GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we recap how the Florida Gators commits and targets did in the Under Armour All-American game last week.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre also break down the latest with the coaching staff as Dan Mullen has all but one coach hired for his first staff at Florida.
Andrew and Nick also break down how the coaches are regarded as far as recruiting goes, plus what the latest is with guys turning pro or staying in school.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we’re back. Holidays are over with, all that good stuff. Under Armour week’s over with, so we should be back on track. I know we’ve said that a couple times, and as soon as we get back on track it’s a holiday. I was in Orlando. You were back home, all that good stuff. I think we’re back on track. I hope everyone had a good holiday, Christmas and New Year.
Nick: Yeah. Just got my wisdom teeth out. Didn’t go too bad, but that probably kept us from podcasting over the weekend, which is why we’re doing it now.
Andrew: We should have let you podcast right after you got through.
Nick: Right after, when I was still on my general anesthesia? Man, it was easy. They knock you out. Doctor was like, “I’m going to put this in, and you can start counting backwards from 10.” I think I said 10, and then next thing I know, they’re like, “Surgery went well.” I’m like, “Nine?” I don’t know. It was easily, and luckily everything went well for me. Can’t recommend my surgeon enough, because I felt pretty much no pain. Daniel Torres down in Plantation. If you need your wisdom teeth out, go see him. He did a great job.
Andrew: There you go.
Nick: I’m not getting paid, by the way. Just got surgery, and felt no pain. All good to go.
Andrew: I was going to ask if you were getting a knockoff, a deal or something.
Nick: I wish, man. Apparently, my insurance doesn’t cover wisdom teeth removal. That was expensive. No. Not a paid advertisement.
Andrew: Maybe we’ll get it. Doc, if you’re listening, get back. Lot of things have happened since we’ve talked. We had the Under Armour game go on, and Dan Mullen is one coach away from having his first coaching staff complete at Florida. I guess, let’s do Under Armour first, Nick, since that was kind of the most recent thing. Recruiting right now is kind of the most talked about thing.
Under Armour, I think, overall was a good week. The biggest thing, Nick, that I took away from it was Florida had 13 guys total, counting commits and targets, really 14 that were in that game. That’s something that was different this time around. In the past you’ve had five, six, sometimes three or four. It was nice to see that that’s back.
The one thing, Nick, that I took away from that week is that the buzz is back around the program. Now, hold long that stays, we’ll see, but the buzz around getting Emory Jones and Trey Dean late in the cycle was back. Lot of kids were talking about it. Guys that hadn’t been talked about taking visits to Florida popping up saying, “I’m thinking about taking a visit now because of Emory, or because they have a quarterback.” Then the coaches reached out to them. Overall, that was the thing I took away from it.
As far as on the field goes, a lot of guys did well. I know there’s some up and down talk about Emory Jones, Nick, but you and I can agree. Not too many quarterbacks go to All-Star games and have a tremendous week. It’s timing issues, all that good stuff that goes into it. You just don’t see it very often.
Nick: There’s so much timing that goes into passing game, and so much chemistry that goes in with the running game. You’re looking at tight ends and offensive linemen working together and blocking. There might be a great performance. I remember Julio Jones had a great game. Individuals might have great performances, but generally the offense lags behind. I thought it was comical, people blaming Deon Sanders for the snaps to Emory Jones. First off, it’s a meaningless game. It’s an honor to be an All-American, great for the players to play in the game. I don’t get getting mad that your quarterback doesn’t get as much playing time as another quarterback.
Andrew: We’ll disagree there. Talked to some of the guys, including some of the targets, who had kind of overheard Deon saying some things that led to that. Deon didn’t exactly do well covering himself, when he comes out and says, “I don’t even know who you’re talking about.” Bro, you were there all week.
Nick: Yeah, you do. You know who he is. Deon’s not calling offensive plays.
Andrew: Deon, being the guy, he had some say into that stuff. Maybe it’s completely nonsense. I don’t know. I don’t personally exactly blame Deon for it, but when you make comments, and I heard a couple guys say that they overheard him make comments saying, “I’m not letting the Florida guys show out on my stage, display their talents on my stage,” that kind of stuff. When you overhear those conversations, guys instantly think he’s being for real. Now, you and I have been around Deon a lot, and know Deon likes to BS a lot. He probably was, but when he makes those comments, and guys hear it, these are 17 or 18-year-old kids. What do you think, Nick?
Nick: Here. I don’t care. These stats don’t carry over. Nothing happens. If Emory Jones came out and were to say, “My experience was ruined, because the coach of my team went to a rival school, and he didn’t play me, and specifically told me that he didn’t play me because I was going to a rival school. He ruined my experience.” Then I have a problem with that, because the game doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a great honor for these guys to be recognized as some of the best high school players at their position in the entire country. Their senior year, this is their last really high school event.
If you were to say to me, “Deon Sanders told Emory Jones he didn’t play as much or throw as much or wasn’t featured because he’s going to Florida, and Deon went to Florida State,” if that’s what you’re telling me, and Emory says, “That ruined my experience, my week, my time in this game,” then, yeah, I take exception to it. Other than that, it’s just a meaningless exhibition. Just let the kids have fun.
To me, to get upset about it, I wouldn’t get upset about it as a fan, just because what does it mean? If you told me that it ruined the kid’s experience, then that’s where I’d have a problem with it, for sure.
Andrew: My takeaway from it is this, and that is I could honestly care less. I’m sure Dan Mullen could tell you the same thing. He could care less. Probably is more glad that he didn’t run the ball more and risk getting hurt. What I’m saying was when these kids are saying that kind of stuff, that’s when you start to take things serious. If you’re Deon, maybe calm it down a little bit. You and I both know that’s not going to happen.
Let’s kind of move on away from that. Like you say, there’s no real way to prove either way what’s going on. It’s simple as the kids wasn’t happy about it, and I feel bad for those guys that wasn’t happy about it. Let’s go back to the week in general, Nick. Emory did have some balls sailing. Let me throw a disclaimer out there. There weather was awful in Orlando, to go along with the timing.
Nick: Poor you. You come into sunny central Florida, supposed to be, and you’re treated with wind and rain and cold all week.
Andrew: Yeah. Exactly. Windy. Oh my God, that wind was just nasty a couple days. Emory had some balls sail during the week, and that was a little bit to do with footwork and that kind of stuff. If you tell me a quarterback needs to finetune his footwork a little bit, I’m cool with Dan Mullen having to fix that problem. He’s shown that. Then, he was able to show some really good throws. Some out routes to the opposite hash, some curl routes to the opposite hash, that he was just throwing strikes to. To me, he shows the poise there.
Also, I never really saw him miss a read, as in where he was going to go with it. He might have missed the pass by sailing it, but it wasn’t a misread. To me, that’s the biggest thing. If just the pass sailing is his biggest issue, Mullen can fix that. A guy like Feleipe just doesn’t know where to go with the ball. That’s an issue.
Nick: He’s also young, and he’s unpolished. I think it starts off at one point, and then by the time games get going, and spring reports are generally good, because we’re only seeing little portions and stuff like that. I think just the expectations for players at any position, quarterback included, just get skewed. They expect too much. Emory Jones is going to compete to be the starting quarterback. That doesn’t mean he’s a polished veteran guy who doesn’t even need much coaching. He’s not going to walk out there, and Mullen’s going to go, “You’re good. Don’t worry about me. Just play football. You know everything, and you’re polished. You’re ready to go.” He’s going to make mistakes. He’s far from being a polished quarterback.
You say he’s making reads. I still think, when you get to the next level, there’s reads that maybe he made at the Under Armour game, but you’re going to see completely different stuff when you start playing SEC football. To me, could he win the starting quarterback job? Absolutely. Do I think that he would be great as a freshman starting? I don’t know. I stand on that same stance that I think it’s very tough to do as a freshman. I understand, we’re taping this Monday, and we’re going to watch a freshman start in a National Championship. I still take the standpoint that’s the exception.
Andrew: Here’s the thing I want to say to that, Nick.
Nick: I guess, to wrap up that ramble, which probably didn’t make much sense, just be patient with him.
Andrew: This is what I was going to say as well. I think it’s a little bit easier for a quarterback, a freshman, to play in Mullen’s system, because it’s a lot of runs, that kind of stuff. Kind of like Jalen Hurts. That’s what I was going to say. Jalen Hurts still misses a pass. He still sails passes. He’s still not the most polished quarterback. I think Emory is probably a little more polished than Jalen Hurts was coming out of high school, but it’s still that way.
Nick: That might be the best way to put it. If you think about the two years, and watching Jalen Hurts, that might be the progression that you need to take when looking at Emory. Maybe quicker, but that kind of thing. Alabama fans were not happy with Jalen Hurts and some of the things he did in the passing game last year, and they still aren’t. That might be a good example of what to expect. I think that really resonated with me, when you made that comparison.
Andrew: Right. That’s what I think you have to look at is that kind of stuff. Here’s the thing too. Emory does get the full off season with Mullen, and so does Franks. Both of those guys have got to learn a new system. You’re going to go into the spring ball with no starting quarterback, and you’re going to leave spring football with no starting quarterback. You’re going to head into fall camp with no starting quarterback. It’s just the way it is. I’m like you, don’t take away what you’ve seen in that Under Armour game for that.
What I did take away from that is Emory Jones is a leader. Emory Jones works hard. Emory Jones is a guy that guys gravitate towards. To steal a line from Mac, he’s a guy that makes the 10 guys around him better, and that’s something I think is missing from that quarterback room at Florida, a guy that is really that leader of that room. A guy that’s really the leader of the team, I guess is the best way to say it. Someone that the offense walks out on the field and looks at the quarterback and says, “We got faith in you.” That’s what I took away from that.
To go to the guy that impressed me the most, Nick. Trey Dean. A guy that Randy Shannon and Corey Bell didn’t want. Oh my God, this guy is a physical corner. He’ll beat your ass at the line of scrimmage.
Nick: 6’3” long, rangy. You look at him, it’s going to be tough, because obviously he can project as a corner, but I know he told you, when you spoke with him, “I’ll play anywhere.” I think it’s going to be tough to get time at corner, because I love Marco and CJ at either side, but you’re going to need three and four guys on the field sometime, and he has no problem playing wherever. He says he’ll play safety.
Andrew: Slide him down to nickel.
Nick: Yeah. He told you at Under Armour week. First off, Chauncey Gardner needs to play nickel, because we saw what he did at safety. You need to slide him down. You got some young safeties there, and Trey Dean can probably jump in and vie for some playing time there too. The experiment of Chauncey at safety needs to be done.
Trey Dean is a guy that said, “Listen, I understand that the more positions I can play, and the more positions I put on tape, I’ll be able to play. That helps me get paid. That helps me at the NFL. My evaluation is there.” He’s a kid coming in, already on campus, enrolled early, that isn’t selfish, is saying, “Yeah. Wherever you need me to play. I’ll go there, and I’ll play there, because that’s going to help me.” I guess he has the maturity to know that that’s going to help him in the long run. Rather than someone who comes in and says, “No, no. I’m a cornerback. I’m not playing nickel. I’m not playing dime. I’m not playing safety. I’m a corner.” Some people could have that attitude coming in.
Andrew: Yeah. Here’s the thing with him. Going into the week a lot of people had talked about could he play some corner like Grantham recruited him to. I hadn’t seen a lot of him play corner, but I watched him play corner this week. I walked away saying, “You know what, is he better at safety than he is corner? Probably. But he can hold his own at corner.” He’s a guy that’s tough and physical at the line of scrimmage.
He plays with swag, and he’s different than the Chauncey swag. He knows when to be quiet, and he knows when to talk. When he gets to the line of scrimmage, he does a little yakking, that kind of stuff, but he’s a physical corner that will bring it to you. Reminds me a lot of Quincy Wilson. When I say that, that’s just personality. Little bit of Marco as well. He’s not afraid to get in your face at all. You kind of saw that little bit of a scrum, whatever you want to call it, with him and Jalen Preston at the Under Armour game, and that’s simply because those two were going at it, and Trey Dean was not going to lose that one on one, so he body slams him. Then he’s up shaking their hands.
The thing too that I walked away with with Trey Dean is that he has that heart of like Ahmad Black, his uncle. He’s going to work hard. He’s not going to be outworked. He’s going to do his job. He’s also a leader on the field too. When you look at a safety, you want him to be that guy that is your leader as well. I think you’ve got two guys in Emory and Trey that are going to leaders on and off the field.
Nick: Might not see that this year, but something to look forward to in the years coming, for sure.
Andrew: It’s good to see it. You get those two guys that are freshmen. You want each class to have that leader. Florida has a lot of quiet guys in this class, and I’m not disrespecting anyone. It just is what it is in this class. Those two guys are not those guys. Those guys are two guys that are going to speak when they need to speak, be quiet when they need to be quiet, but they’re going to be really good players for this class.
To look at a couple other guys that were in the game. You had Kyle Pitts, the tight end signee. Not going to early enroll, but was in the game. Nick, showed me that he is a guy that’s going to be able to not only catch the ball with that big physical frame that he has, but is a guy that’s not afraid to get in there and mix it up blocking as well. A guy we don’t get to see a ton from, because he’s in Pennsylvania, but a good player, Nick. I really liked his toughness and his ability to kind of go about his business, and not only work at receiving, but to get nasty at the line of scrimmage. He’s one of those guys that’s a quiet guy, but everyone that I’ve talked to says that he’s a guy that’s going to work hard, that kind of stuff. I was just really impressed with his ability to not only catch the ball, but get in there and be that inline blocking tight end that Florida’s really looking for.
Nick: I’m going to be interested to see how they use him early, or if they do use him early.
Andrew: Let’s face it, Nick. The tight end spot’s up for grabs.
Nick: Yeah. 100%. Who’s there?
Andrew: That’s what I’m saying. You got Kemore Gamble. I think you and I expect for him to be a guy that gets a lot of playing time. Then you got C’yontai, who hasn’t done anything yet. He hasn’t proved to be that guy. Yes, he’s a senior coming back, but he hasn’t proved he can be that guy. You lose Goolsby.
Nick: I agree.
Andrew: I think you see it. Someone made this point to me. They said, “Mullen had Cornelius Ingram. He had those guys that he liked to use split out wide that was a big, tall red zone target.” That’s a Kyle Pitts. That’s a Kemore Gamble. You remember, and I hate to throw this out, because I’m sure somebody’s going to be a smartass and hit me with it, how they used an Aaron Hernandez in that H-back role. A guy like Pitts can do that. It’ll be interesting to see.
Nick: I think you had the right type of players in Goolsby and in C’yontai. There was just that creativity. Find ways to incorporate that skillset. I read a really good story about Alvin Kamara in the Monday Morning Quarterback this week, and it was about how, until he got to New Orleans, and until Sean Peyton started calling plays and coaching him, none of the coaches had really found a way to utilize his skillset. You see how he’s really thrived this season. Over 1,500 yards from scrimmage, and you didn’t see that really at Tennessee. You saw flashes of it. He obviously wasn’t at Alabama long enough and didn’t play. It’s just that creativity to find what guys do best, and then look at ways to exploit it.
Andrew: Alvin Kamara. I mean, good Lord. It’s like Kadarius Toney. Not to get off topic, but he’s a guy that you’re going to try to find ways to use him. Dre Massey, find ways to use him.
To finish recapping, you also had commit, not signee, Richard Gouraige there. Like all offensive linemen, they struggled in this game, just because of you’re learning a new set, a new offense, playbook, that kind of stuff. The defensive linemen just really overpowered him. He was matched up against the Alabama signee in the game, and he did some good things, and he struggled at times. For me, what showed for me with him is once he saw the move once and got beat, the next rep he was prepared, and he was doing good with it. He’s a quick learner, a guy that good feet. Played left tackle and right tackle. Showed some toughness in the game.
Florida’s going to have to fight to keep his commitment now. Brad Davis was his lead recruiter, and he’s gone, so they’re going to have to fight off Auburn and Clemson to keep his commitment. As far as on the field goes, he’s a guy that should be able to play. Does he play next year? Probably not, but he’s a guy that down the road should be a good guy that plays not only left tackle, but could also play some right tackle as well in the game.
Then you had Evan McPherson, the kicker signee. The last time Florida had a kicker in the Under Armour game was our good friend Austin Hardin, who did not do too well. McPherson performed well in the game. Hit a 57-yarder in the kicking competition and performed well. Had a great onside kick. Showed strong legs, and is a funny guy. He might carry on the Eddy personality.
Nick: That’ll be interesting to see. I don’t think we’ll be hearing chants of Evan. Sorry, Evan. I just don’t.
Andrew: It’ll probably be “Emory. Emory,” or “Offense. Offense. Touchdowns.” Something.
Nick: I got a question for you.
Nick: I’m sure it’s on everyone’s mind. Another target out there in Orlando. What’s going on with the Jacob Copeland saga? Which I’m sure will be the talk of the recruiting world until Signing Day.
Andrew: First of all, if Jacob’s listening, and I’ll go ahead and say it to everyone, stop following the kid on Twitter. Jacob, if you’re listening, you’re just trolling everybody. He tweets to tweet. I’m not saying that for anything bad, but he tweets to tweet. Stop paying attention to that. Florida’s going to get the last visit. It’s going to be a Florida-Tennessee battle. His good buddy, Jeremy Pruitt, is up there at Alabama. That was the guy there, but he really likes Billy Gonzales, and he has a great relationship with Emory Jones. He was recruiting Emory to Florida, if that tells you anything. Florida’s going to get the last visit, so I think that’s the telltale thing. Right now, I pencil him in Florida’s class.
Nick, as far as on the field goes, he showed me something that you want to see out of every receiver in this game, and that is the ability to get open, not only on deep routes. We see that every year. Everyone’s able to run the go route or the nine route, but he was able to beat guys inside, catch the ball inside, and he really showed that playmaking ability he had. He showed it in the game, where he runs up seven yards and then decides to reverse field to get seven more yards. Crazy, I know, but he showed off his speed and ability. He’s a good playmaker. He would be a great fit for this class.
Nick: Can I put a gripe? Nothing against Jacob. A gripe that I have, it’s early on, and I’ll see what your take is on it. I am already tired of the next Percy Harvin, or compared to Percy Harvin. Not just Jacob Copeland. That whole recruiting pitch of Dan Mullen or Billy Gonzales or somebody at Florida, or somebody who coached Percy Harvin says so-and-so, Player X, Johnny Appleseed, is the next Percy Harvin. Just stop it. Just stop it.
Andrew: It is. Nick, I’m saying this. It’s going to happen.
Nick: I know we’re not going to hear the end of it. I’m just asking.
Andrew: It’s happening. It’s going to happen.
Nick: Can we stop it? You are not the next Percy Harvin.
Andrew: Jacob Copeland did have a good response. He said, “I don’t want to be the next Percy. I want to be the next Jacob Copeland.”
Nick: Good. So let’s stop using that. Use something else with Jacob now. Every time I see it … We put it. I know our site has had it, but I saw it. I saw it again on Sunday, and then Monday. Then I’m just like, “I’m sick of seeing this.”
Andrew: First of all, there’s one Percy Harvin. That guy was an electric freak. There’s not going to be too many more Percy Harvins out there. Yeah. I mean, I’m with you on that.
To recap a couple more guys that were in the game, Quay Walker, the linebacker committed to Alabama, was in the game. Very good outside linebacker guy. Going to visit Florida the last weekend. Florida, Tennessee, Georgia are the teams to watch in that one. Auburn also got a slight chance. Don’t see him signing with Alabama.
Coynis Miller, the Auburn defensive tackle commit, probably performed the best of the interior guys at defensive tackle in the game. Had a couple sacks on Emory, and a couple sacks on Dorian Thompson Robinson, tackles for loss in the game. Also going to visit Florida last. Florida probably has the best shot at flipping him from Auburn. I think he goes to Auburn right now. We’ll see how that relationship goes with Sal Sunseri down the road. Going to visit. That’s all you can ask for.
Nick Petit-Frere, the offensive tackle, struggled mightily in the game. Like I said, all offensive linemen and tackles kind of struggle a little bit in the games. Says he may visit Florida. Right now, I say it’s a long, long shot that he goes to Florida. The team to watch is Florida State. They just hired Michigan’s offensive line coach, who he’s close with. That’s one to watch.
Then the linebacker, Xavier Peters, that’s committed to Kentucky. Is going to visit Florida the 19th. Some talk that if he’ll qualify Florida’s a threat to flip him. He’s close with Tim Skipper, who was let go, so it’ll be interesting to kind of see where that relationship goes now. He also performed well in the game.
The biggest news coming out is that wide receiver Justin Watkins, a guy that is compared to Percy again, but is a slot receiver, a very athletic guy, is now going to visit Florida this coming weekend, and is going to decide between Florida and LSU. Florida’s got a great shot now, now that they’re willing to take him. He’s moved some schools around, that kind of stuff, so there was some question marks on that. Florida’s ready to take him, and Florida has a great shot with him visiting this weekend.
Nick: To me, that’s a big one. From Claremont, Florida. Not too far away. What was the issue with not taking him before?
Andrew: He’s been in four high schools in four years, so that’s always a little bit of a red flag. Then, I say this, and I don’t mean this towards anything on Mac, but I just don’t think he fit Mac’s offense very well. He’s a guy that’s a littler guy. I’m going to use it. They’re comparing him to Percy. Is he Percy? No, but they’re going to use him at that role where he could see time at some running back, and then time at slot receiver. I do think he fits Mullen’s offense better than he did Mac’s. There was just some question marks with him transferring schools and that kind of stuff. He did have some academic work, but everything we’ve been told is fall semester went good. Yeah. Everything should be good to go. I know Ja’Juan Seider and those guys are working him hard coming in this visit this weekend.
Nick: Okay. What’s the impact, in your opinion, on when these visits take place, whether it be this weekend versus February 2nd, the last weekend right before Signing Day?
Andrew: I think there’s pros and cons to both. Do you get him on campus first and set the bar, or do you get him on last and try to get the last word?
Nick: Are you sweating it out the rest of the way? I think we had a good visit, but now he’s going to LSU and FSU the next two weekends.
Andrew: Yeah. I think you do. I think you have to worry about that. When you got a guy like Quay Walker, he changed his visit, but he was going to visit Florida this weekend, and then he was going to visit Auburn, Tennessee, and Georgia. That’s three tough rivals that you’re going to have to go. The numbers don’t back up that the last visit is the most important visit. It also doesn’t back up that the first visit is the most important visit. I think the biggest thing is you’ve got to get him on campus, and then the in-home visits. A lot of times those seal the deal one way or the other.
I always kind of lean towards you want that visit. If you get that last visit, you’re the last school to impress him. You know how it is, a lot of times the guys that impress them the last is the last team on their mind. Didn’t work for Emory. He went to Florida State last.
Nick: He wasn’t there for long.
Andrew: That’s true. Yeah. That’s my take. I guess, what’s your take? Do you want the last one, or you want the first one?
Nick: I think I’m just being paranoid, but I think, if I have the last one, “Shoot, did somebody set the bar too high, where by the time he gets to me, his mind’s already made up?”
Andrew: Are they tired of visits?
Nick: Yeah. Are they tired of visits? Are they just going through the motions by that time?
Andrew: Right. Some people have told me this before, and that is when you get the last visits you risk the chance of them going somewhere else and visiting and then shutting the door.
Nick: Yeah. Just saying, “I found it. I’m tired of visiting, so that’s it.”
Andrew: A guy like John Huggins, who signed with Florida. Florida State decided they didn’t want the visit the last weekend. They wanted to get the visit in January. Look what happened. He visited Florida, committed, was sold on it, then signed. Now he can’t visit Florida State. I think, like you said, it’s a little bit of paranoia. These guys make the money, so they know what they’re talking about. Mullen seems to like those last visits. He’s setting them up, piling them up for the last visit.
Nick, let’s move on. Let’s talk about this coaching staff. I’m going to run down, and then we’ll break them down. I’m going to run down what they got. They got Dan Mullen as the head coach, of course. DC is Todd Grantham. Then at what we think is receiver coach is Billy Gonzales. Offensive line coach is John Hevesy. Quarterback coach is Brian Johnson. Then you got Greg Knox, who is either going to be running back or tight ends, and the other one will be Ja’Juan Seider, who’s staying onboard. You got the linebacker coach in Christian Robinson. Defensive line coach in Sal Sunseri, and the DB coach is Charlton Warren. You got one more spot, and then you’ve got to figure out where they’re all going to fit.
Nick: When did the tenth coach become a thing? That was January?
Andrew: January 9th, I believe is when they can officially hire it. I believe.
Nick: As this goes out.
Andrew: It’s either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, I’m pretty sure, is when they can officially hire that tenth coach.
Nick: The new ones since the last time we podcasted would be Christian Robinson, a young guy, Sal Sunseri, not a young guy been around for a while, and that’s it. I guess, Ja’Juan Seider being official, but really just those two are the new ones.
Andrew: You got Knox?
Nick: We had talked about Knox since November.
Andrew: Right, but he was officially brought on board. I think the thing that is interesting is Sunseri, because of his NFL ties. It was a name that we hadn’t heard a ton about, but it’s someone that Mullen is comfortable with.
Nick: I think that’s one that probably kind of goes fast. He’s got a ton of experience in the SEC, a ton of coaching experience, and I don’t think, until Jack Del Rio gets fired from Oakland, I don’t think that’s a coach that is coming back. Was in his second year as linebacker coach with Oakland. Until that fire happens, then you kind of maybe look up, and all those coaches don’t have jobs now, so maybe we can swing that over.
Andrew: Right. That’s one that you have to move in on quick, because I’m sure there was other NFL jobs, and probably other college jobs that was looking at him. As far as he goes, he’s a phenomenal recruiter, one of the best in the country in recruiting. He can seal the deal. He learned Saban’s ways. He’s been everywhere, and he knows what he’s doing. He’s a phenomenal position coach, from everything we’ve been told. A lot of people talk about he’s not a good coordinator. He’s not calling plays. He’s just coaching the defensive line, so you feel good there.
Then you talk about Christian Robinson, a guy that played for Grantham at Georgia, and is a guy that is someone that is a well-respected. A young guy, 28-years-old, so a lot of people are very high on him for recruiting and coaching purposes.
Nick: What’s your opinion there? We talked about young coaches before and saying this is not really where you should be learning. He was grad assistant at three stops. This is his first time being an assistant coach.
Andrew: I think the tenth coach now allows that though. When you got a tenth coach, especially at linebacker, where you know Todd Grantham is going to be coaching it, Christian Robinson is there. He can learn that position, in case Grantham does get a head coaching job. He can step in and be just a linebacker coach, of course, not the DC, but he also is a guy that’s a young guy, able to relate to kids and be a recruiter. You can argue you’d like to have an established guy there, but I think that tenth coach allows that leeway to hire that guy. Now you probably look at your other coach to come in and probably coach safeties, with Charlton Warner being the corners coach.
Nick: Yeah. I guess that’d be my only question. Who’s the next coach, and then how does Christian do on this stage? It doesn’t get bigger than this, than being an assistant or head coach, a coach in the SEC.
Andrew: Exactly. It’ll be interesting to see how he does on the trail competing against guys like Todd Grantham. Of course, he won’t be competing against him, but guys that have that experience recruiting across the country. He’s going to have to go up against the Nick Sabans of the world, the Kirby Smarts of the world. He’s going to have to. The one thing that I will say is this. Dan Mullen is hands on in recruiting. He’s going to be as hands on as any head coach in America is in recruiting, so he helps in that area.
You look at this staff as far as a recruiting staff goes, and you got some good hitters on the team. You got Seider. You got Sunseri. Both of those guys are top notch recruiters. Brian Johnson is known as a really good one, and so are Billy Gonzales and Todd Grantham. Charlton Warren is an up-and-coming recruiter that’s really good. Hevesy’s probably the guy that relies more on his skillset of what he does coaching wise. I don’t know too much about Greg Knox’s recruiting ability, and same thing with Christian Robinson. You have some top, heavy recruiters that are really good. I would say Sunseri and Seider are the guys that when you’re ready to hit that homerun, and you got bases loaded, you’re going to put those up at the plate, because they’re going to seal the deal.
Nick: That was going to be my next question. Sal, you’re very high on him, as far as recruiting.
Andrew: I mean, when you look back at some of the guys he’s signed and that kind of stuff, he’s a very, very good recruiter. He can seal the deal. When you talk about finishing things, he’s a guy that can seal the deal.
Nick: What areas? What areas would you put him in?
Andrew: He’s done the Virginia area some. He’s done Jacksonville a little bit. I kind of am waiting a little bit to see where some of these guys fall, how they break up the state of Florida in general. Billy’s recruited the area some. Hevesy and Knox have recruited the area some, and then, of course, Ja’Juan Seider has. Grantham hasn’t done it a ton. How do they split this area up? I think Sunseri will be one of your guys that hit the Virginia area, and then probably some of the Jacksonville area as well. Kind of waiting to see how they break all this down.
Nick: That’d be interesting to me. I always find that interesting, the way they break those up.
Andrew: Exactly. Let’s talk about the other ones. Tim Skipper no longer on staff. Nothing but positive things to say about Tim Skipper. Did a phenomenal job, both on the field and recruiting. Probably hurt his stock having to be the new boy to Randy Shannon. Didn’t really get to do too much with the linebackers. Randy was in charge of that. Wish him the best of luck.
Then Drew Hughes leaves Director of Player Personnel to go to Tennessee to take the same job. He did a good job as well. A lot of people are asking how that affects the class. Drew did a good job of getting guys on campus and establishing those early relationships, but a guy didn’t sign with Florida because of Drew. They didn’t not sign with Florida because of Drew. While he gets a lot of credit, I would say it’s not a huge, huge concern on that. He’s just a guy that built those relationships and got guys on campus. He did a great job at that. I don’t want to say so-and-so signed because of Drew Hughes. That just isn’t the case.
Nick: I think he’s done a great job in his regular job, and then I think he did a great job bridging from Muschamp to McElwain, and then continuing to bridge from McElwain to Mullen. Do I think Florida’s better off without Drew Hughes? No. He did a very good job. Listen, Drew does a lot of stuff behind the scenes with the relationships. I think he does more than just saying he just gets kids on campus. He can talk to them, the kids, a lot more than the coaches can. He’s not game planning like coaches are. He’s kind of got more freedom to be more in tune with the kids for longer periods of time.
Is it devastating? No. It’s not a program ender, but I think Drew did a very good job while he was at Florida. It’ll just be a new era of finding somebody else that can relate and do the same things that he did.
Andrew: Yeah. I was in no means trying to take away from what he did at all. He did a great job and all that. It’s one of those things where a lot of people say, “It’s going to be the end.” Not necessarily. It just is something that you have to replace, and they did. They hired EK Franks. He was Assistant Director of Recruiting, is what they hired him for. He’s a guy that may get into role. They’re at the convention this week, the coach’s convention. That’s something that they may hire that way. It’ll be interesting to kind of see where that goes. Again, he did a good job on that.
Also, good to see Ja’Juan Seider stay. He’s done a heck of a job with that running back group, and he inherited a good one from Tim Skipper. He also did a hell of a job in recruiting as well. Props to Skipper for staying on. I think Skipper and Seider were the two guys left, and probably the two guys I think most would say deserved that opportunity to stay.
Nick: I agree. We thought there would only be three coaches possibly to stay, right? Only one of them is now.
Andrew: Right. Interesting. All in all, it’s good. Now we’re taping this on Monday, and school started back today. You guys are listening to this on Tuesday. This week the Florida players have voluntary workouts. It’s not mandatory, before next week’s mandatory. I say voluntary. I think, if you’re a football player, you might want to at least pop your face in there.
Nick: Those are not voluntary.
Andrew: It’s kind of like the voluntary OTA’s in football. The guys who don’t report are the ones that always get their names in the headlines. Tom Brady didn’t report today. Why?
Nick: You don’t have to worry about Tom Brady not reporting.
Andrew: You know what I’m saying.
Nick: Listen, I don’t care if you’re Martez Ivey, and you’re the starting left tackle coming back with 50 starts. That’s not a voluntary workout. I don’t care who you are. Lamical Perine, Tyrie Cleveland. I don’t care who are, who you think you are. These workouts are not voluntary this week. They might be labeled that way, but they are not.
Andrew: You better be showing up for that workout.
Nick: Savage better know you. Better know you by name and know what you look like by Thursday, or else you’re going to have some problems.
Andrew: I’m sure Dan Mullen’s going to know who showed up and who didn’t show up.
Andrew: Glad you brought up Martez Ivey though. That was big news. Martez Ivey and Cece Jefferson both come back. I’m shocked. I’m not even going to lie to you.
Nick: I’m very surprised at Martez. I’m a little bit surprised at Cece. Cece’s still young. To me, the Martez Ivey one, I’m more surprised that he’s back. I would have been less surprised if he had gone. He’s 22-years-old. He’ll be almost 24 years old by the time the next draft starts. By the time he’s drafted, he’ll be almost 24. To me, now you’re one of the older guys, and you’ve had issued where you’ve had multiple shoulder surgeries. Is there a younger guy who has the same frame as you that doesn’t have this injury history? To me, when you’re a older guy, we forget that he enrolled at Florida when he was 20-years-old. He’s 22-years-old. He’ll be 23 this summer. To me, that was the main reason.
For me, Cece is kind of still a tweener in the NFL, based on his skillset and his size. The thing for me, why I thought he would leave, is that he has a family. We always talk about here on our podcast about how the goal is to get to the second contract, so that’s why I thought he would leave. To me, if you’re a tweener, there’s no better way to showcase what you can do in the NFL getting after the passer than in a 3-4 defense. I’m sure Todd Grantham and Dan Mullen talked to him and said, “Listen, we’ve seen what you put on tape. Whatever grade you got back from the NFL, look at some old film from what we did here. This is what we’re going to have you doing in our defense.”
Andrew: Right. Like you said, and not to put out there anybody’s business, but both of them were kind of mid draft grades. Like you said with Martez, he’s got some injury concerns, and he’s going to be 24 when he goes into the League.
Nick: He’s 22 now. He’ll be 23 over the summer, and then shortly after the Draft. He’ll be 24 before his first NFL snap.
Andrew: Right. That’s what I’m saying. We all know that the race is to the second contract, so that’s something you look at. That’s why I was surprised, but it’s big. You get those two guys back. It’s big that you get your left tackle back. Now you’re looking just for a right tackle. Jawaan Taylor is there, and he may keep that job. You got a guy like Jean Delance that transferred in from Texas that’s going to be looking to fill that role, and you got the Juco guy in Noah Banks who’s coming in. Signed early and on campus already. You got both of those guys that are going to be ready to go and battling Jawaan. Maybe Jawaan ends up playing guard.
Nick: I’m really interested in seeing Jean Delance. That’s someone, one of the transfers, that I’m really interested in seeing when we get spring going on.
Andrew: A lot of people had very high regards for him in practice and what he did in Texas and that kind of stuff. It just is something that it’ll be interesting to see. As Mullen says, as everyone will tell you, competition is good. Competition is good. Any last words here, Nick?
Nick: There will be competition, for sure. No last words from me. I think we got it all locked in there.
Andrew: A couple things. Wanted to get with you guys real quick. If you guys are listening, give us a comment on iTunes to let us know how we’re doing. That helps us get recognized more on iTunes. We’re also looking into, we’re going to be upgrading our technology to fix the sound a little bit. We’re also going to start, and first it’ll come this Wednesday, we’ll be bringing on our man Eric to talk basketball with Nick and I. It’ll just be basketball. Probably 20 minutes, 25 minutes, just basketball, and then Nick and I will be here the other two times to talk football. As we get into baseball and softball and all that good stuff we’ll be there. Of course, up until February 7, we’ll be talking recruiting.
We’re looking to improve, so shoot one of us a message if you have anything you want us to talk about or mention or anything like that. Like I said, we’ll be getting our audio technology improved here in the coming weeks. We appreciate it. Please leave us a comment. Let us know how we’re doing.
Nick: Find us. www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. You can find us on social media, @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter, @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. As Andrew said, hit us up with a share, like, do all that stuff on social media and with the podcast. You’ll find me and him, @AndrewSpiveyGC and @NickdelaTorreGC.
Andrew: There you go. Guys, we appreciate it so much. We’ll be talking National Championship game here. Real quick, before I get you out of here, Nick, who you got? Bama, Georgia? Who you got?
Nick: They’re going to listen to this after the game. I’m going with Bama though. I have a hard time picking against Bama.
Andrew: I do too. Saban doesn’t lose to his assistant. I’m going to go Bama, but I think it’s a closer game than many people do, and I think it might be a low scoring game. Should be interesting. I got Bama as well. Can’t pull for the Dogs. Guys, as always, we appreciate it. Go Braves. Chomp, chomp.
Nick: You stay classy, Gator Country.