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Spring evaluation recruiting
preview: Florida Gators podcast

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Written by Andrew Spivey, April 25, 2016, 0 Comments,
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This GatorCountry podcast focuses on previewing the Florida Gators recruiting efforts as the coaches hit the road for the spring evaluation period on Monday morning.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down why Jim McElwain and his staff is focused on nothing but the state of Florida for the first week of recruiting, plus some key targets they will hit.

Andrew and Nick discuss what the message from the coaching staff could be to the prospects, plus they recap the diamond sports from this past weekend.

TRANSCRIPT

 

Andrew          What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with my man, Nicholas de la Torre. What’s up, Nicholas?

Nick                A rare Sunday off for me, thank you SEC schedulers for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday series. Appreciate you.

Andrew          There you go. Nothing wrong with that, you know. As they say in the world, media and TV dominates everything, and that’s kind of what they do. I’ll say this though, I think it’s pretty cool the way they have that Thursday game, you know. You get to kind of showcase the brand a little bit, showcase the sport, and I like it, especially, what was it? About three years ago, four years ago, you could rarely find college baseball on TV, so not going to complain that there’s too much.

Nick                Yeah. So, there’s some people kind of complaining that the games are being streamed, but, like you said, three, four years ago, Florida, you might have two opportunities to see Florida play this year. 56 regular season games, and I believe only five or six of those weren’t being either streamed or on TV, so there’s, if you don’t want to watch it on the computer, there’s ways. You’ve got Apple TV you can fling a game from your computer up onto a TV screen if you don’t like watching it on a computer, or on a phone or an iPad. Thursday was on SEC Network, so that’s on TV. So it’s really cool how, especially the SEC has been able to stream pretty much every SEC game, every conference game, this entire year.

Andrew          I mean, like I said, I wouldn’t, I’d much rather have to watch it on the computer than not be able to watch it at all, and, like I said, a couple years ago you were lucky if you just got the regionals and the supers and College World Series, and maybe a Florida State game, and maybe one SEC series, maybe.

Nick                Right. I like it. For me, I have no problem watching it on an iPad. I don’t have a problem watching it on a computer, but there are other ways, if that’s not for you, to put it up on the TV. So no complaints by me, even when the games are only on SEC Network Plus.

Andrew          Yeah. Definitely. Baseball, softball both did really well this weekend, but let’s, you want to talk recruiting first, or you want to talk diamond sports?

Nick                We’ll talk recruiting, because there is a storm is brewing.

Andrew          A storm is brewing. As the story on Sunday went on Gator Country, chomping down the state. That’s what the staff is doing. Kind of the goal this week from a couple people around the state have said is that the staff is telling people they want to hit 300 schools this week, and I jokingly wrote, “I get tired writing it, man, going to all those schools in a day, I’m sure there’s some tired men at the end of the day.”

Nick                It’ll be a lot of Diet Mountain Dew for Geoff Collins with some caffeine. Maybe some coaches will be drinking coffee, like I do.

Andrew          So you’re saying might be some Starbucks rewards cards or something like that.

Nick                Yeah. My gold card at Starbucks. I’m sure the coaches, if they don’t already have one, they might be able to earn one after this week.

Andrew          There you go. This is what I wanted to kind of talk about a little bit is we all talk about the staff, the way the staff did, and the staff did a really good job of having a good class, filling the needs this year, or in 2016, but McElwain’s still not very happy about the in-state recruiting, and wants to get better. I was reading a quote on Sunday when I was writing that story, he said that he likes the way they did some things, and the way they got into some areas, but they wanted to do better, and that’s kind of their message. I think that there’s a lot of substance in that quote, in that I think that there has been some guys they missed on in-state, and then at some point there’s some guys in-state that there’s positions they really haven’t been able to fill in-state. So I like it, but Florida has to dominate the state. They have to get back to winning the majority of the battles in-state against Florida State, which Miami don’t win very much, so against Clemson and Florida State.

Nick                I think we might disagree, but I think maybe Jim McElwain, he obviously came out and said it, on Signing Day wasn’t happy with how Florida either finished or did overall in the state, and I think he might even privately be even more upset with it. I think you kind of saw, when Jim McElwain came to Florida he had a certain expectation. Florida is the flagship university in this state, and I think Jim McElwain coming from Colorado thought, I have a certain level of expectations, and you saw the expectations at Florida didn’t meet what McElwain had. That’s why you have a new indoor practice facility. That’s why you have new dorms. You’re looking into expanding the weight room, locker room, training facilities, and I think Jim McElwain just expected that they would be able to get kids in-state, maybe whoever they wanted, and I think after his first full year, you can’t really judge that first recruiting class, because it was really one month of just whoever, however we can salvage this.

I think he really was upset, genuinely upset, that Florida didn’t dominate the state. I think that’s his goal. Can you dominate the state? Maybe not, because there’s so many kids, so many schools coming into Florida, but I think the mindset he has that he wants to dominate in everything that he does, and that includes recruiting. Almost like a situation where Pete Carroll had at USC, you know what I’m talking about? Where if we want a kid from our state he’s coming to our school.

Andrew          Right. I hate the notion, this notion’s out there, Florida locked down Florida; kids shouldn’t go to Clemson. Bullshit. You’re going to lose kids to Clemson. You’re going to lose kids to Alabama. You’re going to lose kids to Auburn every year. You’re going to lose kids every year to somewhere. It’s the notion of if Florida wants a kid, they should at least be in the thick of things till the very end. You look at guys in the past, Artavis Scott, for instance. That’s a name that comes about. Florida never had a shot really there. You look at Ray Ray McCloud, Florida got in, McElwain got in at the very, very end of his recruitment, and still lost him to Clemson, but it’s guys like that that are there, that it’s like no shot is bad. If you go in, and Florida’s battling Clemson right now for James Robinson, is Florida going to win that battle? Right now I think they are. I think they’re heading that way, but it should come down to, at the very end of Signing Day, where you lose a kid. Like I said, that notion you’re going to get everybody is just not there, but you should do, your percentages should be better than it has.

I think when Mac first got here, Nick, and this is something you and I even talked about when he first got here, you look at some of his hires that he made. Randy Shannon, we all know what that focused on, south Florida. You look at Kurt Callahan when he hired him. That was supposed to be the Byron Cowart sweepstakes. Chris Rumph was supposed to dominate Tampa. Tim Skipper with Jacksonville. So he went in to focus on it. Now, Skipper’s done well in Jacksonville. Randy Shannon has done well in south Florida. The Tampa area, the Orlando area, that’s been the shit storm that they’re trying to fix.

Nick                Yeah. I mean, when you look at the last recruiting class, I think you did alright. I’m never going to be, and you’re not one to grade recruiting classes on Signing Day, because you’re not going to know for three, four years.

Andrew          Right.

Nick                What a recruiting class looks like, but in your story something that stood out to me was that Florida didn’t have a ton of playmakers last year and still made it to the SEC Championship. I think, I don’t know how many you added in this class. Certainly you and I think Tyrie Cleveland is that kind of guy. I think Josh Hammond’s a guy that can be solid. I just don’t know if you’ve added anyone that can be what like Antonio Callaway was as his freshman year. Granted, Callaway kind of came out of nowhere.

Andrew          That playmaker’s still sitting out in Texas. He’ll be in Gainesville here in a couple months. I’m glad you brought that up, because that was the point that I wanted to next make. If you’re this coaching staff, and you’re walking into Shawn Wade’s house, or not house, walking into his school, can’t go to the house. NCAA, I made a mistake. If you’re walking into Shawn Wade’s school now, and here’s the other thing, so Florida can’t really talk to the kid in person. They have to talk to the coach. The coach has to relay the message to the kid. Biggest bullshit I ever seen in my life, but NCAA, what else do you expect? That’s a rule that should be changed. I mean, if Florida’s going to spend the time, schools are going to spend the time going to the school, what’s the point of not being able to talk to the kid?

Nick                Soon they’ll be able to slide into those DMs.

Andrew          Exactly. Anyway, Florida will tell the coaches messages to tell the kids. They’ll call the kids, and it’s a message. I wrote that, and I know that’s what you were kind of getting at, Nick, is if you’re Florida right now, McElwain preaches the Gator brand, that’s his message of the Gator brand, what it does post-graduation, that kind of stuff. Nick, how many times have you seen it? About every kid says McElwain says that.

Nick                That’s something that I remember Maryland was really doing with Under Armour.

Andrew          Right.

Nick                It’s something Jalen Tabor mentioned to us.

Andrew          Exactly. So that’s the message it is, but Florida also has a pretty strong message as well, and that is, like you said, they were 10-4 last season, get to the SEC Championship game with a roster that, quite frankly, on offense was not very good. I mean, am I wrong in saying that that roster offensively should not have been in Atlanta?

Nick                I told you that all year long, and you said I was wrong.

Andrew          I’m asking you. I told you all year long I thought they would find a way to get there, just because of how bad the East was.

Nick                No, I don’t think, if you look at that roster, especially the last six games, yeah. I 100% agree with that.

Andrew          Even really the first few games or whatever, when Grier was there, it was not like he was tearing it up, but anyway, back to the recruiting part, though. If you’re Florida, you got a pretty good message here right now. We’re 10-4. We got to the SEC Championship game, lost to Alabama. The score definitely didn’t show how bad that game was. It was a lopsided game, but still you got to Atlanta with that. If you’re going to tell James Robinson, the #1 receiver in the country, it is, it’s not like we’re loaded at receiver. If you’re Calvin Ashley or Alex Leatherwood, the offensive linemen in-state, it’s we have David Sharpe, and then we have unknowns at tackle. Florida is sitting in a pretty good spot where they can still preach early playing time, because what they have is still unproven, especially at receiver. I mean, outside of Callaway coming back do they have a proven receiver on the roster?

Nick                No.

Andrew          Yeah. So there it is. We’re talking offensive line. I think you and I both could struggle with picking seven offensive linemen we’re comfortable with playing against Alabama.

Nick                Struggle, or can’t?

Andrew          No, I’m saying could you?

Nick                You’re saying struggle. I’m going out and saying, I don’t, there aren’t seven.

Andrew          No. That’s what I’m saying. Is there seven offensive linemen that you think would play decently?

Nick                No.

Andrew          See, that’s me. That’s what I’m saying. You go to defensive back, and if you’re Florida, and you’re going to see Shawn Wade here on Monday, you’re saying, Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson are probably going pro. Jalen Tabor is already going pro. Quincy Wilson, barring a bad year, probably goes. You’re telling Shawn Wade, you got to come in and beat Chris Williamson, or you got to come in and beat an unproven McArthur Burnett.

Nick                That’s it. Listen, Jalen Tabor, sayonara. Jalen Tabor has as much chance of playing his senior year at Florida as Vernon Hargreaves did.

Andrew          He already has reservation in Indianapolis for the Combine next year.

Nick                Yeah. His hotel is booked next year for the Combine. Jalen Tabor’s not coming back. If Quincy Wilson has a good year, listen, the NFL is moving to bigger cornerbacks.

Andrew          And it’s a race to your second contract.

Nick                That’s the thing. You need to get to your second contract. Coming back to school, there’s really, for guys that are at that elite level, and Quincy Wilson could get to that elite level, there’s no incentive to come back to school. You’re just putting off that second contract another year. So when you look at, I asked Quincy Wilson when we spoke to him in the spring, “Where’s the depth?” He said, “There isn’t. We don’t have that depth.” Heading this time last year, when you still had JC Jackson and Porter and Hargreaves and Tabor, you’re looking at it, and you’re like, you can’t even get these guys on the field. These are guys that would start all across the SEC, and Florida can’t even get them on the field. Now you’re in a situation where McArthur Burnett, to me, I think really needs to come a long way before you’re putting him into that kind of conversation, into a DBU conversation, and Williamson did better. Really right now Florida has, for the first time in a long time, the ability to sell early playing time at cornerback, at safety, in the defensive backfield.

Andrew          Yeah. It’s a good year, because it’s a good crop of guys. I’ll just name a couple guys they’re planning on seeing on Monday. Two names right off the bat, Shawn Wade at cornerback out of Jacksonville Trinity Christian, committed to Ohio State early in the process, when Kurt Callahan was doing whatever he called recruiting. He was there. Then a safety in Cyrus Fagan that’s committed to Florida State, and I do think he probably stays with Florida State. He’s a, not a legacy, but he has ties, that kind of stuff, to Florida State. Anyway, just to look at those two guys right there, those are both five star guys by most people, and you’ve got early playing time. If you’re Cyrus Fagan playing safety, you’re looking at I’ve got to beat out Marcell and Nick Washington, or I got to beat out a Juco guy in Putu, or a freshman in Chauncey Gardner.

Nick                Even at that point, you’re talking about one year, because Washington and Harris will be seniors by that point. Putu, if he’s still on campus, will have one year of eligibility left. So it’s not even a situation where there’s a ton of depth behind talented starters. So it’s just, to me, if playing time is important to somebody in the state of Florida that plays secondary.

Andrew          Let me ask you this. Outside of running back, where are you scared, where can you not recruit early playing time?

Nick                Maybe at end.

Andrew          Quarterback, of course.

Nick                Maybe at end, but you’re going to get a quarterback. There’s really not any; they’re really not deep anywhere.

Andrew          Florida plays upwards of five defensive ends in a game, so you can really say, if you’re an elite guy, like a Zach Carter down at Tampa, okay. You’re elite. Cece Jefferson played a freshman. You can play as a freshman. I think it’s one of those deals where there’s a lot of that there, but again, I think the most impressive thing about it is to see. 300 schools, to see them hitting that 2017-2019 class. Seeing some of those 2020 guys where they’re in spring practices, it’s good. Remember, all these coaches get two visits. So they get to go now, they’ll probably go back later in the spring, either for the spring game or that. So hitting just the state of Florida this week is huge, because even if, I’m trying to think of a school, Gainesville High School, even if they don’t have a prospect there, coaches are probably go to stop by, flash that Gator logo, and then if Johnny, who’s a sophomore is there, they’re hoping the coach remembers Chris Rumph coming by that school when that kid was a nobody.

Nick                It’s just keeping the relationship going, which is so important in recruiting. Just keeping the relationship, keeping the communication open. It means a lot to a coach. Listen, coaches know. You’ll run into a coach that really wants to sell his kid, but coaches know. Hey, I love Tommy, but he’s not SEC, or he’s not Florida quality. But it means a lot to have a coach come out and be there, because the high school coach knows, and if the high school coach knows that Tommy’s not going to be able to play at Florida, he knows that Florida knows that, but just to make the effort to come out, that builds that relationship, and then you get into coming down the line, coach, I’ve got this freshman; you need to see him. Then you can get in early. Those relationships help in recruiting, and that’s the kind of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that really stories aren’t written about, that you don’t know that much about.

Andrew          Exactly. Like you said, it’s all about relationships, and some of these coaches who maybe doesn’t have a kid to have that Chris Rumph come by just to say hey.

Nick                He might not have a kid now, but he could.

Andrew          Exactly.

Nick                He will.

Andrew          In three years, yeah, exactly. I always reference this.

Nick                Or you go see somebody who, you know, sorry, Johnny’s probably not going to be a player, but thank you for coming out. It means a lot. Boom. Johnny hits puberty, and all of a sudden that 6’1” 215 pound kid who was riding fourth string offensive tackle is 6’7” and 260, and you’re like, we might have a player now.

Andrew:         Yeah, exactly. I always reference this. I coached at two different schools. Nick, I’ve told you this story before. One of the schools I coached at is my alma mater. We’re not known for having big name prospects or anything like that. We didn’t have very many prospects go to big schools, but I always remember Dameyune Craig for when he was recruiting in Florida State. He would always come by. Some other coaches would always come by, and that’s the biggest thing. Don’t think that little guys like us didn’t remember. Okay, Dameyune Craig at Florida State came by to see us when we sucked. Okay, this kid is very good now. Dameyune Craig is going to come back. We’re going to remember that stuff.

Nick:               You don’t want to be the guy that only calls your buddy when something good happens.

Andrew:         Exactly.

Nick:               You don’t want to be known as, well, we’ve got a guy now, so Coach Rumph will be by, but we haven’t seen him in three years while we’ve been down.

Andrew:         Yeah.

Nick:               Nobody wants to be that guy in the friend group. We’ve got no plans, so Andrew is not going to hang out with us today. We’re taking the boat out, so Andrew will be here.

Andrew:         Yeah, only when it’s good or only when you need a favor, that person when the phone rings, and you say I know he needs something. What the heck does he want? Yeah. That’s what it’s all about. Again, while Florida is going to be all in state this week, next week they’ll start to get out a statement. As I continue to say, Florida needs to dominate In-state, that’s huge. Don’t get me wrong, but when Florida is Florida and Florida is doing good, they have their footprint around the nation to where they’re able to cherry-pick, get some prospects, the Tyrie Clevelands of the world, the Lamical Perines of the world, that kind of stuff to where they’re able to go in these different states and do well. While focusing in-state and crushing in-state, hitting that Georgia, that 5-hour radius, that Mac says, and then expanding to Texas, to California, Jersey, Virginia. It’s still very, very important. You can’t focus all your efforts on one state. The state of Florida is going to be down in a position some year. Offensive line may be terrible next year; defensive tackle may be terrible this year. Well, if you didn’t go to Virginia, that coach in Virginia is going to be pissed off.

Nick:               Yeah, that’s why it’s so tough recruiting. You’re managing so many different relationships. Just like you said, they’re going to be seeing kids not just in 2017. They’re going back to 2019. They’re going to be seeing freshman, and you’ve got an exhaustive list that these guys are really starting to make now, have already made, and they’re going back and checking up on everyone. Really, to me, I’m already tired, like you said, tired of even thinking about it.

Andrew:         Well, here’s the thing, I was writing that list of guys that visited Florida last year, or some guys that maybe didn’t visit Florida that Florida has interest in, but that list expands over the next couple of weeks as the staff hits the road recruiting. They may go to such and such school. A kid that they’re like, okay, that kid was 2’ shorter than we wanted him to be at camp last year. He grew, and you’re like, okay, we really like this kid’s ability. Now, he’s 6’1” instead of 5’11”. Okay, we want to offer this guy, or okay, now we want to bring him to camp. That kind of stuff is what this is all about. The board is very extensive already. That board expands by May 31st when the coaches get off the road and the summertime starts and camp starts.

Nick:               That’s the other thing. Like you said, they were making the same trip last year, and a lot can change in a year. That kid that you thought, hey, he’s quick or he’s fast, but little too small, maybe we’ll see what he’s like next year. Then, hey, he’s bigger. He’s better. Maybe he’ll get the offer. Hey, look, who’s that little kid running around? That’s maybe even a little faster than Johnny was last year.

Andrew:         Right.

Nick:               Let’s keep an eye on him, too, and open that communication. Now, that freshman who may not be a player yet has seen that Florida logo on his campus.

Andrew:         Right.

Nick:               It’s all about keeping the relationship and really staying ahead. We’ve talked about it before how McElwain was super behind in the 2015 class, still very behind in the 2016 class, and probably still behind in this class, 2017. When you consider how early kids are getting offered now, really 2018, his third year, will be the first year that he’s caught up to everybody else, where the relationships are as long as a player has had with Butch Jones in Tennessee, because Butch Jones has been there for long.

Andrew:         Right.

Nick:               So, it really is about building up that brand again and really bringing the name, bringing some meaning back to the name Florida Gators after the previous coach did what he did with the name for four years.

Andrew:         Yeah. This is someone I want to hit on real quick like.

Nick:               Real?

Andrew:         What’s that?

Nick:               Real quick like.

Andrew:         Real quick like. Just give me five minutes to talk here. Nick, I’m preaching to the choir when I say this, but we got a few members who like to badmouth the coaching staff because of no momentum right now. Florida sits with four commits right now and, yes, is it down from what others are? Sure, absolutely. Remember, this class is probably 23, maybe 20, depending on that area. Last year, you’re bitching because they were taking kids early, and they were reaching. Now, it’s that, so step off the ledge. By the end of the summer, the class will be halfway, three-quarter way full, and then the notion is Florida has no momentum right now. Okay, Florida did lose some momentum at the end of the season last year because of the way it went.

The comparison is how is Kirby Smart doing so well? McElwain did well.  In the end 2015, he landed two five stars, Cece Jefferson and Martez Ivey. He landed those guys. He started off 2016 last year, loading up the class with maybe some guys that were reaches. Same thing Kirby Smart is doing. The wear of the first year coach wears off very, very quickly, so don’t judge a recruiting class by what it is, whatever today is. It’s Monday, April 25. Don’t judge by April 25. Let us know what it is, July, August, and then in February. Agree or disagree?

Nick:               Let me know in three years, yeah, but then let me know my three years how the recruiting class actually was, when you see what kind of players they are.

Andrew:         Yeah, exactly. Well, I think we’ve talked recruiting enough to last us all a while. Let’s talk about baseball. Let’s talk some softball and really quick, got to give a shout out. The Gators on Sunday win not one, not two, but three Conference championships.

Nick:               That’s not a bad day’s work for University of Florida.

Andrew:         Yeah. Women’s and men’s tennis teams win SEC crowns, and then Lacrosse wins the Big East. Yes, you heard it right, a Big East.

Nick:               The Big East.

Andrew:         The Big East, and Gators Lacrosse, one loss heading into post season play. Best record there, so good luck to Lacrosse. Maybe Amanda O’Leary and the Lacrosse team can get over that hump that has been there, and then of course, women’s tennis, they know how to win championships.

Nick:               Pretty crazy how young the Lacrosse program is and how much success they’re having. That’s cool to see how quickly they’ve been able to go from building a program to winning championships and really contending.

Andrew:         I think Florida has an edge in that. When you’re recruiting Lacrosse, you’re recruiting against Northeast schools like can’t you just say, hey, would you rather be in your short and shirts and be warm down here, or would you rather have to wear your short shirts and then sweat suits over in Syracuse?

Nick:               Yeah. It’s like, hey, do you want to have to shovel snow before practice? No? Okay. Come on down. They got me, sign me up.

Andrew:         Do you want your practice to be two hours of practice or do you want it to be two hours of shoveling, then two hours of practice?

Nick:               Hey, you got me. Sign me up.

Andrew:         Yeah. Well, baseball, softball, they’re very well may be adding to that. Baseball goes in and takes two out of three from Georgia, and looks like next weekend may decide who takes on that Conference championship when they go to Columbia, but first things first. Pretty damn good pitching in Gainesville this weekend between Puk, Shore and Faedo.

Nick:              Yeah, probably, AJ Puk’s best start, definitely this year, his best start—we’ll go stay this year, he had some really good starts last year. His best start is this year, and he gives up one hit, a double. Gives up a ground rule double and one run, and then you get a no decision after seven innings of shutout ball. At one point, sat down 18 in a row. All three Florida starters sat down at least 11 batters in a row at some point during game this weekend. It really was just we’ve been waiting for Florida pitching, not the entire pitching staff, but waiting for Florida to get that kind of dominant start, or to string together dominant starts from their guys. The starting pitchers this week, 21 in a third, one run, 22 strikeouts. They just dominated, so when you get a start like that and then you couple it with Florida’s bullpen, it’s a recipe for success. Obviously, you didn’t get a sweep. Thursday the bats kind of failed you, and they made up for it the rest of the weekend.

Andrew:         Yeah, exactly.

Nick:               Pete Alonso hit a homerun to centerfield. That doesn’t happen. We have been talking on Thursday and on Friday about how centerfield at McKethan Stadium is where baseballs and homeruns go to die. Pete Alonso hit a ball. I looked up and go, too bad, not going to get out, and looked down started to send out what was happening on the message board, Pete Alonso flied out, and I look up and the ball lands in the TV tower. I was like, what the hell? First time I’ve seen one hit out there, and Pete Alonso said it’d been a goal of his for three years to hit one out there. That was his first.

Andrew:         Not too bad. He definitely had that eye. His eyes were definitely there. He was seeing the ball really, really well. I thought what was interesting, and it’s something that snuck up on me, I don’t know how it snuck up on me, but Logan Shore, 13 consecutive wins in SEC play and as your Friday night guy.

Nick:               Not in SEC play, he’s won 13 straight decisions.

Andrew:         Including SEC play is what I meant to say.

Nick:               The streak started last year in the post season. It started with SEC tournament, and then two starts in the College World series.

Andrew:         What’s mind-boggling to me is that not only is he not getting a loss, he’s getting a win, which sometimes means giving zero runs. To me, that’s just mind-boggling. You’re going up against some of the best of the best, the elite of the elite. Friday night is your best guy. Almost every team you face throw their best guy on Friday night. Every now and then, you’ll have the occasional guy go on Saturday. Anyway, 13 consecutive wins, that’s unheard of.

Nick:               He has two no decisions during that time period, but Florida as a team is 15 and 0 the last 15 times Logan Shore has stepped on the mound. That kind of consistency, we talk about it all the time. Baseball is a game of failure. That kind of consistency on Friday night from a guy that’s giving you, starting your weekend off, and you’re pretty much going out there and thinking, well, Logan is mound, we’re going to win tonight, so we can take the series on Saturday.

Andrew:         Yeah, a couple years ago, Kris Medlen had a streak like that for the Braves. It was something like 22 consecutive starts where he didn’t have a loss, not a win, not that he won.

Nick:               Not that he earned the win decision.

Andrew:         Right, and 22 straight starts. It was 22 without a loss. I thought that was crazy. To see 13 in a row wins, it’s crazy. I said this on Twitter the other night and I’ll say it again, AJ Puk rightfully so deserves every bit of respect he gets, but if I’m a draft guy, and I’m drafting my Atlanta Braves, give me Logan Shore. He’s going to give you a great outing. He’s going to compete. He’s going to always, always keep you in the game. That’s what I want.

Nick:               He’s really right now more of a refined pitcher.

Andrew:         Here’s my thing, and I’ll ask you this. This is the comparison that I talked about the other day, and I’m going to throw it at you, and you tell me if it is. He reminds me of Aaron Nola. Is he going to be the Ace of a major league staff? Probably not. Is he going to be a mid-rotation guy that you’re going to be able to count on, and he’s probably you’re going to look up in 10 years and say, damn, he’s still pitching? He is going to be that guy.

Nick:               Yeah, I think that’s what you get from AJ. That’s a pretty good comparison. Nola, already up with the Phillies. When you look at AJ Puk, you say higher ceiling, but you look at Logan Shore, and you think he’ll probably be on our club. If we drafted both, something happened, and we drafted both of them. Logan Shore will probably throw for our ball club before AJ Puk, even if we think AJ Puk has a higher ceiling.

Andrew:         Exactly. Well, so next week, is there a midweek game?

Nick:               No. No midweek games. Florida has got finals going on. Florida gets Florida. When I say Florida, I mean, Nick, I get the week off, but Florida has finals. I do not have finals. They will go up, big week in Columbia, South Carolina this weekend probably. I mean Florida has to travel to Tennessee, Vanderbilt at home, and a trip to LSU, so there’s still a lot of SEC to play, but right now you’ve got Florida and South Carolina really at the top of the SEC. We’ll get three games: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Columbia.

Andrew:         Yep. The Gators softball team, we’ll talk about that in a second. They had a big weekend against Mississippi State. We’re taping this on Sunday afternoon. The Gators haven’t played their Sunday afternoon game yet. So when we’re talking right now, there are 2-0 against Mississippi State. Kind of put up a crushing on a Friday night. So, 16 to nothing was the score for the Gators softball team, and while the offense gets all the spotlight, Delanie Gourley quietly threw a no-no, her second of the year. Not too bad there, Nicholas.

Nick:               That’s her second career, or second of the year and third career.

Andrew:         That’s correct. 16 to nothing. Kayli Kvistad though, Nick, I was telling you this off the recording that you and I, we were discussing it, and I told you for the last three weekends in a row, Kvistad has had two homeruns in all three back to back to back weekends. Not too bad for a team, for a lady that was said that they had lost all their power, not too bad for that. Aleshia Ocasio as well, everyone talks about the Gator’s pitching staff, and it’s so good. Coming into the weekend she had a .048 Earned Run Average, gave up three runs, and it moved up to .062.

Nick:               It ballooned. What’s wrong with her?

Andrew:         Yeah, it ballooned. You think most pitchers give up three runs, and they might have went up a tick or two, she went up almost half. She almost doubled her Earned Run Average, but still number one in the country, and in case you don’t like facing Ocasio, you could face Delanie Gourley, who sits at in number three in the nation with an Earned Run Average of just .065.

Nick:               That team is special. I don’t understand how we’re still getting complaints about them. That team is special.

Andrew:         Yeah, pretty special. Quick look ahead there, they got three games against A&M this coming weekend. They, like the baseball team, are off this week due to finals. They just have two more SEC series. This weekend against A&M, and then the next weekend against an awful Arkansa team. The Gators right now are battling with Auburn. Auburn and Florida do not want to lose and both of them sit with three loses to top SEC. Good news for the Gators fans, they have that tie breaker against Auburn, so if the season ended they would pick up a Conference crown, but still six more games to go.

Nick:               Another one.

Andrew:         Another one.

Nick:               Another one.

Andrew:         Too bad, it wasn’t today, could have been four. How many did Tennessee win today?

Nick:               I don’t know. You’d have to call your buddy.

Andrew:         Oh, no. No. By the way, Nick, and we’re getting off the subject just a little bit, but everyone tells me how bad Tennessee wins everything in the Spring but UFC? No. He must really take after Butch, not win the big time.

Nick:               Are you talking about Ovince Saint Preux, I just called him OSP, because I can’t talk about it, but Jon Jones makes his UFC reemergence after some off the field stuff. Looked like it might not even happen, but really underwhelming for me, Jon Jones on Saturday. I loved the fight card but Anthony “Showtime” Pettis fought all right, but to me, it was good card, disappointing main event, and very interesting to see what’s going on with UFC 200 and Conor McGregor, but tell the people that I just hooked you up while we were doing this podcast. Where did I send you?

Andrew:         Well, you sent me, but I had already picked those up.

Nick:               You already picked them up. I thought I was the sock plug.

Andrew:         You were the sock plug, but I actually picked those up last week. For everyone that doesn’t know.

Nick:               Everybody knows you’re a Braves fan.

Andrew:        Yes, but I have some pretty cool, some lucky socks for the Gators this year that I decided to wear couple times, but now I got the Braves socks. Yes, I absolutely picked these up. I’m might have to bring those to SEC Media Days when Mr. Zach [Alpaverti] from the AJC likes to bring his dancing hula girls. I’ll just pop out the Braves.

Nick:               You can always go wrong with the Braves.

Andrew:         You can never go wrong, ever, ever, ever go wrong. Nick, tell the people where they can find this. We’ll get out of here, and we’ll see you guys on Friday. We’ll make sure to get a second one in this week. Tell the people where they can find this, and we’ll get out of here.

Nick:               You got it, www.gatorcountry.com for all your latest greatest Florida Gators recruiting, football, baseball, softball, and news. On Twitter, @GatorCountry, on Instagram, @TheGatorCountry. On Facebook, Gator Country, everything there, one stop shop. Me at @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. Andrew is at @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. Hit us up there. Let us know what you thought of the podcast today, every day, all of them.

Andrew:         Absolutely. It’s never a bad time to come over to Gator Country, but it’s recruiting. Staff is going to be on the road for the next month and few days. Check us out, and if you want to come over, just hit me up, and say Butch sucks in the message, and I might hook you up with a deal.

Nick:               There you go.

Andrew:         It’s pretty good. Let me know. Send me your funniest Tennessee joke. We always like those. Never go wrong with those, but as always, Nick, good podcast. Just check us out like Nick said, and see you guys soon. Chomp, chomp and go Braves.

Nick:               You stay classy, Gator Country.

 

Andrew Spivey

About Andrew Spivey

Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.

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This GatorCountry podcast focuses on previewing the Florida Gators recruiting efforts as the coaches hit the road for the spring evaluation period on Monday morning.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down why Jim McElwain and his staff is focused on nothing but the state of Florida for the first week of recruiting, plus some key targets they will hit.

Andrew and Nick discuss what the message from the coaching staff could be to the prospects, plus they recap the diamond sports from this past weekend.

TRANSCRIPT

 

Andrew          What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with my man, Nicholas de la Torre. What’s up, Nicholas?

Nick                A rare Sunday off for me, thank you SEC schedulers for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday series. Appreciate you.

Andrew          There you go. Nothing wrong with that, you know. As they say in the world, media and TV dominates everything, and that’s kind of what they do. I’ll say this though, I think it’s pretty cool the way they have that Thursday game, you know. You get to kind of showcase the brand a little bit, showcase the sport, and I like it, especially, what was it? About three years ago, four years ago, you could rarely find college baseball on TV, so not going to complain that there’s too much.

Nick                Yeah. So, there’s some people kind of complaining that the games are being streamed, but, like you said, three, four years ago, Florida, you might have two opportunities to see Florida play this year. 56 regular season games, and I believe only five or six of those weren’t being either streamed or on TV, so there’s, if you don’t want to watch it on the computer, there’s ways. You’ve got Apple TV you can fling a game from your computer up onto a TV screen if you don’t like watching it on a computer, or on a phone or an iPad. Thursday was on SEC Network, so that’s on TV. So it’s really cool how, especially the SEC has been able to stream pretty much every SEC game, every conference game, this entire year.

Andrew          I mean, like I said, I wouldn’t, I’d much rather have to watch it on the computer than not be able to watch it at all, and, like I said, a couple years ago you were lucky if you just got the regionals and the supers and College World Series, and maybe a Florida State game, and maybe one SEC series, maybe.

Nick                Right. I like it. For me, I have no problem watching it on an iPad. I don’t have a problem watching it on a computer, but there are other ways, if that’s not for you, to put it up on the TV. So no complaints by me, even when the games are only on SEC Network Plus.

Andrew          Yeah. Definitely. Baseball, softball both did really well this weekend, but let’s, you want to talk recruiting first, or you want to talk diamond sports?

Nick                We’ll talk recruiting, because there is a storm is brewing.

Andrew          A storm is brewing. As the story on Sunday went on Gator Country, chomping down the state. That’s what the staff is doing. Kind of the goal this week from a couple people around the state have said is that the staff is telling people they want to hit 300 schools this week, and I jokingly wrote, “I get tired writing it, man, going to all those schools in a day, I’m sure there’s some tired men at the end of the day.”

Nick                It’ll be a lot of Diet Mountain Dew for Geoff Collins with some caffeine. Maybe some coaches will be drinking coffee, like I do.

Andrew          So you’re saying might be some Starbucks rewards cards or something like that.

Nick                Yeah. My gold card at Starbucks. I’m sure the coaches, if they don’t already have one, they might be able to earn one after this week.

Andrew          There you go. This is what I wanted to kind of talk about a little bit is we all talk about the staff, the way the staff did, and the staff did a really good job of having a good class, filling the needs this year, or in 2016, but McElwain’s still not very happy about the in-state recruiting, and wants to get better. I was reading a quote on Sunday when I was writing that story, he said that he likes the way they did some things, and the way they got into some areas, but they wanted to do better, and that’s kind of their message. I think that there’s a lot of substance in that quote, in that I think that there has been some guys they missed on in-state, and then at some point there’s some guys in-state that there’s positions they really haven’t been able to fill in-state. So I like it, but Florida has to dominate the state. They have to get back to winning the majority of the battles in-state against Florida State, which Miami don’t win very much, so against Clemson and Florida State.

Nick                I think we might disagree, but I think maybe Jim McElwain, he obviously came out and said it, on Signing Day wasn’t happy with how Florida either finished or did overall in the state, and I think he might even privately be even more upset with it. I think you kind of saw, when Jim McElwain came to Florida he had a certain expectation. Florida is the flagship university in this state, and I think Jim McElwain coming from Colorado thought, I have a certain level of expectations, and you saw the expectations at Florida didn’t meet what McElwain had. That’s why you have a new indoor practice facility. That’s why you have new dorms. You’re looking into expanding the weight room, locker room, training facilities, and I think Jim McElwain just expected that they would be able to get kids in-state, maybe whoever they wanted, and I think after his first full year, you can’t really judge that first recruiting class, because it was really one month of just whoever, however we can salvage this.

I think he really was upset, genuinely upset, that Florida didn’t dominate the state. I think that’s his goal. Can you dominate the state? Maybe not, because there’s so many kids, so many schools coming into Florida, but I think the mindset he has that he wants to dominate in everything that he does, and that includes recruiting. Almost like a situation where Pete Carroll had at USC, you know what I’m talking about? Where if we want a kid from our state he’s coming to our school.

Andrew          Right. I hate the notion, this notion’s out there, Florida locked down Florida; kids shouldn’t go to Clemson. Bullshit. You’re going to lose kids to Clemson. You’re going to lose kids to Alabama. You’re going to lose kids to Auburn every year. You’re going to lose kids every year to somewhere. It’s the notion of if Florida wants a kid, they should at least be in the thick of things till the very end. You look at guys in the past, Artavis Scott, for instance. That’s a name that comes about. Florida never had a shot really there. You look at Ray Ray McCloud, Florida got in, McElwain got in at the very, very end of his recruitment, and still lost him to Clemson, but it’s guys like that that are there, that it’s like no shot is bad. If you go in, and Florida’s battling Clemson right now for James Robinson, is Florida going to win that battle? Right now I think they are. I think they’re heading that way, but it should come down to, at the very end of Signing Day, where you lose a kid. Like I said, that notion you’re going to get everybody is just not there, but you should do, your percentages should be better than it has.

I think when Mac first got here, Nick, and this is something you and I even talked about when he first got here, you look at some of his hires that he made. Randy Shannon, we all know what that focused on, south Florida. You look at Kurt Callahan when he hired him. That was supposed to be the Byron Cowart sweepstakes. Chris Rumph was supposed to dominate Tampa. Tim Skipper with Jacksonville. So he went in to focus on it. Now, Skipper’s done well in Jacksonville. Randy Shannon has done well in south Florida. The Tampa area, the Orlando area, that’s been the shit storm that they’re trying to fix.

Nick                Yeah. I mean, when you look at the last recruiting class, I think you did alright. I’m never going to be, and you’re not one to grade recruiting classes on Signing Day, because you’re not going to know for three, four years.

Andrew          Right.

Nick                What a recruiting class looks like, but in your story something that stood out to me was that Florida didn’t have a ton of playmakers last year and still made it to the SEC Championship. I think, I don’t know how many you added in this class. Certainly you and I think Tyrie Cleveland is that kind of guy. I think Josh Hammond’s a guy that can be solid. I just don’t know if you’ve added anyone that can be what like Antonio Callaway was as his freshman year. Granted, Callaway kind of came out of nowhere.

Andrew          That playmaker’s still sitting out in Texas. He’ll be in Gainesville here in a couple months. I’m glad you brought that up, because that was the point that I wanted to next make. If you’re this coaching staff, and you’re walking into Shawn Wade’s house, or not house, walking into his school, can’t go to the house. NCAA, I made a mistake. If you’re walking into Shawn Wade’s school now, and here’s the other thing, so Florida can’t really talk to the kid in person. They have to talk to the coach. The coach has to relay the message to the kid. Biggest bullshit I ever seen in my life, but NCAA, what else do you expect? That’s a rule that should be changed. I mean, if Florida’s going to spend the time, schools are going to spend the time going to the school, what’s the point of not being able to talk to the kid?

Nick                Soon they’ll be able to slide into those DMs.

Andrew          Exactly. Anyway, Florida will tell the coaches messages to tell the kids. They’ll call the kids, and it’s a message. I wrote that, and I know that’s what you were kind of getting at, Nick, is if you’re Florida right now, McElwain preaches the Gator brand, that’s his message of the Gator brand, what it does post-graduation, that kind of stuff. Nick, how many times have you seen it? About every kid says McElwain says that.

Nick                That’s something that I remember Maryland was really doing with Under Armour.

Andrew          Right.

Nick                It’s something Jalen Tabor mentioned to us.

Andrew          Exactly. So that’s the message it is, but Florida also has a pretty strong message as well, and that is, like you said, they were 10-4 last season, get to the SEC Championship game with a roster that, quite frankly, on offense was not very good. I mean, am I wrong in saying that that roster offensively should not have been in Atlanta?

Nick                I told you that all year long, and you said I was wrong.

Andrew          I’m asking you. I told you all year long I thought they would find a way to get there, just because of how bad the East was.

Nick                No, I don’t think, if you look at that roster, especially the last six games, yeah. I 100% agree with that.

Andrew          Even really the first few games or whatever, when Grier was there, it was not like he was tearing it up, but anyway, back to the recruiting part, though. If you’re Florida, you got a pretty good message here right now. We’re 10-4. We got to the SEC Championship game, lost to Alabama. The score definitely didn’t show how bad that game was. It was a lopsided game, but still you got to Atlanta with that. If you’re going to tell James Robinson, the #1 receiver in the country, it is, it’s not like we’re loaded at receiver. If you’re Calvin Ashley or Alex Leatherwood, the offensive linemen in-state, it’s we have David Sharpe, and then we have unknowns at tackle. Florida is sitting in a pretty good spot where they can still preach early playing time, because what they have is still unproven, especially at receiver. I mean, outside of Callaway coming back do they have a proven receiver on the roster?

Nick                No.

Andrew          Yeah. So there it is. We’re talking offensive line. I think you and I both could struggle with picking seven offensive linemen we’re comfortable with playing against Alabama.

Nick                Struggle, or can’t?

Andrew          No, I’m saying could you?

Nick                You’re saying struggle. I’m going out and saying, I don’t, there aren’t seven.

Andrew          No. That’s what I’m saying. Is there seven offensive linemen that you think would play decently?

Nick                No.

Andrew          See, that’s me. That’s what I’m saying. You go to defensive back, and if you’re Florida, and you’re going to see Shawn Wade here on Monday, you’re saying, Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson are probably going pro. Jalen Tabor is already going pro. Quincy Wilson, barring a bad year, probably goes. You’re telling Shawn Wade, you got to come in and beat Chris Williamson, or you got to come in and beat an unproven McArthur Burnett.

Nick                That’s it. Listen, Jalen Tabor, sayonara. Jalen Tabor has as much chance of playing his senior year at Florida as Vernon Hargreaves did.

Andrew          He already has reservation in Indianapolis for the Combine next year.

Nick                Yeah. His hotel is booked next year for the Combine. Jalen Tabor’s not coming back. If Quincy Wilson has a good year, listen, the NFL is moving to bigger cornerbacks.

Andrew          And it’s a race to your second contract.

Nick                That’s the thing. You need to get to your second contract. Coming back to school, there’s really, for guys that are at that elite level, and Quincy Wilson could get to that elite level, there’s no incentive to come back to school. You’re just putting off that second contract another year. So when you look at, I asked Quincy Wilson when we spoke to him in the spring, “Where’s the depth?” He said, “There isn’t. We don’t have that depth.” Heading this time last year, when you still had JC Jackson and Porter and Hargreaves and Tabor, you’re looking at it, and you’re like, you can’t even get these guys on the field. These are guys that would start all across the SEC, and Florida can’t even get them on the field. Now you’re in a situation where McArthur Burnett, to me, I think really needs to come a long way before you’re putting him into that kind of conversation, into a DBU conversation, and Williamson did better. Really right now Florida has, for the first time in a long time, the ability to sell early playing time at cornerback, at safety, in the defensive backfield.

Andrew          Yeah. It’s a good year, because it’s a good crop of guys. I’ll just name a couple guys they’re planning on seeing on Monday. Two names right off the bat, Shawn Wade at cornerback out of Jacksonville Trinity Christian, committed to Ohio State early in the process, when Kurt Callahan was doing whatever he called recruiting. He was there. Then a safety in Cyrus Fagan that’s committed to Florida State, and I do think he probably stays with Florida State. He’s a, not a legacy, but he has ties, that kind of stuff, to Florida State. Anyway, just to look at those two guys right there, those are both five star guys by most people, and you’ve got early playing time. If you’re Cyrus Fagan playing safety, you’re looking at I’ve got to beat out Marcell and Nick Washington, or I got to beat out a Juco guy in Putu, or a freshman in Chauncey Gardner.

Nick                Even at that point, you’re talking about one year, because Washington and Harris will be seniors by that point. Putu, if he’s still on campus, will have one year of eligibility left. So it’s not even a situation where there’s a ton of depth behind talented starters. So it’s just, to me, if playing time is important to somebody in the state of Florida that plays secondary.

Andrew          Let me ask you this. Outside of running back, where are you scared, where can you not recruit early playing time?

Nick                Maybe at end.

Andrew          Quarterback, of course.

Nick                Maybe at end, but you’re going to get a quarterback. There’s really not any; they’re really not deep anywhere.

Andrew          Florida plays upwards of five defensive ends in a game, so you can really say, if you’re an elite guy, like a Zach Carter down at Tampa, okay. You’re elite. Cece Jefferson played a freshman. You can play as a freshman. I think it’s one of those deals where there’s a lot of that there, but again, I think the most impressive thing about it is to see. 300 schools, to see them hitting that 2017-2019 class. Seeing some of those 2020 guys where they’re in spring practices, it’s good. Remember, all these coaches get two visits. So they get to go now, they’ll probably go back later in the spring, either for the spring game or that. So hitting just the state of Florida this week is huge, because even if, I’m trying to think of a school, Gainesville High School, even if they don’t have a prospect there, coaches are probably go to stop by, flash that Gator logo, and then if Johnny, who’s a sophomore is there, they’re hoping the coach remembers Chris Rumph coming by that school when that kid was a nobody.

Nick                It’s just keeping the relationship going, which is so important in recruiting. Just keeping the relationship, keeping the communication open. It means a lot to a coach. Listen, coaches know. You’ll run into a coach that really wants to sell his kid, but coaches know. Hey, I love Tommy, but he’s not SEC, or he’s not Florida quality. But it means a lot to have a coach come out and be there, because the high school coach knows, and if the high school coach knows that Tommy’s not going to be able to play at Florida, he knows that Florida knows that, but just to make the effort to come out, that builds that relationship, and then you get into coming down the line, coach, I’ve got this freshman; you need to see him. Then you can get in early. Those relationships help in recruiting, and that’s the kind of stuff that goes on behind the scenes that really stories aren’t written about, that you don’t know that much about.

Andrew          Exactly. Like you said, it’s all about relationships, and some of these coaches who maybe doesn’t have a kid to have that Chris Rumph come by just to say hey.

Nick                He might not have a kid now, but he could.

Andrew          Exactly.

Nick                He will.

Andrew          In three years, yeah, exactly. I always reference this.

Nick                Or you go see somebody who, you know, sorry, Johnny’s probably not going to be a player, but thank you for coming out. It means a lot. Boom. Johnny hits puberty, and all of a sudden that 6’1” 215 pound kid who was riding fourth string offensive tackle is 6’7” and 260, and you’re like, we might have a player now.

Andrew:         Yeah, exactly. I always reference this. I coached at two different schools. Nick, I’ve told you this story before. One of the schools I coached at is my alma mater. We’re not known for having big name prospects or anything like that. We didn’t have very many prospects go to big schools, but I always remember Dameyune Craig for when he was recruiting in Florida State. He would always come by. Some other coaches would always come by, and that’s the biggest thing. Don’t think that little guys like us didn’t remember. Okay, Dameyune Craig at Florida State came by to see us when we sucked. Okay, this kid is very good now. Dameyune Craig is going to come back. We’re going to remember that stuff.

Nick:               You don’t want to be the guy that only calls your buddy when something good happens.

Andrew:         Exactly.

Nick:               You don’t want to be known as, well, we’ve got a guy now, so Coach Rumph will be by, but we haven’t seen him in three years while we’ve been down.

Andrew:         Yeah.

Nick:               Nobody wants to be that guy in the friend group. We’ve got no plans, so Andrew is not going to hang out with us today. We’re taking the boat out, so Andrew will be here.

Andrew:         Yeah, only when it’s good or only when you need a favor, that person when the phone rings, and you say I know he needs something. What the heck does he want? Yeah. That’s what it’s all about. Again, while Florida is going to be all in state this week, next week they’ll start to get out a statement. As I continue to say, Florida needs to dominate In-state, that’s huge. Don’t get me wrong, but when Florida is Florida and Florida is doing good, they have their footprint around the nation to where they’re able to cherry-pick, get some prospects, the Tyrie Clevelands of the world, the Lamical Perines of the world, that kind of stuff to where they’re able to go in these different states and do well. While focusing in-state and crushing in-state, hitting that Georgia, that 5-hour radius, that Mac says, and then expanding to Texas, to California, Jersey, Virginia. It’s still very, very important. You can’t focus all your efforts on one state. The state of Florida is going to be down in a position some year. Offensive line may be terrible next year; defensive tackle may be terrible this year. Well, if you didn’t go to Virginia, that coach in Virginia is going to be pissed off.

Nick:               Yeah, that’s why it’s so tough recruiting. You’re managing so many different relationships. Just like you said, they’re going to be seeing kids not just in 2017. They’re going back to 2019. They’re going to be seeing freshman, and you’ve got an exhaustive list that these guys are really starting to make now, have already made, and they’re going back and checking up on everyone. Really, to me, I’m already tired, like you said, tired of even thinking about it.

Andrew:         Well, here’s the thing, I was writing that list of guys that visited Florida last year, or some guys that maybe didn’t visit Florida that Florida has interest in, but that list expands over the next couple of weeks as the staff hits the road recruiting. They may go to such and such school. A kid that they’re like, okay, that kid was 2’ shorter than we wanted him to be at camp last year. He grew, and you’re like, okay, we really like this kid’s ability. Now, he’s 6’1” instead of 5’11”. Okay, we want to offer this guy, or okay, now we want to bring him to camp. That kind of stuff is what this is all about. The board is very extensive already. That board expands by May 31st when the coaches get off the road and the summertime starts and camp starts.

Nick:               That’s the other thing. Like you said, they were making the same trip last year, and a lot can change in a year. That kid that you thought, hey, he’s quick or he’s fast, but little too small, maybe we’ll see what he’s like next year. Then, hey, he’s bigger. He’s better. Maybe he’ll get the offer. Hey, look, who’s that little kid running around? That’s maybe even a little faster than Johnny was last year.

Andrew:         Right.

Nick:               Let’s keep an eye on him, too, and open that communication. Now, that freshman who may not be a player yet has seen that Florida logo on his campus.

Andrew:         Right.

Nick:               It’s all about keeping the relationship and really staying ahead. We’ve talked about it before how McElwain was super behind in the 2015 class, still very behind in the 2016 class, and probably still behind in this class, 2017. When you consider how early kids are getting offered now, really 2018, his third year, will be the first year that he’s caught up to everybody else, where the relationships are as long as a player has had with Butch Jones in Tennessee, because Butch Jones has been there for long.

Andrew:         Right.

Nick:               So, it really is about building up that brand again and really bringing the name, bringing some meaning back to the name Florida Gators after the previous coach did what he did with the name for four years.

Andrew:         Yeah. This is someone I want to hit on real quick like.

Nick:               Real?

Andrew:         What’s that?

Nick:               Real quick like.

Andrew:         Real quick like. Just give me five minutes to talk here. Nick, I’m preaching to the choir when I say this, but we got a few members who like to badmouth the coaching staff because of no momentum right now. Florida sits with four commits right now and, yes, is it down from what others are? Sure, absolutely. Remember, this class is probably 23, maybe 20, depending on that area. Last year, you’re bitching because they were taking kids early, and they were reaching. Now, it’s that, so step off the ledge. By the end of the summer, the class will be halfway, three-quarter way full, and then the notion is Florida has no momentum right now. Okay, Florida did lose some momentum at the end of the season last year because of the way it went.

The comparison is how is Kirby Smart doing so well? McElwain did well.  In the end 2015, he landed two five stars, Cece Jefferson and Martez Ivey. He landed those guys. He started off 2016 last year, loading up the class with maybe some guys that were reaches. Same thing Kirby Smart is doing. The wear of the first year coach wears off very, very quickly, so don’t judge a recruiting class by what it is, whatever today is. It’s Monday, April 25. Don’t judge by April 25. Let us know what it is, July, August, and then in February. Agree or disagree?

Nick:               Let me know in three years, yeah, but then let me know my three years how the recruiting class actually was, when you see what kind of players they are.

Andrew:         Yeah, exactly. Well, I think we’ve talked recruiting enough to last us all a while. Let’s talk about baseball. Let’s talk some softball and really quick, got to give a shout out. The Gators on Sunday win not one, not two, but three Conference championships.

Nick:               That’s not a bad day’s work for University of Florida.

Andrew:         Yeah. Women’s and men’s tennis teams win SEC crowns, and then Lacrosse wins the Big East. Yes, you heard it right, a Big East.

Nick:               The Big East.

Andrew:         The Big East, and Gators Lacrosse, one loss heading into post season play. Best record there, so good luck to Lacrosse. Maybe Amanda O’Leary and the Lacrosse team can get over that hump that has been there, and then of course, women’s tennis, they know how to win championships.

Nick:               Pretty crazy how young the Lacrosse program is and how much success they’re having. That’s cool to see how quickly they’ve been able to go from building a program to winning championships and really contending.

Andrew:         I think Florida has an edge in that. When you’re recruiting Lacrosse, you’re recruiting against Northeast schools like can’t you just say, hey, would you rather be in your short and shirts and be warm down here, or would you rather have to wear your short shirts and then sweat suits over in Syracuse?

Nick:               Yeah. It’s like, hey, do you want to have to shovel snow before practice? No? Okay. Come on down. They got me, sign me up.

Andrew:         Do you want your practice to be two hours of practice or do you want it to be two hours of shoveling, then two hours of practice?

Nick:               Hey, you got me. Sign me up.

Andrew:         Yeah. Well, baseball, softball, they’re very well may be adding to that. Baseball goes in and takes two out of three from Georgia, and looks like next weekend may decide who takes on that Conference championship when they go to Columbia, but first things first. Pretty damn good pitching in Gainesville this weekend between Puk, Shore and Faedo.

Nick:              Yeah, probably, AJ Puk’s best start, definitely this year, his best start—we’ll go stay this year, he had some really good starts last year. His best start is this year, and he gives up one hit, a double. Gives up a ground rule double and one run, and then you get a no decision after seven innings of shutout ball. At one point, sat down 18 in a row. All three Florida starters sat down at least 11 batters in a row at some point during game this weekend. It really was just we’ve been waiting for Florida pitching, not the entire pitching staff, but waiting for Florida to get that kind of dominant start, or to string together dominant starts from their guys. The starting pitchers this week, 21 in a third, one run, 22 strikeouts. They just dominated, so when you get a start like that and then you couple it with Florida’s bullpen, it’s a recipe for success. Obviously, you didn’t get a sweep. Thursday the bats kind of failed you, and they made up for it the rest of the weekend.

Andrew:         Yeah, exactly.

Nick:               Pete Alonso hit a homerun to centerfield. That doesn’t happen. We have been talking on Thursday and on Friday about how centerfield at McKethan Stadium is where baseballs and homeruns go to die. Pete Alonso hit a ball. I looked up and go, too bad, not going to get out, and looked down started to send out what was happening on the message board, Pete Alonso flied out, and I look up and the ball lands in the TV tower. I was like, what the hell? First time I’ve seen one hit out there, and Pete Alonso said it’d been a goal of his for three years to hit one out there. That was his first.

Andrew:         Not too bad. He definitely had that eye. His eyes were definitely there. He was seeing the ball really, really well. I thought what was interesting, and it’s something that snuck up on me, I don’t know how it snuck up on me, but Logan Shore, 13 consecutive wins in SEC play and as your Friday night guy.

Nick:               Not in SEC play, he’s won 13 straight decisions.

Andrew:         Including SEC play is what I meant to say.

Nick:               The streak started last year in the post season. It started with SEC tournament, and then two starts in the College World series.

Andrew:         What’s mind-boggling to me is that not only is he not getting a loss, he’s getting a win, which sometimes means giving zero runs. To me, that’s just mind-boggling. You’re going up against some of the best of the best, the elite of the elite. Friday night is your best guy. Almost every team you face throw their best guy on Friday night. Every now and then, you’ll have the occasional guy go on Saturday. Anyway, 13 consecutive wins, that’s unheard of.

Nick:               He has two no decisions during that time period, but Florida as a team is 15 and 0 the last 15 times Logan Shore has stepped on the mound. That kind of consistency, we talk about it all the time. Baseball is a game of failure. That kind of consistency on Friday night from a guy that’s giving you, starting your weekend off, and you’re pretty much going out there and thinking, well, Logan is mound, we’re going to win tonight, so we can take the series on Saturday.

Andrew:         Yeah, a couple years ago, Kris Medlen had a streak like that for the Braves. It was something like 22 consecutive starts where he didn’t have a loss, not a win, not that he won.

Nick:               Not that he earned the win decision.

Andrew:         Right, and 22 straight starts. It was 22 without a loss. I thought that was crazy. To see 13 in a row wins, it’s crazy. I said this on Twitter the other night and I’ll say it again, AJ Puk rightfully so deserves every bit of respect he gets, but if I’m a draft guy, and I’m drafting my Atlanta Braves, give me Logan Shore. He’s going to give you a great outing. He’s going to compete. He’s going to always, always keep you in the game. That’s what I want.

Nick:               He’s really right now more of a refined pitcher.

Andrew:         Here’s my thing, and I’ll ask you this. This is the comparison that I talked about the other day, and I’m going to throw it at you, and you tell me if it is. He reminds me of Aaron Nola. Is he going to be the Ace of a major league staff? Probably not. Is he going to be a mid-rotation guy that you’re going to be able to count on, and he’s probably you’re going to look up in 10 years and say, damn, he’s still pitching? He is going to be that guy.

Nick:               Yeah, I think that’s what you get from AJ. That’s a pretty good comparison. Nola, already up with the Phillies. When you look at AJ Puk, you say higher ceiling, but you look at Logan Shore, and you think he’ll probably be on our club. If we drafted both, something happened, and we drafted both of them. Logan Shore will probably throw for our ball club before AJ Puk, even if we think AJ Puk has a higher ceiling.

Andrew:         Exactly. Well, so next week, is there a midweek game?

Nick:               No. No midweek games. Florida has got finals going on. Florida gets Florida. When I say Florida, I mean, Nick, I get the week off, but Florida has finals. I do not have finals. They will go up, big week in Columbia, South Carolina this weekend probably. I mean Florida has to travel to Tennessee, Vanderbilt at home, and a trip to LSU, so there’s still a lot of SEC to play, but right now you’ve got Florida and South Carolina really at the top of the SEC. We’ll get three games: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Columbia.

Andrew:         Yep. The Gators softball team, we’ll talk about that in a second. They had a big weekend against Mississippi State. We’re taping this on Sunday afternoon. The Gators haven’t played their Sunday afternoon game yet. So when we’re talking right now, there are 2-0 against Mississippi State. Kind of put up a crushing on a Friday night. So, 16 to nothing was the score for the Gators softball team, and while the offense gets all the spotlight, Delanie Gourley quietly threw a no-no, her second of the year. Not too bad there, Nicholas.

Nick:               That’s her second career, or second of the year and third career.

Andrew:         That’s correct. 16 to nothing. Kayli Kvistad though, Nick, I was telling you this off the recording that you and I, we were discussing it, and I told you for the last three weekends in a row, Kvistad has had two homeruns in all three back to back to back weekends. Not too bad for a team, for a lady that was said that they had lost all their power, not too bad for that. Aleshia Ocasio as well, everyone talks about the Gator’s pitching staff, and it’s so good. Coming into the weekend she had a .048 Earned Run Average, gave up three runs, and it moved up to .062.

Nick:               It ballooned. What’s wrong with her?

Andrew:         Yeah, it ballooned. You think most pitchers give up three runs, and they might have went up a tick or two, she went up almost half. She almost doubled her Earned Run Average, but still number one in the country, and in case you don’t like facing Ocasio, you could face Delanie Gourley, who sits at in number three in the nation with an Earned Run Average of just .065.

Nick:               That team is special. I don’t understand how we’re still getting complaints about them. That team is special.

Andrew:         Yeah, pretty special. Quick look ahead there, they got three games against A&M this coming weekend. They, like the baseball team, are off this week due to finals. They just have two more SEC series. This weekend against A&M, and then the next weekend against an awful Arkansa team. The Gators right now are battling with Auburn. Auburn and Florida do not want to lose and both of them sit with three loses to top SEC. Good news for the Gators fans, they have that tie breaker against Auburn, so if the season ended they would pick up a Conference crown, but still six more games to go.

Nick:               Another one.

Andrew:         Another one.

Nick:               Another one.

Andrew:         Too bad, it wasn’t today, could have been four. How many did Tennessee win today?

Nick:               I don’t know. You’d have to call your buddy.

Andrew:         Oh, no. No. By the way, Nick, and we’re getting off the subject just a little bit, but everyone tells me how bad Tennessee wins everything in the Spring but UFC? No. He must really take after Butch, not win the big time.

Nick:               Are you talking about Ovince Saint Preux, I just called him OSP, because I can’t talk about it, but Jon Jones makes his UFC reemergence after some off the field stuff. Looked like it might not even happen, but really underwhelming for me, Jon Jones on Saturday. I loved the fight card but Anthony “Showtime” Pettis fought all right, but to me, it was good card, disappointing main event, and very interesting to see what’s going on with UFC 200 and Conor McGregor, but tell the people that I just hooked you up while we were doing this podcast. Where did I send you?

Andrew:         Well, you sent me, but I had already picked those up.

Nick:               You already picked them up. I thought I was the sock plug.

Andrew:         You were the sock plug, but I actually picked those up last week. For everyone that doesn’t know.

Nick:               Everybody knows you’re a Braves fan.

Andrew:        Yes, but I have some pretty cool, some lucky socks for the Gators this year that I decided to wear couple times, but now I got the Braves socks. Yes, I absolutely picked these up. I’m might have to bring those to SEC Media Days when Mr. Zach [Alpaverti] from the AJC likes to bring his dancing hula girls. I’ll just pop out the Braves.

Nick:               You can always go wrong with the Braves.

Andrew:         You can never go wrong, ever, ever, ever go wrong. Nick, tell the people where they can find this. We’ll get out of here, and we’ll see you guys on Friday. We’ll make sure to get a second one in this week. Tell the people where they can find this, and we’ll get out of here.

Nick:               You got it, www.gatorcountry.com for all your latest greatest Florida Gators recruiting, football, baseball, softball, and news. On Twitter, @GatorCountry, on Instagram, @TheGatorCountry. On Facebook, Gator Country, everything there, one stop shop. Me at @NickdelaTorreGC on Twitter. Andrew is at @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter. Hit us up there. Let us know what you thought of the podcast today, every day, all of them.

Andrew:         Absolutely. It’s never a bad time to come over to Gator Country, but it’s recruiting. Staff is going to be on the road for the next month and few days. Check us out, and if you want to come over, just hit me up, and say Butch sucks in the message, and I might hook you up with a deal.

Nick:               There you go.

Andrew:         It’s pretty good. Let me know. Send me your funniest Tennessee joke. We always like those. Never go wrong with those, but as always, Nick, good podcast. Just check us out like Nick said, and see you guys soon. Chomp, chomp and go Braves.

Nick:               You stay classy, Gator Country.

 

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Florida Gators softball player Amanda Lorenz in 2016- 1280x853
Lorenz home run lifts Florida Gators softball to sweep

Amanda Lorenz hits a walk-off home run to lift the Gators softball team to the sweep.

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