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    Florida Gators TE Jake McGee during the FSU game on Saturday- Gator Country photo taken by David Bowie

Jake McGee joins the GC
podcast to talk Senior Bowl

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Written by Andrew Spivey, January 22, 2016, 0 Comments,
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This GatorCountry podcast has two special guest as tight end Jake McGee and Senior Bowl rep Patrick Woo joined the podcast to preview next week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre asked McGee what he’s looking forward to during next week’s game, plus what he has been working on during his time since the bowl game.

Andrew and Nick talk with Woo about the Senior Bowl selection process, plus what they saw from the Florida Gators players that will participate in the game.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? This is the one, the only, Andrew Spivey, with the man, Nicholas de la Torre. What’s up, Nicholas?

Nick:                         Just wrapping things up in Gainesville before I head out to Alabama. What do you guys call that state?

Andrew:                 We call it Alabama. We don’t call it nothing else.

Nick:                         Like Florida’s the Sunshine State. What’s Alabama?

Andrew:                 I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. It’s called Alabama.

Nick:                         How do you not know the nickname of Alabama?

Andrew:                 Technically it’s Nick Saban’s state, but I don’t like to say that. It is what it is. Senior Bowl week rolling in. We got some good guests coming on today. My man, Jake McGee, tight end. What is it? Jake over the world? Is that what it is, Nicholas?

Nick:                         Jake over the world, yeah.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Then Senior Bowl, one of the Senior Bowl reps, Patrick Woo. He’s a big instrumental part in kind of the picking of these guys. He goes around, evaluates all these guys. You and I were able to see him several times during the season. So we’re going to talk to both of those guys. Talk to Jake about just the experience of getting down there and playing in this elite All-Star game, and then talk to Patrick about what kind of goes into these games. Two good interviews to look forward to. Nick, before we go to the Senior Bowl we need to preview this coming weekend’s official visitors. It’s not going to be a huge amount of people coming in this weekend, but it’s more so going to be kind of some guys they need to land on this weekend. Unlike last weekend were they were kind of behind on a lot of guys that were coming in, this weekend they got legit shots at a couple of players coming into town.

Nick:                         Yeah. Last two weekends I think, obviously all three of these weekends since the dead period are very important. I think still in my opinion it’s that next weekend, the 29th is the big, big weekend, but this is a very important weekend. Florida’s still trying to finish strong. I know on Wednesday Twitter was in a meltdown saying everything was ruined, because a couple wide receivers decided, or took Florida out of the running. This is an important weekend, despite what Twitter will tell you. Every weekend is important. It’s also important to remember that Florida has a very good class and a gigantic class that has kind of been wrapped up for a while.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It’s one of those deals where Florida continues to get good talent on campus, and the last two weekends are there. Mac puts together his last weekend to kind of finish the door strong, finish strong. Has some big visitors next weekend, but this weekend the quick rundown here. Aaron Robinson, everyone knows about his test score, doesn’t have one, so he’s coming on an unofficial visit this weekend. Gator commit, Antonneous Clayton’s coming in. Top speed rusher, Brian Burns is coming in this weekend. Florida, Florida State, Georgia are battling here. Florida needs a good visit this weekend.

Linebacker Dee Walker is a guy from Colquitt County. Doesn’t have an official Florida offer yet. I mean, he does, he’s coming on a visit this weekend, but it’s not official official. He’s a guy that Florida’s still keeping in the mix a little bit. This weekend may tell the sign of whether Florida gives him the go ahead to commit or not. Tight end Nick Eubanks is a guy that Alabama and Florida are battling for. I think Florida’s got an incredible shot of landing him, and them commits Shavar Manuel and Vosean Joseph are coming in. Florida has a little work to do on those two guys. Shavar is a guy that may take a visit to FSU, and Vosean’s coming off a great visit to Alabama. Need to put kind of the pin down there, get those guys away from those visits and get them back in the class fully.

Big weekend for Florida this weekend. Like I said, Nick Eubanks, Brian Burns are two guys Florida really needs to do a good job on this week in order to sign them. I think we both can agree Florida needs that other speed rusher to go with Clayton in the class. They need Nick Eubanks. Right now they got Camrin Knight. They got Goolsby, and they got C’yontai Lewis, but those guys are getting older. Time to get some fresh faces in there and add depth.

Nick:                         As far as I’m concerned you’ve got C’yontai Lewis at tight end, because DeAndre Goolsby’s not being used in that same way. He’s basically being used in a completely different position than Jake McGee was used as a tight end and C’yontai was used as a tight end. To land another tight end, somebody at that position who you’re confident in, is huge for this class.

Andrew:                 Exactly. It’s a situation where you never want to get to the time of the Will Muschamp era, and I say that, and I mean that by you never want to get caught with your pants down and be like, they’re graduating here. What am I supposed to do? I don’t have nobody ready to go. That’s kind of where it is. I think it’ll be good for Florida to kind of get that American Heritage streamline going to get those guys starting to come, because there’s a lot of good players. Next year as well there’s a lot of good players there. Florida has Marco Wilson and Chad Wilson there as well. There’s a little connection to Florida there as well. Get those guys heading to Gainesville. Chances are you’re going to have some good success at that school in the future if you do.

Nick:                         It might not be St. Thomas, but that is a very good program with a bunch of great coaches down there. I can’t hate on American Heritage, even though they beat me in baseball back in high school. Can’t hate on them. That’s a great program. How convenient is it to have two guys who are at key positions for you recruiting to be at the same school? Coach Mac goes down to a basketball game at American Heritage, and here’s two kids that I need to talk to, rather than having to divvy that time up.

Andrew:                 Coach Rumph, Coach Nuss, and Coach Shannon goes down to a basketball game the other night, and there’s three of them at the basketball game. It’s like Brian Burns sitting here thinking, they really want me. Coach Shannon and Coach Rumph and Coach Nuss are like, we really want you, but your buddy over there, we want you too. We’re kind of here for both of you guys. Nick, let’s get out of here. Let’s get Jake McGee on, and let’s get his talk. Then we can wrap this podcast up. We’ll wrap up the official visit on next week’s podcast on Sunday. You guys will listen to it on Monday. Let’s go to Jake now.

Nick:                         We’re joined now by Jake McGee, better known as Jake over the world, just finished up his college career. No matter how many times I asked him if he was trying to find a loophole for a seventh year he said no, so he will be taking his talents to Mobile, Alabama in the Senior Bowl. Jake, how’s it going?

Jake:                        It’s going great.

Andrew:                 Are you still stuck on that plan? You’re ready to be done with college?

Jake:                        If I could I’d go back to Florida and keep going, but I guess I ran out of time, and I’ve got to move on.

Andrew:                 I think I speak for everyone in that Florida was glad to have you. You’re going to Senior Bowl. First off, tell us how you got the invite, and what was the feeling like when you got that invite?

Jake:                        It was something that was pretty cool. Coach McElwain called me in, and I received a couple other All-Start invitations, which was nice, but it’s always the goal before the season as a senior to end up in that Senior Bowl. When he handed me over the paperwork, and told me that this was an invitation it was something that was pretty surreal, and something that I’d worked a long time for and came back from a lot of stuff to get there. It was a pretty awesome feeling.

Andrew:                 You get to join your teammate, Antonio Morrison, in the game. I guess kind of special to have that teammate beside you this week?

Jake:                        Yeah, it’s pretty fun. He’s somebody that we’ve been training a lot together, and actually became pretty close friends as the year went on, and as my time at Florida went on. I’ll be excited to see him put on a show out there.

Andrew:                 Definitely.

Nick:                         Have you found an agent yet? I guess, what have they, the agency or the agent in particular, kind of told you about what to expect as far as meeting with scouts and coaches and general managers all week, because it’s not just the practices and playing. A lot of it is interviewing with NFL teams.

Jake:                        Absolutely. I did find an agent. He’s really pinpointed out it’s something that you sort of pick up on that it’s more than just a game. They’re sort of studying all parts of you, from how you dress, how you interact with people, how you talk. It’s something that you’re meeting with teams throughout the week, while also playing a high level football against a bunch of motivated highly talented guys. It’s something that you need to bring you’re A game in all aspects of to be ready to compete.

Andrew:                 That was kind of my next question. Going into the game, what are kind of your goals of the week? Is there something in particular you feel like you need to show scouts during the week of practice?

Jake:                        For me it’s really just I just want to be a consistent player who just really does everything that’s asked of him and makes plays throughout the week, and really just can be a target for their quarterback while also helping make holes in the run game. It’s something that I’m excited to sort of put my talent on display and really show what I can do this week.

Andrew:                 You talk about quarterback play. You’re going to get to catch balls from Jeff Driskel next week. Have you talked to him about it? What’s it going to mean to catch up with a familiar foe?

Jake:                        We’ve talked a few times. We’ve stayed in touch since he transferred to Louisiana Tech and had an awesome year. It’s something that we joked back and forth that we’re finally going to be able to get some game action in with each other. Hopefully we can pick up where I kind of didn’t really help him out with last year, and can finally get on the field and catch more than just a couple camp practices at Florida with him. It’ll be exciting, and he’s a guy that I know he’s looking forward to being there just as much as I am.

Andrew:                 Also you got a defensive back playing on your team from Virginia in Maurice Candy.

Jake:                        Canady.

Andrew:                 Canady. How is that? Is that someone that maybe you’re looking forward to catching up with during the week?

Jake:                        I texted with him a little bit, making some jokes. Telling him I’m going to get him in practice. We’ve been joking back and forth. He’s a guy I’m excited to see, and really happy for how his season ended up, and that he was able to earn that invite as well. We’re both actually from Richmond, Virginia, so we got a little hometown to represent with too.

Nick:                         What’s the mindset that you’re trying to have? It’s kind of like a job interview almost this week, or maybe not even almost. It’s a job interview. How do you manage the nerves of that and not being too tense with I’m still just playing a game that I’ve been playing my whole life? How do you balance those things?

Jake:                        It’s something that you need to be focused throughout the week, but you also need to be yourself. Everyone that knows me knows I’m a loose spirited guy and someone that likes to have fun while having a sharp focus. It’s something that you really need to be honed down everything, but you can’t let it overwhelm you where you’re getting caught up in nerves and thinking that every little step you take is getting watched. While it is, I don’t think that should be how you live day to day, or I don’t think the success will follow.

Nick:                         You’re kind of just forgetting that everyone’s watching you and watching your every step, and kind of just putting that in the back of your mind.

Jake:                        Exactly. It’s something that you need to have fun, and at the end of the day you’re playing football. Your character and your qualities will sort of speak for themselves. The NFL talks to a lot of people that have known you for longer than the four days you’ll be in Mobile. If you try to act like someone you’re not, it will catch up to you. You really just need to have a good time and just remember at the end of the day you’re just playing football.

Andrew:                 Jake, you’re a guy that I would say is pretty calm, confident in front of the media. Is that something that you feel like is going to help you when you get in from of some of these GMs, head coaches that are in the NFL? Are you prepared for that, I guess, and have you maybe done any practice with your agent on questions, that kind of stuff? Is that something that’s just pretty natural?

Jake:                        At this point it’s been pretty natural. I like to stay myself. I tell the truth. I like to just sort of be open with who I am, and I think if you get to know people that know me that’s really how I am with everyone. It’s something I’m excited to do, and I think it’ll be a pretty consistent review from really anyone you talk to about me, which it’s always good to be consistent.

Nick:                         I have grilled Jake on everything from his choice of slippers to extra years of eligibility. There is nothing that he will be asked this week that I haven’t asked him. I have prepared Jake for this moment.

Jake:                        I agree with that.

Andrew:                 How’s Brandon Powell doing? That might be the biggest thing is that friendship that’s now long distance, is going to be okay?

Nick:                         There’s a little separation anxiety.

Jake:                        Yeah. I think I was picking on him a little too much. I don’t know if he was truly able to handle all of it. Towards the end of the year I think we had to start sitting separate and not eating together, because I didn’t want him to cry and be in tears once I didn’t get to see him as often. It’s something I had to sort of separate from. I know it was hard on him.

Nick:                         You let him down easy.

Andrew:                 I’ll let you do that with Nick next week. I’ll let you have that separation anxiety with Nick next week.

Jake:                        He’ll grill me on something.

Andrew:                 Definitely. Jake, Nick and I both, we look forward to seeing you next week and watching you. I think I speak for everyone in hoping good luck. Not only next week, but in the future as you go through the draft.

Jake:                        I appreciate it. I’ll take all the luck that I can get and excited to see everyone.

Andrew:                 Definitely, Jake. We’ll see you next week, buddy. Take care.

Jake:                        Okay. Thank you.

Andrew:                 Nick, that was Jake, and that was a good thing with Jake. I think I speak for both of us in that it’s going to be fun to watch Jake next week and kind of see how he does. I think he’s going to do really well. I think this is an environment that should do really well for a guy like Jake who’s just a natural pass catching tight end.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s really what the league is looking for now. You see kind of what Jordan Reed has been able to do in the NFL and how he’s kind of took the NFL by storm as long as he was healthy this year. Jake gives you that kind of presence in an offense. Another thing that he said that I can back fully, and I’m not going to blow smoke up you guy’s butts, so if I didn’t believe this I would just not mention it. When Jake says be yourself and you just have to be yourself, because it will catch up to you, there are some guys that I might advise, don’t be yourself.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Don’t do that. It’s not going to work out. That will work out well for Jake. He is an easygoing guy, very good person, well spoken, very respectable, very respective of the people that he will be talking to in owners and coaches and GMs, stuff like that. That’s a great plan for Jake. Just be yourself. There’s a lot of stuff going on. I remember you and I sat in the hotel lobby with Max Garcia and Jon Halapio, and we’re just making small talk, and all of a sudden I have to go talk to the Chiefs, or I have to talk to the Steelers. You’re just like, I’m not going to pay you as much as they are, so go. Do well.

Andrew:                 You said that. I kind of got my feelings hurt. I was like, I’m more important than Andy Reed over here. No. You’re exactly right. I’ve only spoken to Jake a few times over the process, don’t deal with him on a day to day basis like you, but have heard very good reviews of Jake as a person, as a player. I’ve heard things from smart on the football field to leadership is good and maturity was something else that’s there. Another thing that a lot of people do is they respect him for the way he bounced back from the injury he had and was able to have a successful year with a coaching change. You know it would have been very easy for a guy like Jake to say, I hurt my leg, new coaching staff, I’ll just go ahead and bounce to the league and hope to find someone to hitch onto. His was to come back and finish what he started at Florida, and that was to have a good successful senior year.

Nick:                         Listen, nobody goes to a major Division I school, and Virginia’s a major Division I school, great university, and thinks in six years I’ll probably still be doing this. He went through a lot. The guys called him grandpa, called him the old man of the team. He’s really going to put the senior in Senior Bowl this week, but it’s been a long road. He’s kind of taken everything in stride. It would have been easy just to pack it up and not come back for your sixth year and see if you can get drafted, but he was really a leader on the team, and anybody you ask, any of his teammates that you ask, bring up Jake McGee, and they tell you that’s the funniest guy in the locker room. Really well respected and well-liked by everyone that he played with in Gainesville.

Andrew:                 One thing, there’s going to be one person that’s going to be upset next year that Jake McGee is going to be gone, and it’s not Brandon Powell. Do you know who that will be?

Nick:                         It’s going to be whoever’s playing quarterback.

Andrew:                 No. It’s going to be Calvin Ridley, because now he’s the oldest player in college football.

Nick:                         Got him.

Andrew:                 I got him. That was actually pretty good, and I thought about that on the fly. So that was lit.

Nick:                         How about that?

Andrew:                 That was lit. Nick, let’s go to our next guess real quick. The man that probably got the invite to Jake McGee, Mr. Patrick from the Senior Bowl. He is the man behind the scenes, goes out and does these evaluations week in and week out. You and I saw him what three? Maybe four times this year, evaluating players. They do their homework. When it’s the Senior Bowl week it’s really good stuff.

Nick:                         Yeah. Saw him in Gainesville. Saw him in…

Andrew:                 LSU.

Nick:                         Saw him at LSU. I think I saw him up at…

Andrew:                 Jacksonville.

Nick:                         Kentucky, Jacksonville. He was at the bowl game. Patrick was everywhere.

Andrew:                 Patrick was everywhere. Let’s got to Patrick real quick.

Nick:                         We now bring in Patrick Woo. Patrick has a major hand in which players get invited down to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. Patrick, thank you for joining us. We look forward to seeing you in a couple days down there for the Senior Bowl.

Patrick:                  I’ve seen you guys on the road a couple of times already this year, and the exciting times are just beginning. Thanks for having me on.

Andrew:                 Definitely. Can you describe to us what goes into inviting these guys? I know nowadays you kind of give out a preliminary list of who might get invited. How much involvement is the NFL into this? Just what all goes involved into inviting these guys to this game?

Patrick:                  I think it is important to point out that the NFL is in fact involved. I would not say to a major extent. When we get down to filling out the final roster spots I think the NFL has more input then when all of the guys are kind of on equal footing, and we have to choose from that group to fill out the roster. I think we really want to make sure we’re choosing the right guys that the NFL really wants to see here. We’ll take input at points like that. I think any college football would know, or any NFL drafts fan would know that the top 50 guys or so, obviously it would vary by year, but they’re pretty much no-brainers, and would be automatic invitations, but you still want to try to go and see as many of these guys in person as we can. Of course, I made a couple of visits to Florida games and saw Jon Bullard, Antonio Morrison, and Jake McGee, and others in the SEC as well.

You’re right, it starts with the watch list that we spend all of the off season compiling, and I think people forget, we don’t have the NFL draft. Once we get to the NFL draft we’re really more interested in supporting our guys that came through Mobile and seeing where they end up, and what round they go in. Really we have no part, no duty in the NFL draft. I think once our game concludes we’re pretty much full steam ahead towards 2017 and compiling our watch list for the next football season, while also monitoring how our guys that came through Mobile are doing, because they’ll forever be a part of the Reese’s Senior Bowl mold, and we will forever support them in their journey.

Nick:                         How many people like yourself throughout the season are going out and watching these guys, whether it be in practice or in games? How exhaustive is that to make sure that you have that right group, and that you’re giving guys an opportunity for this? It’s probably the greatest job interview they’ll have, next to the Combine. How exhaustive is that process to find that right nucleus, that right group?

Patrick:                 It’s very important, because I think you want to try to prioritize guys and really gauge their stock, because not only is scouting the guy important and whether or not we think he’s going to succeed in the NFL personally, but their stock really does matter, because I think it’s important to see all of the seniors, if not all of the seniors that go in the top four rounds, for the majority, more than the majority of them to be Reese’s Senior Bowlers. I think that’s important to make sure that our guys are getting chosen first, that all of the seniors taken first in the draft have come through here to Mobile or had a valid reason for not showing up here.

I think that’s really the goal of the game is, number one, we want to make sure these guys have a career in the NFL, a future, and if they go undrafted, every single one of our players that don’t get drafted end up on a camp, and the majority of them make a team, and you see a lot of guys make an impact right now. Jeff Janis with the Green Bay Packers from Saginaw Valley State, the wide receiver, was a seventh round pick that came out of Mobile, which to some may be disappointing, but now you look at his career beginning to blossom there in Green Bay.

As long as these guys have successful careers, that’s what’s most important to us. I think it also important to try to say that the first 110 seniors who are drafted are 110 guys that came through Mobile, because at the end of it this needs to be the showcase for all of the top talent nationally.

Andrew:                 That’s kind of what I was going to ask you next. You got two guys at Florida, Jake McGee and Antonio Morrison, coming in next week. Both guys had an interesting senior season coming back from injury. What did you see from those guys that made you want to invite them? I guess, what went into inviting them?

Patrick:                  I think let’s start with Jake McGee. He may not end up being a top four round pick, like we just discussed. He’s probably more of a Day 3 candidate at this point in the process, although he could rise as the process moves forward. That’s another one of our challenges is we can simply just pick the top 110 players that are going to be drafted first. We actually have to fill out a roster position by position, and not every position is going to have the same kind of depth in terms of automatically having top four round talent, so to speak. Jake is an interesting case. He’s more about mental side. I think he needs to get stronger, but he obviously was a prolific part in the passing game during his time at the University of Virginia. I think that’s really what opened an opportunity for him to go be a Florida Gator.

Unfortunately, he had the injury last year, so that is going to be probably the top priority, convincing these NFL teams to make sure he’s healthy, because he has been susceptible to injuries the past. Of course, he did not play in the bowl game, which I was at, because of his hamstring issue, from what I’m told. Jake has an opportunity to really help himself. He’s got the pro typical size. We’ll see how fast he is when he gets to the NFL Combine. I think he’s more quicker than fast, and he’s well-rounded.

Then you go to Antonio Morrison, and right away it jumps out that here’s another guy recovering from an even more devastating injury than what Jake McGee went through. I was at the Birmingham Bowl last year when Morrison was hurt, and it did not look good. I thought there would be no way he would get back for the season opener, and he made what the doctors call a miraculous recovery. Of course, he worked his butt of to make sure he’s going to be ready to play. As long as he is on the field, you know what you’re going to get from him. He’s an intense linebacker. He’s scary intense. He will run sideline to sideline, and he’s not your prototypical NFL linebacker size, but he has enough size at 6’1”, 230 pounds. The most important is he’s athletic. He can run. He can cover. He can defend against the run. He’s very versatile as an athlete.

Andrew:                 That was kind of something Jake McGee talked to us about before is he wants to come in and talk to these different agents, different scouts, and different GMs from the Senior Bowl just to kind of let them know that he’s healthy. How big is that part of it? We all get to see the practice, the game, but what happens back at the hotel with talking to these agents and scouts and stuff like that is also a big part of that. Can you speak on that, just how big a part of that week that is?

Patrick:                  With the agents, when an agent talks about injuries I think it would be important to hear about an injury from the player himself. It’s nice to see the player take the initiative to turn us down personally if the time comes for them to do so. As far as the agents are concerned we try to remind these players that the agent works for you. You don’t work for the agent. The decisions are yours, and yours solely, while the agent is just there to advise you. If the player’s a competitor, and he really wants to come down and participate, ultimately it’s his decision, and we try to make sure all of the guys know that. If they themselves feel like this is not the right thing for them, then that is another story.

The physicals are important. I think in terms of our rosters they were just put out, but these rosters for us really are not ever finalized. I don’t think we can ever use the word finalized when it comes to the Reese’s Senior Bowl rosters. I think you can just say that they’re constantly updated, so to speak, because even when we say these rosters are finalized, this is the group that’s going to be our North, and this is the group that’s going to be our South, and everything’s going to fine and dandy, they show up here to Mobile, people are going to get a little bit banged up. An agent may pull them out throughout the week if they don’t like what they see, but most importantly we hold our breath until they’re officially checked in and pass their physicals, because there have been circumstances in the past, not recently, but in the past of players not passing their physicals in Mobile. Certainly that throws a wrench in everything if that were to happen.

Andrew:                 Definitely.

Nick:                         I remember Trent Brown was a late addition. Jalen Watkins dealt with an injury a couple years ago. There’s always opportunities. I see you guys have even started watching some of the other games, the Shrine game, and guys are earning invitations there. It’s nice to see kids compete, and then obviously I think Andrew and I both feel that the Senior Bowl is probably the showcase of it for any senior playing Division I football, or any level of football. You mentioned Jeff Janis, Division I-III.

Patrick:                  It’s interesting, because I notice that the East West Shrine game this year has some Canadians on their roster as well. I don’t know when the last time I saw that was. Maybe that is a new avenue that the East West Shrine game is opening up. Much like we opened it for fourth year junior graduates. It looks like maybe the Shrine game has opened some things up for Canadians to try to break into not only the CFL, but also the National Football League here in the United States. It’s a great opportunity any time you get one. I think the important thing is for these players that when one opportunity is turned down, it opens up another opportunity for somebody else who badly wants it.

Unfortunately, there aren’t an unlimited number of opportunities to go around, so not everybody’s going to get one. When you do get one, any opportunity is a great one. I think everybody should look at it that way. Whether it’s here in Mobile at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, in camp, at the East West Shrine game, or out in California at the NFLPA Bowl. There are many other games too. Any chance to showcase your skills I think is something to take advantage of. For our alternate list, it is a little difficult for us once we get into cooperation with these other games, because we never want to pull somebody from another game. This is an opportunity that they were given, and an opportunity that they committed to. Your commitment should be more important than a lot of other things in your life. We don’t want somebody to drop out from another game because we’re pulling them.

I think it’s important to work hand in hand together. We’re all giving everyone a similar opportunity, although one may come with more exposure than another. I think that’s what makes it difficult, but you’re looking at 300+ players between the NFLPA Bowl, the East West Shrine game, and the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and only 250 so are going to get drafted, and of course the 100+ underclassmen that are in the NFL draft as well. It’s a very competitive market, and I think it’s hard when you look at alternates to find guys that we can really fill in with late spots, because if you’re one of the top 300 seniors alternately you’re probably playing the NFLPA game or the East West Shrine game already. It’s double dipping two weeks in a row with two straight All-Star circuits is not for everybody. Although some people have done it in the past.

Andrew:                 That’s what I was going to say. We’ve seen it before. Patrick, we appreciate it. Anyone wanting to find tickets, SeniorBowl.com is that the best way to go?

Patrick:                  Yeah. SeniorBowl.com. Obviously I think buying your tickets online, there’s a small convenience fee for an online purchase, but, like I said, it’s very convenient. That is the best way to go. Also our phone numbers for our ticket office, all of that information, rosters and whatnot, you can find it all on SeniorBowl.com. Also an interview, one on one, with myself and former Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel on there as well. Despite his off the field mentality, I guess, because of the way that the situation unfolded for him there in Gainesville, despite all of that very positive guy, very impressive mentally. I think some Gators fans that are still on to Jeff Driskel, in the support group for him, would really enjoy listening to that.

Andrew:                 Definitely. Nick and I both can speak to that. He’s a great guy. Patrick, we appreciate it so much. We will see you in Mobile on Monday.

Patrick:                  Sounds good, guys. Nick and Andrew, appreciate all that you. I don’t want to glaze over the fact that without you guys, the media, the fans, and the NFL teams, and these players, and countless other folks, obviously without all of you we don’t have an event. Thank you for your support and your coverage and interest in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.

Andrew:                We really appreciate all the work you guys do in helping us as well. We’ll see you in Mobile on Monday. Try to have a peaceful weekend this weekend.

Patrick:                  Absolutely. No doubt. As long as we don’t have any more roster changes it’ll be about as peaceful as it can possibly get.

Andrew:                 Definitely. We wish you the best of luck. Hope for a good week. We’ll look forward to being down there.

Patrick:                  Appreciate you guys. Thank you.

Nick:                         Thank you.

Andrew:                 Nick, that was Patrick. It’s interesting to look. You see the Senior Bowl, and I consider it the best senior game for these guys. You look at the history of the Senior Bowl, and if you’re a top senior prospect and you get the chance to play in the Senior Bowl, like Patrick said, chances are you’re either getting drafted, or you’re getting picked up by a team.

Nick:                         Yeah. It really is every NFL team, all 32 teams are represented there. We’ll talk about Florida’s Pro Day before the draft, and you might say, 32 teams are represented. There might be an area scout. When you’re talking about the Senior Bowl we’re talking about front office people. Head coaches are there, major scouts. These teams are strongly represented, and there really is no better showcase for a senior than the Reese’s Senior Bowl. As we talked with Jake about it, it really is kind of a job interview from the moment you get off the plane in Mobile. From that very moment until you leave it’s a job interview. It’s not just what you’re doing on the field. It’s interviews, and it’s all encompassing.

Andrew:                 It is. It’s a good showcase. The other games are coached by non-NFL guys, and this game, next week at the game you’ll be coached by the Jaguars and the Dallas Cowboys. Nothing about that is easy. It’s going to be challenging for these guys, but also it’s a good thing for these guys, because a guy like the guy with the Green Bay Packers last year, had a good week at the Senior Bowl. The Packers take a late flyer on the guy, and now look what he’s doing. That’s a lot of guys. Jake McGee, Morrison being able to work with the Cowboys, no, I think they’re working with the Jaguars. I think the Jaguars have the South team. Maybe one of those guys impress that group of coaches and bump up their draft board a little bit.

Nick:                         I remember, I believe it was Mike Pouncey was at the Senior Bowl when the Dolphins coaching staff, whatever coaching staff that was, because they rotate them a lot, when the Dolphins coaching staff was there, and they used a first round pick on Mike. It’s definitely an opportunity for the coaching staffs that are there, but not only limited to those coaching staffs. This is just a huge event, and the job that Patrick does, we talked to that before we brought him on, how often we saw him. It really is kind of cool to see how much work goes into finding these guys and getting them there.

Andrew:                 It’s a long process. When you think about all the players in America it’s tough to dwindle them down to 125. Like you said, the first 30 or 40 guys are no-brainers, but when you start picking it apart it’s like, let’s just pick Brian Poole for example. I know he’s a guy that’s kind of on that backup roster. He’s a replacement guy. When you compare him to some of the other guys, maybe a guy from San Jose State or something, it’s like which one of these guys would we rather have? I’m sure it’s like pulling hairs, because they’re so close together.

Nick:                         They’re close together, and then when a guy is close like that maybe if the players are very similar maybe giving a guy from Sam Houston State the opportunity to play on that stage is a little more beneficial to him than it is to someone like Brian Poole, who’s played on a gigantic stage in Gainesville at the University of Florida for four years.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Nick, we kind of had a good podcast here. Talked a little recruiting. Talked a little Senior Bowl. It’s going to be a fun weekend for recruiting for Florida this coming weekend. As we said before, the official visitors coming in, and then starting on Monday you and I will have Senior Bowl coverage and have some good stories. I know you look forward to being able to tell the stories that you’re not able to have time to tell during the season. You’re able to kind of tell them now. Then it’s also good to kind of see what other players are saying about the University of Florida. Alabama players can talk to those guys, see what they’re saying. Just kind of see what the ream of the program is. I know, if there’s anything you guys want us to ask any of the players at the Senior Bowl, let us know. Nick and I will have plenty of opportunities to do that. Anything you want to see from practice or hear about from practice let us know.

Nick:                         Maybe we’ll do a fan Q&A with Jake McGee. I don’t know how well that will go over with Antonio Morrison, but Jake McGee is a good sport. Maybe he’d like to answer some of your questions. We’ll see if we can do that. As always, I am looking forward to the Senior Bowl. It’s a good week. Had a really good time myself two years ago with Jon Halapio and those guys out there.

Andrew:                 Solomon Patton.

Nick:                         Solo was out there too. That was a fun week for me. Looking forward to it again. As always, we’ll be out at practice. We’ll be out at the media night, the media dinner.

Andrew:                 It’s like something. It’s something like that, the media dinner. I don’t know exactly what they call it.

Nick:                         They feed us well. You always know my food pictures and what I eat will be up on Twitter and Instagram. Follow me as I eat my way through Mobile, Alabama. @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. As always, www.GatorCountry.com and GatorCountry on Twitter for all your latest, greatest breaking Florida Gators football news.

Andrew:                 Big basketball game this weekend as well. The Gators take on the red hot Auburn Tigers, beating Kentucky and Alabama. That should be good as well. Florida softball picked to win the SEC championship. No surprise there, as the Lady Gators like to go for three in a row, three national championships. Nick, as you said, follow along. Recruiting is always going to be hot. Take a look at GatorCountry.com. For myself, I’m out of here. Butch, Mark, you know the deal. Chomp, chomp. Go Braves.

Nick:                         Four weeks from today Gator baseball first pitch. Looking forward to it. 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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This GatorCountry podcast has two special guest as tight end Jake McGee and Senior Bowl rep Patrick Woo joined the podcast to preview next week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre asked McGee what he’s looking forward to during next week’s game, plus what he has been working on during his time since the bowl game.

Andrew and Nick talk with Woo about the Senior Bowl selection process, plus what they saw from the Florida Gators players that will participate in the game.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? This is the one, the only, Andrew Spivey, with the man, Nicholas de la Torre. What’s up, Nicholas?

Nick:                         Just wrapping things up in Gainesville before I head out to Alabama. What do you guys call that state?

Andrew:                 We call it Alabama. We don’t call it nothing else.

Nick:                         Like Florida’s the Sunshine State. What’s Alabama?

Andrew:                 I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. It’s called Alabama.

Nick:                         How do you not know the nickname of Alabama?

Andrew:                 Technically it’s Nick Saban’s state, but I don’t like to say that. It is what it is. Senior Bowl week rolling in. We got some good guests coming on today. My man, Jake McGee, tight end. What is it? Jake over the world? Is that what it is, Nicholas?

Nick:                         Jake over the world, yeah.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Then Senior Bowl, one of the Senior Bowl reps, Patrick Woo. He’s a big instrumental part in kind of the picking of these guys. He goes around, evaluates all these guys. You and I were able to see him several times during the season. So we’re going to talk to both of those guys. Talk to Jake about just the experience of getting down there and playing in this elite All-Star game, and then talk to Patrick about what kind of goes into these games. Two good interviews to look forward to. Nick, before we go to the Senior Bowl we need to preview this coming weekend’s official visitors. It’s not going to be a huge amount of people coming in this weekend, but it’s more so going to be kind of some guys they need to land on this weekend. Unlike last weekend were they were kind of behind on a lot of guys that were coming in, this weekend they got legit shots at a couple of players coming into town.

Nick:                         Yeah. Last two weekends I think, obviously all three of these weekends since the dead period are very important. I think still in my opinion it’s that next weekend, the 29th is the big, big weekend, but this is a very important weekend. Florida’s still trying to finish strong. I know on Wednesday Twitter was in a meltdown saying everything was ruined, because a couple wide receivers decided, or took Florida out of the running. This is an important weekend, despite what Twitter will tell you. Every weekend is important. It’s also important to remember that Florida has a very good class and a gigantic class that has kind of been wrapped up for a while.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It’s one of those deals where Florida continues to get good talent on campus, and the last two weekends are there. Mac puts together his last weekend to kind of finish the door strong, finish strong. Has some big visitors next weekend, but this weekend the quick rundown here. Aaron Robinson, everyone knows about his test score, doesn’t have one, so he’s coming on an unofficial visit this weekend. Gator commit, Antonneous Clayton’s coming in. Top speed rusher, Brian Burns is coming in this weekend. Florida, Florida State, Georgia are battling here. Florida needs a good visit this weekend.

Linebacker Dee Walker is a guy from Colquitt County. Doesn’t have an official Florida offer yet. I mean, he does, he’s coming on a visit this weekend, but it’s not official official. He’s a guy that Florida’s still keeping in the mix a little bit. This weekend may tell the sign of whether Florida gives him the go ahead to commit or not. Tight end Nick Eubanks is a guy that Alabama and Florida are battling for. I think Florida’s got an incredible shot of landing him, and them commits Shavar Manuel and Vosean Joseph are coming in. Florida has a little work to do on those two guys. Shavar is a guy that may take a visit to FSU, and Vosean’s coming off a great visit to Alabama. Need to put kind of the pin down there, get those guys away from those visits and get them back in the class fully.

Big weekend for Florida this weekend. Like I said, Nick Eubanks, Brian Burns are two guys Florida really needs to do a good job on this week in order to sign them. I think we both can agree Florida needs that other speed rusher to go with Clayton in the class. They need Nick Eubanks. Right now they got Camrin Knight. They got Goolsby, and they got C’yontai Lewis, but those guys are getting older. Time to get some fresh faces in there and add depth.

Nick:                         As far as I’m concerned you’ve got C’yontai Lewis at tight end, because DeAndre Goolsby’s not being used in that same way. He’s basically being used in a completely different position than Jake McGee was used as a tight end and C’yontai was used as a tight end. To land another tight end, somebody at that position who you’re confident in, is huge for this class.

Andrew:                 Exactly. It’s a situation where you never want to get to the time of the Will Muschamp era, and I say that, and I mean that by you never want to get caught with your pants down and be like, they’re graduating here. What am I supposed to do? I don’t have nobody ready to go. That’s kind of where it is. I think it’ll be good for Florida to kind of get that American Heritage streamline going to get those guys starting to come, because there’s a lot of good players. Next year as well there’s a lot of good players there. Florida has Marco Wilson and Chad Wilson there as well. There’s a little connection to Florida there as well. Get those guys heading to Gainesville. Chances are you’re going to have some good success at that school in the future if you do.

Nick:                         It might not be St. Thomas, but that is a very good program with a bunch of great coaches down there. I can’t hate on American Heritage, even though they beat me in baseball back in high school. Can’t hate on them. That’s a great program. How convenient is it to have two guys who are at key positions for you recruiting to be at the same school? Coach Mac goes down to a basketball game at American Heritage, and here’s two kids that I need to talk to, rather than having to divvy that time up.

Andrew:                 Coach Rumph, Coach Nuss, and Coach Shannon goes down to a basketball game the other night, and there’s three of them at the basketball game. It’s like Brian Burns sitting here thinking, they really want me. Coach Shannon and Coach Rumph and Coach Nuss are like, we really want you, but your buddy over there, we want you too. We’re kind of here for both of you guys. Nick, let’s get out of here. Let’s get Jake McGee on, and let’s get his talk. Then we can wrap this podcast up. We’ll wrap up the official visit on next week’s podcast on Sunday. You guys will listen to it on Monday. Let’s go to Jake now.

Nick:                         We’re joined now by Jake McGee, better known as Jake over the world, just finished up his college career. No matter how many times I asked him if he was trying to find a loophole for a seventh year he said no, so he will be taking his talents to Mobile, Alabama in the Senior Bowl. Jake, how’s it going?

Jake:                        It’s going great.

Andrew:                 Are you still stuck on that plan? You’re ready to be done with college?

Jake:                        If I could I’d go back to Florida and keep going, but I guess I ran out of time, and I’ve got to move on.

Andrew:                 I think I speak for everyone in that Florida was glad to have you. You’re going to Senior Bowl. First off, tell us how you got the invite, and what was the feeling like when you got that invite?

Jake:                        It was something that was pretty cool. Coach McElwain called me in, and I received a couple other All-Start invitations, which was nice, but it’s always the goal before the season as a senior to end up in that Senior Bowl. When he handed me over the paperwork, and told me that this was an invitation it was something that was pretty surreal, and something that I’d worked a long time for and came back from a lot of stuff to get there. It was a pretty awesome feeling.

Andrew:                 You get to join your teammate, Antonio Morrison, in the game. I guess kind of special to have that teammate beside you this week?

Jake:                        Yeah, it’s pretty fun. He’s somebody that we’ve been training a lot together, and actually became pretty close friends as the year went on, and as my time at Florida went on. I’ll be excited to see him put on a show out there.

Andrew:                 Definitely.

Nick:                         Have you found an agent yet? I guess, what have they, the agency or the agent in particular, kind of told you about what to expect as far as meeting with scouts and coaches and general managers all week, because it’s not just the practices and playing. A lot of it is interviewing with NFL teams.

Jake:                        Absolutely. I did find an agent. He’s really pinpointed out it’s something that you sort of pick up on that it’s more than just a game. They’re sort of studying all parts of you, from how you dress, how you interact with people, how you talk. It’s something that you’re meeting with teams throughout the week, while also playing a high level football against a bunch of motivated highly talented guys. It’s something that you need to bring you’re A game in all aspects of to be ready to compete.

Andrew:                 That was kind of my next question. Going into the game, what are kind of your goals of the week? Is there something in particular you feel like you need to show scouts during the week of practice?

Jake:                        For me it’s really just I just want to be a consistent player who just really does everything that’s asked of him and makes plays throughout the week, and really just can be a target for their quarterback while also helping make holes in the run game. It’s something that I’m excited to sort of put my talent on display and really show what I can do this week.

Andrew:                 You talk about quarterback play. You’re going to get to catch balls from Jeff Driskel next week. Have you talked to him about it? What’s it going to mean to catch up with a familiar foe?

Jake:                        We’ve talked a few times. We’ve stayed in touch since he transferred to Louisiana Tech and had an awesome year. It’s something that we joked back and forth that we’re finally going to be able to get some game action in with each other. Hopefully we can pick up where I kind of didn’t really help him out with last year, and can finally get on the field and catch more than just a couple camp practices at Florida with him. It’ll be exciting, and he’s a guy that I know he’s looking forward to being there just as much as I am.

Andrew:                 Also you got a defensive back playing on your team from Virginia in Maurice Candy.

Jake:                        Canady.

Andrew:                 Canady. How is that? Is that someone that maybe you’re looking forward to catching up with during the week?

Jake:                        I texted with him a little bit, making some jokes. Telling him I’m going to get him in practice. We’ve been joking back and forth. He’s a guy I’m excited to see, and really happy for how his season ended up, and that he was able to earn that invite as well. We’re both actually from Richmond, Virginia, so we got a little hometown to represent with too.

Nick:                         What’s the mindset that you’re trying to have? It’s kind of like a job interview almost this week, or maybe not even almost. It’s a job interview. How do you manage the nerves of that and not being too tense with I’m still just playing a game that I’ve been playing my whole life? How do you balance those things?

Jake:                        It’s something that you need to be focused throughout the week, but you also need to be yourself. Everyone that knows me knows I’m a loose spirited guy and someone that likes to have fun while having a sharp focus. It’s something that you really need to be honed down everything, but you can’t let it overwhelm you where you’re getting caught up in nerves and thinking that every little step you take is getting watched. While it is, I don’t think that should be how you live day to day, or I don’t think the success will follow.

Nick:                         You’re kind of just forgetting that everyone’s watching you and watching your every step, and kind of just putting that in the back of your mind.

Jake:                        Exactly. It’s something that you need to have fun, and at the end of the day you’re playing football. Your character and your qualities will sort of speak for themselves. The NFL talks to a lot of people that have known you for longer than the four days you’ll be in Mobile. If you try to act like someone you’re not, it will catch up to you. You really just need to have a good time and just remember at the end of the day you’re just playing football.

Andrew:                 Jake, you’re a guy that I would say is pretty calm, confident in front of the media. Is that something that you feel like is going to help you when you get in from of some of these GMs, head coaches that are in the NFL? Are you prepared for that, I guess, and have you maybe done any practice with your agent on questions, that kind of stuff? Is that something that’s just pretty natural?

Jake:                        At this point it’s been pretty natural. I like to stay myself. I tell the truth. I like to just sort of be open with who I am, and I think if you get to know people that know me that’s really how I am with everyone. It’s something I’m excited to do, and I think it’ll be a pretty consistent review from really anyone you talk to about me, which it’s always good to be consistent.

Nick:                         I have grilled Jake on everything from his choice of slippers to extra years of eligibility. There is nothing that he will be asked this week that I haven’t asked him. I have prepared Jake for this moment.

Jake:                        I agree with that.

Andrew:                 How’s Brandon Powell doing? That might be the biggest thing is that friendship that’s now long distance, is going to be okay?

Nick:                         There’s a little separation anxiety.

Jake:                        Yeah. I think I was picking on him a little too much. I don’t know if he was truly able to handle all of it. Towards the end of the year I think we had to start sitting separate and not eating together, because I didn’t want him to cry and be in tears once I didn’t get to see him as often. It’s something I had to sort of separate from. I know it was hard on him.

Nick:                         You let him down easy.

Andrew:                 I’ll let you do that with Nick next week. I’ll let you have that separation anxiety with Nick next week.

Jake:                        He’ll grill me on something.

Andrew:                 Definitely. Jake, Nick and I both, we look forward to seeing you next week and watching you. I think I speak for everyone in hoping good luck. Not only next week, but in the future as you go through the draft.

Jake:                        I appreciate it. I’ll take all the luck that I can get and excited to see everyone.

Andrew:                 Definitely, Jake. We’ll see you next week, buddy. Take care.

Jake:                        Okay. Thank you.

Andrew:                 Nick, that was Jake, and that was a good thing with Jake. I think I speak for both of us in that it’s going to be fun to watch Jake next week and kind of see how he does. I think he’s going to do really well. I think this is an environment that should do really well for a guy like Jake who’s just a natural pass catching tight end.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s really what the league is looking for now. You see kind of what Jordan Reed has been able to do in the NFL and how he’s kind of took the NFL by storm as long as he was healthy this year. Jake gives you that kind of presence in an offense. Another thing that he said that I can back fully, and I’m not going to blow smoke up you guy’s butts, so if I didn’t believe this I would just not mention it. When Jake says be yourself and you just have to be yourself, because it will catch up to you, there are some guys that I might advise, don’t be yourself.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Don’t do that. It’s not going to work out. That will work out well for Jake. He is an easygoing guy, very good person, well spoken, very respectable, very respective of the people that he will be talking to in owners and coaches and GMs, stuff like that. That’s a great plan for Jake. Just be yourself. There’s a lot of stuff going on. I remember you and I sat in the hotel lobby with Max Garcia and Jon Halapio, and we’re just making small talk, and all of a sudden I have to go talk to the Chiefs, or I have to talk to the Steelers. You’re just like, I’m not going to pay you as much as they are, so go. Do well.

Andrew:                 You said that. I kind of got my feelings hurt. I was like, I’m more important than Andy Reed over here. No. You’re exactly right. I’ve only spoken to Jake a few times over the process, don’t deal with him on a day to day basis like you, but have heard very good reviews of Jake as a person, as a player. I’ve heard things from smart on the football field to leadership is good and maturity was something else that’s there. Another thing that a lot of people do is they respect him for the way he bounced back from the injury he had and was able to have a successful year with a coaching change. You know it would have been very easy for a guy like Jake to say, I hurt my leg, new coaching staff, I’ll just go ahead and bounce to the league and hope to find someone to hitch onto. His was to come back and finish what he started at Florida, and that was to have a good successful senior year.

Nick:                         Listen, nobody goes to a major Division I school, and Virginia’s a major Division I school, great university, and thinks in six years I’ll probably still be doing this. He went through a lot. The guys called him grandpa, called him the old man of the team. He’s really going to put the senior in Senior Bowl this week, but it’s been a long road. He’s kind of taken everything in stride. It would have been easy just to pack it up and not come back for your sixth year and see if you can get drafted, but he was really a leader on the team, and anybody you ask, any of his teammates that you ask, bring up Jake McGee, and they tell you that’s the funniest guy in the locker room. Really well respected and well-liked by everyone that he played with in Gainesville.

Andrew:                 One thing, there’s going to be one person that’s going to be upset next year that Jake McGee is going to be gone, and it’s not Brandon Powell. Do you know who that will be?

Nick:                         It’s going to be whoever’s playing quarterback.

Andrew:                 No. It’s going to be Calvin Ridley, because now he’s the oldest player in college football.

Nick:                         Got him.

Andrew:                 I got him. That was actually pretty good, and I thought about that on the fly. So that was lit.

Nick:                         How about that?

Andrew:                 That was lit. Nick, let’s go to our next guess real quick. The man that probably got the invite to Jake McGee, Mr. Patrick from the Senior Bowl. He is the man behind the scenes, goes out and does these evaluations week in and week out. You and I saw him what three? Maybe four times this year, evaluating players. They do their homework. When it’s the Senior Bowl week it’s really good stuff.

Nick:                         Yeah. Saw him in Gainesville. Saw him in…

Andrew:                 LSU.

Nick:                         Saw him at LSU. I think I saw him up at…

Andrew:                 Jacksonville.

Nick:                         Kentucky, Jacksonville. He was at the bowl game. Patrick was everywhere.

Andrew:                 Patrick was everywhere. Let’s got to Patrick real quick.

Nick:                         We now bring in Patrick Woo. Patrick has a major hand in which players get invited down to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. Patrick, thank you for joining us. We look forward to seeing you in a couple days down there for the Senior Bowl.

Patrick:                  I’ve seen you guys on the road a couple of times already this year, and the exciting times are just beginning. Thanks for having me on.

Andrew:                 Definitely. Can you describe to us what goes into inviting these guys? I know nowadays you kind of give out a preliminary list of who might get invited. How much involvement is the NFL into this? Just what all goes involved into inviting these guys to this game?

Patrick:                  I think it is important to point out that the NFL is in fact involved. I would not say to a major extent. When we get down to filling out the final roster spots I think the NFL has more input then when all of the guys are kind of on equal footing, and we have to choose from that group to fill out the roster. I think we really want to make sure we’re choosing the right guys that the NFL really wants to see here. We’ll take input at points like that. I think any college football would know, or any NFL drafts fan would know that the top 50 guys or so, obviously it would vary by year, but they’re pretty much no-brainers, and would be automatic invitations, but you still want to try to go and see as many of these guys in person as we can. Of course, I made a couple of visits to Florida games and saw Jon Bullard, Antonio Morrison, and Jake McGee, and others in the SEC as well.

You’re right, it starts with the watch list that we spend all of the off season compiling, and I think people forget, we don’t have the NFL draft. Once we get to the NFL draft we’re really more interested in supporting our guys that came through Mobile and seeing where they end up, and what round they go in. Really we have no part, no duty in the NFL draft. I think once our game concludes we’re pretty much full steam ahead towards 2017 and compiling our watch list for the next football season, while also monitoring how our guys that came through Mobile are doing, because they’ll forever be a part of the Reese’s Senior Bowl mold, and we will forever support them in their journey.

Nick:                         How many people like yourself throughout the season are going out and watching these guys, whether it be in practice or in games? How exhaustive is that to make sure that you have that right group, and that you’re giving guys an opportunity for this? It’s probably the greatest job interview they’ll have, next to the Combine. How exhaustive is that process to find that right nucleus, that right group?

Patrick:                 It’s very important, because I think you want to try to prioritize guys and really gauge their stock, because not only is scouting the guy important and whether or not we think he’s going to succeed in the NFL personally, but their stock really does matter, because I think it’s important to see all of the seniors, if not all of the seniors that go in the top four rounds, for the majority, more than the majority of them to be Reese’s Senior Bowlers. I think that’s important to make sure that our guys are getting chosen first, that all of the seniors taken first in the draft have come through here to Mobile or had a valid reason for not showing up here.

I think that’s really the goal of the game is, number one, we want to make sure these guys have a career in the NFL, a future, and if they go undrafted, every single one of our players that don’t get drafted end up on a camp, and the majority of them make a team, and you see a lot of guys make an impact right now. Jeff Janis with the Green Bay Packers from Saginaw Valley State, the wide receiver, was a seventh round pick that came out of Mobile, which to some may be disappointing, but now you look at his career beginning to blossom there in Green Bay.

As long as these guys have successful careers, that’s what’s most important to us. I think it also important to try to say that the first 110 seniors who are drafted are 110 guys that came through Mobile, because at the end of it this needs to be the showcase for all of the top talent nationally.

Andrew:                 That’s kind of what I was going to ask you next. You got two guys at Florida, Jake McGee and Antonio Morrison, coming in next week. Both guys had an interesting senior season coming back from injury. What did you see from those guys that made you want to invite them? I guess, what went into inviting them?

Patrick:                  I think let’s start with Jake McGee. He may not end up being a top four round pick, like we just discussed. He’s probably more of a Day 3 candidate at this point in the process, although he could rise as the process moves forward. That’s another one of our challenges is we can simply just pick the top 110 players that are going to be drafted first. We actually have to fill out a roster position by position, and not every position is going to have the same kind of depth in terms of automatically having top four round talent, so to speak. Jake is an interesting case. He’s more about mental side. I think he needs to get stronger, but he obviously was a prolific part in the passing game during his time at the University of Virginia. I think that’s really what opened an opportunity for him to go be a Florida Gator.

Unfortunately, he had the injury last year, so that is going to be probably the top priority, convincing these NFL teams to make sure he’s healthy, because he has been susceptible to injuries the past. Of course, he did not play in the bowl game, which I was at, because of his hamstring issue, from what I’m told. Jake has an opportunity to really help himself. He’s got the pro typical size. We’ll see how fast he is when he gets to the NFL Combine. I think he’s more quicker than fast, and he’s well-rounded.

Then you go to Antonio Morrison, and right away it jumps out that here’s another guy recovering from an even more devastating injury than what Jake McGee went through. I was at the Birmingham Bowl last year when Morrison was hurt, and it did not look good. I thought there would be no way he would get back for the season opener, and he made what the doctors call a miraculous recovery. Of course, he worked his butt of to make sure he’s going to be ready to play. As long as he is on the field, you know what you’re going to get from him. He’s an intense linebacker. He’s scary intense. He will run sideline to sideline, and he’s not your prototypical NFL linebacker size, but he has enough size at 6’1”, 230 pounds. The most important is he’s athletic. He can run. He can cover. He can defend against the run. He’s very versatile as an athlete.

Andrew:                 That was kind of something Jake McGee talked to us about before is he wants to come in and talk to these different agents, different scouts, and different GMs from the Senior Bowl just to kind of let them know that he’s healthy. How big is that part of it? We all get to see the practice, the game, but what happens back at the hotel with talking to these agents and scouts and stuff like that is also a big part of that. Can you speak on that, just how big a part of that week that is?

Patrick:                  With the agents, when an agent talks about injuries I think it would be important to hear about an injury from the player himself. It’s nice to see the player take the initiative to turn us down personally if the time comes for them to do so. As far as the agents are concerned we try to remind these players that the agent works for you. You don’t work for the agent. The decisions are yours, and yours solely, while the agent is just there to advise you. If the player’s a competitor, and he really wants to come down and participate, ultimately it’s his decision, and we try to make sure all of the guys know that. If they themselves feel like this is not the right thing for them, then that is another story.

The physicals are important. I think in terms of our rosters they were just put out, but these rosters for us really are not ever finalized. I don’t think we can ever use the word finalized when it comes to the Reese’s Senior Bowl rosters. I think you can just say that they’re constantly updated, so to speak, because even when we say these rosters are finalized, this is the group that’s going to be our North, and this is the group that’s going to be our South, and everything’s going to fine and dandy, they show up here to Mobile, people are going to get a little bit banged up. An agent may pull them out throughout the week if they don’t like what they see, but most importantly we hold our breath until they’re officially checked in and pass their physicals, because there have been circumstances in the past, not recently, but in the past of players not passing their physicals in Mobile. Certainly that throws a wrench in everything if that were to happen.

Andrew:                 Definitely.

Nick:                         I remember Trent Brown was a late addition. Jalen Watkins dealt with an injury a couple years ago. There’s always opportunities. I see you guys have even started watching some of the other games, the Shrine game, and guys are earning invitations there. It’s nice to see kids compete, and then obviously I think Andrew and I both feel that the Senior Bowl is probably the showcase of it for any senior playing Division I football, or any level of football. You mentioned Jeff Janis, Division I-III.

Patrick:                  It’s interesting, because I notice that the East West Shrine game this year has some Canadians on their roster as well. I don’t know when the last time I saw that was. Maybe that is a new avenue that the East West Shrine game is opening up. Much like we opened it for fourth year junior graduates. It looks like maybe the Shrine game has opened some things up for Canadians to try to break into not only the CFL, but also the National Football League here in the United States. It’s a great opportunity any time you get one. I think the important thing is for these players that when one opportunity is turned down, it opens up another opportunity for somebody else who badly wants it.

Unfortunately, there aren’t an unlimited number of opportunities to go around, so not everybody’s going to get one. When you do get one, any opportunity is a great one. I think everybody should look at it that way. Whether it’s here in Mobile at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, in camp, at the East West Shrine game, or out in California at the NFLPA Bowl. There are many other games too. Any chance to showcase your skills I think is something to take advantage of. For our alternate list, it is a little difficult for us once we get into cooperation with these other games, because we never want to pull somebody from another game. This is an opportunity that they were given, and an opportunity that they committed to. Your commitment should be more important than a lot of other things in your life. We don’t want somebody to drop out from another game because we’re pulling them.

I think it’s important to work hand in hand together. We’re all giving everyone a similar opportunity, although one may come with more exposure than another. I think that’s what makes it difficult, but you’re looking at 300+ players between the NFLPA Bowl, the East West Shrine game, and the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and only 250 so are going to get drafted, and of course the 100+ underclassmen that are in the NFL draft as well. It’s a very competitive market, and I think it’s hard when you look at alternates to find guys that we can really fill in with late spots, because if you’re one of the top 300 seniors alternately you’re probably playing the NFLPA game or the East West Shrine game already. It’s double dipping two weeks in a row with two straight All-Star circuits is not for everybody. Although some people have done it in the past.

Andrew:                 That’s what I was going to say. We’ve seen it before. Patrick, we appreciate it. Anyone wanting to find tickets, SeniorBowl.com is that the best way to go?

Patrick:                  Yeah. SeniorBowl.com. Obviously I think buying your tickets online, there’s a small convenience fee for an online purchase, but, like I said, it’s very convenient. That is the best way to go. Also our phone numbers for our ticket office, all of that information, rosters and whatnot, you can find it all on SeniorBowl.com. Also an interview, one on one, with myself and former Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel on there as well. Despite his off the field mentality, I guess, because of the way that the situation unfolded for him there in Gainesville, despite all of that very positive guy, very impressive mentally. I think some Gators fans that are still on to Jeff Driskel, in the support group for him, would really enjoy listening to that.

Andrew:                 Definitely. Nick and I both can speak to that. He’s a great guy. Patrick, we appreciate it so much. We will see you in Mobile on Monday.

Patrick:                  Sounds good, guys. Nick and Andrew, appreciate all that you. I don’t want to glaze over the fact that without you guys, the media, the fans, and the NFL teams, and these players, and countless other folks, obviously without all of you we don’t have an event. Thank you for your support and your coverage and interest in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.

Andrew:                We really appreciate all the work you guys do in helping us as well. We’ll see you in Mobile on Monday. Try to have a peaceful weekend this weekend.

Patrick:                  Absolutely. No doubt. As long as we don’t have any more roster changes it’ll be about as peaceful as it can possibly get.

Andrew:                 Definitely. We wish you the best of luck. Hope for a good week. We’ll look forward to being down there.

Patrick:                  Appreciate you guys. Thank you.

Nick:                         Thank you.

Andrew:                 Nick, that was Patrick. It’s interesting to look. You see the Senior Bowl, and I consider it the best senior game for these guys. You look at the history of the Senior Bowl, and if you’re a top senior prospect and you get the chance to play in the Senior Bowl, like Patrick said, chances are you’re either getting drafted, or you’re getting picked up by a team.

Nick:                         Yeah. It really is every NFL team, all 32 teams are represented there. We’ll talk about Florida’s Pro Day before the draft, and you might say, 32 teams are represented. There might be an area scout. When you’re talking about the Senior Bowl we’re talking about front office people. Head coaches are there, major scouts. These teams are strongly represented, and there really is no better showcase for a senior than the Reese’s Senior Bowl. As we talked with Jake about it, it really is kind of a job interview from the moment you get off the plane in Mobile. From that very moment until you leave it’s a job interview. It’s not just what you’re doing on the field. It’s interviews, and it’s all encompassing.

Andrew:                 It is. It’s a good showcase. The other games are coached by non-NFL guys, and this game, next week at the game you’ll be coached by the Jaguars and the Dallas Cowboys. Nothing about that is easy. It’s going to be challenging for these guys, but also it’s a good thing for these guys, because a guy like the guy with the Green Bay Packers last year, had a good week at the Senior Bowl. The Packers take a late flyer on the guy, and now look what he’s doing. That’s a lot of guys. Jake McGee, Morrison being able to work with the Cowboys, no, I think they’re working with the Jaguars. I think the Jaguars have the South team. Maybe one of those guys impress that group of coaches and bump up their draft board a little bit.

Nick:                         I remember, I believe it was Mike Pouncey was at the Senior Bowl when the Dolphins coaching staff, whatever coaching staff that was, because they rotate them a lot, when the Dolphins coaching staff was there, and they used a first round pick on Mike. It’s definitely an opportunity for the coaching staffs that are there, but not only limited to those coaching staffs. This is just a huge event, and the job that Patrick does, we talked to that before we brought him on, how often we saw him. It really is kind of cool to see how much work goes into finding these guys and getting them there.

Andrew:                 It’s a long process. When you think about all the players in America it’s tough to dwindle them down to 125. Like you said, the first 30 or 40 guys are no-brainers, but when you start picking it apart it’s like, let’s just pick Brian Poole for example. I know he’s a guy that’s kind of on that backup roster. He’s a replacement guy. When you compare him to some of the other guys, maybe a guy from San Jose State or something, it’s like which one of these guys would we rather have? I’m sure it’s like pulling hairs, because they’re so close together.

Nick:                         They’re close together, and then when a guy is close like that maybe if the players are very similar maybe giving a guy from Sam Houston State the opportunity to play on that stage is a little more beneficial to him than it is to someone like Brian Poole, who’s played on a gigantic stage in Gainesville at the University of Florida for four years.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Nick, we kind of had a good podcast here. Talked a little recruiting. Talked a little Senior Bowl. It’s going to be a fun weekend for recruiting for Florida this coming weekend. As we said before, the official visitors coming in, and then starting on Monday you and I will have Senior Bowl coverage and have some good stories. I know you look forward to being able to tell the stories that you’re not able to have time to tell during the season. You’re able to kind of tell them now. Then it’s also good to kind of see what other players are saying about the University of Florida. Alabama players can talk to those guys, see what they’re saying. Just kind of see what the ream of the program is. I know, if there’s anything you guys want us to ask any of the players at the Senior Bowl, let us know. Nick and I will have plenty of opportunities to do that. Anything you want to see from practice or hear about from practice let us know.

Nick:                         Maybe we’ll do a fan Q&A with Jake McGee. I don’t know how well that will go over with Antonio Morrison, but Jake McGee is a good sport. Maybe he’d like to answer some of your questions. We’ll see if we can do that. As always, I am looking forward to the Senior Bowl. It’s a good week. Had a really good time myself two years ago with Jon Halapio and those guys out there.

Andrew:                 Solomon Patton.

Nick:                         Solo was out there too. That was a fun week for me. Looking forward to it again. As always, we’ll be out at practice. We’ll be out at the media night, the media dinner.

Andrew:                 It’s like something. It’s something like that, the media dinner. I don’t know exactly what they call it.

Nick:                         They feed us well. You always know my food pictures and what I eat will be up on Twitter and Instagram. Follow me as I eat my way through Mobile, Alabama. @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. As always, www.GatorCountry.com and GatorCountry on Twitter for all your latest, greatest breaking Florida Gators football news.

Andrew:                 Big basketball game this weekend as well. The Gators take on the red hot Auburn Tigers, beating Kentucky and Alabama. That should be good as well. Florida softball picked to win the SEC championship. No surprise there, as the Lady Gators like to go for three in a row, three national championships. Nick, as you said, follow along. Recruiting is always going to be hot. Take a look at GatorCountry.com. For myself, I’m out of here. Butch, Mark, you know the deal. Chomp, chomp. Go Braves.

Nick:                         Four weeks from today Gator baseball first pitch. Looking forward to it. You stay classy, Gator Country.

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Florida Gators announce Friday night spring game

For the first time in school history the Gators will hold its spring game on Friday night.

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