A few thoughts to jump start your Mother’s Day.
ARE THERE REALLY 256 BETTER FOOTBALL PLAYERS?
When 256 names are called and not a one of them is Loucheiz Purifoy or Marcus Roberson, you have to ask this question: Are there really 256 better football players than these two guys? Yes, yes, there are all the character issues that have surfaced since they announced their intentions to skip their senior seasons at Florida to enter the NFL Draft, but trust me, a good many of the 256 guys drafted ahead of them aren’t exactly Boy Scouts.
The fact that neither Purifoy nor Roberson was drafted will not keep either one from making some NFL team and having an outstanding NFL career. They wouldn’t be the first nor would they be the last to go from undrafted free agent to NFL stud but undrafted the odds are greater that they will fail because there will be far less room for error in training camps. A drafted player gets contract money and because there is a far greater monetary investment than there is in an undrafted free agent, they will be given far more slack in camp. A drafted player will be given the benefit of the doubt. An undrafted player better be as near perfect as possible.
I am not going to point fingers and say that these kids should have come back to Florida because there is no way to know if they would have improved one iota with one more season. And since I don’t claim to know nor do I want to know the entire reason why these two guys dropped all the way from potential first rounders to embarrassed, didn’t get a call even in the seventh round free agents, I won’t even speculate about what might have been. But whatever it was, they now have to overcome this stigma when they go to camp. Nobody falls that far and that hard without something very serious on his NFL dossier. And yes, there is a dossier. Teams invest big bucks to find out as much as possible about each potential draftee. Sometimes they catch the kids with the serious character flaws and sometimes they don’t (See Aaron Hernandez). I’m not saying that either Roberson or Purifoy have serious character flaws because I don’t know, but I do know that something surfaced on both these kids to scare off all 32 teams.
Some adult that they respect needs to sit them down and read the riot act to them and let them know that this year’s NFL Draft is their wakeup call, not only for their dreams of playing professional football but for life. If they are smart, they will listen and figure out that maybe, just maybe, they don’t have everything figured out; that maybe, just maybe they need to do the life equivalent of a 180 or else it won’t be just football that deals them a bad hand.
FLORIDA’S RECRUITING CLASS OF 2010
The recruiting class of 2010 was a consensus #1 nationally and it’s done okay as far as producing NFL talent with three first rounders so far and two others taken in the later rounds – three if you count one of the transfers who got drafted Saturday. Any recruiting class that produces three first rounders would be considered a success by most critics, but not this one. Not when you figure that of the 27 who made up the original signing class, nearly half (13) transferred out at some stage of their Florida careers, some even before they played a game. The run down of this class is five drafted, three NFL free agent signings, 13 who were transferred or released from their scholarships and six who will be back for their fifth year at Florida in 2014.
Here is a look at that 2010 class and how it’s worked out so far.
Matt Elam, S: Taken in the first round of the 2013 draft by the Baltimore Ravens
Sharrif Floyd, DT: Taken in the first round of the 2013 draft by the Minnesota Vikings
Dominique Easley, DT/DE: Taken in the first round of the 2014 draft by the New England Patriots
Jaylen Watkins, CB/S: Taken in the fourth round of the 2014 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles
Ronald Powell, LB: Taken in the fifth round of the 2014 draft by the New Orleans Saints.
Free Agents (3):
Darrin Kitchens, LB: Signed a free agent contract with the
Trey Burton, TE/WR: Signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Solomon Patton, WR/KR: Signed a free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Seniors for 2014 (6):
Neiron Ball, LB/DE: Will compete for a starting job either as an outside linebacker or defensive end.
Gideon Ajagbe, FB: Will compete with Hunter Joyer for playing time at fullback.
Mack Brown, RB: Will get playing time and carries, but unlikely to start.
Quinton Dunbar, WR: Could have a breakout season after three good but not spectacular seasons.
Chaz Green, OT: Coming back from an injury that caused him to miss all of 2013. He’s expected to start at right tackle.
Michael Taylor, LB: Will start or at least be on the field as much as the starters whether the Gators are in a 3-4 or 4-3.
Gerald Christian, TE: Surprising mid-year transfer in 2011. Went to Louisville where he started and caught 28 passes in 2013.
Robert Clark, WR: Transferred along with Christian to Louisville, where he caught 25 passes in 2013.
Jordan Haden, S: Transferred to Toledo before he ever played a game. Two-year starter at safety.
Joshua Shaw, S: Redshirted in 2010, got one start in 2011 and transferred to Southern Cal. Has started two years and will start either at corner or safety in 2014.
Adrian Coxson, WR: Transferred to Maryland before the 2010 season, caught four passes at UM in 2011. Transferred to Stony Brook where he has caught 41 passes in two years.
Jonathan Dowling, S: Played two games as a freshman in 2010, then transferred to Western Kentucky where he redshirted in 2011, then started two years at safety. Drafted in the seventh round by the Oakland Raiders in the 2014 draft.
Chris Dunkley, WR: Redshirt in 2010, transferred to USF in 2011 where he caught four passes in 2012. Was suspended from the team for domestic violence but was reinstated in 2013 where he excelled as a kickoff and punt returner. Listed as a senior on the 2014 roster.
Michael McFarland, TE: Redshirted in 2010, transferred to USF in 2011. Made second team All-American Athletic Conference in 2013 after catching 23 passes. Senior in 2014.
Lynden Trail, DE: Redshirted in 2010, didn’t play in any games in 2011. Transferred to Norfolk State where he made first team All-MEAC in 2012 and national defensive player of the year for Division IAA in 2013.
Travon Van, WR/RB: Never got in school. Went to Marshall where he led the team in rushing, then, after being moved to defense three games into 2012, transferred to Montana where he gained 566 yards in 2013. Senior in 2014.
Tyler Murphy, QB: Carried a clipboard for three years, then started seven games after Jeff Driskel went down with an injury in 2013. Graduated from UF then transferred to Boston College in December and won the starting QB job in the spring.
Cody Riggs, S: Starter at nickel and at safety, surprised everyone by graduating in December then transferring to Notre Dame.
Ian Silberman, OT: After a redshirt in 2010, backed up mostly at guard for three years. Graduated in December, transferred to Boston College and won the starting job at right tackle in the spring.
MUSCHAMP WILL SINK OR SWIM WITH HIS OWN GUYS
What this draft — in addition to Easley, Watkins and Powell, Jon Halapio (recruiting class of 2009) was drafted — tells us is that the foundation of Florida football is now squarely on the recruits will Muschamp has brought in since his first class in 2011. With only six Urban Meyer recruits still on the team, 2014 will be the first year that Muschamp has had to rely almost completely on players that he and his staff hand-picked to be Gators. He has filled the roster with four recruiting classes and now he will either sink or swim with his own guys. To his credit, Muschamp is pretty much a a no-nonsense kind of guy, so although he probably would never say it out loud in mixed company, he’s probably happy to be out from under the Meyer shadow once and for all. From here on out, any success he has will be directly the result of the kids he recruited and the coaching up by him and his staff. Of course, any praise he accepts for doing it well with his own kids has to be balanced out by the fact there is no more blaming of Meyer. If he goes down in flames, he will do it with guys he brought in.
MURRAY, MCCARRON, METTENBERGER GO LATE
One of the surprising results of the 2014 NFL Draft was the fall of four Southeastern Conference quarterbacks. Nobody expected Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) to fall to #22 but he didn’t drop out of the first round so it’s hard to complain about that one. Aaron Murray (Georgia) didn’t go until the 23rd pick in the fifth round (to Kansas City) followed by A.J. McCarron (Alabama) with the very next pick (to Cincinnati). Mettenberger fell all the way to the sixth round where he was the second pick (by Tennessee). You can rationalize that Murray and Mettenberger saw their stock tumble because both are coming off ACL surgery, but there are other problems. Murray is a bright kid but short (barely 6-1) and not exceedingly quick afoot while Mettenberger got kicked out of Georgia at one time plus tested positive at the combine. Those things weighed heavier than their college productivity. McCarron’s fall is the real shocker. He won two straight national championships and quarterbacked Alabama to 11 straight 2013 wins. He rarely threw picks, is very bright and played in a pro system for four straight years where the touchdown passes he threw were mostly over guys that will get paid to play on Sundays. The guy is a proven winner who played for a coach who knows the pro game and whose entire system is based on what goes on in the NFL. You would think that stood for something more than fifth round.
ST. LOUIS RAMS TAKE MICHAEL SAM IN THE SEVENTH ROUND
Michael Sam is now the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL, taken by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round with the 249th overall pick, which means he was dangerously close to going undrafted. Sam had 11.5 sacks last year against SEC competition. He was a dominator and earned his SEC Defensive Player of the Year award. He didn’t have a brilliant combine, isn’t prototypical NFL size at 6-3, 255 and had a whisper campaign going against him in which he was described as a “not very good athlete.” Not a very good athlete? Having watched him blow by players who will make a living on Sunday all last season I tend to question that. I could see him dropping to perhaps the third or fourth round because of his size or his combine 40, but #249? I have to believe his fall in the draft had everything to do with his coming out gay even before the combine.
A SHOUT OUT TO ALL MOMS
It’s Mother’s Day, a time to celebrate what our moms have meant to us through the years. My mom will hit 86 this year and she goes through more pain in a day than I’ll endure in a lifetime, but she still manages a smile and is convinced that today will be better than yesterday and that tomorrow will be better still. If you ever wonder where I get my optimistic attitude that’s a pretty good clue right there. I’ve been fortunate to have a mom who has always believed in me and wanted the best for me but all her children as well as everybody she has encountered. If you have a pulse, she wants the best for you. My hope for you on this day is that you’ll have a chance to let your mom know how much you appreciate her. If your mom has passed on, then I hope you will take some time to reflect on the good influence she has had on your life. I’m sure all of you are doing the best you can to still make her proud today. So, to all the moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day and may God bless you all.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
For about six or seven years, Pacific Gas and Electric (later changed their name to PG&E because the folks with the California utility giant weren’t exactly amused), had a terrific run of very bluesy, gospel-tinged rock and roll with the vocals of Charlie Allen. The band might have sustained its success even longer if lead guitar Glenn Schwartz hadn’t gotten religion and turned his complete focus to gospel music. You can hear the gospel roots of Allen and the gospel leanings of Schwartz in their 1970 hit “Are You Ready?” which has been re-recorded dozens and dozens of times.