Florida Gators recruiting podcast recap for class of 2016

This GatorCountry podcast focuses on recapping the Florida Gators recruiting class of 2016 after National Signing Day was over with on Wednesday afternoon.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the Florida Gators recruiting class that ended with 25 prospects signing on Wednesday, plus we look at some of the guys they missed on.

Andrew and Nick go player by player through the class of 2016, plus they look at some of the best recruiting battles and which Gators assistant coach did the best on the road.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? This is your man, Andrew Spivey, with Nicholas de la Torre. Signing Day is over. Thank goodness. We move on to ’17.

Nick:                         Yeah. Signing Day kicked our asses. I’ve been almost completely out of commission sick post Signing Day. You’re starting to feel it now. Glad it’s over, and glad we survived.

Andrew:                 I always say I’m glad to over with, and I can honestly say that this class was a lot of fun to cover, and I continue to think about why that was, and maybe it’s because there was a full class so long that I was able to kind of build relationships with those guys on a more personal level, more than as a recruit level. So maybe that’s what it is, but when I begin to look at this class I think of guys like Josh Hammond, guys like Vosean Joseph and Clayton and Perine, Brett Heggie, those guys. Those guys had been around and were all really good people, and it’s always fun to move on to the next year, but I will not lie and say that I’ll miss talking to some of those guys. Good thing is they’re in Gainesville, but we move on to ’17.

Gators finished off Wednesday maybe not on the best note. Go 1 for really 3 on the big three targets, and then pick up the Juco cornerback. We’ll dive into why that happened in a little bit. Overall, class was a very good class. You were going for three out of state targets that the in state schools wanted a lot. So you win one of three, and I think we can all agree that if you had to pick one of the three you wanted it was probably the receiver in Tyrie Cleveland.

Nick:                         Yeah. I don’t think this is a great class. I think it’s a class that filled a lot of needs. I think it obviously could have been worse. I think it could have been a lot better though, looking at some of these positions, and I think Coach McElwain addressed it. I think they needed to do better in the state of Florida. Obviously you did a fantastic job recruiting the state of Alabama. You got Lamical Perine, who you posted on your behind the scenes Alabama was really after this kid. So you really kept a running back away from Alabama, and a very good one, in Perine. I think you did a good job of recruiting the state of Georgia as well, getting Antonneous Clayton. You and I are both very impressed with him. So I think they did a good job out of the state, specifically in Georgia. Then again you look at Jordan Smith from the state of Georgia, but when it comes to Florida I think that’s kind of an area that you need to do a better job of. McElwain kind of admitted that, and I think that’ll be an emphasis in 2017.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Let’s discuss this real quick. Jacksonville area was down this year. I think we can all agree that Jacksonville area was down. Rick Wells might have been the biggest name in the Jacksonville area. I don’t know if there was another one. I’m drawing a blank here. So that was down. The area that they really screwed the pooch on was Tampa. That’s the area that when you look at this area you think of Nate Craig-Myers, Shavar Manuel, Jayvaughn Myers. I know I’m missing some people. I don’t even know. I’m drawing a blank here. Those are the big three that they missed on that Tampa area. That was Kirk Callahan’s area. There’s no hiding that fact. That was his area. He messed up. He’s looking for a job. He messed up there.

So I’m not so worried there. I’m sitting here thinking, and you’ve told me about it, and Mac said that same thing about the state of Florida, but outside of the receiver position, where did, I’m not sure if there was a guy that they really needed or wanted in state that they missed on. If that makes sense. Maybe cornerback. I agree with you. They got to do a better job in state. I’m just trying to really put my hands on the guys that they really wanted in state that they missed on. They missed on Nate Craig-Myers. That was absolutely huge. That was with Callahan, and some more things, as I hit on in the behind the scenes.

They missed on Marcus Tatum, the offensive lineman, and that hurt. There is no way to get around it. That hurt. They missed on Trevon Mullen, Benjamin Victor. They didn’t want Victor at the end. Trevon Mullen was a situation where Callahan didn’t like him at the beginning, didn’t go all in with him there. Overall I don’t know if it’s as big of a miss as Mac made it seem to be, but it just looks like a big miss because there’s a lot of out of state kids.

Nick:                         I don’t know what you don’t, when you look at Trevon Mullen I don’t know what you look at and you say, I don’t like. 6’1”, long corner, physical guy. I don’t know what you look at when you see him and say, I don’t like that.

Andrew:                 Well, it’s the same thing with Carlos Becker, who Keiwon Ratliff is big on, coached in seven on seven. I told you in Orlando he was maybe the best cornerback with that Team Armour that he was playing on, the opposite team. The team with Dwayne Haskins he was playing on. I believe that was Team Armour. I thought he was the best cornerback there.

Nick:                         Yeah. I mean, signed with FSU. He was giving, what’s their quarterback’s name? Kid that was at ING, got kicked out?

Andrew:                 Malik Henry.

Nick:                         Malik Henry. He was giving Malik Henry fits at Under Armour game. So right there, and defensive back is a position where Florida quickly becomes thin, and those are two guys in state, one from south Florida in Mullen, who’s from Pompano Beach, went to Coconut Creek, and then the other, Becker, right from Kissimmee. So things like that, and I understand you’re on guys like Kristian Fulton, but could you have spent more time on these guys who were closer to home rather than trying to go into Louisiana, where it’s historically been very hard to pull kids? You put a lot of time and a lot of resources into Fulton, and could they have been spent somewhere else?

Andrew:                 Again, I agree with you there. My way of looking at it is this. Do you have to take care of the state of Florida first? Absolutely. But if your DB coach doesn’t like that player, then it’s kind of there. Again, Torrian Gray’s the new DB coach because of that. The two guys I’ll say that hurt the most in state in my opinion, well Nate Craig-Myers is the top guy that hurts. There’s no way to get around that at all.

The next guy is Nick Eubanks and Brian Burns. Those were two guys, that tight end in Eubanks is the prototypical Jim McElwain, Greg Nord tight end, and then Brian Burns is a fierce speed rusher, and it hurt. It hurt. There’s no way to get around it. I mean, they’re two guys that were very close with Quincy Wilson and some other guys down there, and American Heritage is a pipeline that’s quickly becoming. You look at the 2017 and ’18 classes there, it’s a pipeline that’s quickly becoming, and you’d like to have that. It hurt. It did. It hurt big time to miss those two guys, but you move forward, and you go.

The good thing for Florida is they get Antonneous Clayton, who I consider to be one of, if not the top, defensive ends in the country. He was by far the best defensive end at the Under Armour game.

Nick:                         I think what we’ll see in a couple years, maybe not next year, but maybe in two years what we’ll look back at this class and say, talking about Eubanks here, is not getting a tight end in this class could have some big time negative repercussions down the line, because if you look at it Florida really has two. You’ve got really one. You’ve got C’yontai Lewis, and then in more of an H back role than a tight end role is where you have DeAndre Gooslby. So to me you really needed to get a tight end in this class. Florida kind of went all in with Eubanks, and tough to see that not pan out, especially when you put kind of all your eggs in one basket.

Andrew:                 I mean, there was some outside influences at work there. I kind of got into those in my behind the scenes, and check that out on GatorCountry.com. Little selfish plug. It hurt. It hurt, and it hurt big time there. We’ll see. There’s a big five star offensive lineman down there, Tedarrell Slaton, that’s at American Heritage. There’s Marco Wilson down there this year in 2017. We’ll see. We’ll see if it does get better there. Besides those guys, those two guys and Nate Craig, it’s tough to say who else they missed on.

You look at the quarterback position, they got probably the #1 quarterback in the state of Florida, Feleipe Franks. You and I think that he has a long way to go, but in a year that the quarterback position was down he was probably #1. I know Shea Patterson’s there, but I still consider him a Louisiana kid, even though he went to IMG. You look at the running back position, it was dog shit this year in the state of Florida. Receiver, they missed on Nate Craig for sure. Then tight end is Eubanks. Offensive line was Marcus Tatum. Like linebacker, was there anybody in the state that you really wanted at linebacker that they didn’t get? Probably not. It was down.

Nick:                         Who was the kid that went to Miami? He had been up to Florida for Junior Day last year.

Andrew:                 Zach McCloud. He was a guy, he just never showed interest, and there’s always going to be that kid.

Nick:                         It happens. Listen, as a fan you love your school. You love your university, and you can’t understand why somebody else doesn’t. Not everybody wants to be a Gator, and sometimes that’s just going to be the case. It doesn’t matter what your coaching staff does. If a kid doesn’t want to go to your school you kind of just have to say, okay. I’m not going to just throw money at him, not literally, but time. I’m not going to throw recruiting money, time spent recruiting him when I could be recruiting somebody else, if he’s never going to come around.

Andrew:                 Exactly. So that’s the thing. It was a situation where you look at that, and you say, okay. Then, like I said, DB there was there. I do, I think that there is some adjustments that need to be made. The Tampa area this year is freaking loaded for 2017. You’ve got to hit it. You’ve got to hit it hard. That means that whether that’s Chris Rumph that has to move there or whoever it is that has to move there, Torrian Gray’s big in the central Florida area, the Lakeland area, that kind of stuff. So I think he’ll probably be that guy that kind of takes over that area. So does that mean Geoff Collins goes to Tampa? Whoever it may be needs to put their big boy pants on and be ready to go. Tim Skipper, he’s got a lot of guys to work with in Jacksonville, and then south Florida is loaded as always down there.

It is what it is there for 2016. You give them a pass. Again, I say this is a class as a whole in my opinion is very good. I know people disagree with me, and quite frankly I don’t care that they disagree with me. I think when you look at the needs that they had, they came in, they filled the needs, and they filled the needs with some very good football players. So I’m not going to say it wasn’t a good class. It was a very good class in my opinion. I said it on Tuesday when we did our podcast. It could have been an exceptionally great class had they added Fulton and John Simpson. They didn’t. It’s still a good class. You rank in the top ten in most of the recruiting, so it’s a good thing, and you met it with needs, and that was the biggest thing that they did.

Nick:                         So we’ve kind of talked about some guys they missed on and how the class could be better, but we’ve broken this class up into the 12 early enrollees, and then also you’ve got 13 other kids that signed on Signing Day. Let’s start with the early enrollees. First off, the quarterback position. You needed a quarterback. You needed two quarterbacks. At one point it looked like Florida might even get three quarterbacks, which wouldn’t have been too much, and we talked a little bit throughout the year about how that can kind of get into a little congestion, and then you look at people transferring, and then you’re back into the same problem. I think with two quarterbacks Florida won’t have to get into that.

Kyle Trask has been getting good reviews from what you and I have heard from the coaching staff. Kind of being able to see him work out with the quarterbacks, and then also already touched on him a little bit, Feleipe Franks. You and I both have not been shy about saying that we think he needs some time to develop, but you get two quarterbacks. You also get a third in a grad transfer, Austin Appleby, from Purdue. So Florida’s quarterback position you really go from not having any options last year, despite everybody pulling and saying Josh Grady needs to start. You didn’t really have any options after Treon Harris last year, and now it looks like you kind of have some options with Luke del Rio, Kyle Trask, Austin Appleby.

Andrew:                 Exactly. I mean, it’s like I said a second ago. You hit the needs. Like them or not, you and I are very tough on Feleipe Franks. I do not hide the fact that I think Franks needs to get better. I don’t hide that. At the end of the day though you got depth, and that’s what you wanted. Feleipe is one of the top five quarterbacks, top six quarterbacks, in the country, and that’s what they needed, and that’s what they got. They got him on campus, and they are learning. So it’s a good thing. Doug Nussmeier stays on board, that helps as well.

When you look at your checklist that you have going into every recruiting season, you put a checkmark by there. You got your needs, and you got Feleipe Franks, and everybody cries they want four stars that are stop rated guys. There it is. Franks is your guy. Check mark.

Nick:                         And we had both said that we preferred Dwayne Haskins over Franks, that I thought Haskins was more ready. I don’t think I would have been thrilled if going into the LSU game next year you’re saying, “Stuff happened, and Dwayne Haskins is starting.” I wouldn’t be thrilled about that. These recruits, every Signing Day and every recruiting class, it’s kind of like the shiny new toy, and you forget what you have. It’s like Christmas in a way, where you forget everything else that you have, because something new is coming in, and that new thing has to be better.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Not necessarily.

Andrew:                 Hell, if you want to talk about it, del Rio is a new guy.

Nick:                         Not really.

Andrew:                 I mean, you know what I’m saying? He’s a guy that was ineligible last year. So he’s a guy that’s eligible this year. So if you want to talk about new toys, you got four new toys at quarterback that were not at your disposal last year.

Nick:                         I think, neither of us have been shy about saying it, again, del Rio’s your guy here at quarterback. That is going to be who Florida is going to go with, and really you hope that you can redshirt both freshmen in Trask and Franks. I think right now I would say that Trask is probably a guy that you would play before you would play Franks, and you really don’t want to play Franks as a freshman, kind of get that redshirt year in and kind of take care of it. It was kind of like in 2014 when everyone was calling for Will Grier, and the Muschamp coaching staff put Treon in instead. You’ve got a plan for Grier. It was to redshirt, then to come in. I think the plan for Franks is to redshirt, and that if something were to happen to del Rio and to Appleby that Trask would be the guy to come in.

Andrew:                 Yeah. There you go. Then you got a running back. You got to your early enrollee in Mark Thompson. Five star Juco talent that is a monster. Quite frankly, he’s a monster. He’s a big old boy.

Nick:                         6’2”, 230, and moves. The kid can move. He can jump. He is athletic.

Andrew:                 So I give that a check mark. You got it. He’s in your class. Then probably the biggest position of them all was receiver. You needed to add talent, and you needed to add talent in a big way.

Nick:                         There was almost no number that would have been too much. Like if Florida had signed 10 receivers you’d have been like, yeah. Sure.

Andrew:                 Now they have 11, because I’ll stand by my statement that Antonio Callaway’s probably your only receiver on campus that you rely on. So you got Massey, you got Hammond, and you got Swain that early enrolled. You and I have both heard reviews that Josh Hammond is having a really good off season already, so three receivers there, and three receivers that are really good. Once again, check mark, in my opinion.

Nick:                         Yeah. You get into Rick Wells and Tyrie Cleveland, which are the signees, but the guys already on campus, Josh Hammond, Dre Massey, and Freddie Swain, love Swain and Hammond. We’ve been hearing great things about them. My only concern with Massey is that he was listed so big in the 6’, 180 range, and then he shows up on campus at the 5’9”, 180 range.

Andrew:                 Listen. When you’re running like he’s running just find a way to get him the football. That’s the way I look at it. Just find a way to get him the ball. Do you really need his size to be running jet sweeps, to be running that kind of stuff? I don’t think so. I agree. It wasn’t great that he came in so small, but when you got wheels like that guy it doesn’t matter. McElwain’s favorite phrase is you go the playmaker column. Use it with Dre Massey.

Nick:                         I guess that is correct. Then offensive line was a big position. You only have one coming in. Stone Forsythe is a gigantic human being. 6’7”, 309 pounds. That is a Trenton Brown, Fred Johnson size.

Andrew:                 The thing that I was told, and this is what I was told by a couple people, is he’s a raw lineman that you can almost mold into what you want, and I know that sounds bad, but it’s a guy that like if Florida decides we want to beef him up to 330 and put him inside, cool. If we want to keep him at 300 and play him at tackle, cool. He’s that guy. He has some good feet, and he’s a bulldozer on the field. So it was good. Again, Florida didn’t need exactly a lineman in this class to really come in and be ready to start, because they’re so young. They just needed guys that were going to be ready to come in and be guys that could compete for depth if they need to.

Nick:                         You look at the class, and you’re going to get a lot of guys who played a lot of football last year returning. I think that’s important. You look at getting a junior in David Sharpe at left tackle. Martez Ivey is back. Cam Dilliard, Tyler Jordan, Brett Heggie’s a guy who I think maybe.

Andrew:                 Don’t get ahead of yourself. We’re getting to Brett.

Nick:                         I still don’t like freshmen playing. Fred Johnson’s back though. So a lot of guys.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Then you go to the defensive line. Jordan Smith was your lone early enrollee at the position, and he’s a guy that’s already up to 237 pounds, long athletic defensive end, a Chris Rumph, Geoff Collins special that they like. He’ll be fine. He’ll be ready to go. Probably wants a redshirt year, but we’ll see. He’s already up to 237 pounds. He may be ready to go.

Nick:                         Then you look at defensive backs.

Andrew:                 Hit linebacker.

Nick:                         Linebacker. David Reese. That’s important. Florida does not have, there’s no way to sugarcoat it. Florida doesn’t have linebackers.

Andrew:                 That’s what I was going to say. I think he might be, he could arguably be the biggest EE that came in this class.

Nick:                         Just as far as need, yeah.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, he’s a guy that someone told me this over the weekend, and it was pretty funny when they said this to me. They were like, “Can you imagine Antonio Morrison maybe a little bigger, but can actually move a little bit?” I was like, that’s kind of scary, and that was the phrase that was described to me for David Reese. The phrase also described with Reese is smart. He is a smart football player. So for a freshman that’s coming in, getting early enrolled, he’s going to have to play next year in a depth standpoint. Big that he’s smart and big that he’s big.

Nick:                         He is an inside linebacker. You look at Florida’s scholarship linebackers. Daniel McMillian, outside. Matt Rolin, outside. Alex Anzalone, can play both. He can play inside. He can play outside. Jarrad Davis, really think more of him as an outside, kind of a weak side, but he can play both. Rayshad Jackson, outside. So David Reese has an opportunity to play, and a good opportunity to learn behind Alex Anzalone, who I think is the best linebacker Florida’s had, just got to keep him healthy.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Then you move to that DB position, the huge need, and you got him. You got the alpha dog in the class in Chauncey Gardner. You got McArthur Burnett. Both of those guys early enroll. Someone told me this, and that was that the biggest surprise in this class was McArthur Burnett, because he’s a guy that has all the athletic tools to play DB. He’s just very raw there, and then when you look at a guy like a Chauncey Gardner, he can play anywhere in the backfield, and he’s going to be a guy that’s going to work his ass off to play, and to play early.

Nick:                         Yeah. McArthur Burnett’s a guy not talked about a lot, because he didn’t do a lot of interviews, but he’s a guy that I think I was very impressed with when he came and worked out during Friday Night Lights. Very physical defensive back. He just reminds me of most of the kids from Pahokee. Plays with that style. Kind of a kid that plays like there’s nothing to lose, and you like to see that. Very physical kid. Fast, athletic, a little small for my taste at 5’9”, 157. Would like to see him put some weight on.

Andrew:                 He’s a guy that’s going to probably see some return abilities there. So we’ll see. The next one, probably the most popular one, Eddie Pineiro. He’s in the class.

Nick:                         You had to get a kicker. I asked Jim McElwain, “Have you ever recruited a kicker this hard?” “No.” “Have you ever thought about recruiting a kicker?” “No.” It just tells you where his patience, and where his frustration level was with the kicker position. You’ve got one now in Eddie Pineiro. He does some, has some great vines, some great trick kicks, but you’re not trick kicking in a game. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens in front of 90,000 or in that first pressure situation.

Andrew:                 One thing that I did hear about Eddie Pineiro is that he went to the Bud Asher kicking competition last weekend. I don’t know very much about it. I’m very unfamiliar with that, but supposedly won the competition against four NFL kickers, including Caleb Sturgis. So I haven’t seen too much about that report. Just someone DM’d me about that. If that’s true, that’s pretty good. There is no doubt Eddie Pineiro has the leg and can win the practice award. The question is, like you say, what does he do in the big leagues?

Nick:                         Have no worries about him in practice. It does come down to what can you do for me when it matters on Saturday?

Andrew:                 Exactly. That’s the early enrollees. Let’s go to the new guys, the guys that committed or signed on Wednesday. The most popular guy, Tyrie Cleveland. Nick, I don’t know how many times I told you, but I’ll say it again, in practice he was, at the Under Armour game he was the best receiver there. That’s Nate Craig, that’s any other body you want to throw out there. He’s dynamite. He’s 6’3”, can run, can catch, can run good routes. He’s a good kid. He’s a real soft spoken, down to earth guy. In my opinion, and I’ll say it, and I’m going to hurt some feelings when I say this, the biggest get in the class. Period. When you get a 6’3” receiver that you haven’t had in a long time, and you get him. Period. Big win for the Gators.

Nick:                         Florida has him listed at 6’2”. First, let’s digress real quick. Hats off to Florida on when these kids came in on official visits looking at the edits that Florida put together. We all saw during the official visits the kids standing in front of the big white screen. Hats off to Florida for those edits that they did, and also getting some accurate heights and weights, because the heights and weights on these recruiting websites seem to be all over the place, and not a lot kind of line up. 6’2”, 194 officially from Florida for Tyrie Cleveland. He’s someone that plays probably 6’3”, plays 6’4”, goes up, high points the ball well. He’s the kind of player that at any moment, kind of like Antonio Callaway, at any moment he can take the top off of a defense. So something Florida badly needed.

Like we said earlier, could have taken 12, 10, 12 receivers, and you would have said, sure. Absolutely. Sign them all up. The other receiver is Rick Wells, who has been the longest committed kid in the class. I’m not sure. I don’t think Wells makes an impact in 2016. Maybe somewhere down the line for me. Hats off, and there is something to be said for being the first to commit, not wavering. Maybe taking some visits or whatever, but staying true to that commitment.

Andrew:                 Little bigger than I expected as well. He’s gained some weight, some good weight.

Nick:                         Florida had him listed at 6’, 200 pounds. That’s a very good size.

Andrew:                 We’ll see. There’s some critics out there of him. He didn’t play in a very pass happy offense, because of some quarterback play, and he’s a good kid. One thing you’re going to get from him is you’re going to get a hard worker. At running back, you got Lamical Perine signed. Got him out of Alabama, the state’s top running back, a guy Alabama coveted up until midnight around Tuesday night. They wanted him. They tried. Skipper won, and the Gators got a good tailback in Lamical Perine.

Nick:                         Very good tailback in Lamical Perine. I think it is very telling how quickly Florida was on Perine, and where some schools, even the home state Crimson Tide weren’t on him as soon. Good job for Florida evaluating and scouting and finding guys who weren’t five stars when they were sophomores in high school, and the guys that everybody knew about. There were so many guys in this class, Clayton, Perine, McArthur Burnett, Aaron Robinson, who’s not in the class, that Florida got on early, and almost did the scouting for the Alabamas and the Auburns and the LSUs and these other schools. Just because of how quickly and efficiently they were able to get on to some of these kids.

Andrew:                 I think we take it for granted how, the Perine deal, we take it for granted, but it was a war. It was a war. At times it was a war for Skipper, and he did a good job. People say, “Alabama didn’t really want him, because he didn’t go there.” Oh, Alabama wanted him, big dog. They wanted him bad, and he didn’t go. So we move on to tight end. Didn’t sign one. Got to go for next year. Got to go big for that.

Offensive line though, get the massive, and when I say massive he’s a big old boy, Jawaan Taylor, get him in the class, and you get Brett Heggie. Heggie in my opinion is going to be a guy that when we look in a couple years we’re going to look back and say, this guy’s been a good football player for Florida. He reminds me of Ryan Kelly that played for so many years at Alabama, was a three year starter at Alabama. I say that in maybe he’s not the most physically gifted offensive lineman, but he’s a guy that’s smart, and he gets his job done. If you ever get the chance to speak to Heggie you know he’s smart, and he’s going to get the job done.

Nick:                         In talking to him I got sort of an intensity coming off of him that people talk about all the time wanting that meanness, that mean streak from an offensive lineman, and I kind of got that intensity from him. Is that something you’ve kind of gotten?

Andrew:                 Yeah. Intensity, competitiveness, chip on his shoulder maybe that he had went out to the opening and was maybe not heralded as the top center, but he’s got, he went up in the Under Armour game against the Ed Olivers of the world, Shavar Manuel, several big defensive tackles, and he held his own. He didn’t get beat. He won his fair share, and he lost a few. It happens. He did really well in that, and then Jawaan Taylor. He’s a big boy. You can’t teach size at that guard position. His want to play football for the Florida Gators, in my opinion, is huge, and I think the sky’s the limit for him. All of his coaches continue to tell me that they really think he’s going to be a good player at the next level. Florida liked him a lot, and would have taken him very early had he not been as heavy as he was, but when he dropped the weight he was a surefire get for the Gators.

Nick:                         Florida’s got him listed at 6’5”, 347 pounds. We had him on the podcast a while back, and he said he had gotten up to about 385, 390 pounds. Hello. That is big. So dropping near 50 pounds to earn an offer, that shows you how bad he wanted to be in the class, and it’s kind of something we talked about earlier where you want kids who want to be in the class, and not much can tell you I want to be in this class more than I’m going to lose half a hundred.

Andrew:                 Yup. That’s big. It’s huge there. Let’s go to defensive line. This was where the Gators got better. Jachai Polite and Antonneous Clayton, Gators got better with those two dudes. Those are guys that are going to play. Antonneous Clayton, that first step that man has, good Lord, watch out. He’s coming, and he’s gaining weight, and he’s gaining weight in a hurry. I know a lot of people say they think he may redshirt because of his size. Good luck getting that man off the field. Good luck. Jachai Polite’s another guy. He’s a guy that’s athletic, fast, will probably end up growing into an inside guy in this class, and Gators stole him away from USC. Good pick up.

Nick:                         I think Antonneous Clayton is somebody that was really slept on. He definitely felt like he was not getting the recognition that he deserved, and that kind of all changed when he had the great Under Armour week. So to me that first step is something that is just innate. You don’t teach that. That quickness, the instinct to be able to get off the ball. You don’t teach that. It’s something that he has, and you can kind of teach the other stuff. I think he needs to learn some more pass rushing moves. I think he needs to put some size on, but these are things you can teach. You can’t teach that speed, that quick step, that first step, his initial burst off the ball.

Andrew:                 Instincts. Instincts. It’s like vision for a running back. You either got it, or you don’t. He’s got it, and it’s good. You missed on Shavar Manuel. It sucks. Straight up, it sucks. Academics, non-academics, whatever it is, it sucks. You lost out on him. It sucks.

Nick:                         People never really accuse me of being a homer, and I think that’s why I can say this. I was never impressed with Shavar Manuel. Even after he committed I thought he was a less talented Caleb Brantley, and I mean that in the sense where he’s lazy, and he needs to get it, and he hasn’t gotten it yet. Caleb Brantley it took him two and a half years to get it, and you finally saw. Every year we would say, Caleb Brantley looks really good. Caleb Brantley’s so good, and then halfway through the year we would get questions, “Where the hell is Caleb Brantley?” The only thing you can say is, “When he gets it, you’ll know.” Caleb Brantley got it his redshirt sophomore year, and you started to see how dominating he can be. Kind of like a Dominic Easley dominating presence where before the ball, Caleb Brantley’s liable to push the center into the quarterback before he can even hand the ball off to a running back.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         That’s the kind of force he can be. I see Shavar Manuel as a guy who’s the kind of lazy that Caleb Brantley was, but not nearly as talented as Caleb Brantley is.

Andrew:                 That’s right.

Nick:                         I would have said that if he would have stuck to Florida. I would have said, this is a guy that needs to get it. I don’t know if he’s going to get it his freshman year or sophomore year or junior year, senior year, or if he will ever get it, but he’s not going to play until he gets it.

Andrew:                 The biggest thing that a lot of people, including you, has to remember is he’s off the hip injury. We’ll see how much better he gets. You can go back on our message board. I had other sites calling me out when I said I thought he was a guy that was not living up to his potential, and I had other sites saying I was full of shit, and he was a five star, and whatever else. Good. I don’t care. He had an up and down Under Armour week. It’s a miss, because he was a body. Is it a miss because he was a five star? No. He’s not a five star. Lorenzo and I, Zo on the site, he and I both had someone tell us they thought his teammates thought he was a three star. When you don’t start for high school at the defensive line position where you’re playing eight guys rotating in there, you don’t play, something’s usually there. It was a miss. It is what it is. They’ll get it next year at defensive tackle. It’s a good position for 2017.

At linebacker, they signed Vosean Joseph, and they signed Jeremiah Moon. Both guys that need to gain a little weight. Moon’s another guy that has the instincts, that can get off the ball, can play in space out in the opening as a linebacker. Then Vosean Joseph is a guy that probably grows into a middle linebacker. Both really good pickups for this class, and both really good football players.

Nick:                         To me Moon at 6’4”, 209 going to probably need a redshirt year at linebacker, need to put some size on, but comes from a great program in Hoover, and you know that coming from a place like Hoover he’s been taught the right way, that those fundamentals will be drilled into his head and that work ethic. It’s like kids that come from St. Thomas. I never worry about, coming from St. Thomas myself, I never worry about kids not having the work ethic when they come from a school like that, because it doesn’t matter what star level you are, you’re going to get pushed to be better at a school and at a program like St. Thomas, at a school like Hoover. Just size wise I think he needs to add some weight.

Then you look at Vosean Joseph. Maybe kind of a project. I said the same thing about Rayshad Jackson last year. Thought he was sort of a project, needed to take a redshirt year. He did, but Rayshad looks the part. I think Joseph kind of looks the part too at 6’1”, 215 pounds. I think both guys kind of headed towards a redshirt this year though, in my opinion.

Andrew:                 We’ll see. We’ll definitely see there. You go to DB, and you pick up the monster hitting safety, Jawaan Taylor. You pick up safety Quincy Litton. Then you picked up the cornerback in Joseph Putu. Did I miss anyone? I think that’s it, right? CJ McWilliams. Not too high on McWilliams, think he needs to gain a lot of weight. He’s a project in my opinion. Putu is a guy that’s interesting. Come from North Dakota, the Juco guy. When you look at his tape he’s a long guy, big guy. We’ll see how his game translates to the SEC level, but he’s got the size to be pretty freaking good player it looks like.

Nick:                         6’2”, 195. That’s a big boy. Originally from Providence, Rhode Island. It’ll be interesting to see what he looks like when he gets to campus, and thank you Putu for kind of being sort of the fuel that sent Bret Bielema off the edge about Florida yesterday, or on Wednesday. That was interesting to see Bret go full Bert.

Andrew:                 Let me hit on Bert in just a second. Let me hit on Quincy Litton and Jawaan Taylor real quick. Jawaan Taylor, I’ve said it before, he’s a guy that could have an impact next year and could play, get in the depth. 6’2”, 192 pounds is what he told me he was. What did Florida weigh him in at?

Nick:                         Jawaan had 6’, 191 pounds.

Andrew:                 They put him at 6’. I thought he was a little more than 6’. He was a little taller me when I met him. Somewhere around in that.

Nick:                         Maybe you’re shrinking.

Andrew:                 I might be. No. I went to the doctor on Thursday, and I was 6’.

Nick:                         Maybe your doctor is shrinking too.

Andrew:                 I’m not shrinking. I’m good. We’ll see. So he’s a guy that’s going to work hard, and he’s going to hit you, and he’s going to play really good football. Quincy Litton as well. He’s a guy that can play corner or safety. I think he’s a safety at the next level. Both really good pickups for me in the class, and both guys that really wanted to be a Gator.

Now, to Bert. Here we go, to Bert. Bert has no room to talk. He’s over here getting cussed out by the Fulton family because he’s over here trying to tell the kid to tell the dad to screw off. What’s Bert got to be talking about over here? I’ve had multiple head coaches tell me Bert’s just a flat out retard. That’s what two people told me that have been recruited, had kids recruited by him. They don’t like Bert. A lot of people don’t like Bert, and I can say this. McElwain, he can be accused of a lot of things, but to my knowledge McElwain doesn’t negative recruit. Everybody plays the game, but to my knowledge he doesn’t play it like some other schools do in the negative recruiting department.

What was Bert doing? I mean, you lost two kids. You just got beat. Joseph Putu committed to Florida without ever taking a visit on Tuesday night. I’m sorry you got beat, Bert. You had him on campus. Tyrie Cleveland, I’m sorry he don’t want to go block for your run offense. Then your basketball hurts you worse.

Nick:                         Florida’s basketball team taking McElwain’s back and getting the win there on Signing Day over Arkansas, but maybe some sour grapes. I look forward, no, I don’t look forward to going to Arkansas. It is a new place.

Andrew:                 I’ve never been.

Nick:                         I’ve never been, so I enjoy going places I’ve never been, but if you’ve been to Fayetteville, and there is a reason I should be excited for going to the city of Fayetteville, let me know. Normally I get in town a couple days early. I’ll fly in like on a Thursday morning and kind of see the town. I think I might fly in like Saturday morning to Fayetteville.

Andrew:                 Our good friend SEC Chad’s up there, so that’s a good thing.

Nick:                         Yeah. Maybe if Chad listens to this he can tell me what to do in Fayetteville. I got nothing.

Andrew:                 I’ll tell you what you can do.

Nick:                         I got nothing for the entire state of Arkansas.

Andrew:                 You know what you can do?

Nick:                         What can I do?

Andrew:                 Woo, pig suey.

Nick:                         I’m alright on that one. My throat right now can’t take that. I am far too sick.

Andrew:                 Keyvaughn Allen will tell you to get out of town. That’s for sure. I don’t know what Bert’s deal is. Come on, Bert. You know, you got beat. It is what it is. Shut up. That’s what I got to tell you. Shut up. It is what it is. Come on, dude.

Quick couple things here real quick. I just want to put out my final say on this class as a whole, and then I’ll give you your chance, Nick. Good, very good class for hitting the needs, like I said. With McElwain they did a good job of hitting the guys they want to. Two guys, two assistant coaches that deserve a ton of props, Kerry Dixon and Tim Skipper. Dixon goes and gets, pulls the receivers he wants, outside of Nate Craig, and then Tim Skipper pulls Perine, and was right there with Kristian Fulton, right there. Good pickup for him. Really good.

Nick:                         Don’t give away too much. I know you have some planned stuff on Fulton for your behind the scenes on the defensive side of the ball, but very close with Fulton. We can say that.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Anyway, Nick, tell the people where they can find us. We’ll get out of here, and see you guys the first of the week.

Nick:                         We will be back on Monday. Officially, as we talk about, this two weeks from baseball, the start of baseball. I will have my previews going up for the baseball team, who is filled with All-Stars and All-Americans, and first round draft picks, frankly. So look forward to that.

Andrew:                 Softball too. Media day on Saturday.

Nick:                         This is all about baseball.

Andrew:                 Media day on Saturday.

Nick:                         I’ll be there tomorrow. All right. Anyway, follow me at softball on Saturday, @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter, @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter, GatorCountry on Twitter. TheGatorCountry on Instagram. All of our edits that you see up on the site are there. Also, Facebook page has every story, edit, news, links, tidbits, everything is on the Facebook page. Just search Gator Country on Facebook. That’s where you can find us on all the social medias.

Andrew:                 That’s right. GatorCountry.com message boards are popping for sure. Check us out. Maybe come on over and give us a new subscription. We’ll take care of you guys over there, and you take care of us as well. Keep us in business, and we’ll be able to keep doing this every day. Softball will be popping. Got some cool things coming for the preview, and we’re just a few short days away from starting the season. I am fired up. Nick, I know you’re fired up about baseball to be fun, and then the class of 2017. I’m really excited about this class, because there’s a lot of good players, and I also really like Jake Allen there. Things may be going down next week on the class of 2017. I’ll leave it at that. Nicholas.

Nick:                         There you go. You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew:                 That’s right. Butch, Mark, Signing Day didn’t do you well, buddy. Chomp, chomp. Go Braves.


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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.


  1. Huge welcome for all our new recruits who chose to be Gators. The others…gator bait. This team will be completely different with a serviceable QB and a top shelf kicker. All the star counters on signing day should look at the recruiting services’ record on talent evaluation. Have a peek at NFL draft choices and current stars on rosters. Some hits, lots of misses from the recruiting services.