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Sanjay Kirpalani talks about
Florida Gators recruiting: Podcast

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  • Sanjay Kirpalani talks about Florida Gators recruiting: Podcast
Written by Andrew Spivey, October 21, 2015, 3 Comments,
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Gator Country’s podcast was joined by Bleacher Report’s national recruiting writer Sanjay Kirpalani to talk Florida Gators recruiting after the Gators 6-1 start to the 2015 season.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre asked Kirpalani what his thoughts were on how Jim McElwain and the Florida Gators recruiting efforts are being received by prospects after a big start, plus what he thinks of the Gators commitment list.

Andrew also discussed at length with Kirpalani about what he thinks of receiver Freddie Swain and what Swain and Craig-Myers could provide the Florida offense if they both choose the Gators.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? This is your man, Andrew Spivey, enjoying the bye week. Hit a little golf balls this morning, enjoying this week as I get ready for Mark Richt hate week. My man, Nicholas de la Torre is here. What’s up, my man Nicholas? Are you feeling the hate for Mark Richt?

Nick:                         From you? Of course I am. It is the recruiting takeover of the podcast here during Florida’s bye week. I will be along for the ride as we have a great guest in Sanjay Kirpalani coming on. He is the national writer at Bleacher Report covering all things recruiting. Andrew and I met him at SEC Media Days, and those two just started talking recruiting that was way over my head immediately. We’ll have them on, touch on some Florida recruits, some Florida commits, and I know everybody’s always interested in recruiting.

Andrew:                 Big week. The Gators went out on Monday, sent Coach Mac, all the coaches on the road Monday and Tuesday, and then on Friday. The Gators will have a light practice on Tuesday with Coach Mac and some of the GAs and quality control coaches. Then have practice Wednesday and Thursday before the coaches get back on the road on Friday. Saturday some of the coaches see some Juco targets. Big week. The Gators get to go out this week with that 6-1 record, and Mac has a policy he doesn’t like his coaches going out during the season when there’s games. He likes them focusing, kind of pulling the Saban method there.

It’s kind of their first chance to get out and see these guys in person at their schools. The majority of these guys have already visited campus, so they’ve been able to meet with the staff, but some of these guys will be their first meeting, especially a Juco kid like Ashton Julius. Monday was his first meeting with Summers. Went well. The bad thing is these coaches can’t exactly talk to these kids as the stupid NCAA bump rule. I think it’s the most stupidest rule in the world. Schools spend a lot of money to send coaches out, and they can’t simply speak to the kids. That’s moronic, but what else do you expect from the NCAA?

Nick:                         You don’t expect much from the NCAA. It kind of makes sense that there would be some kind of weird rule that wouldn’t allow a coach to recruit on the bye week, but it is a great chance, even just to have that Florida logo on your chest and to have Coach Mac or Coach Summers or Coach Skip, have somebody from the school show up at practice and be standing on the sidelines. Even if you can’t talk to the recruits, just that presence goes a long way in recruiting. It shows that Florida was thinking about me enough to show up to my high school today, even if my high school isn’t in the state of Florida. It shows that they care. Even if they are restricted by frivolous NCAA rules, I think it is a good look for the coaches to be showing up, especially one or two days after a big game and after a loss.

Andrew:                 Exactly. It’s a chance to get the message to these guys. Coach McElwain basically has to talk to the head coach, and the head coach has to deliver the message to Johnny or whoever. That has to go through a third party, but it’s still good, possibly get a visit set up for the rest of the season. Florida does kind of have after the Georgia game they have three homes games in Vandy, FAU, and Florida State. The Florida State game is liable to be very packed. Vandy with the homecoming week should be a good crowd as well. You’re looking at that. Just getting these guys on campus, setting up some more officials, and, like you said, getting that Gator logo in front of their faces always important.

Nick:                         Yeah. You kind of mentioned it before, the 6-1 record. We’ve talked about it before, and I’m sure we’ll continue to talk about that recruits are really looking more at the product on the field more so than the record, but the product has led to the record, and that is something that I’m sure we’ll get into with Sanjay. That is something that will help Florida’s coaches continue to sell the program.

Andrew:                 I think it’s kind of what we talked about at the beginning of the year, and identity. Florida has an identity now.

Nick:                         What was Florida’s identity the last year? The last two years.

Andrew:                 I can tell you, but it may hurt people’s feelings. It was Will Muschamp crying, complaining, throwing headsets, punting the football. That’s what it was. He’ll get it fixed, don’t worry. It’s on him.

Nick:                         That identity did lead to Florida nailing two very good punters, and they’re still enjoying the punting abilities of Johnny Townsend this year.

Andrew:                 I like Johnny Townsend. Congrats to that, but, damn, I like seeing offense. Punters are people. That’s exactly right. They show an identity. Showing that freshmen can play. Showing McElwain’s a man about this. Let’s bring on Sanjay now. Let him talk a little Gators recruiting, and then we’ll have a big week this week. Let’s go to Sanjay.

Nick:                         Recruiting fans, we have Sanjay Kirpalani here with us to talk Florida Gators recruiting. Sanjay, how’s it going, my man?

Sanjay:                   Doing great. How about you guys?

Andrew:                 We are enjoying a bye week and hoping for an SEC championship game here in the near future. Myself, I’m enjoying some recruiting, my man. Gators are recruiting out on the road these next couple days. Recruiting everyone. I know that’s right up your alley as well.

Sanjay:                   That’s something with recruiting you’re in the middle of that push before signing day. Ironically with Florida having this big season it’s definitely helping them make some waves with a lot of targets down the stretch of this 2016 class. It’s funny. Those guys were worried. When would they get that momentum back? I think it’s alive and well thanks to what they’ve done on the field.

Andrew:                 That’s what I wanted to kind of talk to you about. You’re the national guy at Bleacher Report. You go to all these places. You go to the opening. Can you compare what the perception of Florida is from when you were at the opening to now? How has this season turned things around, and what are you hearing from guys?

Sanjay:                   I think a lot of recruits were kind of in wait and see mode. Any time you have that dynamic in the state of Florida, where you have those big three programs, and now you have a coaching change, it’s often been said the big three are going to get theirs in state. With this coaching change, it’s almost as if recruits were kind of looking for an excuse to buy in to what Jim McElwain and the staff were selling. I was on campus. I got to go down there and see those guys on a visit down there, and his staff was full of energy, and they were selling, it’s coming. We’re going to be back sooner than you think.

Then the season gets here, and they see that offense specifically take those big steps forward under Will Grier. It looked like Florida was getting back to that high octane offense there. Now the perception has drastically changed where kids can see the production. When you’re starting to beat those elite teams in the SEC. That optimism has grown, and I think you’re kind of seeing that with a lot of targets that maybe Florida didn’t lead for in the summer, or maybe weren’t even in the top group. Now those guys are starting to mention Florida more, and even in some cases with a guy like Freddie Swain, for instance, nobody thought he was going to Florida in July. Here we are in October, and he’s squarely on that commit list. I think it’s already had a huge impact with what they have seen on the field.

Nick:                         Nobody could have predicted the 6-1 start. What we’ve really talked about before this season is recruits not really looking at the win loss record so much as the product on the field. I think the product on the field is really how Florida’s gotten to this 6-1 record. You touched on it a little bit there. Recruits, after seeing four years, specifically offensive recruits, after seeing Florida’s offense the last four years, I wouldn’t have wanted to play in it if I was a receiver or a tight end. Maybe not even if I was a running back. Really what Jim McElwain has been able to do is show these recruits, I don’t really have all my guys in. When I have my guys in, it’ll be even better. These are just the building blocks. I’m doing this without a full hand. You, Recruit A, are my guy, and with somebody like you, with you on my roster, what you see this year on the field will be magnified. I can do more with players like you, so come down here and help me do that.

Sanjay:                   I think there’s no question. The last few years that narrative around Florida was where are the playmakers? We haven’t seen any recruits, any playmakers in this offense since Urban Meyer was here. Where are those explosive players that we’re used to seeing from the Gators teams of the past? I think it makes it even more impressive what McElwain has done. He doesn’t have any of his guys. He’s taken guys that he may not have even recruited if he were the guy, but he’s making the most of what he has talent wise. I think that that is something to show recruits to say, if I can get Nate Craig-Myers, who’s one of the top receivers in the country, imagine what we could be when we have our pieces and we actually have depth at a lot of key spots on the offensive line, in the back field, at the receiver position.

You take that a step further. He was able to get a kid like Antonio Callaway late in the process last year, and you see what he’s doing, having one of the most productive seasons of any freshman in the entire country. I think that that resume, what they’ve done on the field and what he’s shown his ability to evaluate and develop talent, I think that that’s something that really has to raise the eyes of any recruit who is interested in Florida. I think we’re seeing that now.

Andrew:                 You bring up a good point. Antonio Callaway being a freshman. These guys have kind of bought into that. Freddie Swain was a guy that gave us a quote that said, Callaway producing as a freshman helped him big time. You were able to see Freddie Swain at the opening, and probably that was his say hello to the nation kind of moment. He broke out into the spotlight where USC, Florida, Tennessee, other schools started wanting him a lot. What did you see from Freddie Swain at the opening? What kind of player do you think he can bring to Florida?

Sanjay:                   How much time do we have, Andrew? This kid, it’s ridiculous what he was able to do. You noted, at the opening nobody really knew who Freddie Swain was on a national level. I promise you, every defensive back that tried to check him, they knew exactly who he was by the time that he left Oregon. I thought he was the best pure route runner that I saw at the receiver position. He constantly got open, and it wasn’t just quickness. It wasn’t one attribute. He was the whole package. He made acrobatic catches where he had to leap over players. He had a hand attacking the ball in the air. Speed, quickness, the ability to settle in zones and find an opening in the defense, things of that nature.

It isn’t just on the seven on seven circuit. You look at his highlights you can see a lot of the same things. He’s just one of those guys. He’s not the biggest guy. He’s not the fastest guy. He’s not going to wow you with his measurables, but when the pads come on, when the lights come on, Freddie Swain is a guy you want on your team. He’s been extremely productive this year and throughout his high school career. I think that one of those things about him, he’s not a rah rah guy. He’s quiet, lunch pail, going to go to work and produce. That’s the name of the game with Freddie Swain.

I think that’s kind of why, in a class where we don’t really know. There’s a lot of talented receivers. We don’t know who’s the elite guys. I think he made a big case as to why he’s underrated where he is. I think he’s one of the truly elite receivers in this class. He just doesn’t get his just dues, maybe because of the measurables. I was extremely impressed with what I saw with Freddie Swain.

Andrew:                 That’s kind of what I was going to say. He’s a guy that maybe doesn’t get the accolades that a Nate Craig-Myers does, or a Sam Bruce, or those guys, but he’s just a guy, kind of like an Antonio Callaway who just goes out there and does his job. Let’s turn our attention to a little bit Nate Craig. He’s a guy that, as you said, didn’t have Florida really mentioned in his top group, and now all of a sudden Florida is the “leader” in the clubhouse right now. What do you think of Nate Craig-Myers, and what a tandem he and Freddie Swain could be in Gainesville with Callaway?

Sanjay:                   I think that with Nate, whereas Freddie has kind of established himself and his skills are refined, Nate I think is about what he can be. He has a lot of upsides. He’s a big kid, around 6’2”, 210. Has the size, has the speed. Has those NFL measurables that make coaches drool. I’ve spoken with Nate a few times. He’s a quiet kid, but I think that one of the things that has helped Florida get back in it with him, he’s just been able to get on campus. Obviously having Javon Myers, his brother, commit to the Gators was big as well.

Nate’s been adamant. He wants to have his own process, and he’s a relationship guy. He wants to get those bonds with the coaches, and I think that one of the things with Nate that really he’s been able to see that production. He’s been able to get on campus multiple times. He sees the opportunities, the depth chart, and the production. Those are things that are really appealing to any player, but add in the fact that Florida’s close to home, right around two hours away. I think that has kind of helped them surge and take over a Florida State, who was the perceived leader. I do believe Nate when he says he’s still evaluating things. I don’t think it’s a slam dunk, but you have to like where Florida is with him.

As far as his fit, you mentioned that trio of him, Freddie, and Antonio Callaway. I think that’s a dynamite receiving core if and when that comes to fruition. Nate’s one of those guys on the outside that can be a mismatch. He’s very physical, can be an instant red zone guy. He’s also got that ability to take the short pass and go a long way with it when he has the ball in his hands. Nate’s a guy that really has a tremendous amount of upside at the next level.

Nick:                         To me it was almost a deterrent, and nothing that Florida did as a school, but kind of fans on social media. When Javon committed it was kind of the perception on social media with fans was now this is going to land Nate for us as well. Nate kind of sounded off on that like, this is my brother. You’re not getting him just to get me. He’s not a package deal. Florida didn’t offer him a scholarship just so that they would get me on campus. I’m going to do my own thing. Javon earned his scholarship. This is his moment. To me, it was the nothing the coaching staff did. It was more just kind of the fan reaction that Javon committing to Florida was almost a deterrent to Nate on that day, or in the couple days surrounding that commitment. That’s certainly something you would think would be the total opposite, especially a family. A mother would love to not have to decide where she’s going on Saturday. You just go to one place, and you see both your kids.

Sanjay:                   I think that part of that is because, and you touched on this a little bit, I’ve spoken to both Nate and Javon about this. They were adamant. I think part of the reason for that was Nate has been known for a while. He had the five star tag, and Javon kind of just shot up out of nowhere. You had all these offers start flowing in, and the immediate on social media, he’s getting offered because he’s Nate Craig-Myers’ brother. In reality Javon’s a heck of a player himself. I think that was kind of the stance from Nate was like, he’s his own man. This is his moment. They’ve both been adamant in my time speaking with them that they’re going to make the best decisions for them. This time where you have all these kids being pulled in different directions, I think that was kind of a mature look to say, we’ve got to look at this for the best fit individually.

For the record, Nate’s told me this, and he’s put it out there. He doesn’t have a problem going to a different school if it’s the best fit for him. I believe him when he says that. They both said that with conviction. Would he want to play with his brother? I think anybody in their right mind would, but I think that they’re both looking at this in a businesslike matter to say, what’s the best opportunity for me as an individual? We’re always going to be brothers. There’s always going to be that love there, but I think that was kind of born from people in the recruiting world, or even fans, kind of wanting to force it to happen. If that makes sense. Those guys definitely had a view of wanting to make this as an individual decision. If it works out they get to play with each other that would just be a bonus.

Andrew:                 Before we get you off, let me just kind of end with this. Overall Florida is in on a lot of big name five star guys, Shavar Manuel, Dexter Laurence, you could go on and on. Where do you see this class, not necessarily from a number standpoint, but as a general fit for Florida? Do you see this being a very successful class for the Gators when it comes February, National Signing Day?

Sanjay:                   Absolutely. I think Florida, ironically I just posted an article about this, they’re one of those handful of teams that are on the rise when you look at where they’re positioned, rankings wise, however you want to call it. With the top targes that they have left on their board I expect them to land their share. There’s a lot of reasons for that. Obviously the surge on the field has helped. Look at the depth chart at these positions where they’re recruiting these elite guys. We mentioned Nate Craig-Myers at the wide receiver. They’re looking for early impact guys that can come in and play right away. You look on the defensive line. You have spots there where guys can come in and make a contribution early. McElwain is kind of handling that home.

I think that if you look at it from those perspectives of playing time, of who you’re targeting, what those opportunities hold for those particular recruits, Florida is in a prime position to be one of the bigger stories on Signing Day if they close, if they land all of their top targets, which might be unrealistic, but I think they’re going to get their share. I think they’re going to safely be inside the Top 10, because you have just a lot of big name guys who have Florida in their Top 2, 3, 4 of their list. I think that this on field push is going to help them close very strong.

Andrew:                 Definitely. Tell everybody how they can find you real quick. We hope that you’ll be kind enough to join us soon.

Sanjay:                   Sure. You can follow me on Twitter @SanjayKirpalani. Of course you can check the recruiting pages at Bleacher Report. Any time. Thanks for having me on.

Andrew:                 We will definitely talk to you soon as Coach Mac and the boys get going down to Signing Day. We wish you the best of luck going forward.

Sanjay:                   Thanks, man.

Nick:                         Thanks, Sanjay.

Andrew:                 Nick, we talked to the man there for a second. He’s very confident, kind of like myself, where this is going. I think that a lot of people don’t understand. You and I talked about this really. Mac’s a confident guy. I don’t think there’s a house he walks in that he doesn’t believe he can land the guy. That goes from the Nick Saban point, but it also is Mac’s character. Winning football games make everything better. It’s not the make or break, but you’d much rather be going to a kid’s house this week with the 6-1 record than a 2-4 record or a 3-3 record, because you’re saying we’re 6-1, had you played in Death Valley with LSU you may have won the game for us.

Nick:                         We mentioned it already, and you did a very good story before the year asking over 100 guys were they more concerned about wins or losses or what the team looked like. Frankly, the team has looked good. In looking good getting to that 6-1 record that record now, even though the recruits aren’t looking at it as much, the record is kind of selling that Jim McElwain is turning it around. The record is kind of selling it more so than Jim McElwain having to sell it himself. If Florida had come into the bye week at 2-5 or 3-4, it would require the coaches to kind of sell the players a little bit more. If we had you, or if we had more guys like you, we wouldn’t have this 3-5 record, have this record that we have right now.

What the record does for Florida is do some of that selling job that coaches have to do in recruiting. You make a good point. Can you walk into Nate Craig-Myer’s house or walk into Mack Wilson’s house and say, Leonard Fournette probably wouldn’t have had 150 rushing yards if we had you playing linebacker. The record is not, in my opinion at least, not the important part. The important part is how Florida has looked on the field, and to be able to go into a house and say, you Recruit A, Recruit B, could have helped us get a win and move to 7-0 is a great recruiting tool.

Andrew:                 Yeah. This goes without saying, but this coaching staff, it’s a world of difference this coaching staff in recruiting compared to the last few. Don’t get me wrong. Travaris Robinson was a very good recruiter. I do think sometimes we give him a little too much credit, but that’s a topic for another day. You just look at this staff. Tim Skipper in my opinion one of the most underrated recruiters in America. Him and Kerry Dixon are two guys that have done an incredible job of recruiting and don’t get the credit for it. Kurt Callahan, Kurt Callahan has single handedly gotten Chauncey Gardner to buy into Florida. They speak daily. Chauncey Gardner tells us they FaceTime all the time.

Then you go look at a guy like Randy Shannon who’s a proven guy. He’s that authority figure there. You look at Nussmeyer. Nussmeyer’s done a really good job. Geoff Collins has done a good job. Then a guy like Chris Rumph who every kid you speak to respects him, because he just kind of has that lovey weird, not weird in a bad way, but weird in a dancing, I don’t care, call me the Rumph shaker kind of personality. You look at that kind of stuff, and it’s a young, energetic group with a few older guys mixed in to help it out. They really kind of feed off of McElwain a little bit. McElwain’s that jokey, keep everybody comfortable personality, and that’s exactly what the staff is.

Nick:                         It’s playing well right now with these recruits. Certainly the team success has a lot to do with that, but I think you can’t give the coaching staff enough credit when it comes to how they’re building relationships with these guys. You’re talking about building relationships with 16, 17, 18 year old guys when you’re a 40 year old man. You’re a coach. You’re a father. Building relationships with these kids who you’re just starting to meet, and Florida is still behind the 8 ball when it comes to this 2016 class. Jim McElwain said as much. The seniors in high school now have been recruited by Mark Richt, by Nick Saban, by Butch Jones, for three, four years. Florida is just building relationships with guys who have been in contact with coaches at other SEC schools for years now. The fact that Florida has as many commits in this 2016 class, as many strong recruits, commits, I think is a testament to just how hard everyone from the coaching staff to Drew Hughes to everyone that’s involved with recruiting, how hard they’re working.

Andrew:                 You bring up a good point there. A lot of that credit goes to a guy like Drew Hughes, because I can single handedly sit here and say personally I have not seen the recruiting weekends packed as much as they have been from spring football to summer camps to fall practices to games, as packed as they were in a long time. That is all the work of Drew Hughes and his staff of interns, quality control guys, Marquel Blackwell, James Rowe, those guys that have just done a great job of putting the leg work into this. You have to remember the coaches are coaching ball daily. Guys like Hughes, guys like Marquel Blackwell, are guys that are talking to these recruits daily building that relationship, and then basically handing them off to Rumph to seal the deal or help seal the deal. That’s a big thing. That’s a very big thing. That’s something Mac got from the Saban thing.

A quick look at the guys that they’re visiting their bye week. This bye week you and I got a chance to look at the list yesterday morning when I sent it to you. Wow. They’re were everywhere. They were all over the state. You look at a guy like McElwain, Philippe Franks early in the morning. He ends up in Pensacola. Taking back the panhandle. That’s what I call it. Then you’ve got a guy like Nuss who’s up in Maryland. Randy Shannon all over Miami. This is just a staff that gets it. They’re not going to be outworked by anybody. In recruiting that’s all it is, how much work are you willing to put in to get a guy?

Nick:                         When was the last time, I don’t think Will Muschamp did it. When was the last time a Florida head coach showed face the way McElwain did in the panhandle?

Andrew:                 You and I talked about this yesterday. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’m guessing it was Urban when he got Purifoy, but was that the last time? I really don’t know. I don’t know if Will Muschamp, I don’t think coaches in the panhandle knew who Will Muschamp was. It kind of went with his personality. You’re going to get me fired up when I get on this subject. Will Muschamp would not recruit areas he didn’t think he could get. You’re not going to hit a home run if you don’t swing. Swing your bat, miss, and that’s stuff, Bo Scarbrough, guys like that he just gave up on. He did not try. Did not care about those guys, and he lost. McElwain’s not going to go down without swinging and trying to hit a home run. He may strike out swinging, but he’s going to go down swinging.

Nick:                         That’s the thing. It kind of goes to what McElwain has talked about with his team. You don’t be afraid of success. You might have to have some failure before success comes, but don’t be afraid to succeed. Don’t be afraid to fail. Do what you think you need to do in order to be successful. If that means going into the panhandle and missing on a kid, then that’s fine.

Andrew:                 Here’s the thing. I’ll be straight up honest. Had you told me six months ago Florida would be the leader for Mack Wilson in Montgomery I’d have straight up laughed at you and told you stop drinking that alcohol. Mack Wilson is supposed to go to Alabama. Kids in Alabama are supposed to go to Alabama, supposed to go to Auburn, mostly Alabama. Going to Auburn is just a thing. Going to Alabama is representing your state. Going to Auburn is just going to Auburn.

Nick:                         Alabama didn’t want me.

Andrew:                 Exactly. That is it. I hate to be that way, but most kids that go to Auburn are not either wanted by Alabama or grew up an Auburn fan. That’s just the way it is.

Nick:                         Remember, you can be mean when you look that clean, Spivey.

Andrew:                 That is right. That’s what Alabama is. They’re mean, because they always look clean shining those trophies. That was pretty good play on. It is a thing. First of all, Mac is loved in the state of Alabama. I’ve told you before, my buddies that are Alabama fans, people that work at Alabama, they love Mac. He’s probably the second favorite coach in the state of Alabama behind Nick Saban. That goes for Gus, who’s not a very liked man in the state. Will Muschamp, he might be below the toilet seat in Alabama right now. They like him a lot. It’s just that the Florida brand is there right now. It’s back, finally. Guys like Mack Wilson, they want to play for a guy like Randy Shannon. When you look at Randy Shannon’s past, guys like Ray Lewis, Ed, what’s the safety? Ed Reed. Those guys, they’ve all played for Shannon at Miami. He has a resume that can back it up. Jonathan Vilma. He can back those up. When Randy Shannon walks into Mack Wilson’s room and says, you remind me of a young Jonathan Vilma, I’m sure Mack Wilson’s eyes do get big. That’s a huge deal for anybody that has aspirations of going to the NFL.

Nick:                         It is. The one thing that really sticks out to me is that everybody from former players to fans of Alabama, when Jim McElwain was hired it was a consensus that Florida just got their next great coach. Fans and former players who have had a relationship with Jim McElwain, whether it’s a player or someone watching the team he’s coaching, being a fan of that team, really seemed to love him. It’s like you said, the state of Alabama, Florida, in my opinion, is Top 3 in the country as far as producing talent, especially at the skill positions, but Alabama has some good players, and if Jim McElwain can go in and steal one from Nick Saban, I think that goes a long way to say what kind of recruiting job, and the kind of pull that he has.

Jim McElwain always mentions that when he walks into a house and that Florida logo is on his chest, he said, that means something. It had gotten to a point where it didn’t mean what it used to, quite frankly, if we’re going to be honest. I think right now there’s some meaning behind that gator head, or behind that F on the coach’s chest when they walk into places. That’s a testament to not just Jim McElwain, but the entire coaching staff and recruiting staff to get it turned around in such a quick time. They haven’t even been here a year. Other than Drew Hughes, they haven’t even been here a year, and to change that perception, both in the state, the Southeast, and nationally is pretty incredible to me.

Andrew:                 It’s kind of like you say, when you’re a guy like Mac who’s loved so much in the state of Alabama, it’s kind of easier for him to go in there and get respect. A guy like Geoff Collins, he’s very respected in the state of Mississippi. Shannon and Dixon are very respected in Texas. They’ve also done an incredible job of making the state of Florida guys feel comfortable as well. In the spring they stopped by I would say probably 95% of every high school in the state. That’s a lot of damn high schools. They would stop by whether it was just to say, coach, my name is Tim Skipper, my name is Kerry Dixon, my name is Mike Summers, whatever it is. I’m University of Florida. Just so in five years if Joe Bob is an offensive lineman that’s in 7th grade his high school coach is going to say, I did meet Mike Summers here. I did meet Greg Nord here. It’s about establishing that brand again. Mac understands it. It’s all about knowing that Florida wants you, Florida likes your school, Florida cared enough to come by there, is big. That is, like you say, it’s Florida is behind the 8 ball in ’16, but guess what? 2017 they’re not. They’re not.

Nick:                         You start to change that.

Andrew:                 It’s going to be hell on a lot of people, and Florida’s making big time statements. The Georgia game coming up is going to be big. Think about that Florida State game, boss. Florida vs. Florida State. Florida may go into that game as favorites, if not very close favorites. A win over Florida State in your first year is a bomb on the state of Florida in recruiting.

Nick:                         We’ve kind of talked about the, not to get too hyped up into that rivalry, it really is just one game, but I think Florida vs. Florida State, when Florida and Miami play, when Florida State and Miami play, it is a pretty big tool in recruiting. Florida will have, I’m sure, a monster turnout as far as recruits, both official and unofficial, that weekend. To be able to go into a game and knock off, if Florida can beat FSU, knock off a team that won a national championship two years ago, and that was a game away from playing for one last year, I think would do wonders for recruiting.

Andrew:                 Absolutely. Not to get ahead of ourselves again, but you’re looking at a possible chance to go to the Dome. That means you’re the one of two SEC teams playing on a Saturday. That’s it. The rest of those schools are sitting home, maybe calling you on the phone chit chatting with you while Freddie Swain, McArthur Burnett, Chauncey Gardner are tweeting go Gators, chomp chomp. Watching my Gators win an SEC championship. Watching my Gators play LSU in the championship game, whatever. Don’t think that that doesn’t mean a lot. You and I can sit here, and we can talk about how important it is for a coach to be in their ear. Seeing a team whip somebody’s tail on Saturday is very big, and if Florida is able to win in two weeks in Georgia, go to the SEC championship game, that is another monster bomb laid on recruiting.

Nick:                         Yeah. We talk about, I think coaches can go out and recruit that week, so Florida staff would not be able to go out and recruit, but the job of recruiting is when Mark Richt or Butch Jones are calling you on Saturday, and I’m not, just know it’s because I’m getting ready to play for a championship, and I’ll call you after the game.

Andrew:                 Mark Richt, he already kind of knows what it’s like, because he’s not a very normal visitor in there. I don’t know if Butch Jones will ever get there. They may need to put it in a little brief folder of this is my SEC championship week. This is my excuse for 2015. 2016 excuse will be, I still suck.

Nick:                         Do you think Butch Jones just goes ahead and schedules visits and phone calls before the year starts for the SEC championship Saturday? He just knows he’s not going to be there, so he tells his assistant, start booking some recruiting trips for that first weekend in December.

Andrew:                 Why wouldn’t you? You’re never going to get there. That is called having to win big games. Here’s Mark Richt. This is Mark Richt. Boys, we are supposed to be really good this year. The media picked me to win the SEC championship for the seventh straight year, and I shit my britches in a big game, so I’m here recruiting you. You can be the next person to screw up a big game for me. That’s Mark Richt. There it is. I just gave you guys the secret. If you want to write a book about Mark Richt, I just gave you the secret. All you have to do is change it up from year to year and put this person’s name here, because all you are is the next guy to suck with Georgia.

Nick:                         You always bring the fire when it comes to Georgia and Tennessee.

Andrew:                 The thing is it’s too easy a fire. I feel bad, because I feel like I’m bullying these guys, because it’s just too easy. It’s too easy. They give you the fire. They give you the fire to break them down. It’s so funny. I could be such a good anti-recruiter against those morons. It’s so easy. You suck. Show them the record. 2-3 in SEC championship games. Never played for a national championship. You such, Mark Richt.

Nick:                         There you go. There’s Andrew’s thoughts in case you are new and didn’t know them already.

Andrew:                 I want to say something real quick.

Nick:                         Here we go.

Andrew:                 You and I talked about…

Nick:                         Don’t get us kicked off iTunes.

Andrew:                 No. You and I went to a football game on Friday in Baton Rouge. We didn’t have another game to go to, so we decided to go to U High, watch Dylan Moses, 2017 athlete. Didn’t play running back, played linebacker. Holy damn that kid is a monster, but I wanted to say something. I haven’t been to a high school game in person in Louisiana in about four or five years now. I just don’t know. I didn’t get the feel of Friday Night Lights there. What was your feeling on that?

Nick:                         My high school was a football powerhouse. We would travel with 600, 700, 800, maybe more than a thousand people to away games. This was a really small venue. It was homecoming, and it wasn’t sold out. The football wasn’t very good.

Andrew:                 You and I were like five feet away from a play and didn’t even hear a pad pop.

Nick:                         No. I heard some pad pops when Dylan would hit people, but that’s pretty much it. He is a monster, though. He must have had 15 tackles in the first half. He had three tackles on the first four plays, including a forced fumble. He is a big kid. I would have liked to see him run the ball, but at linebacker plays very instinctual. It’s kind of like we said with Will Grier, it doesn’t matter in high school if you’re not playing great competition. You’d like to see guys play great competition in high school, but if you’re not, you need to dominate. 15 some odd tackles, definitely double digit tackles, in half is dominating.

Andrew:                 Yeah. On one kickoff return he decided he was going to go all the way around the field and still make a grab. When he wanted to hit you, shit was happening. He was going to hit you, and it was going to hurt, and hurt bad whenever he hit you. It was definitely a different thing. Nick, let’s end this thing. It’s going to be a big end of the week. You guys listen to this on Wednesday, so that means the Gators are practicing on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday the coaches will be everywhere. I will be at Theodore to watch Lamical Perine, and rumor from Perine and some other people is Tim Skipper’s going to stop by to see Gator’s commit as he goes for his Mr. Alabama title.

Quick thing, him, Juwan Taylor, and Jeremiah Moon, the three Gator commits in Alabama, all made the Alabama vs. Mississippi All-Star game. That was big. Josh Hammond also got his Under Armor All-American jersey on Tuesday of this week. Sam Bruce got his as well on Tuesday. Big things happening for these guys in the All-Star games. It’s getting close to that time of the year again where All-Star games are kind of ramping up.

Nick:                         Florida, not only will they be practicing on Wednesday, they will also be holding open kicking tryouts. We haven’t gotten official news yet on Jorge Powell, but that probably spells a season ending injury for Mr. Powell. If you have made it this far into the podcast, tweet at me #SavannahforUFkicker.

Andrew:                 Savannah for UF kicker.

Nick:                         That is of course Florida forward Savannah Jordan, leading the team in goals this year, I believe. Don’t hold me to that.

Andrew:                 She’s about to break Abby Wambach’s record, and she is a, I’m just going to go ahead and say it, she is a beautiful young lady.

Nick:                         Okay. I just can’t get the image of a female soccer player kicking a game winning field goal over Georgia and getting carried off the field like Chaz Henry was back in 2010. I can’t get that image out of my head. Let’s make it happen.

Andrew:                 What if she pulled a, what was the girl? Mia Hamm. Wasn’t it Mia Hamm that pulled the whole running, throw off her jersey to her sports bra?

Nick:                         That wasn’t Mia Hamm.

Andrew:                 Who was that?

Nick:                         I think it was Christy.

Andrew:                 I don’t know who it is. Anyway, that would be pretty something pretty interesting to see. Maybe she could walk by and be like, Mark Richt I’m a woman, and I just beat your ass. That’s how bad you suck. That would be awesome. That would be so freaking awesome. Mark Richt, on his knees crying, and Savannah Jordan just walking by and be like, I beat you. That’s how bad you suck. Tell the recruit you got beat by a woman. Nick, how awesome would that be? For real, run by Mark Richt and be like, you just got beat by a woman.

Nick:                         I feel like you’re borderline almost jumping on sexist here.

Andrew:                 I’m not being sexist, but how awesome would that be? No guy wants to get beat by a woman. I can pick on Mark Richt all you want, but that would be so freaking awesome. Women don’t play football, or haven’t played football in the NCAA in God knows how long, so Mark Richt, that’d be like the absolute kick between the legs. Women’s soccer player plays for Florida for two weeks, beats Mark Richt. Gators go to the Dome. Savannah Jordan, if you’re listening to this, please do this for Andrew. I don’t ask for very much, but I do not like Mark Richt, and that would be so freaking awesome.

Nick:                         Before we completely derail here, I’m going to start our signoff. As always, GatorCountry.com for all of your Florida Gators news and info. @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. We will have good stuff this week for the bye week as we get into Florida Georgia week coming up. It’ll be on Halloween.

Andrew:                 You think that’ll be a fun week on the podcast?

Nick:                         It is going to be turnt.

Andrew:                 You think it’s going to be turnt, for real? You think we get intense?

Nick:                         Andrew’s hate for Butch Jones is only mirrored by his hate for Mark Richt. I will do my best to not get us kicked off iTunes next week. I can make no promises.

Andrew:                 If you got any good Georgia jokes or good photos, I love sharing those things, because I just think it’s so funny. If you can find one that says Savannah Jordan kicking Mark Richt in the face, you got beat by a woman. If somebody can make that up for me, I promise to retweet you, follow you and retweet that photo.

Nick:                         I was thinking earlier today. If you are musically inclined, and you want to make us a little intro for the GC podcast, we will credit you.

Andrew:                 I got it. I’m looking clean. I’m the man. I’m looking clean. I’m the man.

Nick:                         If you can make it sound exactly the opposite of what Andrew just did, we might use it.

Andrew:                 I’m the man. I’m the man. I’m the man. I’m the man.

Nick:                         You can send them to either of us. I think both of our emails are in our Twitter bios. Send us that. We’re looking for a new intro. That’s all I got for this one. Hopefully we’ll have a new guest for you guys on the Friday podcast. Still working through some details there. As always, enjoy the bye week. You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew:                 Stay classy. I like to ruin your stay classy. Butch, Mark you suck. Mark, I have a message for you, you can be mean when you look this clean. Andrew is a classic man. Go Braves, 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.

  1. GSU_GatorOctober 22, 2015, 10:37 am

    You two are a riot…good job “sort of” keeping Andrew in line, Nick!

    • Nick de la Torre
    • Andrew Spivey
      Andrew SpiveyOctober 23, 2015, 1:42 pm

      haha thank you and Nick can’t keep me in check. HAHA

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Gator Country’s podcast was joined by Bleacher Report’s national recruiting writer Sanjay Kirpalani to talk Florida Gators recruiting after the Gators 6-1 start to the 2015 season.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre asked Kirpalani what his thoughts were on how Jim McElwain and the Florida Gators recruiting efforts are being received by prospects after a big start, plus what he thinks of the Gators commitment list.

Andrew also discussed at length with Kirpalani about what he thinks of receiver Freddie Swain and what Swain and Craig-Myers could provide the Florida offense if they both choose the Gators.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? This is your man, Andrew Spivey, enjoying the bye week. Hit a little golf balls this morning, enjoying this week as I get ready for Mark Richt hate week. My man, Nicholas de la Torre is here. What’s up, my man Nicholas? Are you feeling the hate for Mark Richt?

Nick:                         From you? Of course I am. It is the recruiting takeover of the podcast here during Florida’s bye week. I will be along for the ride as we have a great guest in Sanjay Kirpalani coming on. He is the national writer at Bleacher Report covering all things recruiting. Andrew and I met him at SEC Media Days, and those two just started talking recruiting that was way over my head immediately. We’ll have them on, touch on some Florida recruits, some Florida commits, and I know everybody’s always interested in recruiting.

Andrew:                 Big week. The Gators went out on Monday, sent Coach Mac, all the coaches on the road Monday and Tuesday, and then on Friday. The Gators will have a light practice on Tuesday with Coach Mac and some of the GAs and quality control coaches. Then have practice Wednesday and Thursday before the coaches get back on the road on Friday. Saturday some of the coaches see some Juco targets. Big week. The Gators get to go out this week with that 6-1 record, and Mac has a policy he doesn’t like his coaches going out during the season when there’s games. He likes them focusing, kind of pulling the Saban method there.

It’s kind of their first chance to get out and see these guys in person at their schools. The majority of these guys have already visited campus, so they’ve been able to meet with the staff, but some of these guys will be their first meeting, especially a Juco kid like Ashton Julius. Monday was his first meeting with Summers. Went well. The bad thing is these coaches can’t exactly talk to these kids as the stupid NCAA bump rule. I think it’s the most stupidest rule in the world. Schools spend a lot of money to send coaches out, and they can’t simply speak to the kids. That’s moronic, but what else do you expect from the NCAA?

Nick:                         You don’t expect much from the NCAA. It kind of makes sense that there would be some kind of weird rule that wouldn’t allow a coach to recruit on the bye week, but it is a great chance, even just to have that Florida logo on your chest and to have Coach Mac or Coach Summers or Coach Skip, have somebody from the school show up at practice and be standing on the sidelines. Even if you can’t talk to the recruits, just that presence goes a long way in recruiting. It shows that Florida was thinking about me enough to show up to my high school today, even if my high school isn’t in the state of Florida. It shows that they care. Even if they are restricted by frivolous NCAA rules, I think it is a good look for the coaches to be showing up, especially one or two days after a big game and after a loss.

Andrew:                 Exactly. It’s a chance to get the message to these guys. Coach McElwain basically has to talk to the head coach, and the head coach has to deliver the message to Johnny or whoever. That has to go through a third party, but it’s still good, possibly get a visit set up for the rest of the season. Florida does kind of have after the Georgia game they have three homes games in Vandy, FAU, and Florida State. The Florida State game is liable to be very packed. Vandy with the homecoming week should be a good crowd as well. You’re looking at that. Just getting these guys on campus, setting up some more officials, and, like you said, getting that Gator logo in front of their faces always important.

Nick:                         Yeah. You kind of mentioned it before, the 6-1 record. We’ve talked about it before, and I’m sure we’ll continue to talk about that recruits are really looking more at the product on the field more so than the record, but the product has led to the record, and that is something that I’m sure we’ll get into with Sanjay. That is something that will help Florida’s coaches continue to sell the program.

Andrew:                 I think it’s kind of what we talked about at the beginning of the year, and identity. Florida has an identity now.

Nick:                         What was Florida’s identity the last year? The last two years.

Andrew:                 I can tell you, but it may hurt people’s feelings. It was Will Muschamp crying, complaining, throwing headsets, punting the football. That’s what it was. He’ll get it fixed, don’t worry. It’s on him.

Nick:                         That identity did lead to Florida nailing two very good punters, and they’re still enjoying the punting abilities of Johnny Townsend this year.

Andrew:                 I like Johnny Townsend. Congrats to that, but, damn, I like seeing offense. Punters are people. That’s exactly right. They show an identity. Showing that freshmen can play. Showing McElwain’s a man about this. Let’s bring on Sanjay now. Let him talk a little Gators recruiting, and then we’ll have a big week this week. Let’s go to Sanjay.

Nick:                         Recruiting fans, we have Sanjay Kirpalani here with us to talk Florida Gators recruiting. Sanjay, how’s it going, my man?

Sanjay:                   Doing great. How about you guys?

Andrew:                 We are enjoying a bye week and hoping for an SEC championship game here in the near future. Myself, I’m enjoying some recruiting, my man. Gators are recruiting out on the road these next couple days. Recruiting everyone. I know that’s right up your alley as well.

Sanjay:                   That’s something with recruiting you’re in the middle of that push before signing day. Ironically with Florida having this big season it’s definitely helping them make some waves with a lot of targets down the stretch of this 2016 class. It’s funny. Those guys were worried. When would they get that momentum back? I think it’s alive and well thanks to what they’ve done on the field.

Andrew:                 That’s what I wanted to kind of talk to you about. You’re the national guy at Bleacher Report. You go to all these places. You go to the opening. Can you compare what the perception of Florida is from when you were at the opening to now? How has this season turned things around, and what are you hearing from guys?

Sanjay:                   I think a lot of recruits were kind of in wait and see mode. Any time you have that dynamic in the state of Florida, where you have those big three programs, and now you have a coaching change, it’s often been said the big three are going to get theirs in state. With this coaching change, it’s almost as if recruits were kind of looking for an excuse to buy in to what Jim McElwain and the staff were selling. I was on campus. I got to go down there and see those guys on a visit down there, and his staff was full of energy, and they were selling, it’s coming. We’re going to be back sooner than you think.

Then the season gets here, and they see that offense specifically take those big steps forward under Will Grier. It looked like Florida was getting back to that high octane offense there. Now the perception has drastically changed where kids can see the production. When you’re starting to beat those elite teams in the SEC. That optimism has grown, and I think you’re kind of seeing that with a lot of targets that maybe Florida didn’t lead for in the summer, or maybe weren’t even in the top group. Now those guys are starting to mention Florida more, and even in some cases with a guy like Freddie Swain, for instance, nobody thought he was going to Florida in July. Here we are in October, and he’s squarely on that commit list. I think it’s already had a huge impact with what they have seen on the field.

Nick:                         Nobody could have predicted the 6-1 start. What we’ve really talked about before this season is recruits not really looking at the win loss record so much as the product on the field. I think the product on the field is really how Florida’s gotten to this 6-1 record. You touched on it a little bit there. Recruits, after seeing four years, specifically offensive recruits, after seeing Florida’s offense the last four years, I wouldn’t have wanted to play in it if I was a receiver or a tight end. Maybe not even if I was a running back. Really what Jim McElwain has been able to do is show these recruits, I don’t really have all my guys in. When I have my guys in, it’ll be even better. These are just the building blocks. I’m doing this without a full hand. You, Recruit A, are my guy, and with somebody like you, with you on my roster, what you see this year on the field will be magnified. I can do more with players like you, so come down here and help me do that.

Sanjay:                   I think there’s no question. The last few years that narrative around Florida was where are the playmakers? We haven’t seen any recruits, any playmakers in this offense since Urban Meyer was here. Where are those explosive players that we’re used to seeing from the Gators teams of the past? I think it makes it even more impressive what McElwain has done. He doesn’t have any of his guys. He’s taken guys that he may not have even recruited if he were the guy, but he’s making the most of what he has talent wise. I think that that is something to show recruits to say, if I can get Nate Craig-Myers, who’s one of the top receivers in the country, imagine what we could be when we have our pieces and we actually have depth at a lot of key spots on the offensive line, in the back field, at the receiver position.

You take that a step further. He was able to get a kid like Antonio Callaway late in the process last year, and you see what he’s doing, having one of the most productive seasons of any freshman in the entire country. I think that that resume, what they’ve done on the field and what he’s shown his ability to evaluate and develop talent, I think that that’s something that really has to raise the eyes of any recruit who is interested in Florida. I think we’re seeing that now.

Andrew:                 You bring up a good point. Antonio Callaway being a freshman. These guys have kind of bought into that. Freddie Swain was a guy that gave us a quote that said, Callaway producing as a freshman helped him big time. You were able to see Freddie Swain at the opening, and probably that was his say hello to the nation kind of moment. He broke out into the spotlight where USC, Florida, Tennessee, other schools started wanting him a lot. What did you see from Freddie Swain at the opening? What kind of player do you think he can bring to Florida?

Sanjay:                   How much time do we have, Andrew? This kid, it’s ridiculous what he was able to do. You noted, at the opening nobody really knew who Freddie Swain was on a national level. I promise you, every defensive back that tried to check him, they knew exactly who he was by the time that he left Oregon. I thought he was the best pure route runner that I saw at the receiver position. He constantly got open, and it wasn’t just quickness. It wasn’t one attribute. He was the whole package. He made acrobatic catches where he had to leap over players. He had a hand attacking the ball in the air. Speed, quickness, the ability to settle in zones and find an opening in the defense, things of that nature.

It isn’t just on the seven on seven circuit. You look at his highlights you can see a lot of the same things. He’s just one of those guys. He’s not the biggest guy. He’s not the fastest guy. He’s not going to wow you with his measurables, but when the pads come on, when the lights come on, Freddie Swain is a guy you want on your team. He’s been extremely productive this year and throughout his high school career. I think that one of those things about him, he’s not a rah rah guy. He’s quiet, lunch pail, going to go to work and produce. That’s the name of the game with Freddie Swain.

I think that’s kind of why, in a class where we don’t really know. There’s a lot of talented receivers. We don’t know who’s the elite guys. I think he made a big case as to why he’s underrated where he is. I think he’s one of the truly elite receivers in this class. He just doesn’t get his just dues, maybe because of the measurables. I was extremely impressed with what I saw with Freddie Swain.

Andrew:                 That’s kind of what I was going to say. He’s a guy that maybe doesn’t get the accolades that a Nate Craig-Myers does, or a Sam Bruce, or those guys, but he’s just a guy, kind of like an Antonio Callaway who just goes out there and does his job. Let’s turn our attention to a little bit Nate Craig. He’s a guy that, as you said, didn’t have Florida really mentioned in his top group, and now all of a sudden Florida is the “leader” in the clubhouse right now. What do you think of Nate Craig-Myers, and what a tandem he and Freddie Swain could be in Gainesville with Callaway?

Sanjay:                   I think that with Nate, whereas Freddie has kind of established himself and his skills are refined, Nate I think is about what he can be. He has a lot of upsides. He’s a big kid, around 6’2”, 210. Has the size, has the speed. Has those NFL measurables that make coaches drool. I’ve spoken with Nate a few times. He’s a quiet kid, but I think that one of the things that has helped Florida get back in it with him, he’s just been able to get on campus. Obviously having Javon Myers, his brother, commit to the Gators was big as well.

Nate’s been adamant. He wants to have his own process, and he’s a relationship guy. He wants to get those bonds with the coaches, and I think that one of the things with Nate that really he’s been able to see that production. He’s been able to get on campus multiple times. He sees the opportunities, the depth chart, and the production. Those are things that are really appealing to any player, but add in the fact that Florida’s close to home, right around two hours away. I think that has kind of helped them surge and take over a Florida State, who was the perceived leader. I do believe Nate when he says he’s still evaluating things. I don’t think it’s a slam dunk, but you have to like where Florida is with him.

As far as his fit, you mentioned that trio of him, Freddie, and Antonio Callaway. I think that’s a dynamite receiving core if and when that comes to fruition. Nate’s one of those guys on the outside that can be a mismatch. He’s very physical, can be an instant red zone guy. He’s also got that ability to take the short pass and go a long way with it when he has the ball in his hands. Nate’s a guy that really has a tremendous amount of upside at the next level.

Nick:                         To me it was almost a deterrent, and nothing that Florida did as a school, but kind of fans on social media. When Javon committed it was kind of the perception on social media with fans was now this is going to land Nate for us as well. Nate kind of sounded off on that like, this is my brother. You’re not getting him just to get me. He’s not a package deal. Florida didn’t offer him a scholarship just so that they would get me on campus. I’m going to do my own thing. Javon earned his scholarship. This is his moment. To me, it was the nothing the coaching staff did. It was more just kind of the fan reaction that Javon committing to Florida was almost a deterrent to Nate on that day, or in the couple days surrounding that commitment. That’s certainly something you would think would be the total opposite, especially a family. A mother would love to not have to decide where she’s going on Saturday. You just go to one place, and you see both your kids.

Sanjay:                   I think that part of that is because, and you touched on this a little bit, I’ve spoken to both Nate and Javon about this. They were adamant. I think part of the reason for that was Nate has been known for a while. He had the five star tag, and Javon kind of just shot up out of nowhere. You had all these offers start flowing in, and the immediate on social media, he’s getting offered because he’s Nate Craig-Myers’ brother. In reality Javon’s a heck of a player himself. I think that was kind of the stance from Nate was like, he’s his own man. This is his moment. They’ve both been adamant in my time speaking with them that they’re going to make the best decisions for them. This time where you have all these kids being pulled in different directions, I think that was kind of a mature look to say, we’ve got to look at this for the best fit individually.

For the record, Nate’s told me this, and he’s put it out there. He doesn’t have a problem going to a different school if it’s the best fit for him. I believe him when he says that. They both said that with conviction. Would he want to play with his brother? I think anybody in their right mind would, but I think that they’re both looking at this in a businesslike matter to say, what’s the best opportunity for me as an individual? We’re always going to be brothers. There’s always going to be that love there, but I think that was kind of born from people in the recruiting world, or even fans, kind of wanting to force it to happen. If that makes sense. Those guys definitely had a view of wanting to make this as an individual decision. If it works out they get to play with each other that would just be a bonus.

Andrew:                 Before we get you off, let me just kind of end with this. Overall Florida is in on a lot of big name five star guys, Shavar Manuel, Dexter Laurence, you could go on and on. Where do you see this class, not necessarily from a number standpoint, but as a general fit for Florida? Do you see this being a very successful class for the Gators when it comes February, National Signing Day?

Sanjay:                   Absolutely. I think Florida, ironically I just posted an article about this, they’re one of those handful of teams that are on the rise when you look at where they’re positioned, rankings wise, however you want to call it. With the top targes that they have left on their board I expect them to land their share. There’s a lot of reasons for that. Obviously the surge on the field has helped. Look at the depth chart at these positions where they’re recruiting these elite guys. We mentioned Nate Craig-Myers at the wide receiver. They’re looking for early impact guys that can come in and play right away. You look on the defensive line. You have spots there where guys can come in and make a contribution early. McElwain is kind of handling that home.

I think that if you look at it from those perspectives of playing time, of who you’re targeting, what those opportunities hold for those particular recruits, Florida is in a prime position to be one of the bigger stories on Signing Day if they close, if they land all of their top targets, which might be unrealistic, but I think they’re going to get their share. I think they’re going to safely be inside the Top 10, because you have just a lot of big name guys who have Florida in their Top 2, 3, 4 of their list. I think that this on field push is going to help them close very strong.

Andrew:                 Definitely. Tell everybody how they can find you real quick. We hope that you’ll be kind enough to join us soon.

Sanjay:                   Sure. You can follow me on Twitter @SanjayKirpalani. Of course you can check the recruiting pages at Bleacher Report. Any time. Thanks for having me on.

Andrew:                 We will definitely talk to you soon as Coach Mac and the boys get going down to Signing Day. We wish you the best of luck going forward.

Sanjay:                   Thanks, man.

Nick:                         Thanks, Sanjay.

Andrew:                 Nick, we talked to the man there for a second. He’s very confident, kind of like myself, where this is going. I think that a lot of people don’t understand. You and I talked about this really. Mac’s a confident guy. I don’t think there’s a house he walks in that he doesn’t believe he can land the guy. That goes from the Nick Saban point, but it also is Mac’s character. Winning football games make everything better. It’s not the make or break, but you’d much rather be going to a kid’s house this week with the 6-1 record than a 2-4 record or a 3-3 record, because you’re saying we’re 6-1, had you played in Death Valley with LSU you may have won the game for us.

Nick:                         We mentioned it already, and you did a very good story before the year asking over 100 guys were they more concerned about wins or losses or what the team looked like. Frankly, the team has looked good. In looking good getting to that 6-1 record that record now, even though the recruits aren’t looking at it as much, the record is kind of selling that Jim McElwain is turning it around. The record is kind of selling it more so than Jim McElwain having to sell it himself. If Florida had come into the bye week at 2-5 or 3-4, it would require the coaches to kind of sell the players a little bit more. If we had you, or if we had more guys like you, we wouldn’t have this 3-5 record, have this record that we have right now.

What the record does for Florida is do some of that selling job that coaches have to do in recruiting. You make a good point. Can you walk into Nate Craig-Myer’s house or walk into Mack Wilson’s house and say, Leonard Fournette probably wouldn’t have had 150 rushing yards if we had you playing linebacker. The record is not, in my opinion at least, not the important part. The important part is how Florida has looked on the field, and to be able to go into a house and say, you Recruit A, Recruit B, could have helped us get a win and move to 7-0 is a great recruiting tool.

Andrew:                 Yeah. This goes without saying, but this coaching staff, it’s a world of difference this coaching staff in recruiting compared to the last few. Don’t get me wrong. Travaris Robinson was a very good recruiter. I do think sometimes we give him a little too much credit, but that’s a topic for another day. You just look at this staff. Tim Skipper in my opinion one of the most underrated recruiters in America. Him and Kerry Dixon are two guys that have done an incredible job of recruiting and don’t get the credit for it. Kurt Callahan, Kurt Callahan has single handedly gotten Chauncey Gardner to buy into Florida. They speak daily. Chauncey Gardner tells us they FaceTime all the time.

Then you go look at a guy like Randy Shannon who’s a proven guy. He’s that authority figure there. You look at Nussmeyer. Nussmeyer’s done a really good job. Geoff Collins has done a good job. Then a guy like Chris Rumph who every kid you speak to respects him, because he just kind of has that lovey weird, not weird in a bad way, but weird in a dancing, I don’t care, call me the Rumph shaker kind of personality. You look at that kind of stuff, and it’s a young, energetic group with a few older guys mixed in to help it out. They really kind of feed off of McElwain a little bit. McElwain’s that jokey, keep everybody comfortable personality, and that’s exactly what the staff is.

Nick:                         It’s playing well right now with these recruits. Certainly the team success has a lot to do with that, but I think you can’t give the coaching staff enough credit when it comes to how they’re building relationships with these guys. You’re talking about building relationships with 16, 17, 18 year old guys when you’re a 40 year old man. You’re a coach. You’re a father. Building relationships with these kids who you’re just starting to meet, and Florida is still behind the 8 ball when it comes to this 2016 class. Jim McElwain said as much. The seniors in high school now have been recruited by Mark Richt, by Nick Saban, by Butch Jones, for three, four years. Florida is just building relationships with guys who have been in contact with coaches at other SEC schools for years now. The fact that Florida has as many commits in this 2016 class, as many strong recruits, commits, I think is a testament to just how hard everyone from the coaching staff to Drew Hughes to everyone that’s involved with recruiting, how hard they’re working.

Andrew:                 You bring up a good point there. A lot of that credit goes to a guy like Drew Hughes, because I can single handedly sit here and say personally I have not seen the recruiting weekends packed as much as they have been from spring football to summer camps to fall practices to games, as packed as they were in a long time. That is all the work of Drew Hughes and his staff of interns, quality control guys, Marquel Blackwell, James Rowe, those guys that have just done a great job of putting the leg work into this. You have to remember the coaches are coaching ball daily. Guys like Hughes, guys like Marquel Blackwell, are guys that are talking to these recruits daily building that relationship, and then basically handing them off to Rumph to seal the deal or help seal the deal. That’s a big thing. That’s a very big thing. That’s something Mac got from the Saban thing.

A quick look at the guys that they’re visiting their bye week. This bye week you and I got a chance to look at the list yesterday morning when I sent it to you. Wow. They’re were everywhere. They were all over the state. You look at a guy like McElwain, Philippe Franks early in the morning. He ends up in Pensacola. Taking back the panhandle. That’s what I call it. Then you’ve got a guy like Nuss who’s up in Maryland. Randy Shannon all over Miami. This is just a staff that gets it. They’re not going to be outworked by anybody. In recruiting that’s all it is, how much work are you willing to put in to get a guy?

Nick:                         When was the last time, I don’t think Will Muschamp did it. When was the last time a Florida head coach showed face the way McElwain did in the panhandle?

Andrew:                 You and I talked about this yesterday. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’m guessing it was Urban when he got Purifoy, but was that the last time? I really don’t know. I don’t know if Will Muschamp, I don’t think coaches in the panhandle knew who Will Muschamp was. It kind of went with his personality. You’re going to get me fired up when I get on this subject. Will Muschamp would not recruit areas he didn’t think he could get. You’re not going to hit a home run if you don’t swing. Swing your bat, miss, and that’s stuff, Bo Scarbrough, guys like that he just gave up on. He did not try. Did not care about those guys, and he lost. McElwain’s not going to go down without swinging and trying to hit a home run. He may strike out swinging, but he’s going to go down swinging.

Nick:                         That’s the thing. It kind of goes to what McElwain has talked about with his team. You don’t be afraid of success. You might have to have some failure before success comes, but don’t be afraid to succeed. Don’t be afraid to fail. Do what you think you need to do in order to be successful. If that means going into the panhandle and missing on a kid, then that’s fine.

Andrew:                 Here’s the thing. I’ll be straight up honest. Had you told me six months ago Florida would be the leader for Mack Wilson in Montgomery I’d have straight up laughed at you and told you stop drinking that alcohol. Mack Wilson is supposed to go to Alabama. Kids in Alabama are supposed to go to Alabama, supposed to go to Auburn, mostly Alabama. Going to Auburn is just a thing. Going to Alabama is representing your state. Going to Auburn is just going to Auburn.

Nick:                         Alabama didn’t want me.

Andrew:                 Exactly. That is it. I hate to be that way, but most kids that go to Auburn are not either wanted by Alabama or grew up an Auburn fan. That’s just the way it is.

Nick:                         Remember, you can be mean when you look that clean, Spivey.

Andrew:                 That is right. That’s what Alabama is. They’re mean, because they always look clean shining those trophies. That was pretty good play on. It is a thing. First of all, Mac is loved in the state of Alabama. I’ve told you before, my buddies that are Alabama fans, people that work at Alabama, they love Mac. He’s probably the second favorite coach in the state of Alabama behind Nick Saban. That goes for Gus, who’s not a very liked man in the state. Will Muschamp, he might be below the toilet seat in Alabama right now. They like him a lot. It’s just that the Florida brand is there right now. It’s back, finally. Guys like Mack Wilson, they want to play for a guy like Randy Shannon. When you look at Randy Shannon’s past, guys like Ray Lewis, Ed, what’s the safety? Ed Reed. Those guys, they’ve all played for Shannon at Miami. He has a resume that can back it up. Jonathan Vilma. He can back those up. When Randy Shannon walks into Mack Wilson’s room and says, you remind me of a young Jonathan Vilma, I’m sure Mack Wilson’s eyes do get big. That’s a huge deal for anybody that has aspirations of going to the NFL.

Nick:                         It is. The one thing that really sticks out to me is that everybody from former players to fans of Alabama, when Jim McElwain was hired it was a consensus that Florida just got their next great coach. Fans and former players who have had a relationship with Jim McElwain, whether it’s a player or someone watching the team he’s coaching, being a fan of that team, really seemed to love him. It’s like you said, the state of Alabama, Florida, in my opinion, is Top 3 in the country as far as producing talent, especially at the skill positions, but Alabama has some good players, and if Jim McElwain can go in and steal one from Nick Saban, I think that goes a long way to say what kind of recruiting job, and the kind of pull that he has.

Jim McElwain always mentions that when he walks into a house and that Florida logo is on his chest, he said, that means something. It had gotten to a point where it didn’t mean what it used to, quite frankly, if we’re going to be honest. I think right now there’s some meaning behind that gator head, or behind that F on the coach’s chest when they walk into places. That’s a testament to not just Jim McElwain, but the entire coaching staff and recruiting staff to get it turned around in such a quick time. They haven’t even been here a year. Other than Drew Hughes, they haven’t even been here a year, and to change that perception, both in the state, the Southeast, and nationally is pretty incredible to me.

Andrew:                 It’s kind of like you say, when you’re a guy like Mac who’s loved so much in the state of Alabama, it’s kind of easier for him to go in there and get respect. A guy like Geoff Collins, he’s very respected in the state of Mississippi. Shannon and Dixon are very respected in Texas. They’ve also done an incredible job of making the state of Florida guys feel comfortable as well. In the spring they stopped by I would say probably 95% of every high school in the state. That’s a lot of damn high schools. They would stop by whether it was just to say, coach, my name is Tim Skipper, my name is Kerry Dixon, my name is Mike Summers, whatever it is. I’m University of Florida. Just so in five years if Joe Bob is an offensive lineman that’s in 7th grade his high school coach is going to say, I did meet Mike Summers here. I did meet Greg Nord here. It’s about establishing that brand again. Mac understands it. It’s all about knowing that Florida wants you, Florida likes your school, Florida cared enough to come by there, is big. That is, like you say, it’s Florida is behind the 8 ball in ’16, but guess what? 2017 they’re not. They’re not.

Nick:                         You start to change that.

Andrew:                 It’s going to be hell on a lot of people, and Florida’s making big time statements. The Georgia game coming up is going to be big. Think about that Florida State game, boss. Florida vs. Florida State. Florida may go into that game as favorites, if not very close favorites. A win over Florida State in your first year is a bomb on the state of Florida in recruiting.

Nick:                         We’ve kind of talked about the, not to get too hyped up into that rivalry, it really is just one game, but I think Florida vs. Florida State, when Florida and Miami play, when Florida State and Miami play, it is a pretty big tool in recruiting. Florida will have, I’m sure, a monster turnout as far as recruits, both official and unofficial, that weekend. To be able to go into a game and knock off, if Florida can beat FSU, knock off a team that won a national championship two years ago, and that was a game away from playing for one last year, I think would do wonders for recruiting.

Andrew:                 Absolutely. Not to get ahead of ourselves again, but you’re looking at a possible chance to go to the Dome. That means you’re the one of two SEC teams playing on a Saturday. That’s it. The rest of those schools are sitting home, maybe calling you on the phone chit chatting with you while Freddie Swain, McArthur Burnett, Chauncey Gardner are tweeting go Gators, chomp chomp. Watching my Gators win an SEC championship. Watching my Gators play LSU in the championship game, whatever. Don’t think that that doesn’t mean a lot. You and I can sit here, and we can talk about how important it is for a coach to be in their ear. Seeing a team whip somebody’s tail on Saturday is very big, and if Florida is able to win in two weeks in Georgia, go to the SEC championship game, that is another monster bomb laid on recruiting.

Nick:                         Yeah. We talk about, I think coaches can go out and recruit that week, so Florida staff would not be able to go out and recruit, but the job of recruiting is when Mark Richt or Butch Jones are calling you on Saturday, and I’m not, just know it’s because I’m getting ready to play for a championship, and I’ll call you after the game.

Andrew:                 Mark Richt, he already kind of knows what it’s like, because he’s not a very normal visitor in there. I don’t know if Butch Jones will ever get there. They may need to put it in a little brief folder of this is my SEC championship week. This is my excuse for 2015. 2016 excuse will be, I still suck.

Nick:                         Do you think Butch Jones just goes ahead and schedules visits and phone calls before the year starts for the SEC championship Saturday? He just knows he’s not going to be there, so he tells his assistant, start booking some recruiting trips for that first weekend in December.

Andrew:                 Why wouldn’t you? You’re never going to get there. That is called having to win big games. Here’s Mark Richt. This is Mark Richt. Boys, we are supposed to be really good this year. The media picked me to win the SEC championship for the seventh straight year, and I shit my britches in a big game, so I’m here recruiting you. You can be the next person to screw up a big game for me. That’s Mark Richt. There it is. I just gave you guys the secret. If you want to write a book about Mark Richt, I just gave you the secret. All you have to do is change it up from year to year and put this person’s name here, because all you are is the next guy to suck with Georgia.

Nick:                         You always bring the fire when it comes to Georgia and Tennessee.

Andrew:                 The thing is it’s too easy a fire. I feel bad, because I feel like I’m bullying these guys, because it’s just too easy. It’s too easy. They give you the fire. They give you the fire to break them down. It’s so funny. I could be such a good anti-recruiter against those morons. It’s so easy. You suck. Show them the record. 2-3 in SEC championship games. Never played for a national championship. You such, Mark Richt.

Nick:                         There you go. There’s Andrew’s thoughts in case you are new and didn’t know them already.

Andrew:                 I want to say something real quick.

Nick:                         Here we go.

Andrew:                 You and I talked about…

Nick:                         Don’t get us kicked off iTunes.

Andrew:                 No. You and I went to a football game on Friday in Baton Rouge. We didn’t have another game to go to, so we decided to go to U High, watch Dylan Moses, 2017 athlete. Didn’t play running back, played linebacker. Holy damn that kid is a monster, but I wanted to say something. I haven’t been to a high school game in person in Louisiana in about four or five years now. I just don’t know. I didn’t get the feel of Friday Night Lights there. What was your feeling on that?

Nick:                         My high school was a football powerhouse. We would travel with 600, 700, 800, maybe more than a thousand people to away games. This was a really small venue. It was homecoming, and it wasn’t sold out. The football wasn’t very good.

Andrew:                 You and I were like five feet away from a play and didn’t even hear a pad pop.

Nick:                         No. I heard some pad pops when Dylan would hit people, but that’s pretty much it. He is a monster, though. He must have had 15 tackles in the first half. He had three tackles on the first four plays, including a forced fumble. He is a big kid. I would have liked to see him run the ball, but at linebacker plays very instinctual. It’s kind of like we said with Will Grier, it doesn’t matter in high school if you’re not playing great competition. You’d like to see guys play great competition in high school, but if you’re not, you need to dominate. 15 some odd tackles, definitely double digit tackles, in half is dominating.

Andrew:                 Yeah. On one kickoff return he decided he was going to go all the way around the field and still make a grab. When he wanted to hit you, shit was happening. He was going to hit you, and it was going to hurt, and hurt bad whenever he hit you. It was definitely a different thing. Nick, let’s end this thing. It’s going to be a big end of the week. You guys listen to this on Wednesday, so that means the Gators are practicing on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday the coaches will be everywhere. I will be at Theodore to watch Lamical Perine, and rumor from Perine and some other people is Tim Skipper’s going to stop by to see Gator’s commit as he goes for his Mr. Alabama title.

Quick thing, him, Juwan Taylor, and Jeremiah Moon, the three Gator commits in Alabama, all made the Alabama vs. Mississippi All-Star game. That was big. Josh Hammond also got his Under Armor All-American jersey on Tuesday of this week. Sam Bruce got his as well on Tuesday. Big things happening for these guys in the All-Star games. It’s getting close to that time of the year again where All-Star games are kind of ramping up.

Nick:                         Florida, not only will they be practicing on Wednesday, they will also be holding open kicking tryouts. We haven’t gotten official news yet on Jorge Powell, but that probably spells a season ending injury for Mr. Powell. If you have made it this far into the podcast, tweet at me #SavannahforUFkicker.

Andrew:                 Savannah for UF kicker.

Nick:                         That is of course Florida forward Savannah Jordan, leading the team in goals this year, I believe. Don’t hold me to that.

Andrew:                 She’s about to break Abby Wambach’s record, and she is a, I’m just going to go ahead and say it, she is a beautiful young lady.

Nick:                         Okay. I just can’t get the image of a female soccer player kicking a game winning field goal over Georgia and getting carried off the field like Chaz Henry was back in 2010. I can’t get that image out of my head. Let’s make it happen.

Andrew:                 What if she pulled a, what was the girl? Mia Hamm. Wasn’t it Mia Hamm that pulled the whole running, throw off her jersey to her sports bra?

Nick:                         That wasn’t Mia Hamm.

Andrew:                 Who was that?

Nick:                         I think it was Christy.

Andrew:                 I don’t know who it is. Anyway, that would be pretty something pretty interesting to see. Maybe she could walk by and be like, Mark Richt I’m a woman, and I just beat your ass. That’s how bad you suck. That would be awesome. That would be so freaking awesome. Mark Richt, on his knees crying, and Savannah Jordan just walking by and be like, I beat you. That’s how bad you suck. Tell the recruit you got beat by a woman. Nick, how awesome would that be? For real, run by Mark Richt and be like, you just got beat by a woman.

Nick:                         I feel like you’re borderline almost jumping on sexist here.

Andrew:                 I’m not being sexist, but how awesome would that be? No guy wants to get beat by a woman. I can pick on Mark Richt all you want, but that would be so freaking awesome. Women don’t play football, or haven’t played football in the NCAA in God knows how long, so Mark Richt, that’d be like the absolute kick between the legs. Women’s soccer player plays for Florida for two weeks, beats Mark Richt. Gators go to the Dome. Savannah Jordan, if you’re listening to this, please do this for Andrew. I don’t ask for very much, but I do not like Mark Richt, and that would be so freaking awesome.

Nick:                         Before we completely derail here, I’m going to start our signoff. As always, GatorCountry.com for all of your Florida Gators news and info. @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. We will have good stuff this week for the bye week as we get into Florida Georgia week coming up. It’ll be on Halloween.

Andrew:                 You think that’ll be a fun week on the podcast?

Nick:                         It is going to be turnt.

Andrew:                 You think it’s going to be turnt, for real? You think we get intense?

Nick:                         Andrew’s hate for Butch Jones is only mirrored by his hate for Mark Richt. I will do my best to not get us kicked off iTunes next week. I can make no promises.

Andrew:                 If you got any good Georgia jokes or good photos, I love sharing those things, because I just think it’s so funny. If you can find one that says Savannah Jordan kicking Mark Richt in the face, you got beat by a woman. If somebody can make that up for me, I promise to retweet you, follow you and retweet that photo.

Nick:                         I was thinking earlier today. If you are musically inclined, and you want to make us a little intro for the GC podcast, we will credit you.

Andrew:                 I got it. I’m looking clean. I’m the man. I’m looking clean. I’m the man.

Nick:                         If you can make it sound exactly the opposite of what Andrew just did, we might use it.

Andrew:                 I’m the man. I’m the man. I’m the man. I’m the man.

Nick:                         You can send them to either of us. I think both of our emails are in our Twitter bios. Send us that. We’re looking for a new intro. That’s all I got for this one. Hopefully we’ll have a new guest for you guys on the Friday podcast. Still working through some details there. As always, enjoy the bye week. You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew:                 Stay classy. I like to ruin your stay classy. Butch, Mark you suck. Mark, I have a message for you, you can be mean when you look this clean. Andrew is a classic man. Go Braves, Gator Country.

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