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  • Florida Gators Podcast: Getting you ready for SEC Media Days

Florida Gators Podcast: Getting you
ready for SEC Media Days

Written by Andrew Spivey, July 12, 2015, 0 Comments,
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The unofficial start of football season starts Monday when the Florida Gators arrive in Hoover, Alabama to participate in SEC Media Days.

Head coach Jim McElwain will be making his first appearance as the Florida Gators head coach on Monday and he will be joined by senior Jonathan Bullard, sophomore Brandon Powell and junior Vernon Hargreaves III, who will be making his second straight appearance in Hoover.

In this edition of the Gator Country podcast, Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre get you ready for what to expect out of media days next week plus give our opinion on what we think of Florida taking Powell to Hoover to represent the Florida Gators offense.

 

* * * TRANSCRIPT:

Nick:            What’s going on, Gator Country? Your boy, Nick de la Torre, and Andrew Spivey here. Back again with another podcast. Today, Andrew, we’ve got freshmen on campus enrolled in classes, Summer B has started, so we’re gearing up. We’re turning the key into the ignition trying to fire it up, getting ready for football season. Today what we thought we’d do is we’d break down the five freshman that each of us think can make an impact this year, and surprisingly our lists don’t really match up too much. Then after that we’ll talk about the five transfers that Florida got in that are on campus, four of which will be eligible to play this year. Andrew, let’s hit the people with the three that we agreed on.

Andrew:            First of all, I think the moving truck is kind of backing in. That should be our intro music here, the moving trucks moving into the dorm rooms. Before I get to that, let’s hit real quick on the two guys that haven’t made it to campus yet, Keivonnis Davis from Miami Central and D’Anfernee McGriff. D’Anfernee McGriff was a guy that when Florida took his letter of intent they very well knew that it was probably 50/50, 40/60 he was going to get into school. I think the good thing for Florida is they took that shot there. That was big for their family. If he goes to prep school he comes in next year. If he goes to JuCo he comes in in two years. Either way it’s a win/win there.

Keivonnis Davis, Nick, I know you’ve heard a little bit about him as well. The last update that I got was he was still missing an English class and was supposed to get that this weekend, but that didn’t happen. I believe tomorrow is add or drop date, so time’s kind of counting down on his enrollment.

Nick:            Add/drop will last all week, but it was kind of a long shot to begin with, and then when it doesn’t happen over the weekend I think that long shot becomes a Hail Mary. I really think that with Florida announcing their class today those are the guys that they expect to get in, and if you’ve been on our message board we have both said not to expect those two, McGriff or Keivonnis. It’s a good class. These are two kids that just didn’t get the job done in high school, whether it was grades or test score. It doesn’t fall on the coaching staff. It comes down, and it falls on them.

Andrew:            Definitely. We had a little debate. I don’t want to call it a heated debate, on the message boards. I made the comment, and I make this comment not knowing Keivonnis Davis’s full situation of what went on, but if he truly is missing an English class, and he didn’t fail it, it’s 50/50 that it’s his fault, and it’s 50/50 it’s his school’s fault. As a high school it’s their job to get the kids into the proper classes they need to go to college. Now, is it Keivonnis’s fault for not checking up on that? Sure. I guess that’s kind of where the confusion came on the message board was my first comment was where was the counselor at?

Where I coached ball at our counselors were like, coach, so-and-so’s not taking the class he needs, get him in this. Sometimes that meant he didn’t even have football for a class. He was coming to us after school, because so-and-so had to have math class A or English class B. So that was where the confusion came in. I wasn’t trying to make it a one side or the other argument. I was just trying to say that I wonder where the school was in this situation, as well as what was Keivonnis, and even Florida, thinking if they didn’t know about this English class.

Nick:            Definitely, you know these are kids we’re talking about. You get into high school, you’re 13, 14 years old. You’re 16, 17 years old throughout high school. It’s a lot of responsibility to kind of start thinking about your future and what do I need. It’s just basic, graduating high school is so basic. You should have a support structure around you that can kind of guide you through that, but a lot of it is you have a syllabus. You can check easily what classes you need to take in order to graduate. Make sure you’re taking those classes each semester.

Andrew:            Yeah. I think you and I both will say that we probably wasn’t the best students in the world, but I can honestly say I passed high school pretty easily.

Nick:            Yeah. I mean, I went to St. Thomas Aquinas. It’s a college prep school. Not every school’s like this, but they had it laid out. When you get to St. Thomas it’s saying you’re taking these six classes your first semester. You’re taking these six your next semester, and then as you get older you have a little more wiggle room, but you’re always reminded every semester you’ve taken X amount of classes. You need to hit these. It doesn’t matter in what order, but you hit these or else you’re not going to graduate. At some point maybe he needed a little more guidance, a little more help from an adult around him, but when you’re an athlete you need to take responsibility on yourself to do what you can and to do what’s in your power to not have something like this happen.

Andrew:            I agree. It’s a situation where a lot of kids as freshmen and sophomore don’t maybe put as much effort into school as need be, but it is what it is. Let’s get onto a positive note. I’m tired of talking about school. I’m way out of that.

Our five. I think you and I kind of talked about this a little bit off the air. I think we all agree, I think everybody in college football and everywhere else agrees, Martez Ivey. That’s the guy that’s going to be the number one guy for Florida next year in the recruiting class.

Nick:            Yeah. I think you and I kind of differ on this. I kind of take a really hard line stance where you don’t want freshmen to play, if they’re offensive linemen. People always point out to me, Laramy Tunsil did this, and so-and-so did this. Those were exceptions. Those weren’t the rules. If you look across the nation freshmen offensive linemen have probably a 95% or higher clip are redshirting or not playing, not getting significant time as freshmen. With the injury to Rod Johnson I think that accelerates Martez Ivey’s learning curve where maybe he would have been the sixth offensive linemen if Rod Johnson’s healthy, and now it’s a situation where we’ve got a bunch of pieces, thanks to some transfers coming in, but we really need to start building for the future, and we want to get Martez Ivey in there as soon as possible.

Andrew:            Yeah. You and I do disagree a little bit on this, and it’s whatever. It’s talk. I do believe that Ivey being an older kid, I mean Ivey’s not your typical true freshman that is 18 years old. He’s 20 years old. He’s older than half of the sophomores on the campus. David Sharpe’s 19. He’s older than those guys already, and I think the maturity level is there already, plus he played at a very good high school that ran the football, did those kind of things, and as you see he’s over 300 pounds at weigh in at arrival. So that’s good. He was 280, 275 in the spring. I can’t see Martez Ivey not starting at least by mid-year. Does he start from game one? It’s hard for me to say, but by mid-year I think he does.

You and I have talked about this before. Florida has to figure out a way to get their best offensive linemen on the field. Now a bad thing is they have three tackles, Halter, Sharpe, and Ivey that are probably their three best players, and you’ve got to figure out a way to get them on the field. So do you slide Sharpe inside, or do you slide Halter inside and play Ivey? I don’t know. I think that Florida needs to get their best players on the field this year. McElwain wants to do that, and I just can’t see Ivey not being one of those five.

Nick:            Yeah. I think if you look at it you say, Halter is a guy who’s going to be a fifth year senior. Maybe he has the experience and the maturity to slide in and play a new position. We can put a little bit more on his plate, because he’s older and has played. He hadn’t play Division I football, but the football he played at Fordham is definitely a little more difficult than what Ivey was playing against Apopka, even though Apopka is in the biggest division in Florida. He’s playing against college. He’s playing against grown men, where Ivey’s playing against high school players. Maybe Halter has that kind of maturity that Ivey may or may not have, is more accustomed to what’s expected of him in college. Definitely is having been through it. So maybe he’s in a position where you can say, you need to slide down inside. I know you’ve played tackle. I need you to slide down inside. We want to put Martez at right tackle. He’s never played inside before. Can you handle that?

Andrew:            Yeah. I mean, I agree with the freshman inexperience. I guess, you look every year at offensive linemen. You can even look at the offensive line class that Florida brings in this year, and that’s no disrespect to Buchanan or any of those guys, but it’s like every year there is maybe 5 or 10 offensive linemen that you’re like, these guys are legit. These guys are almost surefire guys that are going to make it to the NFL, and Martez Ivey in my opinion is one of those guys.

Halter, I said this last week on our podcast, I don’t really take too much away from Halter from what he did at Florida to now in the SEC, because I feel like there’s been a lot of really good players come from offensive linemen in the smaller schools. Do I think Halter needs a little bit of adjusting to that speed? Sure. But I think that he’s a guy that you put in there from day one with the ones, and see how it works out. Worst case scenario you slide him back to the twos. If I was predicting and putting money on this team, which I’m not, I would say that Ivey, Halter, and Sharpe, all three find a way to get on the field with Trip Thurman, and then the fifth guy is, in my opinion, a battle between Riles, Mike, and another one of the freshmen, possibly.

Nick:            Yeah. That’s the thing, right now you can’t say those guys are three tackles, so we can’t get them on the field at the same time. You got to find a way. The kind of shape this offensive line is in, you got to find a way to get your best five out there, and if someone’s playing at a position, and is still part of the best five, he’s got to figure it out. Got to find a way.

Andrew:            If you told Jim McElwain, you’ve got to find a way to get those three guys on the field. You’re going to win eight football games, or you keep Ivey on the bench, and you win six football games. I think he’s going to take that eight. Again, Sharpe’s a big guy. Sharpe’s gotten bigger. Is he a potential guard? I said last week, Halter, you see every year a line, they come out saying they were glad they played inside and outside, because it was good for the NFL. Does Mason Halter kind of want to show that he can play inside and outside and get there? Again, that’s just my opinion, and we’ll see.

Second guy you and I disagreed on, or agreed on. We didn’t disagree yet. Agreed on, was Cece Jefferson, the other five star guy. Of course we did. I guess a little surprising for me was he came in at 275, and I say that because I had seen him play a lot at 250, 245. 275 I’m beginning to think is he a guy that eventually moves inside? I’m expecting him to be the future at that strong side defensive end after Bullard leaves. Now you come in at 275? I don’t know.

Nick:            Cece is very active on social media, and if you look alter at pictures of him without a shirt on he’s got some baby fat, some weight. Kind of similar to what Dante Fowler looked like when he came in. He’s just a guy that is going to get into the strength and conditioning program, and they’re going to strip 20 pounds off of him, 25 pounds, pretty quickly. Then build him back up. Cece comes from Baker County. They’re working out with rusted plates in the backyard. He’s about to get into a weight room that resembles a professional job, a professional NFL style weight room. So he’s going to be in a better program than he’s ever been in. I think you’ll see his weight come down a lot, and then build back up. Maybe even eventually get to that 260, 275 again, but look completely different than he does now.

Andrew:            Yeah. Jonathan Bullard, for example. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe it was 245 is what he arrived on campus at, and what was he? 268, 265, last year? Something like that. Jonathan Bullard doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him. So hopefully Cece does. Cece’s not a fat guy by any means. Cece is ripped in a lot of areas. Like you say, he still has a little bit of baby fat, and a lot of that goes to him having his shoulder problem when he wasn’t able to work out as much. He hits the weight room hard with Kent and those guys in the weight room, and who knows what happens?

A guy like Cece is, in my opinion, a hard worker, like Ivey, and I think that Cece’s going to put the necessary work in to get himself on the field next year. He’s another one of those guys where if I was betting money he gets on the field, and he’s playing a lot of games. I don’t know if he starts over any of the guys on the defensive line, but I think you see him rotating in with Bullard and McCalister and Bryan Cox and the rest of those guys at defensive end.

Nick:            I think you see Cece take a similar trajectory as Jon Bullard did or as Dante Fowler did where beginning of the year he’s really only going to be in on those pass rushing downs. Keep it really simple. You’re coming in, and your objective is to rush the quarterback. It’s going to be those second and long, third and long, situations where you know the other team is passing the football, and you’re telling the guy, go out there and hit the quarterback if you can. Then as the season goes on, as they get more comfortable, as the game starts to slow down, you start to see them in more packages, getting more playing time, but I think initially for Cece it’s going to be just that kind of rush specialist passing down kind of role for him.

Andrew:            Yeah. I think that’s a lot of your defensive linemen that you see in college football now. You see a lot of defensive ends where they’re able to say, pin back your ears and go hit the quarterback as hard as you can. Again, it’s not like Florida is loaded with pass rushers. You’ve still got to replace Fowler at that position. We’ll see on that. I know the guy, the other guy we agreed on was Jordan Scarlett. That was the guy we agreed on. I know you’re a St. Thomas alumnus, and all your little pride of home is coming out here. 5’11”, 198 at check in, monster.

Nick:            This kid, 5’11”, 198, 200 pounds. He does not look like a freshman. He worked out at one of my friend’s gym. I have a friend from high school opened up a gym in south Florida. He worked Scarlett out. He talks about the kind of intensity that Scarlett has in the weight room. There’s no quit in him. When guys start falling off the program or falling out of a workout, Scarlett is still leading the group first in line. Looks like a grown man. Very nice kid when you speak to him.

He’s hungry. I feel like he’s ready to prove himself, and it’s a situation where he’s a four star, or was a four star recruit, so maybe he feels slighted that he wasn’t a five star. He had plenty of football offers, so I don’t know why he would feel slighted or feel that hunger. He’s just someone that internally is able to motivate himself and put little chips on his shoulder, whether it’s just one off thing that he hears or he makes a situation in his head where he creates people are doubting me to motivate him. He’s a hard worker, very physical runner, can make people miss.

He’s a great blocker, and that’s something I think Florida has really missed out from the running back position. Everyone talks about Kelvin Taylor, and where has Kelvin Taylor been? Kelvin Taylor has no interest in pass blocking when he’s in the game, and that has kept him off the field. Kelvin Taylor, we do film breakdown and put up on the site, and we’re constantly circling Kelvin Taylor. Kelvin Taylor ran into Jeff Driskel at one point last year, trying to block somebody.

To get on the field as a running back, at any position really, but as a running back you need to do everything, not just be good with the ball in your hands running between the tackles, running outside the tackles. You need to be able to pass block. You need to be able to catch the ball in the back field. That gets you into more packages. So when you go to a certain personnel, we have to take him out, because he’s not capable of doing what that position needs to do in this personnel. That’s something that Scarlett kind of checks off all the boxes, and is really unique about him compared to all the other running backs on the roster.

Andrew:            Yeah. First of all, who would confront this man? I ain’t, and I’m a grown man. I ain’t confronting him. As you said, the guy’s hungry. He posts stuff about how he wants to win the Heisman, stuff like that. I don’t like to predict that stuff. I hate to predict that stuff, but if a guy is going to do big things at running back he’s playing for the right guy, Jim McElwain. He’s going to pound the football. He’s got the history of a running back. He’s going to get the ball in his hands in situations, and he’s going to create it.

You and I’ve talked about this several times. Jordan Scarlett’s going to play. Jordan Scarlett’s the number two running back, and he just got on campus last week. There it is. Kelvin Taylor’s not taking every snap. Scarlett’s there. As you said, blocking for the running back position’s probably the hardest thing to do, and he’s got it already. The one thing I haven’t seen him do a lot is catch out of the back field. I did see some off him, but it’s something I didn’t see a lot of, something I’d like to see some of. It’s big in McElwain’s offense that screen. Also throwing to the flats off a play action. We’ll see with that. Again, if he can just run the ball I think everything will be fine with Scarlett.

Nick:            Then talking about Scarlett’s blocking, I mean I talked to St. Thomas Aquinas’s offensive coordinator last year, and he said Jordan was our best running back, but we used Jordan as a lead blocker down on the goal line, just because we didn’t have anyone that was better than him. So that’s not just pass blocking being able to pick up a man. That’s impact blocking. That’s running, moving, and while moving, while running, identifying your guy and still executing a block, filling a hole. I really feel like he is, out of all of the guys in this class, I feel like he can make the most immediate and the biggest impact of the freshmen.

Andrew:            I agree. It’s disagreeing time.

Nick:            This is where we split.

Andrew:            This is where I’m Evander Holyfield or Floyd Mayweather here, whatever you want to call it.

Nick:            Let’s break it down this way. We each have two left, and we disagree on those two. Let’s go ahead and just state ours, state our guys, and then say why we think, and then we can get into talking about each other’s.

Andrew:            Go ahead. I’ll give you the honor first there, Mr. de la Torre.

Nick:            In keeping with my south Florida bias, I’m going to go with receiver Antonio Callaway, and then my other surprise one, I really feel like there’s probably four in this class that can make an impact, but I’m not going to sleep on Andrew Ivie. I remember a couple years ago at the senior bowl you and I kept asking everybody who impressed you, which of the freshmen at that time impressed you? Everyone said Joey Ivie. Andrew is just like his brother, wrestles, state power lifting, plays offensive line, defensive line. He’s currently listed as a defensive lineman.

I think that kind of work ethic that his brother has I think will trickle down to him, being able to see his big brother now, who’ll be a junior, as an example. I think there’s just something to having family, and every player will feel accountable to something, but to have your older brother there watching over you, making sure you’re doing all the right things, being able to help guide you and say, listen I made some of these mistakes my freshman year. You don’t have to make those same mistakes. I made them. You can learn from them without having to make them. So I put Andrew Ivie up there.

Antonio Callaway, this is a guy that’s just kind of, I know people will say Florida’s got 30 slot receivers, but Antonio Callaway’s a guy at 5’11”, about 190 pounds. He’s quick, very good hands, shows really good body control. What I mean by that is that when he’s up in the air he’s able to move and control his body, contort his body, to adjust to passes. He’s a guy that can help immediately as well on special teams as far as returning punts and kicks. Being a gunner, kick coverage, maybe even getting into punt block, kick block. I think maybe even if it’s not on offensive right away I think Antonio Callaway’s a guy that can make an impact on special teams, and then as it has been for three years, nobody knows what going to happen to wide receiver. Somebody needs to step up. You’ve got Demarcus Robinson, and then a bunch of other guys who the coaching staff is just waiting to separate from the pack.

Andrew:            Yeah. I will say my guys before I give you my opinion on yours. My first on is Jabari Zuniga. Everybody knows how I feel about Zuniga. I thought he was a guy that was the most underrated football player in the country last year, and I do not care if anybody quotes me on saying that. When you turn his film on, I don’t know how the guy wasn’t a five star. He’s a freakish athlete that fits the mold of a Cece, a guy that is going to get on the field this year. He’s going to pin his ear back, and he’s going to be able to go get the quarterback. He’s a monster at doing that. He does need to get better in the run game, stopping the run, getting off blocks better, but that’s something that’s going to come about as he gets there. He’s only played ball for two years, and he’s 16 years old. He’s still got plenty of time to grow. That’s the first guy.

The second guy that I’m very impressed with is Chris Williamson, cornerback. I know everybody’s going to say, Florida’s loaded at cornerback, but not really. When you go to look at it it’s Vernon, Quincy, Poole, and Tabor. You got really four guys. You lose JC there. Chris Williamson, in my opinion, is a long athletic cornerback that fits the mold of Geoff Collins’s defense really well, and I think he’s a guy that you maybe find a way to get him on special teams somewhere, and you get him on the defense, especially when they’re playing nickel. They’re going to play nickel a lot. They’re going to play 3, 4, DBs at a time on there, so maybe he gets in there some as well.

That would be my guys as to who it is, Zuniga and Williamson. Both guys from Georgia that Florida picked up late under McElwain. Those are guys that I like. Let’s talk about yours real quick. Ivie, coming in over 300 pounds. I was very impressed by that.

Nick:            Big boy.

Andrew:            He is a big boy. You can’t teach size. He’s going to come in and play defensive tackle, and Terrence Cody is one of the best defensive tackles to ever play in the SEC, and he was nothing but a big boy. I like that one.

Nick:            The other thing with Ivie is, and it’s something that Richard Jones also has, they’re very accomplished wrestlers at the high school level, and something on the offensive line, I know you’ve coached the position you could speak to, is being able to play with leverage. It’s something that’s kind of hard to teach, because you’re teaching technique, and there’s so much going on with hand placement and your footwork and all of this. Something with wrestlers that they just understand leverage and the way to make themselves more powerful, not by lifting more weights, but just by the position that they can get themselves in, compared to the person they’re trying to block. I think that’s something that can be taught, but it’s something that is maybe a little difficult to be taught, especially when you’re going in as a freshman trying to get your feet wet, trying to catch up to the speed of the game. That’s something that Andrew Ivie will have already engrained in his brain that he can play with that leverage. He understands it so well from his wrestling background.

Andrew:            Yeah. I mean, and the wrestling background also means he’s tough. Defensive tackle it’s all about how tough you are. You’re going to get kicked in the you know where, and you’re going to get poked in the eye, and it’s just not going to be fun. It’s there.

To go to Callaway real quick, a lot people questioned his knee. He posted on Instagram the other day of him dunking a ball. He’s a guy that is very fast, very athletic, good hands, and needs to tune up his route running a little bit, but he’s a guy that’s like Brandon Powell in that he’s going to play that slot receiver position, and there’s just not many of them on the roster. It’s him, Warton and Powell. That’s really all.

Nick:            I really think that Brandon Powell is going to take, the coaching staff really loves Brandon Powell. He made a big impression on them, and I believe that Brandon Powell is going to be one of the players that the coaching staff takes to Hoover, to SEC media days, and that’ll be a big sign of where the trust is in him as a player and as a person. So I think it is going to be harder for people to break in, but Brandon Powell’s going to be used kind of in a unique way, and I think that Antonio Callaway’s a guy that they’ll look more as a pure receiver, more so than the other ways that they’re going to scheme to get the ball in Brandon Powell’s hands.

Andrew:            Yeah. I guess I meant more of you’re going to see him getting a lot of the slip screens. You’re going to see him getting a lot of the bubble routes. You’re going to see him getting a lot of underneath drag routes. You’re going to see him getting a lot of the slot receiver routes. That’s kind of where I was going with the Powell/Callaway comparison. Powell’s a lot faster, better athlete that Callaway, but he’s also a little bit smaller. I mean, good choices. I don’t think you could have went wrong with either one.

Nick:            Getting to yours, you said something that maybe I didn’t even think about when making my list with Chris Williamson is that the loss of JC Jackson, and now you’re really not deep. It’s something that I had said before last signing day, that Florida was loaded at cornerback, but they really need to start reloading. You think about it, Vernon Hargreaves will be gone after this year. Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson might be gone after their junior years. Really you look at guys that can play outside. There’s three. There’s going to be Vernon Hargreaves, Jalen Tabor, and Quincy Wilson. Quincy Wilson definitely worked inside as well, not a position that Vernon Hargreaves or Jalen Tabor really worked out at in the spring. Then inside you’ve got Brian Poole, Duke Dawson, and when they go into a dime set they bring Marcus May down into the box as well.

Geoff Collins is kind of like Will Muschamp in the way that he rotates his defensive backs a lot, keeping fresh guys. You’re playing matchups. You’re playing the field based on what side of the field, what hash mark you’re on. I think Chris Williamson, like you said, cornerback at Florida has just been so deep and so loaded for so long that you forget that now with JC gone it’s not that deep anymore. It’s not as deep as it was, so maybe this is a spot where when Williamson signed on the dotted line he thought maybe he’d have to sit out a year and wait a year, but circumstances have kind of changed for him.

Andrew:            Yeah. I agree. That’s kind of where I was going. He’s a guy that kind of blossomed late. He played a lot of receiver in high school, and didn’t play a ton of cornerback, so a lot of people didn’t go after him very hard because he was kind of slated on playing receiver in college. Collins went up, knew his coach a little bit, talked to him, recruited him at Mississippi State, and he’s ready to play cornerback. He’s a good athlete. We all know, you can’t replace good athletes.

Nick:            Then moving on to your other one, Jabari. You mentioned he’s young, and he’s only been playing football for a little bit, and I think then you kind of fit him into that role that I was talking about with Cece Jefferson where it’s a very limited role to begin with, and then you start expanding it. I just think when you watch his tape very impressive, but I think he is still raw, still learning. The SEC is going to give you a lot bigger and a lot tougher, faster, quicker offensive linemen than he’s ever faced before, so I think in my opinion he’s just a player that maybe is a year away from making that big impact.

Andrew:            I agree. It was a toss-up for me. We’ll see. Who knows? There’s been a lot of guys that played early that I would have said there was no way they were going to play early, and they did. You never know. Let’s move one.

Nick:            One thing, we can and we do look at film, and we know the guys from talking to them, talking to coaches. What you really can’t say is how a kid is going to adjust once he gets into this situation. Everyone matures at different times. Everyone picks things up at different paces, different speeds. So that’s the X-factor, the thing that you can’t really quantify. So we will see soon. We’re under 70 days.

Andrew:            Thank goodness. 12 days till we’re headed to Birmingham for media days. Let’s talk a little bit about the transfers, probably Mac’s biggest job that he did, and I say this. I don’t want to spoil my article that I’m planning to write this week, so I’m not going to use the line that I’m going to use there. He fixed problems, and he fixed the problem with getting TJ McCoy, a freshman from NC State. Some bad circumstances brought him to Florida, but at the end of the day he got to live his dream of being a Gator. Then you get Mason Halter from Fordham. He’s a guy we talked about that probably is on the number 1 line on the offensive line already.

Then you get the late addition of Anthony Harrell, the linebacker from Georgia Tech. Is he a superstar, probably not, but he’s a guy that experienced at the position. Comes in, brings depth, and if Antonio Morrison doesn’t play this year you have another senior there. Then you have Josh Grady, the quarterback that comes from Vanderbilt, and I’m not very high on the guy, but I guess it is what it is there. Then you have walk-on Luke Del Rio that’s not eligible to play this year.

Really those five guys come in and three of them are probably going to be impact players in their career at Florida, with McCoy maybe not being an impact guy this year, but down the road being an impact guy.

Nick:            Yeah. When you look at them you’ve got Josh Grady, who only has one year of eligibility left. Anthony Harrell only has one year of eligibility left, and Mason Halter only has one year of eligibility left. These guys, it might be controversial to say, but when guys are transferring as grad students they’re not really, especially guys who think that they can play in the NFL, they’re not really looking to get that degree. They’re not going to get their Master’s degree in that one year. A lot them are only going to be there in a summer semester/fall semester, and then they’re going to be training. So they’re not even going to be there for a full year. Someone like Josh Grady, I don’t know what kind of impact he can have at quarterback. He’s a guy that’s also played receiver. Mason Halter we talked about. I think somebody that immediately jumps into your top five offensive linemen. We know he came from a Division II school, but he as an All-American at that school.

Andrew:            Two time All-American.

Nick:            Two time All-American. Then Anthony Harrell, a linebacker. Linebacker’s a position, listen, Antonio Morrison is not going to be ready when Florida kicks off the start of the season. So you got to start finding guys. You’ve got Alex Anzalone, Daniel McMillian, Matt Rolin. Who knows how healthy Matt Rolin will be? Still continuing to come back. Jared Davis, so there’s some guys there, but you’re really young, kind of inexperienced, outside of Davis. To get a guy who’s played some in the ACC, played in a bigger football conference. Then you mentioned TJ McCoy, probably someone who I would see maybe taking a red shirt this year, building for the future.

Andrew:            Yeah. I think that you look at Harrell, and you’re like why did he transfer? He didn’t fit in. He didn’t really fit in the plans of Georgia Tech’s new scheme of offense, and it’s fine. Again, you’re not going to get a superstar player that’s going to transfer in, probably, but he’s a guy that’s going to probably be a backup to Anzalone or Jared Davis or Morrison, or whoever’s starting. He’s a guy that’s going to be there.

I told you about this off the air a little bit about TJ McCoy. I was talking to a couple guys that watched him at NC State, and who were coaching him a little bit. They were like, he was one of NC State’s best offensive linemen this past spring on their campus, and they thought that he was going to see some time. They were like, I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t see time at Florida. We were talking about this a little bit. Now you went from having not depth at center to now having Trip Thurman, Tyler Jordan, Dilliard, and McCoy.

Now do you maybe move Jordan to guard, like they did in the under armour game a little bit? He’s a little bit bigger than McCoy. McCoy’s right at 6’. You don’t want to move him to guard. So do you maybe move Jordan to guard? It’s a good problem to have, for sure. As someone told me, McCoy isn’t going to get to be a superstar, because he is 6’, but he’s a guy that’s going to probably be an All SEC center, possibly, because he’s just very smart and works very hard and knows how to play the position, and has the intangibles to play the position.

Nick:            Yeah. I mean, you would always rather be in a situation where you have too many players rather than not having enough players. No one on the coaching staff will tell you, we have too many centers. They’d much rather have too many than be going into spring where they’re trying to find anyone to play center. I think every offensive lineman outside of David Sharpe and Rod Johnson got some reps at center. You’d much rather have four than just have one.

Andrew:            Is your head better from that football that Dilliard popped you with in Nashville?

Nick:            I was quick. I dodged it.

Andrew:            This has kind of been a long show, but there was a lot to talk about. There was a good bit to talk about. We’ll be reconvening here next week, and then the next week we’ll be talking from Birmingham at SEC media days. Nick, maybe you and I have a big celebrity rollback, whatever they call the rolodex or whatever. Maybe we can get a guest on at Birmingham or something.

Nick:            Yeah. We’ll make sure to have an extra podcast as just a preview for media days, kind of what we’re looking for, what you guys should be looking forward to as well. Expect two podcasts coming before we head out to media days that week, and as always, www.gatorcountry.com for all of your Gator news, insight, and things.

Andrew:            And things. And make sure to follow myself on Twitter. I’m trying to get way up on that celebrity high list. I would like to get my checkmark. Nick, let’s get out of here. Say your thing, and let’s sign off.

Nick:            You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew:            Stay tuned.

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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The unofficial start of football season starts Monday when the Florida Gators arrive in Hoover, Alabama to participate in SEC Media Days.

Head coach Jim McElwain will be making his first appearance as the Florida Gators head coach on Monday and he will be joined by senior Jonathan Bullard, sophomore Brandon Powell and junior Vernon Hargreaves III, who will be making his second straight appearance in Hoover.

In this edition of the Gator Country podcast, Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre get you ready for what to expect out of media days next week plus give our opinion on what we think of Florida taking Powell to Hoover to represent the Florida Gators offense.

 

* * * TRANSCRIPT:

Nick:            What’s going on, Gator Country? Your boy, Nick de la Torre, and Andrew Spivey here. Back again with another podcast. Today, Andrew, we’ve got freshmen on campus enrolled in classes, Summer B has started, so we’re gearing up. We’re turning the key into the ignition trying to fire it up, getting ready for football season. Today what we thought we’d do is we’d break down the five freshman that each of us think can make an impact this year, and surprisingly our lists don’t really match up too much. Then after that we’ll talk about the five transfers that Florida got in that are on campus, four of which will be eligible to play this year. Andrew, let’s hit the people with the three that we agreed on.

Andrew:            First of all, I think the moving truck is kind of backing in. That should be our intro music here, the moving trucks moving into the dorm rooms. Before I get to that, let’s hit real quick on the two guys that haven’t made it to campus yet, Keivonnis Davis from Miami Central and D’Anfernee McGriff. D’Anfernee McGriff was a guy that when Florida took his letter of intent they very well knew that it was probably 50/50, 40/60 he was going to get into school. I think the good thing for Florida is they took that shot there. That was big for their family. If he goes to prep school he comes in next year. If he goes to JuCo he comes in in two years. Either way it’s a win/win there.

Keivonnis Davis, Nick, I know you’ve heard a little bit about him as well. The last update that I got was he was still missing an English class and was supposed to get that this weekend, but that didn’t happen. I believe tomorrow is add or drop date, so time’s kind of counting down on his enrollment.

Nick:            Add/drop will last all week, but it was kind of a long shot to begin with, and then when it doesn’t happen over the weekend I think that long shot becomes a Hail Mary. I really think that with Florida announcing their class today those are the guys that they expect to get in, and if you’ve been on our message board we have both said not to expect those two, McGriff or Keivonnis. It’s a good class. These are two kids that just didn’t get the job done in high school, whether it was grades or test score. It doesn’t fall on the coaching staff. It comes down, and it falls on them.

Andrew:            Definitely. We had a little debate. I don’t want to call it a heated debate, on the message boards. I made the comment, and I make this comment not knowing Keivonnis Davis’s full situation of what went on, but if he truly is missing an English class, and he didn’t fail it, it’s 50/50 that it’s his fault, and it’s 50/50 it’s his school’s fault. As a high school it’s their job to get the kids into the proper classes they need to go to college. Now, is it Keivonnis’s fault for not checking up on that? Sure. I guess that’s kind of where the confusion came on the message board was my first comment was where was the counselor at?

Where I coached ball at our counselors were like, coach, so-and-so’s not taking the class he needs, get him in this. Sometimes that meant he didn’t even have football for a class. He was coming to us after school, because so-and-so had to have math class A or English class B. So that was where the confusion came in. I wasn’t trying to make it a one side or the other argument. I was just trying to say that I wonder where the school was in this situation, as well as what was Keivonnis, and even Florida, thinking if they didn’t know about this English class.

Nick:            Definitely, you know these are kids we’re talking about. You get into high school, you’re 13, 14 years old. You’re 16, 17 years old throughout high school. It’s a lot of responsibility to kind of start thinking about your future and what do I need. It’s just basic, graduating high school is so basic. You should have a support structure around you that can kind of guide you through that, but a lot of it is you have a syllabus. You can check easily what classes you need to take in order to graduate. Make sure you’re taking those classes each semester.

Andrew:            Yeah. I think you and I both will say that we probably wasn’t the best students in the world, but I can honestly say I passed high school pretty easily.

Nick:            Yeah. I mean, I went to St. Thomas Aquinas. It’s a college prep school. Not every school’s like this, but they had it laid out. When you get to St. Thomas it’s saying you’re taking these six classes your first semester. You’re taking these six your next semester, and then as you get older you have a little more wiggle room, but you’re always reminded every semester you’ve taken X amount of classes. You need to hit these. It doesn’t matter in what order, but you hit these or else you’re not going to graduate. At some point maybe he needed a little more guidance, a little more help from an adult around him, but when you’re an athlete you need to take responsibility on yourself to do what you can and to do what’s in your power to not have something like this happen.

Andrew:            I agree. It’s a situation where a lot of kids as freshmen and sophomore don’t maybe put as much effort into school as need be, but it is what it is. Let’s get onto a positive note. I’m tired of talking about school. I’m way out of that.

Our five. I think you and I kind of talked about this a little bit off the air. I think we all agree, I think everybody in college football and everywhere else agrees, Martez Ivey. That’s the guy that’s going to be the number one guy for Florida next year in the recruiting class.

Nick:            Yeah. I think you and I kind of differ on this. I kind of take a really hard line stance where you don’t want freshmen to play, if they’re offensive linemen. People always point out to me, Laramy Tunsil did this, and so-and-so did this. Those were exceptions. Those weren’t the rules. If you look across the nation freshmen offensive linemen have probably a 95% or higher clip are redshirting or not playing, not getting significant time as freshmen. With the injury to Rod Johnson I think that accelerates Martez Ivey’s learning curve where maybe he would have been the sixth offensive linemen if Rod Johnson’s healthy, and now it’s a situation where we’ve got a bunch of pieces, thanks to some transfers coming in, but we really need to start building for the future, and we want to get Martez Ivey in there as soon as possible.

Andrew:            Yeah. You and I do disagree a little bit on this, and it’s whatever. It’s talk. I do believe that Ivey being an older kid, I mean Ivey’s not your typical true freshman that is 18 years old. He’s 20 years old. He’s older than half of the sophomores on the campus. David Sharpe’s 19. He’s older than those guys already, and I think the maturity level is there already, plus he played at a very good high school that ran the football, did those kind of things, and as you see he’s over 300 pounds at weigh in at arrival. So that’s good. He was 280, 275 in the spring. I can’t see Martez Ivey not starting at least by mid-year. Does he start from game one? It’s hard for me to say, but by mid-year I think he does.

You and I have talked about this before. Florida has to figure out a way to get their best offensive linemen on the field. Now a bad thing is they have three tackles, Halter, Sharpe, and Ivey that are probably their three best players, and you’ve got to figure out a way to get them on the field. So do you slide Sharpe inside, or do you slide Halter inside and play Ivey? I don’t know. I think that Florida needs to get their best players on the field this year. McElwain wants to do that, and I just can’t see Ivey not being one of those five.

Nick:            Yeah. I think if you look at it you say, Halter is a guy who’s going to be a fifth year senior. Maybe he has the experience and the maturity to slide in and play a new position. We can put a little bit more on his plate, because he’s older and has played. He hadn’t play Division I football, but the football he played at Fordham is definitely a little more difficult than what Ivey was playing against Apopka, even though Apopka is in the biggest division in Florida. He’s playing against college. He’s playing against grown men, where Ivey’s playing against high school players. Maybe Halter has that kind of maturity that Ivey may or may not have, is more accustomed to what’s expected of him in college. Definitely is having been through it. So maybe he’s in a position where you can say, you need to slide down inside. I know you’ve played tackle. I need you to slide down inside. We want to put Martez at right tackle. He’s never played inside before. Can you handle that?

Andrew:            Yeah. I mean, I agree with the freshman inexperience. I guess, you look every year at offensive linemen. You can even look at the offensive line class that Florida brings in this year, and that’s no disrespect to Buchanan or any of those guys, but it’s like every year there is maybe 5 or 10 offensive linemen that you’re like, these guys are legit. These guys are almost surefire guys that are going to make it to the NFL, and Martez Ivey in my opinion is one of those guys.

Halter, I said this last week on our podcast, I don’t really take too much away from Halter from what he did at Florida to now in the SEC, because I feel like there’s been a lot of really good players come from offensive linemen in the smaller schools. Do I think Halter needs a little bit of adjusting to that speed? Sure. But I think that he’s a guy that you put in there from day one with the ones, and see how it works out. Worst case scenario you slide him back to the twos. If I was predicting and putting money on this team, which I’m not, I would say that Ivey, Halter, and Sharpe, all three find a way to get on the field with Trip Thurman, and then the fifth guy is, in my opinion, a battle between Riles, Mike, and another one of the freshmen, possibly.

Nick:            Yeah. That’s the thing, right now you can’t say those guys are three tackles, so we can’t get them on the field at the same time. You got to find a way. The kind of shape this offensive line is in, you got to find a way to get your best five out there, and if someone’s playing at a position, and is still part of the best five, he’s got to figure it out. Got to find a way.

Andrew:            If you told Jim McElwain, you’ve got to find a way to get those three guys on the field. You’re going to win eight football games, or you keep Ivey on the bench, and you win six football games. I think he’s going to take that eight. Again, Sharpe’s a big guy. Sharpe’s gotten bigger. Is he a potential guard? I said last week, Halter, you see every year a line, they come out saying they were glad they played inside and outside, because it was good for the NFL. Does Mason Halter kind of want to show that he can play inside and outside and get there? Again, that’s just my opinion, and we’ll see.

Second guy you and I disagreed on, or agreed on. We didn’t disagree yet. Agreed on, was Cece Jefferson, the other five star guy. Of course we did. I guess a little surprising for me was he came in at 275, and I say that because I had seen him play a lot at 250, 245. 275 I’m beginning to think is he a guy that eventually moves inside? I’m expecting him to be the future at that strong side defensive end after Bullard leaves. Now you come in at 275? I don’t know.

Nick:            Cece is very active on social media, and if you look alter at pictures of him without a shirt on he’s got some baby fat, some weight. Kind of similar to what Dante Fowler looked like when he came in. He’s just a guy that is going to get into the strength and conditioning program, and they’re going to strip 20 pounds off of him, 25 pounds, pretty quickly. Then build him back up. Cece comes from Baker County. They’re working out with rusted plates in the backyard. He’s about to get into a weight room that resembles a professional job, a professional NFL style weight room. So he’s going to be in a better program than he’s ever been in. I think you’ll see his weight come down a lot, and then build back up. Maybe even eventually get to that 260, 275 again, but look completely different than he does now.

Andrew:            Yeah. Jonathan Bullard, for example. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe it was 245 is what he arrived on campus at, and what was he? 268, 265, last year? Something like that. Jonathan Bullard doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him. So hopefully Cece does. Cece’s not a fat guy by any means. Cece is ripped in a lot of areas. Like you say, he still has a little bit of baby fat, and a lot of that goes to him having his shoulder problem when he wasn’t able to work out as much. He hits the weight room hard with Kent and those guys in the weight room, and who knows what happens?

A guy like Cece is, in my opinion, a hard worker, like Ivey, and I think that Cece’s going to put the necessary work in to get himself on the field next year. He’s another one of those guys where if I was betting money he gets on the field, and he’s playing a lot of games. I don’t know if he starts over any of the guys on the defensive line, but I think you see him rotating in with Bullard and McCalister and Bryan Cox and the rest of those guys at defensive end.

Nick:            I think you see Cece take a similar trajectory as Jon Bullard did or as Dante Fowler did where beginning of the year he’s really only going to be in on those pass rushing downs. Keep it really simple. You’re coming in, and your objective is to rush the quarterback. It’s going to be those second and long, third and long, situations where you know the other team is passing the football, and you’re telling the guy, go out there and hit the quarterback if you can. Then as the season goes on, as they get more comfortable, as the game starts to slow down, you start to see them in more packages, getting more playing time, but I think initially for Cece it’s going to be just that kind of rush specialist passing down kind of role for him.

Andrew:            Yeah. I think that’s a lot of your defensive linemen that you see in college football now. You see a lot of defensive ends where they’re able to say, pin back your ears and go hit the quarterback as hard as you can. Again, it’s not like Florida is loaded with pass rushers. You’ve still got to replace Fowler at that position. We’ll see on that. I know the guy, the other guy we agreed on was Jordan Scarlett. That was the guy we agreed on. I know you’re a St. Thomas alumnus, and all your little pride of home is coming out here. 5’11”, 198 at check in, monster.

Nick:            This kid, 5’11”, 198, 200 pounds. He does not look like a freshman. He worked out at one of my friend’s gym. I have a friend from high school opened up a gym in south Florida. He worked Scarlett out. He talks about the kind of intensity that Scarlett has in the weight room. There’s no quit in him. When guys start falling off the program or falling out of a workout, Scarlett is still leading the group first in line. Looks like a grown man. Very nice kid when you speak to him.

He’s hungry. I feel like he’s ready to prove himself, and it’s a situation where he’s a four star, or was a four star recruit, so maybe he feels slighted that he wasn’t a five star. He had plenty of football offers, so I don’t know why he would feel slighted or feel that hunger. He’s just someone that internally is able to motivate himself and put little chips on his shoulder, whether it’s just one off thing that he hears or he makes a situation in his head where he creates people are doubting me to motivate him. He’s a hard worker, very physical runner, can make people miss.

He’s a great blocker, and that’s something I think Florida has really missed out from the running back position. Everyone talks about Kelvin Taylor, and where has Kelvin Taylor been? Kelvin Taylor has no interest in pass blocking when he’s in the game, and that has kept him off the field. Kelvin Taylor, we do film breakdown and put up on the site, and we’re constantly circling Kelvin Taylor. Kelvin Taylor ran into Jeff Driskel at one point last year, trying to block somebody.

To get on the field as a running back, at any position really, but as a running back you need to do everything, not just be good with the ball in your hands running between the tackles, running outside the tackles. You need to be able to pass block. You need to be able to catch the ball in the back field. That gets you into more packages. So when you go to a certain personnel, we have to take him out, because he’s not capable of doing what that position needs to do in this personnel. That’s something that Scarlett kind of checks off all the boxes, and is really unique about him compared to all the other running backs on the roster.

Andrew:            Yeah. First of all, who would confront this man? I ain’t, and I’m a grown man. I ain’t confronting him. As you said, the guy’s hungry. He posts stuff about how he wants to win the Heisman, stuff like that. I don’t like to predict that stuff. I hate to predict that stuff, but if a guy is going to do big things at running back he’s playing for the right guy, Jim McElwain. He’s going to pound the football. He’s got the history of a running back. He’s going to get the ball in his hands in situations, and he’s going to create it.

You and I’ve talked about this several times. Jordan Scarlett’s going to play. Jordan Scarlett’s the number two running back, and he just got on campus last week. There it is. Kelvin Taylor’s not taking every snap. Scarlett’s there. As you said, blocking for the running back position’s probably the hardest thing to do, and he’s got it already. The one thing I haven’t seen him do a lot is catch out of the back field. I did see some off him, but it’s something I didn’t see a lot of, something I’d like to see some of. It’s big in McElwain’s offense that screen. Also throwing to the flats off a play action. We’ll see with that. Again, if he can just run the ball I think everything will be fine with Scarlett.

Nick:            Then talking about Scarlett’s blocking, I mean I talked to St. Thomas Aquinas’s offensive coordinator last year, and he said Jordan was our best running back, but we used Jordan as a lead blocker down on the goal line, just because we didn’t have anyone that was better than him. So that’s not just pass blocking being able to pick up a man. That’s impact blocking. That’s running, moving, and while moving, while running, identifying your guy and still executing a block, filling a hole. I really feel like he is, out of all of the guys in this class, I feel like he can make the most immediate and the biggest impact of the freshmen.

Andrew:            I agree. It’s disagreeing time.

Nick:            This is where we split.

Andrew:            This is where I’m Evander Holyfield or Floyd Mayweather here, whatever you want to call it.

Nick:            Let’s break it down this way. We each have two left, and we disagree on those two. Let’s go ahead and just state ours, state our guys, and then say why we think, and then we can get into talking about each other’s.

Andrew:            Go ahead. I’ll give you the honor first there, Mr. de la Torre.

Nick:            In keeping with my south Florida bias, I’m going to go with receiver Antonio Callaway, and then my other surprise one, I really feel like there’s probably four in this class that can make an impact, but I’m not going to sleep on Andrew Ivie. I remember a couple years ago at the senior bowl you and I kept asking everybody who impressed you, which of the freshmen at that time impressed you? Everyone said Joey Ivie. Andrew is just like his brother, wrestles, state power lifting, plays offensive line, defensive line. He’s currently listed as a defensive lineman.

I think that kind of work ethic that his brother has I think will trickle down to him, being able to see his big brother now, who’ll be a junior, as an example. I think there’s just something to having family, and every player will feel accountable to something, but to have your older brother there watching over you, making sure you’re doing all the right things, being able to help guide you and say, listen I made some of these mistakes my freshman year. You don’t have to make those same mistakes. I made them. You can learn from them without having to make them. So I put Andrew Ivie up there.

Antonio Callaway, this is a guy that’s just kind of, I know people will say Florida’s got 30 slot receivers, but Antonio Callaway’s a guy at 5’11”, about 190 pounds. He’s quick, very good hands, shows really good body control. What I mean by that is that when he’s up in the air he’s able to move and control his body, contort his body, to adjust to passes. He’s a guy that can help immediately as well on special teams as far as returning punts and kicks. Being a gunner, kick coverage, maybe even getting into punt block, kick block. I think maybe even if it’s not on offensive right away I think Antonio Callaway’s a guy that can make an impact on special teams, and then as it has been for three years, nobody knows what going to happen to wide receiver. Somebody needs to step up. You’ve got Demarcus Robinson, and then a bunch of other guys who the coaching staff is just waiting to separate from the pack.

Andrew:            Yeah. I will say my guys before I give you my opinion on yours. My first on is Jabari Zuniga. Everybody knows how I feel about Zuniga. I thought he was a guy that was the most underrated football player in the country last year, and I do not care if anybody quotes me on saying that. When you turn his film on, I don’t know how the guy wasn’t a five star. He’s a freakish athlete that fits the mold of a Cece, a guy that is going to get on the field this year. He’s going to pin his ear back, and he’s going to be able to go get the quarterback. He’s a monster at doing that. He does need to get better in the run game, stopping the run, getting off blocks better, but that’s something that’s going to come about as he gets there. He’s only played ball for two years, and he’s 16 years old. He’s still got plenty of time to grow. That’s the first guy.

The second guy that I’m very impressed with is Chris Williamson, cornerback. I know everybody’s going to say, Florida’s loaded at cornerback, but not really. When you go to look at it it’s Vernon, Quincy, Poole, and Tabor. You got really four guys. You lose JC there. Chris Williamson, in my opinion, is a long athletic cornerback that fits the mold of Geoff Collins’s defense really well, and I think he’s a guy that you maybe find a way to get him on special teams somewhere, and you get him on the defense, especially when they’re playing nickel. They’re going to play nickel a lot. They’re going to play 3, 4, DBs at a time on there, so maybe he gets in there some as well.

That would be my guys as to who it is, Zuniga and Williamson. Both guys from Georgia that Florida picked up late under McElwain. Those are guys that I like. Let’s talk about yours real quick. Ivie, coming in over 300 pounds. I was very impressed by that.

Nick:            Big boy.

Andrew:            He is a big boy. You can’t teach size. He’s going to come in and play defensive tackle, and Terrence Cody is one of the best defensive tackles to ever play in the SEC, and he was nothing but a big boy. I like that one.

Nick:            The other thing with Ivie is, and it’s something that Richard Jones also has, they’re very accomplished wrestlers at the high school level, and something on the offensive line, I know you’ve coached the position you could speak to, is being able to play with leverage. It’s something that’s kind of hard to teach, because you’re teaching technique, and there’s so much going on with hand placement and your footwork and all of this. Something with wrestlers that they just understand leverage and the way to make themselves more powerful, not by lifting more weights, but just by the position that they can get themselves in, compared to the person they’re trying to block. I think that’s something that can be taught, but it’s something that is maybe a little difficult to be taught, especially when you’re going in as a freshman trying to get your feet wet, trying to catch up to the speed of the game. That’s something that Andrew Ivie will have already engrained in his brain that he can play with that leverage. He understands it so well from his wrestling background.

Andrew:            Yeah. I mean, and the wrestling background also means he’s tough. Defensive tackle it’s all about how tough you are. You’re going to get kicked in the you know where, and you’re going to get poked in the eye, and it’s just not going to be fun. It’s there.

To go to Callaway real quick, a lot people questioned his knee. He posted on Instagram the other day of him dunking a ball. He’s a guy that is very fast, very athletic, good hands, and needs to tune up his route running a little bit, but he’s a guy that’s like Brandon Powell in that he’s going to play that slot receiver position, and there’s just not many of them on the roster. It’s him, Warton and Powell. That’s really all.

Nick:            I really think that Brandon Powell is going to take, the coaching staff really loves Brandon Powell. He made a big impression on them, and I believe that Brandon Powell is going to be one of the players that the coaching staff takes to Hoover, to SEC media days, and that’ll be a big sign of where the trust is in him as a player and as a person. So I think it is going to be harder for people to break in, but Brandon Powell’s going to be used kind of in a unique way, and I think that Antonio Callaway’s a guy that they’ll look more as a pure receiver, more so than the other ways that they’re going to scheme to get the ball in Brandon Powell’s hands.

Andrew:            Yeah. I guess I meant more of you’re going to see him getting a lot of the slip screens. You’re going to see him getting a lot of the bubble routes. You’re going to see him getting a lot of underneath drag routes. You’re going to see him getting a lot of the slot receiver routes. That’s kind of where I was going with the Powell/Callaway comparison. Powell’s a lot faster, better athlete that Callaway, but he’s also a little bit smaller. I mean, good choices. I don’t think you could have went wrong with either one.

Nick:            Getting to yours, you said something that maybe I didn’t even think about when making my list with Chris Williamson is that the loss of JC Jackson, and now you’re really not deep. It’s something that I had said before last signing day, that Florida was loaded at cornerback, but they really need to start reloading. You think about it, Vernon Hargreaves will be gone after this year. Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson might be gone after their junior years. Really you look at guys that can play outside. There’s three. There’s going to be Vernon Hargreaves, Jalen Tabor, and Quincy Wilson. Quincy Wilson definitely worked inside as well, not a position that Vernon Hargreaves or Jalen Tabor really worked out at in the spring. Then inside you’ve got Brian Poole, Duke Dawson, and when they go into a dime set they bring Marcus May down into the box as well.

Geoff Collins is kind of like Will Muschamp in the way that he rotates his defensive backs a lot, keeping fresh guys. You’re playing matchups. You’re playing the field based on what side of the field, what hash mark you’re on. I think Chris Williamson, like you said, cornerback at Florida has just been so deep and so loaded for so long that you forget that now with JC gone it’s not that deep anymore. It’s not as deep as it was, so maybe this is a spot where when Williamson signed on the dotted line he thought maybe he’d have to sit out a year and wait a year, but circumstances have kind of changed for him.

Andrew:            Yeah. I agree. That’s kind of where I was going. He’s a guy that kind of blossomed late. He played a lot of receiver in high school, and didn’t play a ton of cornerback, so a lot of people didn’t go after him very hard because he was kind of slated on playing receiver in college. Collins went up, knew his coach a little bit, talked to him, recruited him at Mississippi State, and he’s ready to play cornerback. He’s a good athlete. We all know, you can’t replace good athletes.

Nick:            Then moving on to your other one, Jabari. You mentioned he’s young, and he’s only been playing football for a little bit, and I think then you kind of fit him into that role that I was talking about with Cece Jefferson where it’s a very limited role to begin with, and then you start expanding it. I just think when you watch his tape very impressive, but I think he is still raw, still learning. The SEC is going to give you a lot bigger and a lot tougher, faster, quicker offensive linemen than he’s ever faced before, so I think in my opinion he’s just a player that maybe is a year away from making that big impact.

Andrew:            I agree. It was a toss-up for me. We’ll see. Who knows? There’s been a lot of guys that played early that I would have said there was no way they were going to play early, and they did. You never know. Let’s move one.

Nick:            One thing, we can and we do look at film, and we know the guys from talking to them, talking to coaches. What you really can’t say is how a kid is going to adjust once he gets into this situation. Everyone matures at different times. Everyone picks things up at different paces, different speeds. So that’s the X-factor, the thing that you can’t really quantify. So we will see soon. We’re under 70 days.

Andrew:            Thank goodness. 12 days till we’re headed to Birmingham for media days. Let’s talk a little bit about the transfers, probably Mac’s biggest job that he did, and I say this. I don’t want to spoil my article that I’m planning to write this week, so I’m not going to use the line that I’m going to use there. He fixed problems, and he fixed the problem with getting TJ McCoy, a freshman from NC State. Some bad circumstances brought him to Florida, but at the end of the day he got to live his dream of being a Gator. Then you get Mason Halter from Fordham. He’s a guy we talked about that probably is on the number 1 line on the offensive line already.

Then you get the late addition of Anthony Harrell, the linebacker from Georgia Tech. Is he a superstar, probably not, but he’s a guy that experienced at the position. Comes in, brings depth, and if Antonio Morrison doesn’t play this year you have another senior there. Then you have Josh Grady, the quarterback that comes from Vanderbilt, and I’m not very high on the guy, but I guess it is what it is there. Then you have walk-on Luke Del Rio that’s not eligible to play this year.

Really those five guys come in and three of them are probably going to be impact players in their career at Florida, with McCoy maybe not being an impact guy this year, but down the road being an impact guy.

Nick:            Yeah. When you look at them you’ve got Josh Grady, who only has one year of eligibility left. Anthony Harrell only has one year of eligibility left, and Mason Halter only has one year of eligibility left. These guys, it might be controversial to say, but when guys are transferring as grad students they’re not really, especially guys who think that they can play in the NFL, they’re not really looking to get that degree. They’re not going to get their Master’s degree in that one year. A lot them are only going to be there in a summer semester/fall semester, and then they’re going to be training. So they’re not even going to be there for a full year. Someone like Josh Grady, I don’t know what kind of impact he can have at quarterback. He’s a guy that’s also played receiver. Mason Halter we talked about. I think somebody that immediately jumps into your top five offensive linemen. We know he came from a Division II school, but he as an All-American at that school.

Andrew:            Two time All-American.

Nick:            Two time All-American. Then Anthony Harrell, a linebacker. Linebacker’s a position, listen, Antonio Morrison is not going to be ready when Florida kicks off the start of the season. So you got to start finding guys. You’ve got Alex Anzalone, Daniel McMillian, Matt Rolin. Who knows how healthy Matt Rolin will be? Still continuing to come back. Jared Davis, so there’s some guys there, but you’re really young, kind of inexperienced, outside of Davis. To get a guy who’s played some in the ACC, played in a bigger football conference. Then you mentioned TJ McCoy, probably someone who I would see maybe taking a red shirt this year, building for the future.

Andrew:            Yeah. I think that you look at Harrell, and you’re like why did he transfer? He didn’t fit in. He didn’t really fit in the plans of Georgia Tech’s new scheme of offense, and it’s fine. Again, you’re not going to get a superstar player that’s going to transfer in, probably, but he’s a guy that’s going to probably be a backup to Anzalone or Jared Davis or Morrison, or whoever’s starting. He’s a guy that’s going to be there.

I told you about this off the air a little bit about TJ McCoy. I was talking to a couple guys that watched him at NC State, and who were coaching him a little bit. They were like, he was one of NC State’s best offensive linemen this past spring on their campus, and they thought that he was going to see some time. They were like, I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t see time at Florida. We were talking about this a little bit. Now you went from having not depth at center to now having Trip Thurman, Tyler Jordan, Dilliard, and McCoy.

Now do you maybe move Jordan to guard, like they did in the under armour game a little bit? He’s a little bit bigger than McCoy. McCoy’s right at 6’. You don’t want to move him to guard. So do you maybe move Jordan to guard? It’s a good problem to have, for sure. As someone told me, McCoy isn’t going to get to be a superstar, because he is 6’, but he’s a guy that’s going to probably be an All SEC center, possibly, because he’s just very smart and works very hard and knows how to play the position, and has the intangibles to play the position.

Nick:            Yeah. I mean, you would always rather be in a situation where you have too many players rather than not having enough players. No one on the coaching staff will tell you, we have too many centers. They’d much rather have too many than be going into spring where they’re trying to find anyone to play center. I think every offensive lineman outside of David Sharpe and Rod Johnson got some reps at center. You’d much rather have four than just have one.

Andrew:            Is your head better from that football that Dilliard popped you with in Nashville?

Nick:            I was quick. I dodged it.

Andrew:            This has kind of been a long show, but there was a lot to talk about. There was a good bit to talk about. We’ll be reconvening here next week, and then the next week we’ll be talking from Birmingham at SEC media days. Nick, maybe you and I have a big celebrity rollback, whatever they call the rolodex or whatever. Maybe we can get a guest on at Birmingham or something.

Nick:            Yeah. We’ll make sure to have an extra podcast as just a preview for media days, kind of what we’re looking for, what you guys should be looking forward to as well. Expect two podcasts coming before we head out to media days that week, and as always, www.gatorcountry.com for all of your Gator news, insight, and things.

Andrew:            And things. And make sure to follow myself on Twitter. I’m trying to get way up on that celebrity high list. I would like to get my checkmark. Nick, let’s get out of here. Say your thing, and let’s sign off.

Nick:            You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew:            Stay tuned.

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