe so, from what I’ve been told, Jake is planning to throw. You and I both know Jake ain’t scared of no competition.

Nick:                         No, because he’s a St. Thomas Aquinas Raider, and they’re not scared of anything.

Andrew:                 Okay. Alright. Yeah, I think he is. I think it’s good. I think it’s a good thing to get that three day camp. I was hard on Florida a little bit about this not being a bigger camp. Florida State has those long camps, and then Auburn has the picnic. I thought Florida needed to generate a buzz, and having a three day camp like this is, in my opinion, going to generate the buzz that’s needed. Excited to see it, and excited to see some good players at Friday Night Lights finally.

Nick:                         The list for quarterbacks is a little bit smaller. The list for Friday Night Lights, as always, is pretty large. Give me five guys that you’re excited to see about, or five guys you’re excited to see live going through drills, or to see in person on Friday.

Andrew:                 Okay. Outside the commits.

Nick:                         Outside of the commits, and outside of the quarterbacks, because we just talked about the quarterbacks.

Andrew:                 Okay. I’ll stick with the 2017 guys. Let me do this. I’m going to give you five 2017 guys, and two 2018 guys. The five guys I’m looking for out of 2017, first and foremost is Devon Hunter. I personally think he’s the best safety in the country. He’s a manchild. Really looking to see Devon Hunter, even if he doesn’t go through there. Can’t forget about Alex Leatherwood. I mean, man’s already got a million dollar contract as a left tackle in the NFL; he just doesn’t know it. That’s it.

Another guy that is a guy that is an under the radar guy, but is a guy that I’ve heard a lot of really good things about, is Tory Bateman. He’s an offensive lineman out of Alabama. I know, but is a guy 6’6”, 300 pounds. A good friend of mine was at an offensive line camp and said he looked really good. Doesn’t have an offer from Florida yet. He’ll likely get that offer from Florida, and then watch out what happens there. Another offensive lineman, that’s three offensive linemen, is Navaughn Donaldson. Is a Miami commit offensive guard, a guy that I’m really high on, and Florida’s trying to flip him. I’m very excited to see him. Then defensive tackle, Fred Hansard, out of Jersey is a guy that is an elite defensive tackle. Could be a guy that really makes this defensive line class turn into be really good. Very interested to see him.

Then out of the 2018 class, I’m going go with two guys. One is defensive tackle, Timaje Porter. He’s a guy from Lamical Perine’s high school. Big defensive tackle, good looking kid that Coach Rumph really likes. Interested to see him. Then another guy that I’m very interested to see is a running back, Ricky Slade, out of Virginia. Some have him as high as the #2 rated running back in the country for 2018. Very excited to see what he looks like. He’s more of a speed guy than a power guy, but I’m still very interested to just kind of see how he looks, how he runs, and just is he a guy that can play in a pro style offense?

Nick:                         Let’s go back to Devon real quick, Devon Hunter. I’m not sure how you pronounce it. 6’1”, 200 pounds, from Chesapeake, Virginia, and I think it becomes interesting, because a lot of people assume Virginia Tech here, but you get Torrian Gray down from Virginia Tech. That relationship is already built in, because Gray has been recruiting Hunter while at Virginia Tech. It gets into two things. Now what we’ve talked about before is how do coaches, I think we talked about it when it was Willy Muschamp who’s been at three schools in three years, how do you go from saying, school A, school for you, best school. Now I’m at school B; school B, best school for you. Best school I’ve been to. How do you separate that? Then does that kind of change the relationship at all? Does a player start to think, does this coach have my best interest at heart?

Andrew:                 Two things, not only does he have Torrian Gray there, but quality control guy, Mark Debiasse, is a guy that was from Norfolk State up in Virginia, and his son and Devon are best friends. So there’s a relationship there already. Then with Torrian, I think Devon understands this. I mean, we joke that kids don’t, but Devon knows Torrian got an upgrade in jobs. He may not want to say that publicly, and I would never ask him to say it publicly, but he knows that. Torrian’s from Florida, and also, is Virginia Tech ACC still, or are they Big Ten now? They’re ACC still, right?

Nick:                         They are still ACC.

Andrew:                 Yeah, so ACC to SEC. It’s a jump. We’re not using the Geoff Collins lateral move crap. I don’t think that’s an issue there. I know people say Virginia Tech is the school beat. Florida’s the school to beat. It’s Florida/Virginia Tech battle. If I’m picking today, I’m picking Devon Hunter as a Gator. Third trip down already this off season. Florida has done a great job there. They’ve got to get Devon Hunter. He’s a guy that plays from Day 1 on the field for the Gators.

Nick:                         That’s going to be a big position of need at safety as well. You do get a couple this year, this past recruiting class, but still going to be a big position of need, and I’m excited to see him play. That’s a big kid. I want to see how he moves. Seven on seven stuff isn’t the best showcase for safeties, but you can showcase some versatility there in that kind of setting.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You’re right. It’s interesting to see their ball skills. You can see their ball skills. A guy like Devon Hunter, I’m trying to say this the best way I can, he’s kind of more of a, he can hit you, for sure, but he has really good ball skills as well. He’s more of a free than a strong, and that’s just kind of where that is. I think he’ll do okay there. When you look at some of the other guys in the DB, Marco, Marco Wilson is going to do really well, if he works. I’m not sure he’s going to work out. I think he may. Hamsah Nasirildeen is a safety that’s going to come down. If he works out, he should do well. Deangelo Gibbs is another safety. I don’t think he works out, but I’m just saying all these guys that are coming in at DB are all guys that are, those four guys are all guys that could get on the field very early if they choose Florida. You’ve said it numerous times. I’ve said it numerous times. You’ve got to restock the DB board. Good start by getting all these guys in.

Here’s another thing though, and this is something else I wanted to kind of talk about. Everyone is tough on Florida about the linebacker position, and you look at the linebacker position, and you’ve got two guys that are really good players coming in, outside the commit of Ventrell Miller, and that’s Nathan Proctor out of Maryland, very hard hitting 6’2” 220 pound kid, and then a guy like James Houston down in American Heritage. He just tore his ACL, so it’s going to be interesting to see how Florida approaches that with him having a torn ACL. They still go full on after him, or wait? We’ll see how that goes. Those two guys are big time linebacker targets that are going to be there as well. So I’m interested to see that. Then one name I did forget on the DB board is Shawn Davis. Can’t forget about him. A guy that’s risen on many people’s boards and is thought to be a big time Gator lean.

Nick:                         Is anybody, I’m sure there is, is anybody on commit watch? Maybe you don’t have to give me names.

Andrew:                 Are you a fan, or are you Nick?

Nick:                         I am the voice of the fan right now. You don’t have to give me names, but this is obviously, we’ve talked about this. We’ve talked about perception.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         We’ve also talked about, fans, get a grip. The class is probably already half full, and it’s July, but there is still a perception, and that perception that fans bitch about on Twitter trickles down to recruits. Recruits might say, maybe Florida’s not that spot right now. So, perception wise maybe Florida needs to get a commit. Numbers wise they might not. Is there a number? Do you think that somebody commits, somebody pops this weekend? How, not stingy, but how carefully is the coaching staff trying to piece together the rest of this class? Like we said, you’re probably half full or close to half full already.

Andrew:                 If any of those guys that we just talked about that is on our visitors list of the big name prospects wanted to commit, I think they would take the commit, except for maybe one or two. I’ll say this. Every year, Nick, Florida gets a commit. It’s every year. It doesn’t matter. They get a commit. I think that continues. Maybe one in 2017 and one in 2018. They don’t have a 2018 commit yet. I think that changes. They get a commit. I ain’t naming names. You know me. I don’t like to do that. I do think they get one and one, for sure. For sure I think they get one. I would say for sure they get one at least, because it always happens with somebody.

Nick:                         I kind of pulled back when I said who, because we’re not in the business of ruining it for kids. There will be some hints if you are on the message board. I know you are firing away over there, but I pulled back, and that’s why I just asked for a number, or if it will happen. I am curious more so into the how selective do you have to be?

Andrew:                 I mean, I think you do have to be somewhat selective, because, like you said, you’re getting there. When you run this group of guys we just kind of talked about, and that are on the message board right now on Gator Country, these are all your top targets. You don’t tell Devon Hunter no. You don’t tell Shawn Davis no. You’re not telling Alex Leatherwood no. You’re not telling those guys no, because these are all big name guys that you’re after. I do think you do have to be somewhat selective, but at the same time these are some of your top targets. So, no, I don’t think you’re selective there. I do think they’re selective in maybe offering some Plan B guys, some project guys that maybe you’re going to offer in January or December. You have to be careful of not loading up with Plan B guys right now. You have to make sure you’re loading up with the guys you want. If any of the guys that are their top targets want to commit, you have to take them.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s kind of always the case, right?

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, even more so now. Last year you saw Florida load up and get a big kind of class, because there was some fear of how the season was going to go, and then they wanted to get the perception of getting kids to commit. I think that it’s different now, because of the selective numbers. Not only that, but where Florida is in recruiting.

Nick:                         Certainly, we’ve talked about it, perception thing this year, but certainly you’re in a different spot recruiting wise than you were a year ago. You got answers last year. The first six weeks you really saw what Florida can be, even though they didn’t have all their pieces. Jim McElwain’s not going to have a roster full of his guys for three years.

Andrew:                 At least.

Nick:                         You got a sneak preview of it. So you’re definitely in a different position this year than you were last year. Last year it was just question marks. They’re telling us they can do this. This is what he did at Alabama with these guys. This is what he did at Colorado State with these guys, but you didn’t know. You still don’t fully know, because it’s not his team yet as far as guys that he’s recruited, but you definitely have a better idea, and you’re in a different position than you were a year ago.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s what I was going to say. It’s definitely there with the not where you are a year ago. Here’s the thing. 2018 is the class that Florida is finally on level ground. 2017 they were behind. 2016 they were behind. 2018 is the first class they’re on level footing with, and you’re already seeing several guys saying Florida’s their leader. They’re mentioning Florida. Florida was on me the earliest, that kind of stuff. So that, in my opinion, is where things are going. That’s why the hope is there that things are going to get better. Still some question marks on the offensive line. Perfectly okay to be questioning that. I’m one of those people that question that. We’ll see. Need to bag Alex Leatherwood.

Nick:                         I mean, there’s really no pressure about what the team’s going to look like, because the season’s already over. Tennessee won the East, so you’re kind of just playing the other games.

Andrew:                 We’re talking recruiting right now, Nick. Do not start this. We’re talking recruiting right now.

Nick:                         Just saying, there’s no pressure in recruiting, because everyone’s going into it, and you’re thinking, it doesn’t matter what Florida does, because the East has already been decided.

Andrew:                 Well, that’s because they’re getting their recruiting off of preseason hype instead of what happens. We’ll talk about that again in a later podcast. Nick, a couple things real quick. We’ll have it covered Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. You and I will be there. We’ll have some of our interns out there with us as well. The David Bowie will be shooting photos. So tell the people where they can find us. We’ll get out of here and see everyone on the boards and on Tweeter this weekend.

Nick:                         It’s, as always, www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. TheGatorCountry on Instagram, Gator Country on Facebook, and @GatorCountry on Twitter. I am @NickdelaTorreGC. He is @AndrewSpiveyGC. If you are following this from the website, go ahead and do us a favor and check us out over on iTunes. Just search Gator Country or GC Podcast, and that’ll pop up. That’s all I got. Thank you for listening, as always. We would love a comment or a rating over on iTunes, and any constructive criticism. What can we be doing better? Let us know.

Andrew:                 If you’re going to be out at the Swamp any of the three days, shoot Nick and I a message on Twitter or on the site, or if you see us say hello, and we will definitely meet you guys. Definitely like to meet everyone that is a fan of the Gators and follow along with us. So do that. If you aren’t a member of Gator Country, get on there. Ain’t a better place to be. Look, my man, Nick, destroy football news. We got the recruiting news. Things only going to get better. I mean, it is what it is. You’re not cocky if you can back it up, as my man, Jalen Tabor, says, and Nick and I can back it up. If you’re not a member, shoot one of us a message, and we might can come up with a way to get you on there for a little smaller price. Hit us up. Don’t get left behind in recruiting news this weekend. As always, go Braves, and chomp, chomp.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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The Florida Gators have been turning up the heat recently on cornerback Marco Wilson.

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