The Florida Gators didn’t finish their 2015 football season the way they would have liked to with a three game losing streak and a 41-7 Citrus bowl loss to Michigan. While the Florida Gators football efforts were less than spectacular in Orlando, just across town the Florida Gators recruiting efforts were in full force with the Under Armour All-American game and practices going on all week.
Florida Gators commits Chauncey Gardner, Brett Heggie, Josh Hammond and Antonneous Clayton were shining on the same field as the best players in the country. The four commits were also out on the practice fields and in the team hotels actively recruiting guys to join them in Gainesville.
The Gator Country Podcast with Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre breaks down Florida’s embarrassing loss and jumps into the world of recruiting with Florida’s commits and targets at the Under Armour All-America game.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? This is your man, Andrew Spivey, the Goat, the greatest. I am here. Nicholas de la Torre is here. I don’t know how we’re here. Orlando was rough, but we’re here, Nicholas.
Nick: Gainesville welcomed me back. It was 50 degrees. It was raining. Maybe we should go back to Orlando. Your drive’s a little more rough than mine, but it’s nice to be back. I was telling somebody, I think in the last month I spent two or three days in Gainesville. It’s nice to be back and done traveling for a while.
Andrew: 20 minutes outside of Orlando, and it dropped like 20 degrees. It was hot in Orlando, right down the road it’s freezing. Time to put the Gators sweatshirt on. I don’t know. I’m a little bitter about that hot weather all week.
Nick: I enjoyed it. Welcome to Florida. Wasn’t it almost like snowing in Alabama when you left?
Andrew: Yeah. It was 42 degrees.
Nick: That sounds awful.
Andrew: It is awful. I like the 50 and the 60. Early on Saturday it was great. Then the game went on, and it was hot. I was sweating. I’m a big guy. I like to be cool outside. It’s good. Both of us had problems with phones. You lost your phone. Mine decided to go ape crap on the way home. Both of us are enjoying new phones. We won’t be missing any scoop lately.
Nick: No. Love my new phone. We’re done talking about phones and weather. Florida had a game, last game of 2015 season against Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. That did not go well for the Gators, 41-7, the fighting Jim Harbaugh khakis took it to Florida. If we’re going to call a spade a spade, Jim McElwain and his entire coaching staff got out coached. There were no answers to anything Michigan did. I’m not convinced that Michigan’s a better football team. I really just think Florida did not come prepared as far as intensity, ready to play the game. No answers for what Michigan was doing on offense. Obviously Florida’s offense was never going to move the ball on that defense.
Andrew: This is kind of what bothers me a little bit about the game. Florida’s offense had a strong showing in the first half, 195 yards.
Nick: I think they had a couple good drives. You look like the first drive.
Andrew: The first drive was bad. It was 3 and out, and then the next one was the scoring drive.
Nick: No. The first drive ended with the fake field goal attempt. The first drive ended up getting the interception on the fake field goal attempt. I thought, that was surprising that they moved the ball.
Andrew: Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. I will say that I thought the offensive game planning, especially in the first half, was pretty good. Second half, still there’s open receivers. The offensive game plan, the offensive scheme, philosophy, is good. You’ve got to have a quarterback that can get the ball. The offensive line playing three true freshman played pretty well for the most part in the game. I don’t know, was it three sacks in the game? I think is what it was. Something like that. I don’t have the stats in front of me. I think it was three sacks in the game. Not bad. Defensively though they just out worked. Vernon Hargreaves, not the tape you want to put on for the scouts in your last game in college.
Nick: Florida had zero sacks.
Andrew: Given up.
Nick: Oh, sacks allowed. I don’t have that pulled up.
Andrew: I think it was three for some reason. I could be wrong. I knew Florida didn’t have any sacks in the game, which again was a problem.
Nick: Not going to help missing out with Alex McAlister.
Andrew: KT going out as well, that hurt as well.
Nick: I think Jake Rudock talked about it after the game, and he said, “What we saw from Florida was an aggressive defense, and we thought we could take advantage of that aggressiveness.” When you look at Vernon Hargreaves getting beat, his eyes were not on the receiver. His eyes are in the back field. He’s looking at the quarterback. He can maybe see Jehu Chesson in his peripheral vision, and he makes a cut. So now he sees a blur in his peripheral vision of a receiver making a cut, and the quarterback’s pumping. Now he’s going to take a step in and try to jump the route and pick the ball. What’s left? He’s jogging while Chesson is already dancing in the end zone.
It was just a good game plan by Michigan to take advantage of what makes Florida’s defense, I think, what makes them as good as they are, and it’s that aggressiveness, the blitzing and the cornerbacks being able to jump routes, and the big hits, stuff like that. That aggression is what Michigan really turned on Florida, and then of course we talked about it all year. Teams really haven’t made Florida pay for it, but the linebackers just aren’t athletic. In coverage they really struggle, and Michigan tore apart the defense in the middle of the field, whether it was a tight end or slants or crossing route. The middle of the field was open all day, and Florida just couldn’t find any kind of answer, whether it was Marcus Maye or Alex Anzalone, Jarrad Davis. They just couldn’t find an answer to stop those short intermediate passes across the middle.
Andrew: A lot of that was Michigan did a really good job of spreading out the defense, and then running the ball spread type of thing and running power game. That was very evident in the first half when Jalen Tabor came into the dime. They tried to run the ball, and that was where Florida had to go back to playing a lot of their inside guys. Let’s also remember this. Florida lost their best linebacker in Jarrad Davis very early in this football game, and that hurt, and that hurt bad. Their third best linebacker, Anzalone, still out for the year. Florida, Jeremy Powell did play in the game. Florida was very thin at the position, and injuries took its toll.
I know you say, the coaching staff got out coached, and again, I think they did, but it was a bowl game, and I’m not ready to say that this is a bad coaching staff, as they did a hell of a good job all year long. It was just a bowl game that didn’t matter.
Nick: You can’t say that, because if they win the game you’d be sitting here saying this was great momentum heading into the off season.
Andrew: No. It’s a bowl game that doesn’t matter.
Nick: Because they lost.
Andrew: If you win it, if you win you’re like, they got momentum going into the next season, sure, but what did you win? What did you win? You won a freaking trophy with oranges in it. You didn’t win the national title. At the end of the year this season was a success for doing well, but a failure in getting to your end result, which is winning a national championship. Only one team can do that. I’m just saying that when you ask guys like Bullard, Vernon Hargreaves, those kind of guys did they want to go out with a win? Sure, but at the end of the day it didn’t matter.
It’s a game that doesn’t matter. Someone brought up the good point of Steve Spurrier, as great as he is, and Nick Saban, as great as he is, look at their records in bowl games that aren’t national title games. Not the greatest in the world. Saban gets crushed by Oklahoma two years ago in the non-national championship game. I don’t know Spurrier’s record, but bad for those guys.
Nick: This was Florida’s worst loss since the 1996 national championship against Nebraska. That was a 62-24 loss.
Andrew: Hold on now.
Nick: To me to say it means nothing is you rolled over, and in that second half you rolled over, and you played dead. To me that’s not good. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing in the toilet bowl or what you’re playing in. Florida just gave up. Defense stopped caring. Offense stopped caring. They stopped caring at some point in that game, and that’s not acceptable.
Andrew: Not acceptable, but at the end of the day it’s a new football team that starts on Monday, and you go from there. You get some of those dead fish out of there as well. One thing that is interesting now is there’s two factors that look good for the Gators, and you can laugh all you want, but the last time Florida played Michigan and lost in a bowl game the next year they won a national title. The last time Florida was beat this bad was to Nebraska. The next year, won a national title. We’ll see, boys and girls. We’ll see.
Nick: Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow ain’t coming through those doors, but we’ll close the chapter there.
Andrew: Here’s the thing though. You say that, and you’re right. You’re absolutely right. Florida didn’t need a quarterback that was Tim Tebow. Jake Rudeneck or whatever his name is is not a good quarterback.
Nick: Jake Rudeneck?
Andrew: What’s his name?
Andrew: Rudock is not a good quarterback. He just runs Harbaugh’s system well. Florida just needs a quarterback that can run the system well. Not win the game for Florida, not lose the game. Throw the ball from A to B. Let’s talk about this for just a second.
Nick: Jake Rudock is from the mean streets of Westin, the same mean streets that I came from.
Andrew: St. Thomas doesn’t produce quarterbacks. They produce everything else.
Nick: Not many of us make it out of those streets, Andrew. Be happy for us, both of us.
Andrew: Whatever. St. Thomas is known for a lot of things, quarterback’s not one of them. You can agree with that. Let’s just talk about this offensive plan real quick. A lot of people are hard on Nussmeier, and I see it, but I don’t see it. There was good plays there to be made. It just didn’t happen in the game. Would you agree with that?
Nick: Yeah. I do my little halftime Q&A, and people are like, how’s Treon? He honestly, in the first half he looked better, but there’s still wide open guys, and you’re looking, and you’re like, hey man, you’re not even two seconds late. You throw a ball to Ahmad Fulwood where I had given up thinking throw to Ahmad, throw to Ahmad. He’s not going to throw it to Ahmad. Wait, what?
Andrew: That’s what I’m saying.
Nick: It’s like when you’re a kid, and you’re in the back yard playing 500. You’re just throwing a ball in the air, and whoever comes down with it does.
Andrew: That’s what I was going to say. It’s one of those deals where it’s like, what are you doing? You and I were in the box, and we’re just sitting here, and we’re like, what is looking at? Here’s a receiver open. Here’s a receiver open. What are you doing, Treon? You’re standing in the pocket more, but look at your defense. Read your defense. Defense will tell you to go with the ball. As Mac says, he doesn’t give you the answers to the test on Saturday, and this was on Friday, but it was there. Throw the ball to the guy that’s open. It’s not hard. He threw two good balls to Goolsby. I’ll give him credit for it.
They were there, but on the Goolsby pass on the dime he throws had he just looked Demarcus Robinson is wide open on a post route. All he has to do is look outside. Then the Robinson pass in the end zone on the first drive. It was an okay throw. Had it been a better throw it’s a touchdown. Don’t throw the ball to where he has to make a spectacular play to stay in bounds. Put him on the back pylon. Let Demarcus Robinson run over it. It’s simple stuff of textbook playing quarterback, and Treon Harris doesn’t get it. Treon Harris isn’t a quarterback, isn’t a good quarterback, isn’t even a mediocre quarterback. That’s what makes Nussmeier look bad.
Nick: I think you can see that. Nussmeier looked terrible at Michigan. He had Devon Gardner. Devon Gardner’s not a quarterback. The offense looked, I’m not going to be hyperbolic about it. The offense did not look great. Outside of the Ole Miss game the offense didn’t look great, even though the team was 6-0. They looked better. They were functioning. They by no means were an impressive offense, but you could see that they’re making progress. That was with Will Grier. Then you go back to a quarterback more like Devon Gardner, somebody who’s struggling with the quick decisions, struggling reading defenses, and you start to see that regression. To me I was just disappointed how the team quit on Saturday. I didn’t expect, going into the game I didn’t think we’d see 41 points total, let alone see Florida’s defense give up 41 points to a very average Michigan offense. Michigan, they’re balanced, but they’re very average offense.
Andrew: If I had told you Vernon Hargreaves would be responsible for 21 points you’d have laughed.
Nick: Absolutely. Getting beat on a double move once, okay, but learn from it.
Andrew: He was smoked all game long.
Nick: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I don’t know what happens when you fool me three times.
Andrew: Let’s just talk about this team for next year though. This is going to lead me into the Under Armour game and different things. Let’s talk about this team returning real quick. Want to start on offense?
Nick: Yeah. Let’s go.
Andrew: Let’s start on offense a little bit. Antonio Callaway, by far Florida’s best offensive playmaker. Showed it again on Friday in the Citrus Bowl, and the Buffalo Wild Wings game. Had a few good returns there. He’s there. Then you look at the line, Sharpe, Ivey, and Tyler Jordan will probably be three of your key pieces, and then Fred Johnson’s going to figure in there somewhere.
I’ll say this, for the most part that right side of that line of Fred Johnson and Tyler Jordan didn’t look bad for the majority of the game. My only question is where does Martez Ivey go? Is he a guard? Is he a tackle? Where was he during the game on Friday? He didn’t play. Riles played. If Florida’s going into the season next year with Riles playing left guard, watch out. And who plays center? That’s another thing. Is it Jordan? Does it go back to Dilliard next year? To TJ McCoy? Or a freshman in Brett Heggie, who comes in? Where is that?
I’ll say this. I think the offensive line will be better next year, and it improved this year. You and I had this conversation with a couple people. The offensive line can make a quarterback and running back look really good, and then a quarterback and a running back can make an offensive line look really bad, and the quarterback play made the offensive line look really bad this year at times as well.
Nick: Yeah. I think we all kind of agreed on it, everyone that was in Orlando talking about. When Kelvin Taylor got to a thousand yards with a seven yard carry in the third quarter I think everyone was in agreement that he got a thousand yards in spite of the offensive line. The offensive line played better. It’s like you said. They played better this year, and Kelvin Taylor still in spite of them was able to get the yards.
Andrew: Let’s also say this. Offensive line there’s only five of those guys. When you have no passing game, and there’s eight in the box, no chance in hell that that five offensive line do well.
Nick: That’s true. You’re looking at a line that’s got a true sophomore starting, three freshmen at times starting or playing. That’s good for next year. I like that.
Andrew: And a banged up Trip Thurman. Let’s give him credit where it’s due. He’s not healthy.
Nick: No. To me, I think that experience that they got this year is great. My biggest question is Fred Johnson is your right tackle. My biggest question is what are you going to do with David Sharpe and Martez Ivey? Do you flip flop those, see if Sharpe can play guard? I know they tried playing Sharpe at guard some in the off season coming into this year, and he played strictly tackle when the season came. Maybe they saw all they needed to see when it comes to David Sharpe inside, and that’s why Martez was asked to do that.
Andrew: Again, Martez getting injured hurt the plans for Martez. Nobody could expect him, four weeks, which is what he was really out, that’s a long time to miss practice for a freshman, and then compete. We’ll see. We’ll just kind of see where that goes. Then you look back at the running back spot for Florida. Mark Thompson enrolls on Sunday. He’s already there on campus. Scarlett and Cronkrite, we’ll see. Had disappointing freshmen years, and then Perine. That’s four guys that are going to come in and play at running back, and Florida finally has the depth at that position to where you can say if one guy got hurt they’ve still got three more legit guys there. So running back’s not an issue, wasn’t even an issue this year. They’re fine there.
Nick: No, running back’s not an issue at all. Good to see Kelvin Taylor reach that thousand yard milestone, but Florida’s back field, with getting Jordan Scarlett back, which McElwain said he would be back, Jordan Cronkrite, Lamical Perine, Mark Thompson. Those are four very good backs to have. If Florida’s offensive line can improve, that will be nice, but you still need to get a quarterback.
Andrew: Let’s go to receiver, and then end at quarterback, because this quarterback thing is going to go forever. Let’s go to receiver. You and I both have strong opinions on this quarterback situation, and we’re in agreement, but they’re both very strong opinions. Let’s talk about offensive line real quick. I don’t think any of the guys coming in this year will be asked to compete, unless a guy like a JuCo guard in Malcolm Pridgeon comes in and plays. Florida’s going to go out and get some tackles and go in there. You’re not expecting those guys there.
At receiver though this is where the big influence of new bodies, new toys that I like to say, are coming in. Dre Massey, already on campus on Sunday. Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain are both there. You and I watched Josh Hammond all week long, and that is a…
Nick: People have been sleeping on him.
Andrew: Yeah. People sleeping on him. That’s a player. As you said, he’s different from his brother. Once he hits the weight room this spring, he and Freddie Swain and Massey might be seeing some action next year.
Nick: Yeah. I would have liked to have seen Freddie Swain this week, but Josh Hammond really did impress me. Not at all, the only thing he shares in common with his brother is parents, a name, and a love of donuts.
Andrew: Not even a love to donuts.
Nick: No. We had Hot Light Hammond. He likes wings more he says, so we’ve got Hot Sauce Hammond.
Andrew: Hot Sauce Hammond.
Nick: Big receiver. He’s probably about 6’3” I’d say, 6’4”.
Andrew: No. 6’1”, bro.
Nick: I don’t know. I’m 5’10”, and he was way taller than I am. Long arms, broad shoulders. Really knows how to use that size to his advantage. Not really the speedster that Frankie was, but does have some deceptive speed.
Andrew: Right. He took the top off of Javaughn Myers several times, but he’s got good hands, runs crisp routes, and is just a solid playmaker to go with Callaway. Then you look at some of the other guys they got, and it’s going to be an influx of talent at the receiver position.
Quarterback, here we go. Kyle Trask, Feleipe Franks, they are the identical quarterback, and I say this in that they’re both 6’5”. They’re both long as hell, and they both throw 95 mile an hour fast balls, but they’re projects. They’re projects. Nick, I don’t care. I’m going to say it right now. If you ask me if Feleipe Franks is playing next year, no. He is redshirting. I don’t care what Johnny, Tommy, whoever on the other sites or wherever else is saying. He’s redshirting. Luke del Rio is the guy going in, unless they add someone else.
Nick: Every day on Twitter I answer that question. Then when I answer it’s 5, 10, 15, 20 people. You really think Franks is going to redshirt?
Nick: Yeah. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow when I answer the question again. We do this whole thing again. Yeah. I think Feleipe Franks is a three year project. Redshirt sophomore being able to play. Luke del Rio’s your guy, and just look at what Florida’s doing in terms of recruiting. If Franks was your guy and ready to start Day 1 you’re not still recruiting Dwayne Haskins. You’re not looking for a grad transfer. These are things that Florida’s still doing, and they wouldn’t do that if they were married to the idea that Franks can start Day 1. I don’t understand the notion that social media that Franks, he looked good for two drives in the state championship game, you’re wrong. He’s going to start. Florida is not acting as if they think he’s ready to go Day 1, so I don’t know why social media just assumes he is.
Andrew: He has the tools.
Nick: Because he’s not Treon Harris.
Andrew: He has the tools. No doubt he has the tools, but there’s a lot of tools we can’t see. Will Grier has all the tools. There was a reason why the offense wasn’t even moving well with supposedly the Heisman Trophy in Will Grier. It’s because he still wasn’t doing the things he needed to do. That’s the mental makeup of the game. That’s the things that Franks has to worry about. His throwing motion of a windup has to be fixed. I’m going to say it now. If Florida doesn’t get Dwayne Haskins, and we’ll talk about that in a minute, Florida gets a grad transfer. You can mark that on. You can tell me on Twitter. You can call me out on Twitter and tell me Franks was the #1 guy. Quite frankly, I don’t give a shit. Second of all, the facts on social media let you know that I’m right, because Florida’s still actively recruiting.
Nick: It is what it is. It’s nothing about him. We both think that he has the tools.
Andrew: And we both think he’s a good guy.
Nick: Yeah. He’s just not ready. There’s not many kids that are going into college that are ready to start right away from Day 1. It’s not saying anything bad. It’s just saying he’s not ready, and I think at 6’5” he hasn’t been asked to read defenses. He’s coming from a very simple offense. He’s asked to make one read. Throw the ball there or take off. We’re running the ball. I don’t think he’s ready mentally. I think there’s still some mechanical things he needs to do to shore up, footwork, his arm slot. He has a strong arm, and it’s just Nussmeier and McElwain saying we believe in ourselves that we can build him into the quarterback that can win a championship for us, but that’s not next year. I do think Dwayne Haskins, after seeing him, I think he could come in and play.
It’s honestly Luke del Rio. Luke del Rio is your starter next year. I think Haskins will be more ready to come in and play than Trask or Franks, but I wouldn’t feel very confident if it’s first game of the season, and your starting quarterback is a true freshman named Dwayne Haskins. I would feel better about Haskins than Franks, but Luke del Rio is really Florida’s guy right now.
Andrew: Unless they get a grad transfer.
Nick: That’s true. Unless you can get a graduate transfer. That’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of guys looking for new homes, and we’ll see. Then there’s a question there. Do you want …
Andrew: Yes. I’m going to say that now. Yes. Yes, you do. Yes, you want as many possible bodies.
Nick: No. I was saying if you had to make the choice. Am I choosing a graduate transfer who can play this year, or do I want another talented freshman?
Andrew: It’s Dwayne Haskins first. Dwayne Haskins is the Gator’s guy.
Nick: That’s what I was saying. If you had to pick.
Andrew: I’m saying if you could get both, hell yeah you take both. You party on Bourbon Street like it’s 1969 or whatever that song is.
Nick: Neither of us believe that you get Haskins and a grad transfer. It’s kind of we think you’re going to get one or the other.
Andrew: Yeah. I would say that. You get Haskins, and you’re kind of playing with fire if you go after a grad transfer. The Franks deal is tough to overcome, now getting a grad transfer to come in? Dwayne Haskins is this. Here’s the deal with Feleipe Franks. He’ll tell you he wants to redshirt. Dwayne Haskins will tell you he’s coming to win a Heisman Trophy as a freshman. That’s what I like to hear out of my quarterback. I don’t like to hear, I want to redshirt. I want to sit the bench and get better, get my mechanics better. I want to win. Let’s win.
Let’s go to defense real quick. We’re running halfway through our podcast, and we ain’t even hit on half the shit we need to hit on. Defensively, you and I are in agreement. This defense can be sick again next year. Let’s start defensive line. Losing Bullard, irreplaceable. Bullard’s a guy that’s going to be tough to replace. Losing McAlister, going to be tough to replace. Cece Jefferson I think moves inside, going to be a big playmaker there. You and I watched Antonius Clayton all week. That’s a guy that can play, play ball. He puts on some weight, and he may be ready to go. I think we’re in agreement Bryan Cox is going to be ready to go. Caleb Brantley probably has a breakout year like Jon Bullard does next year. Defensive line needs some guys to develop for depth wise. Starting guys I think we’re in agreement they’re going to be pretty good.
Nick: I’m not sure. Antonius Clayton long term does need to put on weight, but just seeing him right now I think he needs to also develop some pass rush moves, being able to mix up a rip, a swim, stuff like that. If you see him play I think he can jump in on a 3rd down. Kind of just be a situational pass rush guy for Florida as a freshman. From what I saw going up against, I know the last name is Little. Is it Greg Little?
Andrew: Greg Little, yes.
Nick: Number one offensive tackle in the entire country. This kid’s a stud. Clayton running around him. One time put him on skates just with a bull rush. I think maybe a guy that could play as a freshman in a situational role where you just tell him to pin his ears back. It’s 3rd and 6, go ahead and go get the quarterback. 3rd and 10, go get the quarterback. Get him some early playing time.
If Florida gets back the rest of their juniors, Jarrad Davis, Keanu Neal, Marcus Maye, this defense has a chance with Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor on either side, Alex Anzalone coming back healthy. I think Caleb Brantley’s poised for a breakout year. I think he’s kind of seen what it takes as far as a mental and an effort standpoint. This defense has a chance to be better, and I was dead wrong. I came on and said this defense would be worse this year before the season. I think they were better in 2015 than they were in 2014, and I’ll go on record saying now, if all those juniors come back, and Alex Anzalone can stay healthy, I think the defense is better in 2016 than it was in 2015.
Andrew: You know what your problem was, Nick?
Nick: I was drinking that Tennessee Kool-Aid?
Andrew: That, and you didn’t listen to the Goat. The Goat never steers you wrong. Listen to the Goat. Listen to the Goat, and the Goat will never ever lead you wrong.
Nick: You are not the Goat, but you did meet the Goat. You met Ken Griffey.
Andrew: I did. Many people let me know that I was the Goat.
Nick: You know why he’s the Goat? Because his nickname was the Kid, and that’s what they call a baby Goat. There you go.
Andrew: That’s right. They don’t call me the Kid. They just call me the Goat.
Nick: Time is a flat circle, and I just figured it out with Ken Griffey, the Kid, the Goat.
Andrew: They just call me the Goat, because I’m already there.
Nick: Sweetest swing in baseball.
Andrew: Yeah. Sweetest voice in America right here. Let’s talk real quick about that defense. I think, I can only speak for myself here, but I think you’re with me. We expect the three juniors of Davis, Neal, and Maye to come back to school.
Andrew: From everything we’ve heard we think those guys come back. Those two at safety, Neal and Maye, coupled with Wilson and Tabor, are going to be there. You and I both watched Chauncey Gardner this week. He’s a guy that can step in and play nickel, and he’s going to be able to play with Duke Dawson. That’s going to be depth there. Kristian Fulton’s a guy that can step in and be depth with Chris Williamson there. Linebacker, Anzalone, Davis, those two guys coming back are going to be huge there. Still going to have a little depth issue there. Those two guys coming back are big for the team. Anzalone might be the best linebacker there is when healthy.
Nick: Alex Anzalone is Florida’s best linebacker. Just period. As far as all around, being able to cover, being able to play against the run, his athleticism. He is their best linebacker. Antonio Morrison told me that before the season started. He said, “This is our best linebacker. It’s not even close.” If Alex Anzalone can stay healthy, something he hasn’t really been able to do, that’s great. He and Jarrad Davis then are your leaders along with Jalen Tabor on defense, and that’s a very solid defense.
Andrew: Let’s go real quick. Let’s talk a little Under Armour game real quick, because I was there as well. Let’s talk about some of the notes we got here. Kristian Fulton’s a guy.
Nick: That kid’s a stud. That kid is a football player. It’s ingrained in him. It’s in his DNA. He has the kind of instincts that kind of remind me of a Vernon Hargreaves as far as someone just who gets it, who gets football, understands what offenses are trying to do.
Andrew: Long, athletic corner with a mental makeup that is really good. During the game on Saturday when he’s not in the game he’s standing beside Deion Sanders picking Deion Sanders’s mind. That’s the stuff I like to see out of a guy like Fulton. Florida, LSU, that’s the two school he’s looking at really hard right now. I really think if mom and dad will okay him to go to Florida the Gators can get him. 29th January, that’s big. Very big for that. Look out for that.
We talked about Antonius Clayton, Gator commit solid there. You and I are pretty much in agreement he probably was the best defensive end there with the best two defensive tackles being Ed Oliver and Rashan Gary. Rashan Gary is the guy that we’re talking about.
Nick: I keep saying Dillon Mack. It’s Rashan Gary. 55.
Andrew: 55, Rashan Gary.
Nick: 55 in white.
Andrew: 55 in white. Rashan Gary. Dillon Mack’s last year, Nicholas. Turn the clock.
Nick: Another cornerback that impressed me was Cooper. Cooper Baxter.
Andrew: Yes. He was good. Then the guy that didn’t impress me was Saivion Smith.
Andrew: Overrated, like we’ve been trying to tell people for a long time. Him and Jayvaughn Myers, both were wide receiver toast all week. Josh Hammond, those guys there. Since we brought up Hammond, we talked about him. Very good week as well. Already enrolled, so he’s good there. The receiver that was probably my favorite was Tyrek Cleveland, wide receiver committed to Houston. He’s that big 6’3” guy, long, athletic, looks pissed off every time you see him, and you’re just like, here’s some ice cream. Be happy, man. Committed to Houston. That’s only a matter of words in my opinion. Florida, TCU are the battle. Visits Florida on that last weekend, the 29th. Gators need this guy.
Nick: I did get to talk to him, and he did like Tom Herman’s grill, which is a great recruiting tool for Tom Herman.
Nick: What really stuck out to me is when asking him what Florida needs to do, and kids will say, “They need to show me love. They need to show me the facilities. They need to show me the academics.” He just said, “They need to build trust.” To me, that’s important. This is a kid who’s from Houston, Texas. Going half way across the country to a little town in Gainesville, and you’ve got to have trust that the coaching staff you’re going to go to is going to put your best interest first, that they’re going to take care of you, and that they’re not trying to just blow you smoke.
If they think you committed to a school, and that’s probably a better fit for you, we’ll stop recruiting you, or are they just telling me, that’s not a good fit for you, come to our school, because I’m going to help them win football games, and they’ll get a raise. He wants to feel like these coaches are taking care of him, sort of like a parent that they have Tyrek Cleveland’s best interests, not Jim McElwain’s best interest in just trying to find a player to help them win.
Andrew: Good thing for him is he’s from Jacksonville. That’s huge for Florida having that Jacksonville tie. He’s close to Rick Wells and a couple other guys in Jacksonville. So he’s familiar with the area. That’s there.
Next receiver, Eli Stove, slot receiver. Didn’t do a lot in the game, but had a really good week. Him and Chauncey Gardner had some really good battles. We talk about just a really good athlete that’s playing receiver as well. That’s Eli Stove. When he gets the ball in his hands, watch out. I really liked the target he gave for the quarterback at the receiver position. He really looked like a power forward posting up, giving a good target that was there. I like him as probably my favorite slot receiver in this class.
Nick: What I noticed about him is he does a really good job catching the ball away from his body and using his hands. Another thing that Tyrek did very well, and it’s like Tyrek and Eli did a good job. When you talk about receiving they don’t want you to receive with your hands, you’re receiving more with your fingertips. It’s catching the ball softly, and both those guys do that. It’s just kind of like a natural thing, and that’s what they reminded me of, guys that just are natural receivers. Catching a football is not foreign to them. It’s just something that they do. They bring it in cleanly, softly. Eli’s a guy that impressed me. A little bit bigger than most of Florida’s slot guys. I think he’s someone who, a lot of players get put into the slot wide receiver position because they’re not big enough to play anywhere else.
Andrew: A lot of guys get put in the slot position because they’re a good athlete, they just don’t have a home, like Brandon Powell.
Nick: Stove understands the position. He’s playing slot because he understands what’s being asked of him there, more so than just you’re athletic, and hopefully we can put you here and get the ball in your hands.
Andrew: Talk about catching the ball. It’s eyes and fingertips, but you catch the ball like you’re touching your girl. That’s what we always talked about. You got to be gentle. Gentle with the ball. You just bring it in.
Nick: Treat the ball soft, like a lady.
Andrew: Yes. Don’t grab at it. Don’t try to flatten the ball when you catch it. Demarcus Robinson tries to flatten the ball. Imagine having your two hands and just trying to collapse your hands on the ball. That’s what he does. That’s something that those guys don’t do a lot.
This is a guy that I went in with high expectations, and he didn’t impress me this week. Nate Craig-Myers, it was like, where are you? Where’d you go all week? It was like, a guy that was just not even there almost. For him to be one of the top receivers in the country didn’t impress me as much as I thought he would in the game.
Nick: No. He had a couple good practices that I saw, but kind of like you, just given the name and the hype probably expected more.
Andrew: He was just another guy.
Nick: Yeah. Kind of fade into the background, you know what I mean? It’s a tough situation where there’s so much going on, and there’s a lot of pressure. You’re doing a lot of stuff outside. You’re meeting new people. There’s a lot to handle, but then it’s also you’re playing against better kids than you ever have before. Some people rise to the occasion, and some don’t. I don’t think that Nate Craig-Myers really rose to the occasion this week.
Andrew: He was in the back of the pack a lot. That’s something that bothers me. You’re the #1 receiver in the country, or want to be, get up in the front. I want to see you at the front. I noticed Tyrek Cleveland was the first guy out there every time. Chauncey Gardner, the first guy out there every time. That’s what I like to see out of my guys.
Let’s talk about Chauncey real quick. Chauncey, he talks the trash and walks the walk. No doubt about it this kid’s going to be a playmaker. The thing I like about it is if the play’s on the opposite side of the field Chauncey Gardner’s coming over there to hit you, and then let you know that Chauncey Gardner made it all over there. He’s a guy that I went into the week saying he’s full nickel. Watching this week, and I got the impression he could play corner if needed. If he needs to play outside he can play there. He’s better at the nickel, but he’s a guy that is a really athletic cornerback that’s a player.
Nick: I’m not sold yet on him.
Andrew: You didn’t see the day that he played outside corner a lot. That was the day you were at McElwain’s press conference. He did a really good job on Stove and Cleveland.
Nick: You’re not the only one that said that to me either. We met Ryan. He works for TexAgs, really had never seen Chauncey Gardner before, and he said the same thing as you. I guess we’ll see. I just always in my mind have seen him as that nickel guy, or possibly even a safety.
Andrew: Possibly, yeah. Let’s talk about Haskins next. It’s the magic word, the guy that pays the bills lately. I’ll say it. The Gators have a shot. I just don’t see this guy going to Maryland. I don’t. When you hear Jacob Eason talk about Georgia you always felt he was going to Georgia. When you hear Haskins talking he says, “I don’t have good communication with these guys. I don’t know about the OC, the system.” Flashbacks of last year guys saying that about McElwain and Nussmeier when they were recruiting them. That just flashes in my mind 100%. I’m not saying it’s Florida. I just don’t know. I don’t know. His dad did tell me when talking to him he liked Nussmeier a lot, liked McElwain a lot, different things like that. Florida has a shot here. I expect him to probably take a Maryland visit, official visit, and then maybe sit at home the rest of the month letting head coaches and OCs come in and talk to him. That’s going to be big. I don’t know where this kid’s going to school. I just don’t think it’s Maryland.
Nick: Here’s my thinking, my line of thinking on it. Maryland’s the easy choice. You’re already committed. It’s close to home. You don’t have to hurt anyone’s feelings. You stick with your Maryland commitment, and Florida fans are mad that you’re not there, but they get it. You made a commitment, and you stuck by it. Alabama fans, whoever fans, are mad that you’re not on their team, but you made a commitment. Going to Florida means telling Maryland no, after already saying yes. Staying a Maryland is the easy decision. I think coming to Florida would be the tough decision, but when you’re a quarterback you need to think of more than that.
You need to think who’s my offensive coordinator? Who’s my quarterback coach? What’s the system that they’re going to be running? How does that help me? When you’re an elite quarterback like a Dwayne Haskins, or like a Feleipe Franks, a Jacob Eason, you need to find situations that are the best for you, and you have to be selfish right now.
Andrew: It’s a business decision.
Nick: Yeah. It’s a business decision. You need to be selfish, and you can’t make a decision just because it’s easy. You really need to do your homework, and that’s what I hope, no matter where he ends up, I hope he and his family are doing their homework.
Andrew: Right. Long athletic guy that throws a really good ball. I called it a hard ball, and I mean that as in saying that he throws a ball that is good, precise. There’s no wobble. There’s no floating the ball. He gets it from Point A to Point B really well. Big tall guy that can throw. He makes all the throws that you want out of a quarterback there. Last couple guys I want to talk about real quick, Shavar Manuel came in. I wanted to see him, wanted to see him impress people. Had a good week, not a great week, had a good week though. Played lower than he has been, which is what I like to see a lot. Got double teamed a lot, but he played like a big body there. Rumph does wonders for this guy when he gets on campus. You can’t teach 6’3”, whatever he is, 300, 290. You can’t teach that.
Nick: Yeah. To me, you can kind of be like, of course Andrew’s saying that. Andrew likes the coaching staff. The big thing to me is look what he did for Caleb Brantley.
Andrew: Look what he did for Jon Bullard. Look what he did for Joey Ivie. Bryan Cox had probably his best year. Those guys you look at, Justus Reed, Jordan Sherit, those guys played really good ball. He’s a guy that I think goes to Florida. I really do. He’s a big defensive tackle that’s going to be really good. He went up against these two offensive linemen. One is Florida commit, Brett Heggie.
Nick: Brett Heggie really held his own. Playing at Mt. Dora, I don’t know if a lot of people were giving him credit, but he really held his own last week.
Andrew: Played really well at center. Guy that came in, and I was like, we’ll see what he does. Played really well. Landon Dickerson was another guy. Going to visit Florida on January 15th. Florida State, Tennessee probably the leaders right now. Florida has a shot here. He handled his own at guard as well. Him and Heggie did a lot of double teaming together. Did really well there for that. Overall it was a really good week for a lot of guys. Probably the great showing for the Florida guys, I think. A couple of sites, Rivals I know gave Florida’s commits the best week of the week for all their guys, the four commits. That was good for those guys. Going now, recruiting, recruiting, recruiting for the next month, my good friend.
Nick: It’s going to be a crazy race down. Less than 30 days now as you listen to this. You know where to find all your recruiting information. It’s going to be on Twitter @NickdelaTorreGC, @AndrewSpiveyGC. Follow us there at GatorCountry.com. On Instagram TheGatorCountry. It’s going to be wild. The dead period ends. We’ll give you some important dates real quick. Dead period ends the 14th of January. That is not this coming Thursday, but the following Thursday. All juniors must declare for the draft, or all draft eligible players must declare for the draft, by January 18th. Then, of course, as always, the first Wednesday of February, that’ll be February 3rd, is Signing Day.
Andrew: February 3rd is Signing Day. I think you’ll see a lot of decisions made this week on some things. I think you’ll see some guys possibly say they’re leaving school.
Nick: Moving and shaking.
Andrew: Moving and shaking. Roster adjustments happening on there. You did forget one thing. January 30th is Senior Bowl week. That’s a good week for us as well. 24th is arrival day. Jake McGee, Jon Bullard, and Antonio Morrison playing in that game. That’ll be fun as well. Army game next Saturday. Feleipe Franks will be there. Brian Burns will be there, as well as offensive line John Simpson and receiver Benjamin Victor.
Nick: Been getting a lot of questions on social media. Every early enrollee, JuCo player, made it in, except for Franks, because he’s out at the Army game. That’s Eddie Pineiro, Chauncey Garnder, Freddie Swain, Joshua Hammond, Jordan Smith, Kyle Trask.
Andrew: Mark Thompson.
Nick: Mark Thompson, David Reese, Dre Massey, Stone, and Burnett.
Andrew: Everybody is good to go on that as far as enrolling.
Nick: Franks is good go. It’s just he’ll miss the first week of class, which is drop/add, and then he’ll be back after the Army game.
Andrew: Be after the Army game. That’ll be good for him as well. The Gators got better today because of that. You look at that. We don’t have time to break it down too much on this podcast, but when you look at that they hit needs, and they hit needs in a big way with those guys that are early enrolling. That’s good for those guys there. We’ll have a lot of underclassman coverage coming this week from the Under Armour game, as well as a lot more stuff. The annual after the Under Armour game Spivey Sense will be there. My man Nick and I will be recapping some redshirt freshmen stuff, looking at the team again. Basketball coverage as well. Hit us up if you’ve got any questions. Nick and I were there. We saw everybody, so if you’ve got anybody in particular you want to know about let us know. Find me on Twitter. Just search the Goat, and my name will pop up.
Nick: No it won’t. You stay classy, Gator Country.
Andrew: Mark, Butch, you know the drill, even though it’s the new year. Go Braves.