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Under Armour All-American and
Outback Bowl previews: Podcast

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  • Under Armour All-American and Outback Bowl previews: Podcast
Written by Andrew Spivey, December 29, 2016, 0 Comments,
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Gator Country brings you a new podcast as we preview the Outback Bowl and talk about the latest updates from the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando, Florida.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the latest injury news on the Florida Gators team and what they have to do in order to win against Iowa in Tampa.

Andrew and Nick also discuss the Gators targets and commit did in day one of Under Armour practice, plus update the latest on their recruitments.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we are covering the state of Florida in twos.
Nick:You’re in Orlando. I’m in Tampa, and Gator Country’s everywhere right now.
Andrew:Yeah. Knocking out updates.
Nick:Feels good to be back podcasting. We’ve been, I mean we took a little break because of Christmas, but then you and I, as we just said, we’ve been all over the place.
Andrew:I’ve not really missed the podcast. Doing this podcast is brutal for me with you.
Nick:Said nobody ever, because I’m fantastic.
Andrew:Lordy. As you say though, in Orlando for Under Armour. You’re in Tampa for the Outback Bowl, and it’s a busy time for a lot of things. Orlando’s got the Under Armour game with just one commit, but several targets in there, in the game. Outback Bowl, as we said before, it’s huge. It’s a must win, must win game for Florida.
Nick:It plays into recruiting. Recruiting is not so much about wins and losses, per say, as it is about perception, and we’ve talked about this before. Florida loses this game, and it doesn’t matter if they’re playing St. Thomas Aquinas, Iowa, Alabama, Sisters of the Poor, you go into the off season with the same feeling of there was no progress from Year 1 to Year 2. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. You can’t end like you did last season with three losses, and that hurts recruiting, and people ask you until your ears bleed, “What’s wrong with recruiting?” The perception of the team is that things aren’t changing.
Andrew:Yup.
Nick:So you need to come out, and you need to change that perception on January 2nd in the Outback Bowl.
Andrew:There’s several reasons, like we said, and we’re not going to go back into why recruiting is bad right now, but I do, I think things are slightly starting to change a little bit. The coaching rumors are out there and all of that good stuff. I think things are slowly starting to change. It’s been, what? Almost a month now since Florida lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Time heals all wounds. That is even for recruiting, but you can either continue to put that Band-Aid on, or you can open that wound back up in Tampa. Against a team like Iowa, and this is no disrespect to Iowa; Iowa’s a pretty decent football team. You can’t lose another bowl game. You just can’t.
Nick:Listen, Iowa’s not a very good football team, and they’re beat up. Kind of like Florida is. I said the opponent doesn’t matter, but like Iowa’s not a good football team. It should be a game that you can win. Iowa is, they’re not going to pretend to be something they’re not. They don’t throw the ball well.
Andrew:Right.
Nick:When the center snaps the ball, 62% of the time they are running it. They have two running backs. I think I’m saying this right, LeShun Daniels, Jr. He’s already over the century mark, and Akrum Wadley, 34 yards away from that. They’ve got basically 2,000 yard backs. They’re going to run the ball at you. Florida, a little dinged up, but you know, you’re playing a one dimensional team. You’ve got to win this game. I think last year the physicality of Michigan caught Florida off guard. You can’t look at this team, this Iowa team, and not expect that same kind of physicality. Listen, it’s a Big Ten team. The stereotype is slow, plodding, but physical. They’re going to be physical. They’re going to punch you in the mouth.
It’s going to be one of those games where Jalen Tabor said it on Wednesday, “You’re either going to get tired of getting hit as a running back, or you’re going to get tired of trying to tackle those running backs as a defensive player, and it’s about who breaks first.” Florida can’t afford to break first, but you might have guys making business decisions. So, I can see some business decisions going down, maybe you throw an arm tackle out there for a running back, and that gives you an extra 25. To me, it’s going to be about who wants, the game’s going to be low scoring, ugly, dirty. Who wants to play in the mud longer?
Andrew:Yeah. I agree, and when I say they’re, I don’t mean they’re good. I think they’re a decent team. I think they are a decent team. Who is, like you said, they don’t play pretty football. I mean, they just don’t. They are perfectly fine with coming down to Tampa and winning a 2-0 football game with the safety in the last minute of the game. Perfectly fine with them. That’s just the way they play the game.
Injury standpoint though, you’ve got Eddy Pineiro is good to go. I know there’s been some rumors floating around. He’s good to go. Alex Anzalone, what’s Mac saying? Give me the injury report.
Nick:Well, Mac said nothing. Hilarious. At the press conference an Iowa reporter asked Kirk Ferentz about an injury, and Kirk Ferentz named the injury. How about that?
Andrew:Maybe he’s a doctor.
Nick:Named the injury, and Mac kind of looks over at him aghast. What? Kirk, you told the media what the injury was. No way you’ll win the game now, you’ve given away a critical advantage, because a guy who’s not playing, now we know why he’s not playing.
Andrew:Well, he’s a doctor, Nick.
Nick:So, Jim McElwain says, “Is that high ankle or a low ankle?” I don’t know what it is, but Jim McElwain says that there’s no injury updates, and then I get out to practice, and Alex Anzalone, your starting linebacker, who hasn’t played since the first week of November, when he broke his arm, is out there practicing in full pads, full contact. So, to me, it’s kind of like, oh, hey, that’s an update.
Andrew:Maybe he listens to Gator Country, and he knew it wasn’t an update.
Nick:Jarrad Davis, who I think we all kind of expected to play, not practicing today. That’s an update.
Andrew:Yeah, but, again, maybe he listens to Gator Country, and he knew it wasn’t an update.
Nick:I don’t think Jim McElwain listens to Gator Country. Sometimes I hope he doesn’t, based on the stuff we say.
Andrew:Jim McElwain’s a funny guy. He’d probably laugh at us.
Nick:At or with us?
Andrew:Both. Both at times. I’m a funny guy.
Nick:Yeah, sure, I guess. Yeah, the injury update. Everyone else is kind of still status quo, but getting into what I talked about, being an ugly game, Iowa running the football, getting Alex Anzalone back is huge. To me, you and I have had conversations about this, and this is just my opinion. My opinion is if Alex Anzalone is going to play in this bowl game that he’s going to be coming back for his senior year. To me, there’s nothing you’re showing NFL scouts in one bowl game, playing with an injured arm, and he still has this black brace that’s on his left forearm that’s taped over to kind of give it some support there.
Andrew:Right.
Nick:He’s not showing you anything, if I’m an NFL scout. Like, you’re not showing me anything extra in this game. Jim McElwain keeps bringing up the Dante Fowler, elevated himself from a first round to a top three pick. Alex Anzalone’s not doing that in this game. So, to me, if he’s coming back, you’re risking another injury. You’re probably coming back, in my opinion, coming back for your senior season. If Alex Anzalone were cleared to play and able to play, and decided not to, I’d say, “He’s probably leaving. Probably going to get himself ready,” and can’t blame him for doing that. That’s my opinion. I think him playing would make me lean towards saying he’s going to come back for his senior year, for his redshirt senior year.
Andrew:I see what you’re saying, and I don’t disagree with that, but my other logic is this, and that is it’s another chance to put on a little bit of film for any scout that’s out there. I mean, to be fair, he has had some film cut short due to injuries, so I see both sides of it. That’s kind of where I’m at. I see both sides of it. I can see your point, and then I could rebuttal your point and say, “Well, if he’s coming back to school next year, why not just stay healthy and get ready for the off season?” You know what I’m saying? So, I think you can kind of go at both points of it. I’ll say this though, and we used to talk about Morrison being tough as nails, Anzalone’s tough as nails as well, and it also wouldn’t surprise me though to see Jarrad Davis be able to find a way to play Monday.
Nick:We asked Jalen Tabor about that, asked Quincy Wilson about it, and he said, “Still very much up in the air.” Asked Teez about it, said, “Yeah, it’s up in the air, but, listen, I wouldn’t be surprised to see JD not practice all week, come stretching, time to get out there for the bowl game, and say, screw it, I’m playing.”
Andrew:Yeah. It wouldn’t surprise me. It wouldn’t surprise me. The Alabama game most people ruled him out. You and I had said we thought he was going to play, and, sure enough, he played.
Nick:Just as a fan, I would love to see, if they were both able to play, just as a fan of football. You remember at the beginning of the year how high a level they were playing together, and it was almost like they were one person. The way that they communicate, and the way that they flow with each other on the field, the way that they were playing off of each other, and one player was making the other one better, that was so much fun to see. So, to me, as a fan of the game, I would love to see both of them play one more time, and it would be their last opportunity to see them together.
Andrew:For me, the fan of the game would be, and I agree with you, it would be fun to see it. I would love to, I would have loved to have seen what would have happened with this defense had they stayed healthy all year. I think the Florida State game would have been different, and, yeah. So, we’ll see. We’ll see what it’ll be, and, like you said, it’d be fun to see. I think he plays.
Nick:If I was a betting man, I would say I think he plays.
Andrew:Well, let’s see. Any more injuries from practice that you noticed?
Nick:This is inconsequential, but T Riles is out there moving around, doing some running, some light running, jogging. So, to me, a big dude coming back from an ACL injury, that’s big news. Jawaan Taylor had, the safety Jawaan, not Waany, had successful labrum surgery. He’s out there in a sling. McWilliams is out there not doing anything. Who else? There’s so many. I don’t think Cam Dillard made the trip. I haven’t asked anybody, but he was not at bowling. Jordan Sherit had the ACL surgery. He’s out there in a brace. I don’t think Cam Dillard made the trip.
Andrew:Okay.
Nick:There’s so many.
Andrew:I’m trying to think.
Nick:Can I tell you the guys that aren’t injured?
Andrew:I’m trying to think if there was, David Sharpe, Martez Ivey.
Nick:Sharpe and Ivey both good to go. TJ McCoy was repping one at center today. Anzalone was repping ones for the open portion of practice that we saw, and Luke Del Rio’s back, looked fine, but it’s Austin Appleby’s show. He actually had a good game against Iowa last year. Iowa beat Purdue 40-20, but Appleby threw for 259 and a touchdown. Kirk Ferenz joked, somebody asked, “Does it help that you’re familiar with Austin Appleby?” Kirk goes, “No. He had a very good game against us last year, definitely not happy to see him again this year.” So, it’ll be interesting. It’ll be an interesting to see how some of that stuff shakes out. Also, though, interesting note, Florida is 21-21 all time in bowl games. Iowa is 14-14 and 1 all time in bowl games. So, somebody is leaving this game with a losing record in a bowl game. Little interesting nugget for you there.
Andrew:I don’t know about interesting. I’m not going to lie. It’s something that’s kind of dumb, but in a way, I’m just kidding. Yeah, good note. As far as heading into the game, I think you’ll see Florida try to do a little bit more of the zone read with Appleby, and I say this not ever, ever wanting someone to get hurt, but if something was to happen and Appleby sprain an ankle, it’s his last game. You never want to see someone get hurt, but you can put it all out on the line in a bowl game. So, I think you maybe see that. Iowa is a Big Ten team, maybe not as fast on defense as what they saw at LSU, Florida State, and Alabama. So maybe you can do a little bit of that, and, I mean, like you said, do what you got to do to win this game.
Nick:Any means possible. Got to win the game.
Andrew:Yes. One other guy, David Reese. He’s completely ruled out in this game.
Nick:Completely ruled out with the wrist injury.
Andrew:Okay. Got you. Just was thinking, going through thinking of all the guys. Give us a couple keys, because this will be the last time before we get down in Tampa. I’ll be joining you soon, so couple keys for yourself.
Nick:Keys for the game for me?
Andrew:Yes.
Nick:You got to stop the run. Have to. Iowa’s not going to throw the ball. You should not be threatened, should not be worried about any of those guys, receivers or quarterback. Don’t get lulled to sleep, but you should not be worried. You really need to stop the run, and then show something on offense. You don’t need to be Baylor. You don’t need to be some crazy offense, but just give recruits something. You can’t keep saying, everyone at Florida’s been saying, “Well, look how bad they are. Look how bad they are. Why wouldn’t you want to come here and play right away?” Well, why would you want to come here and catch 20 passes? So, you got to show something. Show me some life. Signs of life is what we’re looking for on offense.
Andrew:Yeah.
Nick:A pulse. A heartbeat.
Andrew:Yeah. I think it is. I think it’s slowly coming back. Like we said, you get the coaching changes. That talk is going around. You get TJ Moore to commit on Christmas, and you’ve got some buzz. We’ll talk about that more in just a second when we get to recruiting, but you’ve gotten a little bit more of a buzz around your program to go out, beat Iowa. Then you get some coaching, a new coach, or a couple coaches, whatever it may be. That helps move the momentum. Mac, and every coach, will always say, “If your name’s in the news for positive reasons it’s a great thing.” It’s a great thing. Got to find a way.
Nick:Jerry Jones would say, “Any media is good media.”
Andrew:Well, I mean, if Austin Appleby goes out and gets arrested on Wednesday night or Thursday night, or whatever it may be, is that good press?
Nick:Come on, man. Don’t do that. Don’t say those things.
Andrew:I’m just saying.
Nick:Don’t say these things. This is Florida. These things happen. Don’t even joke.
Andrew:This is completely off topic, and, guys listening to this, this is crazy, but I was checking into the Under Armour on Wednesday, and they were going over a couple roster changes. I said, “Well, did anyone get hurt?” The guy looked at me, and he goes, “How would they get hurt? They were in a hotel.” I said, “I cover Florida. Guys get hurt walking on a scooter to practice.”
Nick:Austin Hardin was ruled out for the bowl game after an incident during walkthrough. So, there you go.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, who knows? Anything can happen with Florida.
Nick:I’m going to pray that it doesn’t.
Andrew:You’re covering it. I’m in Orlando.
Nick:Speaking of Orlando, only one commit, Daquon Green. We’re going to talk about him, because you said something earlier that I want people to hear, but what is going on down in Orlando with some of the best talent in the country all in one spot? With some fire cleats. Need you to steal some of those Florida cleats for me, those Sunshine State.
Andrew:I want the Texas Forever cleats too, because we’re all going to try to touch Jesus tonight. Yeah. It’s always an event, Nick, and you know how it is. You came down here last year, and Tyrie Cleveland makes a name. Chauncey Gardner makes a name. Then you look at what happens this season, and guess what? Those two guys are playing ball in the SEC Championship game. So, you always see some guy that really comes out and catches your eye, and that happened again. There’s several guys though that Florida’s really in on that really caught my eye on Wednesday’s practice. We’re taping this on Wednesday night, and during Wednesday practice, which was the first day, the two guys, well, I’ll give you three guys that really stood out to me.
That was LaBryan Ray, the defensive lineman, really good guy. Nick, you and I have talked about this before. He looks like an NFL football player already, and he’s a senior in high school. Really knows how to get off the ball, and then he knows how to attack the linemen, and when I say that, he knows how to set the linemen up. That means he doesn’t give away his move. If he’s going to bull rush you, he’s not giving that up. If he’s going to give a swim move, he’s not showing that early. Had a really good day.
Levi Jones, a linebacker out of Texas, father Robert Jones played for Randy Shannon. Talked about that a little bit in the story on Tuesday, or on Wednesday, excuse me. He’s a guy that is one of those new breed linebackers, and, Nick, you know when I say that it’s kind of like what we were talking about with Reuben Foster, and that is he’s a big guy, but he can run, and that’s what I think Levi Jones is. He’s a guy, sideline to sideline. Someone was even joking that he could touch both sidelines in one play, and that was a normal play for him. So he was there.
Then James Robinson’s a guy, everybody talks about him, but the guy is just an absolute freak with the ball in his hands. He can go up and catch it. He’s a physical receiver. Those are the three guys that I really, really liked that were Florida targets on Wednesday at the first day of practice.
Nick:You make a good point about the linebackers, and especially when, it reminds me of, I was talking to the players today, Florida’s players, and it’s, “Obviously, the physicality in the Big Ten surprised you, what’s the biggest difference?” Speed. It’s not, when you think of speed on the football field you think of defensive backs, receivers, running backs. Where the SEC differentiates itself is the speed in those big guys. So, when you tell me big linebacker, make kind of the comparison to Reuben Foster, and I look at Florida’s depth chart. It’s not bad at linebacker, especially what we’ve seen from Kylan Johnson, David Reese, and Vosean Joseph, and I think we’re just starting to see like the tip of the iceberg with Joseph, but yeah. Sign me up for a guy that you’re saying is running sideline to sideline there.
Florida’s kind of in a position where you still need to reload and find more playmakers and pieces on offense, but Austin Appleby said today, “Hey, what are we losing on offense? Me. Maybe David Sharpe and Ahmad Fulwood. The offense is coming back.” So, you’re going to have to, and it’s what I said, remember, after McElwain’s first year, “This defense, the pieces that you have that are making this defense great, you’re going to have to start reloading.” So, that guy, a linebacker, a safety, interior defensive line, cornerback. There’s so many pieces that Florida needs to find, and a lot of them are coming on defense. It’s almost a reversal from last year’s class where you were thinking, “Shoot, how many spots we got? 28? Can you put 26 on offense?”
Andrew:Yeah, and I agree with what you say on offense, but my thing is this, and that is, okay, Tyrie Cleveland and Callaway are two guys that are studs at receiver, in my opinion.
Nick:I think I might be, this might not be a popular opinion, but I think Antonio Callaway’s a four year player. I would not count on him staying, whatever can happen, but in my opinion I think he’s a four year player.
Andrew:I think from where he grows up he’s a three year guy, but I’m with you in that, but what I was going to go with Robinson is this, and that is, outside of Callaway and Cleveland, who on offense at receiver has really separated themselves? Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain, were just guys this year. Granted, they’re freshmen, and I think they’ve got big talent. They’re just guys. Brandon Powell you’re getting nothing out of. Dre Massey’s a guy that comes back, but when you look at a guy like James Robinson, can you really say you don’t need him, because he’s a big physical receiver, when you look at him at 6’4”?
Nick:Yeah. Well, I don’t mean to completely turn your head away from, what’s it called? From offense and only focus on defense. You got to stay both. Is Robison, last year you and I were like, damn, this Tyrie kid, he might be the best player here.
Andrew:Yeah.
Nick:Is Robinson having that kind, maybe not the best player there, but having those kind of flashes, where it seemed like every time we were looking at Tyrie he was burning somebody else?
Andrew:I don’t want to say that right now, Day 1. In my opinion, he had the best day on his team. He’s on team Highlight. Team Armour had Tee Higgins, Daquon Green, and Jared Judy on that one, and those three guys were absolute playmakers. Robinson was dominating his side, but I need to see a little bit more of that to have that. My thing with Robinson is, and I say this, and I know we all joke about it, but Robison is one of those dudes, and everyone calls them savages now, and that’s fine. Call him a savage. He’s one of those dudes that you want on your team. He’s got his gold teeth in, all that stuff. He’s just a dude. He’s a guy that you want to go to war with.
I want James Robinson on my team. Levi Jones, same way. He’s one of those guys. He’s sideline to sideline, filling gaps, popping you. I want guys like that on my team. You find places to put guys like that on your team. With Robinson I think he steps foot on campus, is in your two deep and compete for playing time. He’s got all the physical tools.
Nick:What was the deal about Florida kind of wavering on him, and where do they stand now?
Andrew:I mean, it was one of those…
Nick:Maybe not wavering, but kind of, it was like they tried to ghost him for a little while. They ghosted him.
Andrew:I think it was a little bit of, there was some off the field concerns, and I tried, Nick, you and I both agree on this.
Nick:Kind of tiptoed around that.
Andrew:Yeah, we don’t really speak on that stuff. I don’t like to air that dirty laundry out, because half of it is true. Some of it’s not true, and that’s not mine and your place. Every time I’ve been with James Robinson he’s, “Yes, Sir. No, Sir.” Great guy, so I’ll judge him by that.
There was some off the field things, and Florida was also going after Jared Judy and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Was that smart? You can question that. James Robinson came out and said it. He said that Kerry Dixon told him that they were going after those two, and that’s why they weren’t recruiting him or Henry Ruggs. Was that smart? No, but it was there. The one thing for James Robinson is this. His family loves Florida. They grew up wanting him to go to Florida, and guess what? Parents can overlook that stuff, and when it comes to a free education an hour and a half from home they can overlook that. So, I think it’s in the past. He seems like it’s in the past. He was definitely upset about it, but it seems like the past has been smoothed over.
Nick:That’s important.
Andrew:Very important, and I think that that’s, it’s one of those things where Kerry Dixon’s still learning. He’s still learning how to recruit in the SEC. I had someone say, “Well, he recruited here, like Torrian Gray, he recruited at Virginia Tech. It’s not different.” It is different, because you’re going after those Jared Judys, Donovan Peoples-Jones, the James Robinsons, all three guys, and they’re kids, so they have egos. Anybody feels slighted. They have to balance that, and Kerry Dixon just didn’t do a good job this time.
Nick:You live and you learn?
Andrew:You better. You better, or guess what? You won’t be doing this job very long.
Nick:Alright. Let me get to, before we get to somebody that I’m sure everyone wants to know about.
Andrew:Daquon Green?
Nick:I talked about this with like Duke Dawson. I talked about it with, I’ve talked about it with guys before. The less drama a recruit brings, or creates, like the less he gets talked about, and then they become completely forgotten. Duke Dawson was like the first player in Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor’s recruiting class to commit. Never thought about another school, stayed. People forget about him. First game of his career, pick six. If you don’t create drama, they forget about you. Daquon Green, first player to commit in this class.
Andrew:Right.
Nick:People forget about him, forget that he’s even in the class. What have you seen from him? Is he hanging with, I think the Under Armour game gets better talent than any other game, any other All-Star game. How is he hanging with those guys?
Andrew:Right. He’s there. That’s the thing, and I even said this to him, and I said this. I said, “Daquon, Florida people know you. Do you feel like you’ve been slept on nationally?” He said, “Yes.” It’s something you and I talked about, and we agreed that, yes, he is. I mean, he’s put up solid years in high school, junior, senior year, and I guess because he’s still not going through the process he’s slept on, but he holds his own. He did really well. He was one of my standout guys on Wednesday, first day of practice. I was talking to a couple other people, some Florida State guys and some Texas guys, and they were like, “Man, #8, Florida’s commit is really good.” I’m like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “Why is that surprising?”
Then I think about it, like I said. Committed early, that kind of stuff, but he’s a physical guy that is just a playmaker, and he really does. I mean, Nick, you and I talked about this after watching him at Florida’s camp over the summer. He leaps. I mean at 6’1”, 183, he’s above average height wise, and he can jump out of the building, and he’s still a quick guy. I just think that he’s slept on, and I think really in this game in Orlando he’s going to really put his stamp on it and become nationally known, and it’s one of those things where Florida did a great evaluation here and got on the kid early.
Nick:Seen a lot of that. Jabari Zuniga, Lamical Perine. This staff, they get a lot of crap for recruiting, and people forget about all these three stars that nobody wanted that are out here making plays. Antonio Callaway, three star.
Andrew:I was, and I still may, I was working on a piece, and, Nick, you and I talked about this, of talking to guys that didn’t come to Florida, and just really getting their feel for what they did right and maybe didn’t do right. I talked to Anthony Hines, the linebacker out of Texas, about this, and I asked him about Mac and his staff, and he goes, “They did everything right.” He said, “At one point I thought I was going to Florida,” and he said, “but it was distance. It lost out on distance.” Jared Judy was saying it’s kind of the same thing about Florida in the positive, and that is he said Kerry Dixon did a good job, and he said, “But Alabama was on me since I was in eighth grade.” He said, “Mac and Florida didn’t really get on me until right before my junior year, because that’s when they got to Florida.”
I think it’s there’s some examples that Florida, it’s not all Florida in this 2017 class messing up, and then I still think there is some things of you still have to overcome the adversity and get these guys. So, I think it’s a wavering of Florida fault, some not Florida fault, but I do think the tide is changing a little bit. A lot of guys are pumped. A lot of guys are visiting Florida in January. At the end of the day, whatever, what you sign in February.
Nick:We’ve talked about this.
Andrew:Yeah. You judge in February.
Nick:Yeah, well, for me I judge three years later, but we’ve talked about this. Next year will really be the first year that Florida’s kind of even on that level playing field.
Andrew:Right, but what I’m saying is no matter what we talk about today, it doesn’t matter a damn if they sign a great class in February. Doesn’t matter what they do today. It matters what happens on February, on National Signing Day what the class looks like. If they finish strong, everything goes away.
Nick:Yup.
Andrew:Everything goes away. You land a guy like Robinson and Levi Jones, a lot of people get happy in a hurry.
Nick:Real quick.
Andrew:Alright, who’s the guy you want to talk about?
Nick:Who everyone wants to talk about.
Andrew:Me? That’s cool. What you want to talk about?
Nick:Alex Leatherwood.
Andrew:Best, him and Isaiah Wilson are the best offensive linemen in this Under Armour game. My God, he just looks like a million bucks. There was a photo of him and Isaiah Wilson together, and I showed it to a couple people, and I said, “If you could build a football team, tell me you wouldn’t take these guys, one, two,” and they both looked at me, and they said, “Wouldn’t take a quarterback?” I showed them the photo, and they were like, “Yeah, bookend tackles, be hard to sack your quarterback.”
Nick:Isaiah’s going to Georgia, right?
Andrew:Georgia. Yeah, he is. He’s going there, one of the few New York kids. With Leatherwood it’s pretty simple. He says he’s going to Alabama. He says that’s where he’s going to head. He said that’s where he’s early enrolling, and I said this on our message board, I’ll take him at his word right now that he says that. Do I fully believe he’s for sure heading to Alabama? No. Nick, I’ve told you that from Day 1. I didn’t believe he was fully in with Alabama. I’ll sit here today, and let me look at my phone. It’s December 28th on a Wednesday we’re talking about, and I still don’t fully believe he’s for sure going to Alabama. It’s nothing that I can tell you a reason why, except for I just have a feeling he’s for sure not going to Alabama, and he for sure hasn’t shut it down. Once again, I could be, probably will be, wrong, and you can @ me and tell me I was an idiot, but I still don’t feel like he’s for sure going anywhere.
Nick:Oh, they’ll @ you.
Andrew:Yeah, absolutely.
Nick:They’ll @ you.
Andrew:Yeah. They’ll @ me. It’s same conversation I had with him on Wednesday. He said he didn’t want to do interviews, and I told him, I said, “Well, I understand that. Make the best decision for you, and we’ll be waiting on your final decision.” That was how the conversation ended, but, once again, talk about a football player. Good grief. That is an animal on the football field.
Nick:At least it’s an early enrollee situation.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, he’s going to school January 4th. He’s either going to be headed to Tuscaloosa, or he’s going to be headed to Gainesville on Tuesday, and that’s, it all ends then. Man, oh, man, what a difference it could be. If he heads to Alabama, he’s just another guy. He heads to Florida, and Gainesville may throw a party.
Nick:Hopefully better than the Eason party.
Andrew:Well, you and I both heard some stories, and if you just like to party, the Eason party was there. If wanted to party and land someone, well, you didn’t exactly accomplish that, but there was a lot of partying going on, and it was some big partying.
Nick:What else are you looking for this week out there in Orlando at the Under Armour game?
Andrew:I mean, you get Thursday. You guys are listening to this on Thursday, and there’s going to be some hitting going on, and follow along with that. I’m looking forward to it. Nick, you know how it is. You get a little heated, heated practice, and they go at it. I like to see that. You get to see the best of the best go against each other, and it’s a treat. You and I both can agree on this and say that even if it’s not a Florida guy, if somebody’s doing well out here, we’ll let you know about it. Malachi Dupre was a guy you and I both loved, and we let everybody know that. Dwayne Haskins, same way. So, yeah. I’m just really just looking forward to seeing a great last couple days of practice before I come see you down in sunshine Tampa.
Nick:Fun fact for you.
Andrew:Okay.
Nick:Orlando, geographically, is actually slightly farther south than Tampa.
Andrew:Okay.
Nick:Despite USF, University of Southern Florida, being located in Tampa, and UCF, University of Central Florida, being located in Orlando. I mean, you can’t get much more central than Orlando.
Andrew:I was going to say.
Nick:Slightly more south.
Andrew:Maybe south, I think south Florida was just in the wrong there. Maybe they should have put University of West Coast Florida.
Nick:That sounds terrible. Probably not going to sell a lot of shirts with University of West Coast Florida. Why not just University of West Florida?
Andrew:They don’t get to sell many shirts with USF on it anyway, but yeah. So, Nick, you and I will both be tweeting away. I’ll be here through Friday, and then myself and David will be joining you at Beach Day on Friday.
Nick:Looking forward to Beach Day.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, here in Orlando, I don’t know about you, Nick, but it’s hot. I even went swimming in December. Pretty cool.
Nick:What was it like in Alabama?
Andrew:It was chilly, about 55 during, Christmas Day was about 70, and then the day I left it had dropped down to like 55, 60, but I sweated pretty good on Wednesday out in Orlando.
Nick:It was 85 and humid at practice today. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Welcome to late December in Tampa.
Andrew:Yeah. Before we get out of here, so we all have connections here, and one of my Notre Dames that covers Notre Dame was home in Massachusetts, and he said he left and it was 28 and snowy, and he gets down here and it’s 80 degrees. He said, “I’m going to get pneumonia.” Yeah. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll have complete coverage of this, and we’ll still cover the Under Armour game from TV. Not very much goes on, and then we’ll be at the Outback and Nick and I will also be watching some Ronda Rousey, so we’ll be good.
Nick:Ronda, your girl.
Andrew:My girl. We’ll be good. Maybe some Top Golf.
Nick:That’s going to happen. Has to happen.
Andrew:Tweet or something, and maybe, we won’t live tweet Top Golf like Nick did live tweeting bowling, and I’m not going to let you get out of here. Recap bowling for us.
Nick:Bowling was okay. So, against all odds, now if I’m picking bowling teams Austin Appleby grew up in North Canton, Ohio. Boom, you’re on the squad. Cam Dillard, if he was there. You’re from Michigan. Boom, you’re on the squad. David Reese, you’re from Michigan. You’re on the squad. Who else do we have from the north? Bowling in the north is a religion. When the sky is gray for six months out of the year, and there’s snow on the ground, you can’t do outdoor activities.
Andrew:Taven Bryan.
Nick:Taven Bryan, on the team. Absolutely.
Andrew:I hear Antonio Callaway was bowling. They bowl in south Florida?
Nick:In the Midwest, bowling is huge. Bowling is huge in Michigan. Sign those kids up. Duke Dawson walks up first. I’m like, what the? What? Antonio Callaway walks up, and I go, “Listen, man, I know there aren’t many bowling lanes in Homestead. I know that for a fact.” Duke Dawson led the team with a 175. Callaway started strong, kind of fell off a little bit.
Andrew:Okay. Overall, Florida won?
Nick:Florida fired out strong. At the halfway point they had a nice lead. Started leaving some frames open. Iowa came back. Florida closed in the 9th and 10th frames strong. Ended up winning 797-691.
Andrew:Okay.
Nick:Outback bowling champions.
Andrew:There you go. I saw the little pins that they, pin trophy they got. I think that’s what we’ll call it. Alright, Nick, we’ll get out of here. Tell everybody where they’ll find us, and we’ll see everyone on Tuesday. We’re going to go Tuesday after the Outback Bowl. That way we’re not, no sense of talking again until we can recap the Outback Bowl, but follow along with us on the site, and if you’re not a member yet, I’m telling you guys, you don’t want to miss what’s going on. We got some good going on. Nick will tell you where to find us.
Nick:All the bowling updates you need at www.GatorCountry.com. On iTunes, check out the podcast. Subscribe, never miss an episode. Leave us a rating. Leave us a comment. Tell us what we’re doing well, what we’re doing wrong. Don’t tell me what I’m doing wrong. Tell Andrew what he’s doing wrong. It’ll be a long list of things. It’s also on the site, if you don’t have iTunes. If you’re an Android user, check out the site. Transcript and audio on the site for you. On social media, on Twitter and Facebook @GatorCountry. On Instagram, @TheGatorCountry. Find me @NickdelaTorreGC. Find him @AndrewSpiveyGC.
Andrew:David Bowie’s got some awesome photos coming your way from Under Armour, some cool stuff, like Nick said. So, follow along, and we’ll have that. We’ll be live in Tampa, so if you’re in Tampa, I know there’s a lot of Gator fans, and you’re coming to the game. Holler at one of us on Twitter, or both of us, and love to meet you guys.
Nick:Yeah. Enjoying Tampa.
Andrew:Yeah. As always, guys, chomp, chomp. Go Braves. Butch and Mark, you still suck.
Nick:I’m watching Mark suck right now. Not looking good for Miami in the Rustle Athletic Bowl.
Andrew:New year, same old losers.
Nick:You stay classy, Gator Country.
Outback Bowl PreviewPage 14
Transcript by Five Stars Transcription

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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Gator Country brings you a new podcast as we preview the Outback Bowl and talk about the latest updates from the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando, Florida.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the latest injury news on the Florida Gators team and what they have to do in order to win against Iowa in Tampa.

Andrew and Nick also discuss the Gators targets and commit did in day one of Under Armour practice, plus update the latest on their recruitments.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we are covering the state of Florida in twos.
Nick:You’re in Orlando. I’m in Tampa, and Gator Country’s everywhere right now.
Andrew:Yeah. Knocking out updates.
Nick:Feels good to be back podcasting. We’ve been, I mean we took a little break because of Christmas, but then you and I, as we just said, we’ve been all over the place.
Andrew:I’ve not really missed the podcast. Doing this podcast is brutal for me with you.
Nick:Said nobody ever, because I’m fantastic.
Andrew:Lordy. As you say though, in Orlando for Under Armour. You’re in Tampa for the Outback Bowl, and it’s a busy time for a lot of things. Orlando’s got the Under Armour game with just one commit, but several targets in there, in the game. Outback Bowl, as we said before, it’s huge. It’s a must win, must win game for Florida.
Nick:It plays into recruiting. Recruiting is not so much about wins and losses, per say, as it is about perception, and we’ve talked about this before. Florida loses this game, and it doesn’t matter if they’re playing St. Thomas Aquinas, Iowa, Alabama, Sisters of the Poor, you go into the off season with the same feeling of there was no progress from Year 1 to Year 2. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. You can’t end like you did last season with three losses, and that hurts recruiting, and people ask you until your ears bleed, “What’s wrong with recruiting?” The perception of the team is that things aren’t changing.
Andrew:Yup.
Nick:So you need to come out, and you need to change that perception on January 2nd in the Outback Bowl.
Andrew:There’s several reasons, like we said, and we’re not going to go back into why recruiting is bad right now, but I do, I think things are slightly starting to change a little bit. The coaching rumors are out there and all of that good stuff. I think things are slowly starting to change. It’s been, what? Almost a month now since Florida lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Time heals all wounds. That is even for recruiting, but you can either continue to put that Band-Aid on, or you can open that wound back up in Tampa. Against a team like Iowa, and this is no disrespect to Iowa; Iowa’s a pretty decent football team. You can’t lose another bowl game. You just can’t.
Nick:Listen, Iowa’s not a very good football team, and they’re beat up. Kind of like Florida is. I said the opponent doesn’t matter, but like Iowa’s not a good football team. It should be a game that you can win. Iowa is, they’re not going to pretend to be something they’re not. They don’t throw the ball well.
Andrew:Right.
Nick:When the center snaps the ball, 62% of the time they are running it. They have two running backs. I think I’m saying this right, LeShun Daniels, Jr. He’s already over the century mark, and Akrum Wadley, 34 yards away from that. They’ve got basically 2,000 yard backs. They’re going to run the ball at you. Florida, a little dinged up, but you know, you’re playing a one dimensional team. You’ve got to win this game. I think last year the physicality of Michigan caught Florida off guard. You can’t look at this team, this Iowa team, and not expect that same kind of physicality. Listen, it’s a Big Ten team. The stereotype is slow, plodding, but physical. They’re going to be physical. They’re going to punch you in the mouth.
It’s going to be one of those games where Jalen Tabor said it on Wednesday, “You’re either going to get tired of getting hit as a running back, or you’re going to get tired of trying to tackle those running backs as a defensive player, and it’s about who breaks first.” Florida can’t afford to break first, but you might have guys making business decisions. So, I can see some business decisions going down, maybe you throw an arm tackle out there for a running back, and that gives you an extra 25. To me, it’s going to be about who wants, the game’s going to be low scoring, ugly, dirty. Who wants to play in the mud longer?
Andrew:Yeah. I agree, and when I say they’re, I don’t mean they’re good. I think they’re a decent team. I think they are a decent team. Who is, like you said, they don’t play pretty football. I mean, they just don’t. They are perfectly fine with coming down to Tampa and winning a 2-0 football game with the safety in the last minute of the game. Perfectly fine with them. That’s just the way they play the game.
Injury standpoint though, you’ve got Eddy Pineiro is good to go. I know there’s been some rumors floating around. He’s good to go. Alex Anzalone, what’s Mac saying? Give me the injury report.
Nick:Well, Mac said nothing. Hilarious. At the press conference an Iowa reporter asked Kirk Ferentz about an injury, and Kirk Ferentz named the injury. How about that?
Andrew:Maybe he’s a doctor.
Nick:Named the injury, and Mac kind of looks over at him aghast. What? Kirk, you told the media what the injury was. No way you’ll win the game now, you’ve given away a critical advantage, because a guy who’s not playing, now we know why he’s not playing.
Andrew:Well, he’s a doctor, Nick.
Nick:So, Jim McElwain says, “Is that high ankle or a low ankle?” I don’t know what it is, but Jim McElwain says that there’s no injury updates, and then I get out to practice, and Alex Anzalone, your starting linebacker, who hasn’t played since the first week of November, when he broke his arm, is out there practicing in full pads, full contact. So, to me, it’s kind of like, oh, hey, that’s an update.
Andrew:Maybe he listens to Gator Country, and he knew it wasn’t an update.
Nick:Jarrad Davis, who I think we all kind of expected to play, not practicing today. That’s an update.
Andrew:Yeah, but, again, maybe he listens to Gator Country, and he knew it wasn’t an update.
Nick:I don’t think Jim McElwain listens to Gator Country. Sometimes I hope he doesn’t, based on the stuff we say.
Andrew:Jim McElwain’s a funny guy. He’d probably laugh at us.
Nick:At or with us?
Andrew:Both. Both at times. I’m a funny guy.
Nick:Yeah, sure, I guess. Yeah, the injury update. Everyone else is kind of still status quo, but getting into what I talked about, being an ugly game, Iowa running the football, getting Alex Anzalone back is huge. To me, you and I have had conversations about this, and this is just my opinion. My opinion is if Alex Anzalone is going to play in this bowl game that he’s going to be coming back for his senior year. To me, there’s nothing you’re showing NFL scouts in one bowl game, playing with an injured arm, and he still has this black brace that’s on his left forearm that’s taped over to kind of give it some support there.
Andrew:Right.
Nick:He’s not showing you anything, if I’m an NFL scout. Like, you’re not showing me anything extra in this game. Jim McElwain keeps bringing up the Dante Fowler, elevated himself from a first round to a top three pick. Alex Anzalone’s not doing that in this game. So, to me, if he’s coming back, you’re risking another injury. You’re probably coming back, in my opinion, coming back for your senior season. If Alex Anzalone were cleared to play and able to play, and decided not to, I’d say, “He’s probably leaving. Probably going to get himself ready,” and can’t blame him for doing that. That’s my opinion. I think him playing would make me lean towards saying he’s going to come back for his senior year, for his redshirt senior year.
Andrew:I see what you’re saying, and I don’t disagree with that, but my other logic is this, and that is it’s another chance to put on a little bit of film for any scout that’s out there. I mean, to be fair, he has had some film cut short due to injuries, so I see both sides of it. That’s kind of where I’m at. I see both sides of it. I can see your point, and then I could rebuttal your point and say, “Well, if he’s coming back to school next year, why not just stay healthy and get ready for the off season?” You know what I’m saying? So, I think you can kind of go at both points of it. I’ll say this though, and we used to talk about Morrison being tough as nails, Anzalone’s tough as nails as well, and it also wouldn’t surprise me though to see Jarrad Davis be able to find a way to play Monday.
Nick:We asked Jalen Tabor about that, asked Quincy Wilson about it, and he said, “Still very much up in the air.” Asked Teez about it, said, “Yeah, it’s up in the air, but, listen, I wouldn’t be surprised to see JD not practice all week, come stretching, time to get out there for the bowl game, and say, screw it, I’m playing.”
Andrew:Yeah. It wouldn’t surprise me. It wouldn’t surprise me. The Alabama game most people ruled him out. You and I had said we thought he was going to play, and, sure enough, he played.
Nick:Just as a fan, I would love to see, if they were both able to play, just as a fan of football. You remember at the beginning of the year how high a level they were playing together, and it was almost like they were one person. The way that they communicate, and the way that they flow with each other on the field, the way that they were playing off of each other, and one player was making the other one better, that was so much fun to see. So, to me, as a fan of the game, I would love to see both of them play one more time, and it would be their last opportunity to see them together.
Andrew:For me, the fan of the game would be, and I agree with you, it would be fun to see it. I would love to, I would have loved to have seen what would have happened with this defense had they stayed healthy all year. I think the Florida State game would have been different, and, yeah. So, we’ll see. We’ll see what it’ll be, and, like you said, it’d be fun to see. I think he plays.
Nick:If I was a betting man, I would say I think he plays.
Andrew:Well, let’s see. Any more injuries from practice that you noticed?
Nick:This is inconsequential, but T Riles is out there moving around, doing some running, some light running, jogging. So, to me, a big dude coming back from an ACL injury, that’s big news. Jawaan Taylor had, the safety Jawaan, not Waany, had successful labrum surgery. He’s out there in a sling. McWilliams is out there not doing anything. Who else? There’s so many. I don’t think Cam Dillard made the trip. I haven’t asked anybody, but he was not at bowling. Jordan Sherit had the ACL surgery. He’s out there in a brace. I don’t think Cam Dillard made the trip.
Andrew:Okay.
Nick:There’s so many.
Andrew:I’m trying to think.
Nick:Can I tell you the guys that aren’t injured?
Andrew:I’m trying to think if there was, David Sharpe, Martez Ivey.
Nick:Sharpe and Ivey both good to go. TJ McCoy was repping one at center today. Anzalone was repping ones for the open portion of practice that we saw, and Luke Del Rio’s back, looked fine, but it’s Austin Appleby’s show. He actually had a good game against Iowa last year. Iowa beat Purdue 40-20, but Appleby threw for 259 and a touchdown. Kirk Ferenz joked, somebody asked, “Does it help that you’re familiar with Austin Appleby?” Kirk goes, “No. He had a very good game against us last year, definitely not happy to see him again this year.” So, it’ll be interesting. It’ll be an interesting to see how some of that stuff shakes out. Also, though, interesting note, Florida is 21-21 all time in bowl games. Iowa is 14-14 and 1 all time in bowl games. So, somebody is leaving this game with a losing record in a bowl game. Little interesting nugget for you there.
Andrew:I don’t know about interesting. I’m not going to lie. It’s something that’s kind of dumb, but in a way, I’m just kidding. Yeah, good note. As far as heading into the game, I think you’ll see Florida try to do a little bit more of the zone read with Appleby, and I say this not ever, ever wanting someone to get hurt, but if something was to happen and Appleby sprain an ankle, it’s his last game. You never want to see someone get hurt, but you can put it all out on the line in a bowl game. So, I think you maybe see that. Iowa is a Big Ten team, maybe not as fast on defense as what they saw at LSU, Florida State, and Alabama. So maybe you can do a little bit of that, and, I mean, like you said, do what you got to do to win this game.
Nick:Any means possible. Got to win the game.
Andrew:Yes. One other guy, David Reese. He’s completely ruled out in this game.
Nick:Completely ruled out with the wrist injury.
Andrew:Okay. Got you. Just was thinking, going through thinking of all the guys. Give us a couple keys, because this will be the last time before we get down in Tampa. I’ll be joining you soon, so couple keys for yourself.
Nick:Keys for the game for me?
Andrew:Yes.
Nick:You got to stop the run. Have to. Iowa’s not going to throw the ball. You should not be threatened, should not be worried about any of those guys, receivers or quarterback. Don’t get lulled to sleep, but you should not be worried. You really need to stop the run, and then show something on offense. You don’t need to be Baylor. You don’t need to be some crazy offense, but just give recruits something. You can’t keep saying, everyone at Florida’s been saying, “Well, look how bad they are. Look how bad they are. Why wouldn’t you want to come here and play right away?” Well, why would you want to come here and catch 20 passes? So, you got to show something. Show me some life. Signs of life is what we’re looking for on offense.
Andrew:Yeah.
Nick:A pulse. A heartbeat.
Andrew:Yeah. I think it is. I think it’s slowly coming back. Like we said, you get the coaching changes. That talk is going around. You get TJ Moore to commit on Christmas, and you’ve got some buzz. We’ll talk about that more in just a second when we get to recruiting, but you’ve gotten a little bit more of a buzz around your program to go out, beat Iowa. Then you get some coaching, a new coach, or a couple coaches, whatever it may be. That helps move the momentum. Mac, and every coach, will always say, “If your name’s in the news for positive reasons it’s a great thing.” It’s a great thing. Got to find a way.
Nick:Jerry Jones would say, “Any media is good media.”
Andrew:Well, I mean, if Austin Appleby goes out and gets arrested on Wednesday night or Thursday night, or whatever it may be, is that good press?
Nick:Come on, man. Don’t do that. Don’t say those things.
Andrew:I’m just saying.
Nick:Don’t say these things. This is Florida. These things happen. Don’t even joke.
Andrew:This is completely off topic, and, guys listening to this, this is crazy, but I was checking into the Under Armour on Wednesday, and they were going over a couple roster changes. I said, “Well, did anyone get hurt?” The guy looked at me, and he goes, “How would they get hurt? They were in a hotel.” I said, “I cover Florida. Guys get hurt walking on a scooter to practice.”
Nick:Austin Hardin was ruled out for the bowl game after an incident during walkthrough. So, there you go.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, who knows? Anything can happen with Florida.
Nick:I’m going to pray that it doesn’t.
Andrew:You’re covering it. I’m in Orlando.
Nick:Speaking of Orlando, only one commit, Daquon Green. We’re going to talk about him, because you said something earlier that I want people to hear, but what is going on down in Orlando with some of the best talent in the country all in one spot? With some fire cleats. Need you to steal some of those Florida cleats for me, those Sunshine State.
Andrew:I want the Texas Forever cleats too, because we’re all going to try to touch Jesus tonight. Yeah. It’s always an event, Nick, and you know how it is. You came down here last year, and Tyrie Cleveland makes a name. Chauncey Gardner makes a name. Then you look at what happens this season, and guess what? Those two guys are playing ball in the SEC Championship game. So, you always see some guy that really comes out and catches your eye, and that happened again. There’s several guys though that Florida’s really in on that really caught my eye on Wednesday’s practice. We’re taping this on Wednesday night, and during Wednesday practice, which was the first day, the two guys, well, I’ll give you three guys that really stood out to me.
That was LaBryan Ray, the defensive lineman, really good guy. Nick, you and I have talked about this before. He looks like an NFL football player already, and he’s a senior in high school. Really knows how to get off the ball, and then he knows how to attack the linemen, and when I say that, he knows how to set the linemen up. That means he doesn’t give away his move. If he’s going to bull rush you, he’s not giving that up. If he’s going to give a swim move, he’s not showing that early. Had a really good day.
Levi Jones, a linebacker out of Texas, father Robert Jones played for Randy Shannon. Talked about that a little bit in the story on Tuesday, or on Wednesday, excuse me. He’s a guy that is one of those new breed linebackers, and, Nick, you know when I say that it’s kind of like what we were talking about with Reuben Foster, and that is he’s a big guy, but he can run, and that’s what I think Levi Jones is. He’s a guy, sideline to sideline. Someone was even joking that he could touch both sidelines in one play, and that was a normal play for him. So he was there.
Then James Robinson’s a guy, everybody talks about him, but the guy is just an absolute freak with the ball in his hands. He can go up and catch it. He’s a physical receiver. Those are the three guys that I really, really liked that were Florida targets on Wednesday at the first day of practice.
Nick:You make a good point about the linebackers, and especially when, it reminds me of, I was talking to the players today, Florida’s players, and it’s, “Obviously, the physicality in the Big Ten surprised you, what’s the biggest difference?” Speed. It’s not, when you think of speed on the football field you think of defensive backs, receivers, running backs. Where the SEC differentiates itself is the speed in those big guys. So, when you tell me big linebacker, make kind of the comparison to Reuben Foster, and I look at Florida’s depth chart. It’s not bad at linebacker, especially what we’ve seen from Kylan Johnson, David Reese, and Vosean Joseph, and I think we’re just starting to see like the tip of the iceberg with Joseph, but yeah. Sign me up for a guy that you’re saying is running sideline to sideline there.
Florida’s kind of in a position where you still need to reload and find more playmakers and pieces on offense, but Austin Appleby said today, “Hey, what are we losing on offense? Me. Maybe David Sharpe and Ahmad Fulwood. The offense is coming back.” So, you’re going to have to, and it’s what I said, remember, after McElwain’s first year, “This defense, the pieces that you have that are making this defense great, you’re going to have to start reloading.” So, that guy, a linebacker, a safety, interior defensive line, cornerback. There’s so many pieces that Florida needs to find, and a lot of them are coming on defense. It’s almost a reversal from last year’s class where you were thinking, “Shoot, how many spots we got? 28? Can you put 26 on offense?”
Andrew:Yeah, and I agree with what you say on offense, but my thing is this, and that is, okay, Tyrie Cleveland and Callaway are two guys that are studs at receiver, in my opinion.
Nick:I think I might be, this might not be a popular opinion, but I think Antonio Callaway’s a four year player. I would not count on him staying, whatever can happen, but in my opinion I think he’s a four year player.
Andrew:I think from where he grows up he’s a three year guy, but I’m with you in that, but what I was going to go with Robinson is this, and that is, outside of Callaway and Cleveland, who on offense at receiver has really separated themselves? Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain, were just guys this year. Granted, they’re freshmen, and I think they’ve got big talent. They’re just guys. Brandon Powell you’re getting nothing out of. Dre Massey’s a guy that comes back, but when you look at a guy like James Robinson, can you really say you don’t need him, because he’s a big physical receiver, when you look at him at 6’4”?
Nick:Yeah. Well, I don’t mean to completely turn your head away from, what’s it called? From offense and only focus on defense. You got to stay both. Is Robison, last year you and I were like, damn, this Tyrie kid, he might be the best player here.
Andrew:Yeah.
Nick:Is Robinson having that kind, maybe not the best player there, but having those kind of flashes, where it seemed like every time we were looking at Tyrie he was burning somebody else?
Andrew:I don’t want to say that right now, Day 1. In my opinion, he had the best day on his team. He’s on team Highlight. Team Armour had Tee Higgins, Daquon Green, and Jared Judy on that one, and those three guys were absolute playmakers. Robinson was dominating his side, but I need to see a little bit more of that to have that. My thing with Robinson is, and I say this, and I know we all joke about it, but Robison is one of those dudes, and everyone calls them savages now, and that’s fine. Call him a savage. He’s one of those dudes that you want on your team. He’s got his gold teeth in, all that stuff. He’s just a dude. He’s a guy that you want to go to war with.
I want James Robinson on my team. Levi Jones, same way. He’s one of those guys. He’s sideline to sideline, filling gaps, popping you. I want guys like that on my team. You find places to put guys like that on your team. With Robinson I think he steps foot on campus, is in your two deep and compete for playing time. He’s got all the physical tools.
Nick:What was the deal about Florida kind of wavering on him, and where do they stand now?
Andrew:I mean, it was one of those…
Nick:Maybe not wavering, but kind of, it was like they tried to ghost him for a little while. They ghosted him.
Andrew:I think it was a little bit of, there was some off the field concerns, and I tried, Nick, you and I both agree on this.
Nick:Kind of tiptoed around that.
Andrew:Yeah, we don’t really speak on that stuff. I don’t like to air that dirty laundry out, because half of it is true. Some of it’s not true, and that’s not mine and your place. Every time I’ve been with James Robinson he’s, “Yes, Sir. No, Sir.” Great guy, so I’ll judge him by that.
There was some off the field things, and Florida was also going after Jared Judy and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Was that smart? You can question that. James Robinson came out and said it. He said that Kerry Dixon told him that they were going after those two, and that’s why they weren’t recruiting him or Henry Ruggs. Was that smart? No, but it was there. The one thing for James Robinson is this. His family loves Florida. They grew up wanting him to go to Florida, and guess what? Parents can overlook that stuff, and when it comes to a free education an hour and a half from home they can overlook that. So, I think it’s in the past. He seems like it’s in the past. He was definitely upset about it, but it seems like the past has been smoothed over.
Nick:That’s important.
Andrew:Very important, and I think that that’s, it’s one of those things where Kerry Dixon’s still learning. He’s still learning how to recruit in the SEC. I had someone say, “Well, he recruited here, like Torrian Gray, he recruited at Virginia Tech. It’s not different.” It is different, because you’re going after those Jared Judys, Donovan Peoples-Jones, the James Robinsons, all three guys, and they’re kids, so they have egos. Anybody feels slighted. They have to balance that, and Kerry Dixon just didn’t do a good job this time.
Nick:You live and you learn?
Andrew:You better. You better, or guess what? You won’t be doing this job very long.
Nick:Alright. Let me get to, before we get to somebody that I’m sure everyone wants to know about.
Andrew:Daquon Green?
Nick:I talked about this with like Duke Dawson. I talked about it with, I’ve talked about it with guys before. The less drama a recruit brings, or creates, like the less he gets talked about, and then they become completely forgotten. Duke Dawson was like the first player in Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor’s recruiting class to commit. Never thought about another school, stayed. People forget about him. First game of his career, pick six. If you don’t create drama, they forget about you. Daquon Green, first player to commit in this class.
Andrew:Right.
Nick:People forget about him, forget that he’s even in the class. What have you seen from him? Is he hanging with, I think the Under Armour game gets better talent than any other game, any other All-Star game. How is he hanging with those guys?
Andrew:Right. He’s there. That’s the thing, and I even said this to him, and I said this. I said, “Daquon, Florida people know you. Do you feel like you’ve been slept on nationally?” He said, “Yes.” It’s something you and I talked about, and we agreed that, yes, he is. I mean, he’s put up solid years in high school, junior, senior year, and I guess because he’s still not going through the process he’s slept on, but he holds his own. He did really well. He was one of my standout guys on Wednesday, first day of practice. I was talking to a couple other people, some Florida State guys and some Texas guys, and they were like, “Man, #8, Florida’s commit is really good.” I’m like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “Why is that surprising?”
Then I think about it, like I said. Committed early, that kind of stuff, but he’s a physical guy that is just a playmaker, and he really does. I mean, Nick, you and I talked about this after watching him at Florida’s camp over the summer. He leaps. I mean at 6’1”, 183, he’s above average height wise, and he can jump out of the building, and he’s still a quick guy. I just think that he’s slept on, and I think really in this game in Orlando he’s going to really put his stamp on it and become nationally known, and it’s one of those things where Florida did a great evaluation here and got on the kid early.
Nick:Seen a lot of that. Jabari Zuniga, Lamical Perine. This staff, they get a lot of crap for recruiting, and people forget about all these three stars that nobody wanted that are out here making plays. Antonio Callaway, three star.
Andrew:I was, and I still may, I was working on a piece, and, Nick, you and I talked about this, of talking to guys that didn’t come to Florida, and just really getting their feel for what they did right and maybe didn’t do right. I talked to Anthony Hines, the linebacker out of Texas, about this, and I asked him about Mac and his staff, and he goes, “They did everything right.” He said, “At one point I thought I was going to Florida,” and he said, “but it was distance. It lost out on distance.” Jared Judy was saying it’s kind of the same thing about Florida in the positive, and that is he said Kerry Dixon did a good job, and he said, “But Alabama was on me since I was in eighth grade.” He said, “Mac and Florida didn’t really get on me until right before my junior year, because that’s when they got to Florida.”
I think it’s there’s some examples that Florida, it’s not all Florida in this 2017 class messing up, and then I still think there is some things of you still have to overcome the adversity and get these guys. So, I think it’s a wavering of Florida fault, some not Florida fault, but I do think the tide is changing a little bit. A lot of guys are pumped. A lot of guys are visiting Florida in January. At the end of the day, whatever, what you sign in February.
Nick:We’ve talked about this.
Andrew:Yeah. You judge in February.
Nick:Yeah, well, for me I judge three years later, but we’ve talked about this. Next year will really be the first year that Florida’s kind of even on that level playing field.
Andrew:Right, but what I’m saying is no matter what we talk about today, it doesn’t matter a damn if they sign a great class in February. Doesn’t matter what they do today. It matters what happens on February, on National Signing Day what the class looks like. If they finish strong, everything goes away.
Nick:Yup.
Andrew:Everything goes away. You land a guy like Robinson and Levi Jones, a lot of people get happy in a hurry.
Nick:Real quick.
Andrew:Alright, who’s the guy you want to talk about?
Nick:Who everyone wants to talk about.
Andrew:Me? That’s cool. What you want to talk about?
Nick:Alex Leatherwood.
Andrew:Best, him and Isaiah Wilson are the best offensive linemen in this Under Armour game. My God, he just looks like a million bucks. There was a photo of him and Isaiah Wilson together, and I showed it to a couple people, and I said, “If you could build a football team, tell me you wouldn’t take these guys, one, two,” and they both looked at me, and they said, “Wouldn’t take a quarterback?” I showed them the photo, and they were like, “Yeah, bookend tackles, be hard to sack your quarterback.”
Nick:Isaiah’s going to Georgia, right?
Andrew:Georgia. Yeah, he is. He’s going there, one of the few New York kids. With Leatherwood it’s pretty simple. He says he’s going to Alabama. He says that’s where he’s going to head. He said that’s where he’s early enrolling, and I said this on our message board, I’ll take him at his word right now that he says that. Do I fully believe he’s for sure heading to Alabama? No. Nick, I’ve told you that from Day 1. I didn’t believe he was fully in with Alabama. I’ll sit here today, and let me look at my phone. It’s December 28th on a Wednesday we’re talking about, and I still don’t fully believe he’s for sure going to Alabama. It’s nothing that I can tell you a reason why, except for I just have a feeling he’s for sure not going to Alabama, and he for sure hasn’t shut it down. Once again, I could be, probably will be, wrong, and you can @ me and tell me I was an idiot, but I still don’t feel like he’s for sure going anywhere.
Nick:Oh, they’ll @ you.
Andrew:Yeah, absolutely.
Nick:They’ll @ you.
Andrew:Yeah. They’ll @ me. It’s same conversation I had with him on Wednesday. He said he didn’t want to do interviews, and I told him, I said, “Well, I understand that. Make the best decision for you, and we’ll be waiting on your final decision.” That was how the conversation ended, but, once again, talk about a football player. Good grief. That is an animal on the football field.
Nick:At least it’s an early enrollee situation.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, he’s going to school January 4th. He’s either going to be headed to Tuscaloosa, or he’s going to be headed to Gainesville on Tuesday, and that’s, it all ends then. Man, oh, man, what a difference it could be. If he heads to Alabama, he’s just another guy. He heads to Florida, and Gainesville may throw a party.
Nick:Hopefully better than the Eason party.
Andrew:Well, you and I both heard some stories, and if you just like to party, the Eason party was there. If wanted to party and land someone, well, you didn’t exactly accomplish that, but there was a lot of partying going on, and it was some big partying.
Nick:What else are you looking for this week out there in Orlando at the Under Armour game?
Andrew:I mean, you get Thursday. You guys are listening to this on Thursday, and there’s going to be some hitting going on, and follow along with that. I’m looking forward to it. Nick, you know how it is. You get a little heated, heated practice, and they go at it. I like to see that. You get to see the best of the best go against each other, and it’s a treat. You and I both can agree on this and say that even if it’s not a Florida guy, if somebody’s doing well out here, we’ll let you know about it. Malachi Dupre was a guy you and I both loved, and we let everybody know that. Dwayne Haskins, same way. So, yeah. I’m just really just looking forward to seeing a great last couple days of practice before I come see you down in sunshine Tampa.
Nick:Fun fact for you.
Andrew:Okay.
Nick:Orlando, geographically, is actually slightly farther south than Tampa.
Andrew:Okay.
Nick:Despite USF, University of Southern Florida, being located in Tampa, and UCF, University of Central Florida, being located in Orlando. I mean, you can’t get much more central than Orlando.
Andrew:I was going to say.
Nick:Slightly more south.
Andrew:Maybe south, I think south Florida was just in the wrong there. Maybe they should have put University of West Coast Florida.
Nick:That sounds terrible. Probably not going to sell a lot of shirts with University of West Coast Florida. Why not just University of West Florida?
Andrew:They don’t get to sell many shirts with USF on it anyway, but yeah. So, Nick, you and I will both be tweeting away. I’ll be here through Friday, and then myself and David will be joining you at Beach Day on Friday.
Nick:Looking forward to Beach Day.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, here in Orlando, I don’t know about you, Nick, but it’s hot. I even went swimming in December. Pretty cool.
Nick:What was it like in Alabama?
Andrew:It was chilly, about 55 during, Christmas Day was about 70, and then the day I left it had dropped down to like 55, 60, but I sweated pretty good on Wednesday out in Orlando.
Nick:It was 85 and humid at practice today. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Welcome to late December in Tampa.
Andrew:Yeah. Before we get out of here, so we all have connections here, and one of my Notre Dames that covers Notre Dame was home in Massachusetts, and he said he left and it was 28 and snowy, and he gets down here and it’s 80 degrees. He said, “I’m going to get pneumonia.” Yeah. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll have complete coverage of this, and we’ll still cover the Under Armour game from TV. Not very much goes on, and then we’ll be at the Outback and Nick and I will also be watching some Ronda Rousey, so we’ll be good.
Nick:Ronda, your girl.
Andrew:My girl. We’ll be good. Maybe some Top Golf.
Nick:That’s going to happen. Has to happen.
Andrew:Tweet or something, and maybe, we won’t live tweet Top Golf like Nick did live tweeting bowling, and I’m not going to let you get out of here. Recap bowling for us.
Nick:Bowling was okay. So, against all odds, now if I’m picking bowling teams Austin Appleby grew up in North Canton, Ohio. Boom, you’re on the squad. Cam Dillard, if he was there. You’re from Michigan. Boom, you’re on the squad. David Reese, you’re from Michigan. You’re on the squad. Who else do we have from the north? Bowling in the north is a religion. When the sky is gray for six months out of the year, and there’s snow on the ground, you can’t do outdoor activities.
Andrew:Taven Bryan.
Nick:Taven Bryan, on the team. Absolutely.
Andrew:I hear Antonio Callaway was bowling. They bowl in south Florida?
Nick:In the Midwest, bowling is huge. Bowling is huge in Michigan. Sign those kids up. Duke Dawson walks up first. I’m like, what the? What? Antonio Callaway walks up, and I go, “Listen, man, I know there aren’t many bowling lanes in Homestead. I know that for a fact.” Duke Dawson led the team with a 175. Callaway started strong, kind of fell off a little bit.
Andrew:Okay. Overall, Florida won?
Nick:Florida fired out strong. At the halfway point they had a nice lead. Started leaving some frames open. Iowa came back. Florida closed in the 9th and 10th frames strong. Ended up winning 797-691.
Andrew:Okay.
Nick:Outback bowling champions.
Andrew:There you go. I saw the little pins that they, pin trophy they got. I think that’s what we’ll call it. Alright, Nick, we’ll get out of here. Tell everybody where they’ll find us, and we’ll see everyone on Tuesday. We’re going to go Tuesday after the Outback Bowl. That way we’re not, no sense of talking again until we can recap the Outback Bowl, but follow along with us on the site, and if you’re not a member yet, I’m telling you guys, you don’t want to miss what’s going on. We got some good going on. Nick will tell you where to find us.
Nick:All the bowling updates you need at www.GatorCountry.com. On iTunes, check out the podcast. Subscribe, never miss an episode. Leave us a rating. Leave us a comment. Tell us what we’re doing well, what we’re doing wrong. Don’t tell me what I’m doing wrong. Tell Andrew what he’s doing wrong. It’ll be a long list of things. It’s also on the site, if you don’t have iTunes. If you’re an Android user, check out the site. Transcript and audio on the site for you. On social media, on Twitter and Facebook @GatorCountry. On Instagram, @TheGatorCountry. Find me @NickdelaTorreGC. Find him @AndrewSpiveyGC.
Andrew:David Bowie’s got some awesome photos coming your way from Under Armour, some cool stuff, like Nick said. So, follow along, and we’ll have that. We’ll be live in Tampa, so if you’re in Tampa, I know there’s a lot of Gator fans, and you’re coming to the game. Holler at one of us on Twitter, or both of us, and love to meet you guys.
Nick:Yeah. Enjoying Tampa.
Andrew:Yeah. As always, guys, chomp, chomp. Go Braves. Butch and Mark, you still suck.
Nick:I’m watching Mark suck right now. Not looking good for Miami in the Rustle Athletic Bowl.
Andrew:New year, same old losers.
Nick:You stay classy, Gator Country.
Outback Bowl PreviewPage 14
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Under Armour All-American photo gallery: Practice 1

GC brings you a Under Armour All-American photo gallery from practice No. 1 on Wednesday.

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