GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we talk about the newest Florida Gators quarterback, Malik Zaire who’s planning to transfer to Florida this summer.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the move for Zaire, plus talk about the big weekend for the Gators recruiting classes last week, plus talk Justin Fields decommitment from Penn State.
Andrew and Nick also break down the diamond sports and what the baseball team has to face this weekend in the Super Regionals this weekend.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, it’s June. What the hell are we doing with a jam-packed show?
Nick: Stickball sport, one of them is still going on, and, as you know, the bags under eyes probably tell it, recruiting never dies, never sleeps. I guess Coach Mac and those guys are trying to fill up that, what is it? Swamp ’18?
Andrew: Yeah. Swamp ’18, and then Gator ’19. Yeah. All Bite ’18. Sorry. All Bite ’18.
Nick: All Bite. That’s it. There you go. That’s on me.
Andrew: Then let’s not forget, the biggest non-secret of Malik Zaire coming to Florida is official.
Nick: The worst kept secret, and people are freaking out about it. You just kind of kept telling them. Like, listen, if the kid was going to go somewhere else, he wouldn’t have pushed back his decision three times.
Andrew: Yeah. That’s what you get for listening to the Rivals and the 247 guys over at Texas trying to tell you he was going to be a Longhorn.
Nick: You remember when that Texas site came out, and was like, he’s thinking about going to Harvard too? I called you. I was like Harvard? Who are these people talking to?
Andrew: Yeah. Obviously wasn’t talking to him. I mean, if he was going to Harvard, he might as well stay at Notre Dame.
Nick: If you’re going to go to Harvard, you can go to Harvard, but he’s trying to play football at the highest level.
Andrew: Yeah. Exactly. Well give a rundown here. We’re going to start with softball and baseball, and then we’re going to finish up with some Zaire talk and some recruiting talk. Jam-packed. We’ll fly through the stickball sports and spend the majority of the time on Zaire and on recruiting. Justin Fields decommitted on Tuesday night, during the softball game. Maybe the worst kept secret.
Nick: That is eye emoji all day long.
Nick: Two eye emoji on that Justin Fields decommitment, even though you had been telling people on our site to expect it. Even when it happened, you got to drop that eye emoji.
Andrew: That’s one of those bombshells. That’s that. Also, I pissed off Miami fans. What’s new?
Nick: You rang that bell yesterday. Ding! Ding! Ding! You had Bruce Buffer on your timeline going, Ladies and gentlemen!
Nick: Went toe to toe with the ‘Cane Gang.
Andrew: Oh yeah. Let’s start with it. Nick, 17 innings, six-hour softball. Don’t ever tell me softball doesn’t play long, because my eyes were getting crossed.
Nick: How dare you? That was one game. We had a five-hour, 400 pitch game, and that was regulation.
Andrew: Ugh. I’ll say this, and you and I can talk about this here right now, I guess. You and I start baseball and softball in February. Don’t miss a game. Cover every game. Then you get morons on our timelines from blog sites, this site, that site. They all want to come in and give their expert opinion. Feel pretty good in saying that you and I are probably the two guys who follow baseball and softball the most. Anyway, had a lot of people come on softball saying this team can’t hit, this team can’t hit. It was the best two teams in the country going at it. A 17 inning slobberknocker.
Nick: What was that? It was a 17 inning what?
Nick: I thought you said slubber. I was like what?
Andrew: Slobberknocker. Probably one of the best softball games ever. It was a great series overall. When you look at the game that was 7-5 final score, you say there wasn’t a ton of hitting? Sure. You’re going up against player of the year Kelly Barnhill, and then a pitcher from Oklahoma who has never lost in the World Series, 8-0. What did you expect? Do you go into the World Series expecting 10 runs to be scored? I don’t.
Nick: No. I mean, they had that homegirl leftie throwing gas. They had another girl that you told me hadn’t given up a run in the tournament.
Nick: The girl started, until Florida did. I don’t understand. Be disappointed, but to get to that point of the season, it’s like I told people who were bitching at Sully last year in the College World Series. I’m like, 0-2. I said, 300 teams, I don’t know how many there are in softball, but in baseball there’s more than 300 Division I teams. I said, Florida’s one of the last eight teams playing. That in itself is an accomplishment. When Kevin O’Sullivan was hired 10 years ago, Florida wasn’t making it to the NCAA tournament. They weren’t making it to the regional. They weren’t making it to super regionals. Forget Omaha. Now, before the season starts, you can almost pencil Florida in as one of those final eight teams in the College World Series. You can almost use a damn Sharpie to write them in as a super regional host.
The same thing with Tim Walton. I think you kind of need to take some perspective, and, yeah, expectations change, but you lose that championship tournament, that championship round of the College World Series, those girls are on scholarship too.
Andrew: Give a tip of the hat. I mean, that’s my thing.
Nick: Yeah. It’s always, these girls suck, or they’re choke artists. Not, oh, Oklahoma played really well. Our girls gave it their all. Oklahoma played really well. You lost to the better team. Thanks for a great season. It’s been great.
Andrew: Here’s the thing. I won’t go as far as to say Oklahoma is a better team than Florida. I won’t, because I don’t know that. I will say, I mean when you look at it, it’s in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City. Oklahoma did have, I would say, a little bit home field advantage, but, once again, that’s not an excuse.
My thing is this, and that is that when you look at Florida, they lost seven games heading into the tournament. Seven. Hadn’t lost a series. Hadn’t lost two games in a row. Had the Pitcher of the Year. They’re going to return everyone but Delanie Gourley, Justine McLean and Chelsea Herndon. To be fair, probably only Gourley will be the one that will be sorely missed. McLean and Herndon, they’ll be missed, but wasn’t as big of a factor on the team as the others go. I think it’s bad to say that Walton and his team choked.
Nick: Quite frankly, it couldn’t be anything further from the truth.
Andrew: Yeah. When you can say every year you can pretty much put in Sharpie Florida’s going to be in the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, what more do you ask for?
Andrew: What more do you ask for?
Nick: It’s a game. They’re not robots. They’re dealing with family stuff. They’re dealing with pressure. They’re dealing with friends, relationships. There’s so much going on. I feel like fans sometimes just expect that they’re robots, and that they’re going to go out there and hit 1.000 and never make an error, and never miss a pitch. You told me, Barnhill gave up a homerun, and somebody’s saying, why’d she leave that pitch up? I don’t know. She probably did it on purpose.
Andrew: Yeah. I watched someone on the timeline from one of those dumb blog sites, and they said, how do you not get the bunt down? Homegirl’s throwing 73 miles an hour. That is equal in baseball to a 105 mile an hour fastball from anyone. Good luck getting in there and hitting a bunt down. Good luck. I’m just saying. Good luck.
Nick: Yeah. Like our boy, our buddy, Kevin, tweeted at us yesterday, am I crazy to think that I would get on base, if I had 20 at bats, I’d get on base one time against Kelly Barnhill? I was like, maybe if she walked you or hit you, you would, but you’re not hitting the ball.
Andrew: No. I understand it. Baseball is a game that a lot of people can’t just turn on and understand.
Nick: It’s not for everyone.
Andrew: It’s a situational game full of strategies.
Nick: You and I love baseball, but I think we understand, especially growing up and playing it, it’s not for everyone.
Nick: Baseball is not for everyone. It’s a slow game. I get that. It can be boring. I get that. I don’t try to push it on anybody, but don’t then come in here, after I’ve watched 60 something games, and tell me about the team that I’ve watched that you just started watching because the tournament started. That’s not going to go real well.
Andrew: That’s not going to go real well. Like I said, it’s a good season for Florida. They return the Player of the Year in Kelly Barnhill, who will just be a junior. Walton once again loaded up in his recruiting class, so go ahead and make reservations for Oklahoma City next year, because it’d be a disappointment for them not to make it.
Turning the attention now to baseball, Nick. You talk about pressure and things going on. You got the super regionals next weekend, and just a little side note, on Monday the Major League Baseball draft will be going on.
Nick: Yeah. At least it’s after the super regional this year. Last year it was before super regionals, or the same week. It was the Monday of super regionals. It’s still never a great time, and Florida has a ton of guys that will be drafted and that have been waiting for this moment, not just all season, but probably their entire lives. Alex Faedo, Dalton Guthrie, Mike Rivera, JJ Schwarz. Nick Horvath is eligible. Deacon Liput is eligible. Frank Rubio as a senior. Ryan Larson as a senior. Lot of guys that will be waiting on their names, and kind of still have to take it all in stride.
If I’m going to be completely honest, I think this team has handled it better than the team last year. I think Logan Shore and some of those guys, Dane Dunning handled it really well, but there were guys. I don’t want to call anybody out, even those I’ve kind of singled some people out there. Once the draft was getting close, even though you’re playing really important college games, had kind of checked out.
Nick: That coming from guys who have been leaders, coming from older guys, it can kind of infect the locker room. I think guys like Alex Faedo, Mike Rivera. Mike Rivera might not even watch or pick up his phone during the draft. Mike Rivera could care less. He wants to win Friday. He wants to win Saturday, and he wants to win a World Series.
I think this team has handled it a lot better, and I think they match up well. You kind of have polar opposites this week in the super regional. Fifteenth best hitting team in the country in Wake Forest. Since they switched to those whiffle ball bats, those crappy BBCOR bats, back in 2011, Wake Forest is the only team ever to hit 100 homeruns. Yes. It is .300 down left field and like .310 or .310 and .315 down the lines at their park, much bigger park at McKethan, but you’re hitting 100 homeruns. That’s a lot of dingers, and it’s not like you’re hitting .220 and 100 homeruns. They have the 15th best batting average in the country. They’ve got six guys on their starting lineup hitting .300. Five guys have double digit homeruns. Six guys are slugging over .600. This is a team that can hit.
If you look at their pitching, all the ERAs are high 3s. A 4.8 for their Sunday guy. You look at Florida, Florida is 197th in the country in batting. It’s kind of polar opposites. What do they always say about baseball and pitching, Andrew?
Nick: Great pitching beats great hitting every time.
Andrew: It’s something that you look forward to, that’s what I was going to say. I was going to say it’s something I look forward to, when you look at that. My question to you, Nick, is this. What goes into the Saturday, Sunday, Monday? Is that something that you think Sully has to adjust things with, pitching? I know that that does help Faedo.
Nick: Yeah. It actually works out well. The way the NCAA schedules it is kind of just like on how you finished, and Florida finished on Monday, so they’re going to give them an extra day.
Nick: It works out perfectly for Florida. Alex Faedo, Sully kind of switched things up this year and threw Jackson Cowart first. Remember, Logan Shore threw on Friday last year. You can go back, and Sully really hasn’t changed anything. He said, hey, we’re going to win that first game. We’re going for the guy that’s pitched on Friday. Because Faedo pitched Saturday, he’s going to be on his full rest. Brady Singer will pitch on Sunday. He pitched last Sunday. He’ll be on full rest. If you need him, you got Jackson Cowart, and he’ll have a couple extra days of rest.
Andrew: That’s something that kind of looking forward to seeing is how that goes about. Does Florida answer back with better at bats this weekend? It’s something you and I said last weekend. You can be one of those guys, and, again, I’m going back to a couple of the blog sites, of looking and saying, he got out. Okay. Yeah, he did. But when homeboy hits a missile, and it’s just right at someone in right field, chances are he’s close to being red hot, you know.
It’s the same, as a Braves fan, we always say with Freddie Freeman, and that is when you start seeing him hitting bullets the opposite way, you know he’s very close to being red hot and in that zone. When they’re in that zone, that beach ball gets there, they’re close. I think Florida’s hitters are close. I mean, you look at the Bethune-Cookman game, they were hitting balls right on the skirts.
Nick: That’s the thing. You’re hitting balls hard. Hats off to that, as a former outfielder, it was a pleasure to watch that Bethune-Cookman outfield.
Andrew: They were covering the whole thing. It was no gaps.
Nick: There were no gaps. Florida’s stinging balls into the gap, and off the bat I’m thinking, that’s two. The next thing I know, guy’s not even making a running catch. He’s waiting under it and just like, man. Not only that, they’re throwing the ball. They hosed Horvath out at third. Another runner would have been hosed out at home if the third baseman doesn’t cut it off. They were throwing the ball, running after it. That was a tough Bethune-Cookman team.
People are saying, you should never lose to Bethune-Cookman. Florida actually had never lost to Bethune until that Sunday, the game that forced the elimination game. They were 31-0. It’s still a team that, at that point, had won their conference, had just beaten USF, who had won their conference, and were playing with house money.
Andrew: No pressure.
Nick: No pressure. It’s a team, in their conference, in the MEAC, they play double headers all the time. It’s not even like, how’d you lose, they already played. They don’t play on Sundays most days. They play Friday, and then they play two Saturday. It’s not like it was something new for them. If Florida would have had to play a double header, that’s something new. That’s not something Florida is used to doing. I mean, if you grow up playing baseball, you play double headers all your life, but once you get to college, and you’re playing in the SEC, that rarely ever happens. Maybe you’re making up a rain delay or a rainout or something. Hats off to Bethune-Cookman for the way that they played.
Still, Florida, the bats have shown that they can go into these long slumps, and you just hope that last week you get it out of your system. You only hit, I think, .228 last week as a team. You hope that you can give the guys some run support heading in.
Just looked up the stat. Brady Singer, poor kid, he’s had 16 starts. He has gotten less than three runs of run support in eight of those.
Andrew: Wow. Like you said, it’s a game that you better know how …
Nick: Game of failure.
Andrew: You better know how to fail. It is what is it. You better know how to fail and rebound, and not let it affect one to the other.
Nick, that’s the diamond sports.
Nick: Diamond sports out of the way. Gators Saturday, Sunday, if necessary Monday, on the baseball field. It’ll be interesting to see what the crowds are like without that super regional matchup with Miami or Florida State.
Andrew: Yeah. For real. Let’s go to the Malik Zaire news. We all talked about that. I think you and I were on this for a while. When you have people saying this, people saying that, and we were just spitting the straight truth that, listen, Zaire wants to go to Florida. His father wanted him to go to Florida. They were talking to current players, talking to former players about what’s going on, what the line was. They were watching the spring game. Talking to Mac, talking to Nuss. Finally becomes official.
You have 50/50 of Gator Nation, and I say that in you have 50% of the people saying, this is stupid. Why bring him in? 50% of the people saying, this is great. I mean, Nick, you and I have had people tell us this makes Florida go from a decent team to a really good team. They say, well, Zaire’s not good. Right, but your quarterback position was not good. Zaire brings something different to the table.
I went back and looked at different games, and you and I had talked about this heading into the Iowa game, and that was Florida had gotten real successful with the zone reads and the quarterback run with Austin Appleby. They did well against LSU with it. Didn’t do as much with it in the Florida State and Alabama game, then did it again in the Iowa game.
Nick: I think you’re even not being, as the coaches, you’re probably not even being as liberal as you want to with some of those calls, because you’re worried about Appleby going down.
Andrew: Yeah. Exactly. I think that, when you look back at that, and it’s something Mac and Nuss have denied, but said at the same time, and that is that they would like to have a guy that can do a little bit of both. When you look at what they’re recruiting this year, and we’ll talk more about that in a minute, they are doing that more.
My thing is this, and that is two things. If Feleipe Franks is the better quarterback, don’t think Jim McElwain is putting Zaire out there. He’s not stupid. If Franks, or Del Rio, you guys want to say Del Rio, but Del Rio is a guy that is in the mix if Zaire doesn’t come. If Trask is better, if Jake Allen’s better, if Kadarius Toney’s better. Whoever the best quarterback is is going to play the game. It’s stupid to say since Zaire’s coming in that he blocks everybody. That’s stupid. They don’t block.
Nick: Listen, Jim McElwain already proved that he’s not giving any guarantees to a quarterback about playing time, or what their role is going to be. It’s exactly like you said. Whoever is the best guy is going to play. Florida gets a lot back on that offensive line, but it’s an offensive line that struggled some.
Andrew: Here’s the thing again, and someone told me this on my radio spot on Wednesday, and that is you look back at the last 10 years, and Florida’s had two quarterbacks play every year. At some point or another, you want to stop that. Is that Zaire? I don’t know. Maybe. Is that Franks? Right now, no. I mean, you and I are taping this podcast Wednesday, June 7, and I can say that Feleipe Franks is not ready to be your quarterback unless he improves a ton from June 7 to the time they arrive in Jerry’s World in Dallas for Game 1 of the season. He’s not ready. I would say Del Rio is questionable. Who knows what his shoulder’s going to be? Trask, I think he’s still there.
The one thing you and I have been told about Zaire is this, and that is that even when he got hurt he was a guy that was a leader in the locker room. He was a leader on the field. Guys were listening to him. Let’s just go back to McElwain’s favorite quote, and that is, “I want a guy that’s going to affect the 10 people around him the most.”
Nick: Elevate them. Make them better.
Andrew: Yeah. My thing is this to you, Nick, and maybe I’m stupid. Maybe so. I don’t know. Mac and Nuss and the coaching staff were the only people that were able to see Trask and Franks go through every spring practice and through the spring game and be able to watch film back. To me, them going after Zaire tells me they’re not comfortable with those guys. So, what does John Doe on Twitter know that the coaching staff doesn’t know? I just don’t understand.
Nick: Well, the timeline is always right. They’ll tell you that.
Andrew: To me, bringing him in does nothing but help the team.
Nick: Yeah. He also, people keep saying, you need to recruit a quarterback. You don’t need to recruit these band-aids, these temporary fixes. You need to recruit and develop. Zaire, he has an opportunity to apply for a medical redshirt. He got hurt in the second game of the season and missed the rest of the year because of it, so there’s an opportunity that you could have him for two years.
Andrew: Just stop there for a second, Nick. Let me just say this. Mac’s not recruiting a quarterback that’s going to be here by August. He’s just not. He’s recruiting Justin Fields. He’s recruiting Jarren Williams. He’s recruiting all these guys. Guess what? They got to play high school ball next year. They’re seniors.
Nick: Not going to help you against Michigan. Not going to help you against Tennessee. Not going to help you against LSU, A&M.
Andrew: Right. What’s the big deal? I just don’t understand it. I personally, I don’t have a problem saying this. I haven’t been satisfied by what I’ve seen from Franks and Trask. I just haven’t. You and I said when they recruited Franks he wasn’t going to be a guy that was going to be ready for a couple years. Let him develop. I think that it’s one of those things where if Zaire takes you to a 12-1 season next year, and you’re playing in the playoffs, this talk goes away.
Nick: Yup. Absolutely. There was a lot of people that just weren’t feeling it, and I don’t understand why. It’s kind of like you and I say. There are times where you and I will even say, listen, I don’t think that whatever the coaching staff is doing is right. I think they’re wrong. I think they’re making a mistake. But we always say, they see more, and they know more than we do, so we’ll see how it plays out. Maybe it is a mistake, it plays out and maybe the coach did make a mistake and I was right, but you and I always operate under the assumption that they’re seeing more than us. They know more than us, so we will give you our opinion, but I’m never going to say, they’re being stupid for taking another player.
Nick: If they feel like they need another quarterback, then they probably need another quarterback.
Andrew: Quarterbacks are like pitchers. You can never have enough.
Nick: Yeah. Especially if you’re looking at a situation where quarterbacks are transferring like hotcakes, leaving. You don’t play for a year, and all of a sudden you’re leaving. Now you get into a situation where, shoot, we didn’t take that transfer. One of the two kids left. Now we have two quarterbacks and only one coming in in the class. Now we have three quarterbacks. You want to have at least four.
Andrew: Right. That’s my thing. Quick thoughts, real quick. Michigan game, are you ready to say Zaire’s your starter?
Nick: I would think so. I would think that Zaire’s their starter. I mean, let’s face it. I might sound like a jerk, and you might disagree with me. I’m not going to speak for you, but I’ve seen two years of Florida’s playbook. It ain’t that difficult to figure out. I don’t think it’s an issue of he doesn’t have enough time. I would say yes.
Andrew: See, I would agree with you. I would agree that, barring something crazy, Zaire’s your guy.
Nick: Yeah. It was funny, I won’t say who, but I was at an open practice, and I was talking to one of the coaches. This is during spring practice. They said, who do you think is going to be the starter? I was like, well, it would seem like, the way these reps are shaking out, it’s going to be Franks. I really like Trask. They go, what about Malik? At this point, it was already a badly kept secret. Maybe not as badly kept as it was two weeks ago.
Nick: You and I knew, and some people that cover the team knew. I joked with him. I go, well, if he gets in, then none of these damn stories I wrote about these quarterbacks all spring are going to matter at all, because he’ll probably be the starter. He just started laughing.
Andrew: To me, that says it all. I mean, not just that conversation. Like I said, if Feleipe Franks goes out and destroys the competition and is doing good.
Andrew: Good for him. Guess what? You got Malik Zaire for nothing. It’s not like you’re paying …
Nick: If I’m a Florida fan, I love that Feleipe Franks is starting, or Kyle Trask, or Luke Del Rio. If Florida brought in Malik Zaire, who everyone is now assuming and saying is going to be your starter, if he isn’t, that means somebody beat him out. Somebody was better than him for four months. How far away are we from that game now?
Andrew: Three months.
Nick: Three months. We’re in June now. Three months, a little under three months, away from that game. That means somebody outperformed him for three months. Then, yeah, then I’m excited. It’s like I don’t understand why there is an issue with these guys coming back. If you’re so against having Luke Del Rio, because of what he did when he was injured last year, being your quarterback, the only other two options you have, or three other options you have, haven’t taken a snap, in Allen, Trask, and Franks.
Nick: Haven’t taken a single snap in a meaningful game.
Andrew: That’s my thing as well. If he is, cool. Great. Proud of you. Once again, competition only makes competition better. It’s not like it’s in the free agent market, and you’re Jacksonville Jaguars, and you just put $10 million on Malik Zaire. It’s like, all right, you’ve got to play Malik. It ain’t that. So, any final thoughts?
Nick: No. Let the best man win.
Andrew: That’s my thing as well. Let the best man win. He’ll get in the 26th. Is that correct, Nick?
Nick: 26th is when Summer B starts. June 26. That’ll be classes, when the second summer session starts. That’s actually when the rest of the freshmen will be on campus as well.
Andrew: Yes, the ones that didn’t enroll for Summer A.
Nick: Yes. I think only Allen enrolled Summer A?
Andrew: Allen and TJ Moore.
Nick: TJ Moore. Correct.
Andrew: There it is. Let’s go to recruiting.
Nick: Had a big weekend last week.
Andrew: The big weekend was overshadowed, Nick. Tuesday night overshadowed things. Agree?
Andrew: Justin Fields. My dude, Zach Alboverde, from the SEC Country, you and I give him, and we’re not saying nothing behind his back, we give him hell for some of his titles sometimes. I’m looking at a Twitter title right now that he has. He says, five-star quarterback Justin Fields will be Florida’s biggest recruit since Tim Tebow. Yes. That’s how big Justin Fields is. He’s a program changer. He’s a career changer for Nuss and Mac. He’s a guy that can make or break your team. The message to Fields has always been, Florida’s missing a quarterback piece. Haven’t had a quarterback since Tim Tebow.
I went on that trip through Georgia, Nick, back in April. Walking into Jarren William’s coach’s office. He said the same thing. He goes, “Well, you guys,” and he’s talking about Florida, “haven’t had a quarterback since Tim Tebow.” I’m sitting there thinking, yup, that’s correct. Go to Justin Field’s school. Dad says the same thing. It’s not a notion that’s being kept a secret. It’s out there.
Decommits from Penn State. If you’ve been on Gator Country, you knew this was going to happen a while ago. I know now everybody’s talking about it, but props to them for being two months late on everything. Florida’s a school that’s in the mix. They’re strongly in the mix. Auburn’s in the mix. The connection with Auburn is Field’s plays for Cam Newton’s seven on seven team, so that’s in the mix. People say Florida State. Screw Florida State. They’re not in there. Florida State’s not happening. Dad’s not sending Fields to Jimbo. It’s just not happening. Georgia’s in the mix, just because it’s the home state school.
Personally, Florida or Auburn. The kid wants to make a decision soon, and the kid knows he’s going to be a recruiter for the school of his choice, whether that be Florida or whether that be Auburn. He’s going to be that guy. Biggest thing that I can say about Fields is Fields wants to play early. Auburn has Stidham. Florida has nobody.
Nick: Looking at that statement, that you agree with, the biggest recruit since Tebow. I think you can’t just make the assumption that, well, he’s going to come in and win the Heisman and stuff like this.
Andrew: No. I don’t think that.
Nick: No. I’m just saying, you might not mean it that way, but somebody might just say, “Andrew Spivey told me that he’s going to be Tim Tebow.” They hear it on the podcast. I think you look at Tim Tebow, and what it did for that recruiting class. You get Brandon Spikes saying, “Listen, wherever Tebow goes, that’s where I’m going.” Fields gets other people. There’s players that he knows that he’ll meet at the Elite 11. Maybe not the Elite 11, probably not going to get another quarterback to follow him. Players that he meets at the Opening, that he meets through seven on seven and playing with and against. They see him, and they want to play with him. Where are you going? Okay, maybe Florida looks a little bit better now, if this guy, who I like, who I think is a great competitor, player is going there. He’s going to make them better. Let me go be a part of something special.
That’s something that kids are doing. That’s something not just kids, look at the NBA right now. There’s two teams that dominate the NBA, and it’s elite players wanting to go win championships, and to do that they’re saying, “Let me go play with the best players I can.” Justin Fields is one of the best players in the country this year. I think he brings along other players at other positions that you can make an argument for they’re the best at their position, or they’re the best in the state at their position.
That’s the kind of impact that he can have, outside of being one of the best dual threat quarterbacks and his physical ability on the field.
Andrew: That’s exactly what I mean by that statement. I haven’t read Zach’s story, but I’m pretty sure that’s what Zach means as well. He’s a guy that, it’s like you said, Twitter is the thing now. When Justin Fields commits to Auburn, commits to Florida, commits to Georgia, commits to wherever he goes to, guess what? That timeline’s blowing up. Those kids are getting that scene. They’re seeing that stuff. They’re seeing so-and-so committed. I mean, look at the 2019 class for Florida. Guy after guy after guy is committing. Guess what? Florida right now is dominating the timelines of these kids with people like myself, with people like you, with people like Zach. All these reporters, fans, that kind of stuff, that are just tweeting about it. That’s what it is.
It’s also like you said, one big quarterback, and I say this. It’s not true all the time, but it’s true most of the time. A quarterback is probably the only guy that can really attract players from all positions. A receiver is tough to attract players from everywhere, vice versa defensive backs, that kind of stuff. You look at Vernon Hargreaves, that was a big national guy, but didn’t exactly attract a ton of players with him, because he’s a DB. That’s what Fields can do as quarterback position, because guess what? Everyone knows quarterback’s the most important position.
Andrew: Now to go back to the 2019 and 2018 class from this weekend. Florida has a ginormous weekend as far as commits go. They started last Thursday, June 1, with Amari Burney committing to Florida. That was one that Florida expected. That was one that if Florida doesn’t get him, that’s a shot in the heart. That’s a dagger that they didn’t get. A big safety, athletic guy. Plays safety or receiver. Very good player there. They follow that up by getting receiver Maurice Goolsby, a big receiver for the 2019 class. They picked up Trent Whittemore, the 2019 DB from Gainesville. They picked up 2019 OL Andrew Coker.
They’ve had a big weekend as far as getting commits in the class. It was a really solid weekend for them. Then the big one that they also had was they had Miami DB commit Randy Russell on campus. Did the Gator chomp. That picture went viral. Two days later, he decommits from Miami.
Nick: Miami fans weren’t expecting that.
Andrew: No, they weren’t expecting it. They tried to go with the whole, he was getting dropped.
Nick: Yup. When the picture comes out, it’s he said he’s solid.
Andrew: Yeah. He said he’s solid.
Nick: Then when he did decommit, he was going to get dropped anyway. He’s only a three star.
Andrew: Yeah. Then it went from he was forced to do the Gator chomp. Poor kid looked pretty happy to me. Poor kid. Here’s the thing, and this is how I pissed off Miami fans. I let everyone know, it’s that time in the season where the frauds, Mark Richt and Butch Jones, people start to say, “It’s getting close to the season, so I know they’re going to suck.” People said, “Mark Richt’s good.” No. Mark Richt’s not a good coach. Mark Richt does less with more talent than anybody in the country. Butch Jones, same thing. Come on, bro.
Nick: How dare you. Butch Jones recruits, develops, and produces champions of life on a yearly basis. For you to slander him, by saying he does nothing of the sort, how dare you, Andrew Spivey. You’ve taken it too far this time.
Andrew: Yeah. Had Miami fans call me fat. I haven’t heard that one before, fellas. So, come on. Get something new. It’s funny to say that these Miami fans take it a little crazy. When I started throwing facts that Jim McElwain in two years has been to 2/5 of the SEC Championship games that Mark Richt’s been to, they kind of shut up.
Nick: Don’t throw facts at Twitter.
Andrew: Yeah. Don’t throw facts at Twitter. Big weekend. Coming up this weekend, Florida will host running back Iverson Clement, the commit, receiver Shaquon Anderson-Butts from up in Pennsylvania, Justin Fields’ good friend. They’ll also host tight end Kyle Pitts from up in Pittsburgh. Then they’ll host a defensive lineman in Taylor Upshaw. Small, but big time players coming in.
Then you’ll follow that up with Friday Night Lights and stuff in July. Recruiting is getting there. That ’18-’19 class, feel pretty good in saying that they’ll be special classes. If a guy named Justin Fields comes in, you could be talking about a top three class in the country for Florida. My have times changed since Mike Summers and the rest of that clan left town.
Nick: These guys are all about them ‘cruiting. All about ‘cruiting right now.
Andrew: Winning’s easy when you have good players.
Nick: Yeah. Good players, great players make coaches look great. You know what great players do? They make assistants head coaches. That’s what they do. You look at what happened when Urban Meyer was here, and that coaching tree from him. You look at what happens every year at Alabama. Jim McElwain.
Nick: Kirby. They get great players. Great players turn assistant coaches into head coaches.
Andrew: I wonder why Mark Richt doesn’t have a very big coaching tree?
Nick: I don’t know. We have to ask Miami fans about that.
Andrew: There you go. I think that’s about it, Nick. Any final thoughts before we get out of here?
Andrew: Okay. Follow along with us. We’ll have recruiting coverage, baseball coverage, and any Zaire news, as he’s on campus from Wednesday to Friday, meeting with Nuss, doing academic stuff, putting the final touches on making that transfer final. Tell them where they can find us. We’ll see everyone next week.
Nick: www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. You can find us on the podcast store in iTunes. Just search Gator Country. Subscribe there, and never miss an episode. They’ll literally send you the podcast right to your phone. You can find the podcast also on the website. It’ll be in transcript form there, if you prefer to read it. You can follow us on social media at Facebook and Twitter @GatorCountry, on Instagram @TheGatorCountry. Follow me and Andrew, @NickdelaTorreGC and @AndrewSpiveyGC on the Twitter machine.
Andrew: Exactly. Follow us up. Should be fun. You and I will have baseball draft coverage as well. Few guys from Florida going to be drafted on Monday. It’s just Monday, Tuesday, right? Or is it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday?
Nick: I think it’s Monday, Tuesday. Might be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. The guys that are getting drafted Wednesday will not be …
Andrew: Well, Ryan Larson or Frank Rubio.
Nick: Yeah. Those will be second or third day guys that are gone anyway though.
Andrew: Yeah. Exactly. As always, guys, we appreciate it. Follow us. Hit us up on Twitter. If you haven’t joined the site yet, join it. We got a new front page and everything coming. Should be a lot of fun and should be an exciting season. As always, guys, we appreciate it. Chomp, chomp. Go Braves. Mark Richt, you still suck.
Nick: You stay classy, Gator Country.