Florida Gators podcast: Previewing the final official visit weekend of the 2018 class

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we preview the last official visit weekend of the 2018 class.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre preview the three official visitors who plan to visit Gainesville this weekend and breakdown the Gators chances with each of them.

Andrew and Nick also talk about the latest surrounding the Gators targets and commits heading into signing day next Wednesday.

EDIT: Our podcast was taped before the news of William Barnes and Ed Montilus cancelling their visit.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we’re back, and we are just a few short days away from National Signing Day. Seems like just yesterday we were down in Orlando for the Under Armour game and in Atlanta for early signing period. Now it’s Signing Day. Let’s go.

Nick:                         Yeah. Kind of weird for us. You and I were talking before the podcast. We’re saying Signing Day is like Hell Day for us. It’s wake up at 5:00am, and there’s so much work from our side that goes into it, but we kind of had that huge busy day for the early signing period. We talked about is the new early signing period going to be the big day, and really took care of most of the class there. I think Florida’s still obviously looking to finish strong, but probably not going to have as, I don’t know if I can say that. There’s probably still going to be as much drama. I remember the Cece Jefferson drama three years ago.

Andrew:                 Oh, brother.

Nick:                         There’s always something. Alex Collins.

Andrew:                 Byron Cowart.

Nick:                         Byron Cowart. Alex Collins, what is it? His mom ran off with his letter of intent to Arkansas. There’s always something that happens, but, at least from a number standpoint, it’s not going to be as crazy as it has been in past years.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, you got nine spots, maybe 10.

Nick:                         As opposed to like 25 coming down to the last day. Right.

Andrew:                 Let me hit on that real quick. Everyone’s talking about Florida should get that scholarship back for Randy Russell. Listen, Florida’s going to get the scholarship back for Randy Russell. That’s not a question. The question is when do they get that scholarship back for Randy Russell. Is it now? Is it at the end of the year? What is it? I think that that’s the biggest question mark. Florida did sign him, so he counts against them right now. Florida’s already put in that waiver to get that tenth scholarship back, or get that tenth spot back to be able to sign someone here next week. They should be getting something back by then, but, Nick, you and I both know the NCAA doesn’t work at any fast paced time.

Nick:                         They’re like the legal system.

Andrew:                 They’re the government. Yeah.

Nick:                         It’s like the government. Listen, it’s going to get done. I wouldn’t hold your breath on time. I wouldn’t put a bet on what day it’s going to be done by. But it’s the right thing to do. Not saying Randy Russell will do this, but an option is to take that medical hardship. It’s something that Rod Johnson did. It’s something that James Robinson did. It’s a tough thing to do. What it is is you’re signing a paper that says I can never play a Division I sport again. Not even just football. Let’s say Randy Russell was a great basketball player, and some school, Arizona said, “Hey, we’ll clear you to come play basketball.” If you sign this, you can never play a Division I sport again, but it allows the school to still honor your scholarship. You’re still going to get your school paid for.

As much as I bash the NCAA, and as much as the NCAA gets bashed, I really like that rule where if there’s a medical reason that you can’t play a sport, at least let the school honor the academic side and still give you a chance to better yourself and to get an education, to get a degree. It’s a rule that I like. Yes, it’s very tough. An 18-year-old kid, Randy Russell is not from a good area in Miami, to be able to have the opportunity to go to a school, the University of Florida, to have the opportunity to get a degree from the University of Florida, that shouldn’t be taken away from him just because he has a heart condition that’s not going to allow him to play football.

Andrew:                 Right. The thing for me is this. I go back to this. I don’t think Florida should be punished either for that. I do think the NCAA should work quick. Again, I know who I’m talking about, but the NCAA should work quick here and say, “Well, Randy Russell isn’t able to play. Florida took the proactive role of getting him medical help, getting him off the field so that he isn’t a risk of passing out and causing more harm to himself. So let’s give them another scholarship for this year.”

I think that that should be something that the NCAA should look at and should get on and do before Wednesday, because it could be a situation where Florida does need that tenth spot. They have some of the guys, and we’ll run through the board here in a minute, that maybe decide at the last second, I’m going to go to Florida, and Florida’s like, “Well, now we only have nine. We didn’t think you were coming, so we can’t let you come.”

Nick:                         Question for you. I know we talked about this when Mullen first came in, would he take a full class. What are the benefits and downsides of taking a full class in your first year, when you’re kind of behind the eight ball and playing catchup?

Andrew:                 I think it’s a little bit of do you take a full class just to take a full class? My answer to that is no. You don’t take a full class just to take a full class. In Mullen’s situation, he’s been able to really come in and get guys that are good players. When you kind of look at a guy like a Noah Boykin, a guy that Florida wasn’t in on. They come in, they get him in, they get him to decommit from Maryland, and now look at it. They’re in the mix. Probably going to sign him on Wednesday.

I think when you and I talked about that we said, “Don’t sign a full class just to sign a full class. Don’t sign Plan C and D and E guys. If it’s not Plan A or Plan B guys that you think are going to play, don’t sign them.” Don’t sign guys like a Kalif Jackson, that you and I knew was never going to play at Florida. Sign guys that you know, not know, because you never know, but guys that you think can play.

Nick:                         Without you going off on a rant about the two coaches, I think what really is different with Mullen and McElwain in those first classes is that Mullen is coming from an SEC school. I know that a lot of the guys that we’re talking to are saying, “Listen, Dan Mullen knew I wasn’t going to Mississippi State.” But just the fact that he is recruiting in the SEC and in that footprint, I think there is some relationships that are already built with the guys that maybe let him have a faster start than somebody who’s coming from, like Jim McElwain did, from Colorado State or somebody who’s coming from outside of that SEC footprint.

I think just the fact that Mullen and his staff have had previous relationships and there is some crossover with the guys that they recruited at Mississippi State and the guys they’re now recruiting at Florida. I think that is something that’s really helped with this recruiting class. Also, I’ll say this. Unless Dan Mullen and Florida wins a National Championship, there is not going to be as much steam and as much excitement around the program as there is right now.

Andrew:                 Right. You’re exactly right. People continue to ask me, “Judge Mac to Mullen.” Listen, do I think Mullen’s staff is better than Mac’s staff in recruiting? Absolutely. I would say there’s not even a question mark about that. But to judge their recruiting in a transition class just isn’t fair, simply from a standpoint of, like you said, Mullen was at Mississippi State. He was in the state of Mississippi, where he was recruiting some of these guys. He was recruiting Jacob Copeland. He was recruiting Emory Jones. He wasn’t going to land those guys, but he was recruiting them.

The relationships were there, so you weren’t starting relationships from A. You were starting already in a developed process. I mean, you look at a guy like an Emory Jones. Brian Johnson was his first offer at Mississippi State. You look at Jacob Copeland. They had him in on campus in his sophomore year and that kind of stuff. You can’t really judge that, and that’s what I say to people. You can’t really judge that stuff.

Again, I do think that Mullen signs a full class, but it’s a full class of guys that are going to contribute, not guys that are just going to be there to be there to take up a scholarship. I think that we can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that Mac and Muschamp did that. They would sign guys just to sign guys.

Nick:                         In November, December. I mean, in November Mullen was hired. November 27th was the press conference. Did you expect, let’s say in early December, in the first weeks of December, for Florida to sign a full class this year?

Andrew:                 I would be lying if I said either way, because I think I was, “Let me see.” Now, I will say this. After December, when I saw what they signed in December, and I knew what they had remaining, I was like, “Yeah. They are. They’re going to sign a full class.” Now, did I think it was going to be a full class of guys that could very well come in and contribute? I mean, when you look that the guys that Florida’s still after, it’s all basically four and five-stars. So they’re big name guys that they’re after. Again, in December, yes, I would have said they were going to sign a full class. Did I think it would have the potential to be as good as it was? No. In November, I was just, “Okay. Let’s see.” I’ll be honest. I didn’t expect 19 guys to sign, or 13 guys to sign in December with Florida.

Nick:                         Right. That’s what I was kind of getting at. That initial push that they made, I think, really paved the way. That’s what I was kind of getting at. I don’t think either of us expected a full class, and then once you get to that early signing period, and you see the guys that they were able to sign and get early, I think that’s really what probably changed the way you and I saw it and the way things were, and saying, “This might be a full class.” Because I don’t see this staff taking kids, like you said, just to fill numbers.

Andrew:                 Right. Yeah. Exactly. Like I said, you look at it. There was 13 guys that signed early, and that was 13 really solid players. You can say, people say, “The Griffin McDowell commitment on Tuesday was a little bit of a reach.” Yes and no. I hear people say that, but he’s a center. Nick, I think you and I will both agree that centers don’t get ranked very high, and that’s simply just because of the way they play.

Nick:                         Unless you’re like a huge road grader guard or a tackle, it’s kind of a very specialized position at center.

Andrew:                 Exactly.

Nick:                         You don’t have a lot of just guys that are centers coming out of high school, I think.

Andrew:                 Right. I think you and I can both agree that Florida needed a center kind of in this class. You look at TJ McCoy. He’s a sophomore, and you didn’t sign one last year. If something happens with McCoy, then you’ve got to make a makeshift lineup, because you’ve got to slide Brett Heggie inside. You kind of needed one. Again, I don’t think it was a reach. I think that it was a sign that they liked what they saw, and they wanted a center in the class. I’ll be the first to say I’m not judging John Hevesy on what he does. If he’s signing offensive linemen, they’re pretty good. You look at Mississippi State’s offensive line, and those aren’t highly rated guys, and they’re blocking up front against the Auburns, the Georgias, the Alabamas. They’re doing well up front.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think there is something to have a guy come in that plays center. It’s so different from any other position. You’re doing something before the snap. You’ve got a hand on the ball. It’s tough to fire off, and then, when you’re in the SEC, you’re not playing undersized guys at nose tackle or at defensive tackle. You’re facing monsters. You’re facing guys that are 330 pounds, that move like they weigh 260. It’s a different thing. I think I would appreciate having a guy that is used to playing with his hand on the ball, playing center, coming in.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Let’s move ahead, Nick.

Nick:                         Last weekend.

Andrew:                 This is the last weekend. Florida’s going to host six guys. We’re taping this Thursday afternoon. These weekends have changed. As we saw last weekend, Andrew Chatfield and Richard Gouraige weren’t coming until Friday morning. Then they came back, and then they decided they were coming in. We’re taping this Thursday. If one of these guys changes, check out the message board. Don’t shoot one of us. This is as of Thursday afternoon.

You have William Barnes and Ed Montilus, two offensive linemen from Apoka, are coming in. You have the Juco defensive end, Dorian Gerald. Again, he’s got plane tickets booked to both Florida and Ole Miss. Both teams have him booked. We expect him at Florida as of taping this at 3:30 Thursday. You look at wide receiver Jacob Copeland coming in. You got defensive lineman out of Mississippi, Fabien Lovett, coming in. Then, lastly, is the tight end out of Louisiana, Glenn Beal, coming in. That’s the six expected in as of 3:30 on Thursday.

Nick:                         Okay. Can we just do this? Can we just get Copeland out of the way?

Andrew:                 Why do we want to take Copeland out of the way?

Nick:                         Because I don’t know if there’s a fanbase that’s like not ready for this recruitment to be over. Tennessee, Alabama, Florida. I think every fanbase is kind of just like, “Let me know when the ink is dry.”

Andrew:                 Let me hit on something with Copeland.

Nick:                         Go ahead.

Andrew:                 I don’t want to make excuses for a guy like Jacob Copeland. I don’t, but I want to make this statement with him. The guy doesn’t have the perfect home life, and the attention he gets from Twitter is about the attention he gets. I’m not trying to run on some sap story, but Jacob Copeland’s a good guy. He’s a good person. He loves the attention, but the guy doesn’t get attention very much, so what attention he gets from Twitter is what he gets. I say everyone give the man a pass a little bit, simply because a lot of people don’t know his home life.

Nick:                         Yeah. I say this too about a lot of kids, and you and I say it every time. Listen, I don’t care if I committed to a school as a sophomore, I’m going to take all five of my official visits, because how often is somebody going to pay for you to have a weekend vacation somewhere and to have the red carpet rolled out? Once you’re at a school, you don’t have that same kind of power anymore. You kind of lose out on that power.

Andrew:                 This is the last time you get to choose anything.

Nick:                         Yeah. So, enjoy it.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, live it up. Live it up. Like you said, you and I have talked about this before. If Hawaii was paying us to come out there. I don’t know about Hawaii. I don’t like to fly. If a school is paying me to come to their school and enjoy three days on their dime, why not? Why not?

Nick:                         Right.

Andrew:                 Go ahead. Move on past Copeland. Go ahead.

Nick:                         Next one. Let’s go with Dorian Gerald.

Andrew:                 Again, it’s going to be a question. We’re all going to have to follow this recruitment all the way down till Wednesday. Texas A&M has kind of picked up some momentum on him. Arkansas, that’s where he’s at right now, on an official visit. Then Florida and Ole Miss. Like I said, we have to follow where he shows up. He’s telling people at Arkansas he’s coming to Florida this weekend. We’ll see if he actually shows up at Florida this weekend. Again, we expect to him at Gator Country. We expect him to. If he shows up, I like Florida’s chances.

He’s been a guy that’s talked up Florida a ton in the past. He’s talked up how much he likes Sal’s coaching pedigree, how much he likes Grantham’s coaching pedigree. Florida was looking great here until this kind of thing of him visiting or not. He had the flu last weekend, was actually in the hospital, so that’s why he didn’t get to visit Ole Miss last weekend. It’s kind of going to be where he shows up might be where he ends up at.

Nick:                         So we’ve got the two most dramatic ones out of the way, I think.

Andrew:                 Yeah, I guess. William Barnes and Ed Montilus are guys fans are having a fit over.

Nick:                         Run fans through, for maybe people that don’t follow this closely, William Barnes. For a while considered a Gator lean, right?

Andrew:                 For a while. I mean, he was all Florida. We had heard rumors throughout the process, “Watch out tonight, Barnes may commit to Florida.” We had heard that. The amount of times that we had heard, “Barnes may be ready to announce to Florida.” It was a lot. He was talking up North Carolina and Ole Miss. Granted, North Carolina’s always been a threat. His mom went to school there. There was a lot of us in the business saying, “He’s just pulling a Cece. He’s just pulling a Martez. He’s trying build up the suspense a little bit.” It still might be, but a lot of people were saying that. He’s just building up suspense.

Then the coaching change happened. Brad Davis left. John Hevesy came in. Granted, he’s cool with John Hevesy. I mean, he’s told me several times, he’s told others several times, he talks on the phone with Hevesy a lot about just different things, recruiting, about football, that kind of stuff. It just seems like that relationship with North Carolina has ended up being better.

His teammate, Ed Montilus, they’re best friends, play together at Apoka. They look to be a package deal. North Carolina’s showed him more love. A lot of that is because Florida’s had targets higher on the board than Montilus at times. It just seems like the coaching change was too much to overcome. Granted, they’re coming in with all their family this weekend, both kids are. I’ll say it again. Barnes is a guy that at many times was looking to go to Florida. Can Florida swing that momentum back? Yeah. I mean, he’s taking the visit. I just think it’s going to be a long uphill battle to do that though.

Nick:                         I completely understand the whole Cece and Martez Ivey, where I remember talking, I think the first time I talked to Cece he was a sophomore, maybe going into his junior year. It’s kind of like, this kid’s all Florida.

Andrew:                 Carl.

Nick:                         Carl. Yeah. It comes down to it, and like we said talking about Copeland, this is the last time you’re making the decision, and you have the power and this and that. When you’re considered such a heavy lean, you kind of feel like maybe you don’t have that same kind of moment, so I understand that.

Andrew:                 Yeah. We’ve had people on the message board, and we’ve had people on Twitter, say, “These kids are dumb, because they’re going there. They’re going to mediocre school.” Listen, a guy like William Barnes is good enough that if he goes to North Carolina he’s going to get an excellent degree, just like he would at Florida. He may get some help now. I mean, we know about North Carolina up there. But he’s still going to be fine. I understand fans being upset about it, but, at the end of the day, it’s a big decision.

He lost the relationship he had with Mac and his staff for three years almost, and that was big. That staff at North Carolina has done the same thing, and then his mom went to school there. I know a lot of times that doesn’t mean anything, but in this instance, it does. It’s big. It’s important to those kids. It’s important to them, and it’s important that Barnes plays with Ed. I mean, it is what it is. Again, do I think Florida can overcome it? Sure. I think it’ll be tough, but they can.

Nick:                         You said important that Will plays with Ed. What’s going on with Ed?

Andrew:                 Same thing. It’s North Carolina right now. They’re the school that’s made him the most important target and priority, more than Florida, more than Auburn, more than Ole Miss, more than all the other schools. North Carolina did a good job, because they knew get Ed, that likely helps us get William. They did a good job, and that’s the way it looks. Again, if William tells Ed, “Let’s go to Florida,” I think Ed follows to Florida. Again, both parents are coming down. Some will say right now that Ed might be a little bit better player now, because William hasn’t reached his ceiling. I don’t think Ed’s a bad football player, and I think if he goes to Florida he probably plays at Florida. I’m in the opinion that if you can get both, you take both.

Nick:                         Okay. Let me play a little numbers crunching here. Let’s say Barnes and Ed. You said you have about nine spots left. Is there a situation where dominos fall, pieces fall the right way, where you have to make a decision between one of the two? How would that affect both of them?

Andrew:                 I don’t think they split up. That’s just me. I don’t think they split up. I think it’s a situation where they’re going to go to school together, and that’s just is what it is. They’re going to go to school together. I know that people will say, “That’s dumb,” this, that, and the other. Well, it is, but at the same time, if that’s what you want to do, that’s what they’re going to do. I think that it does. I wouldn’t want to be Dan Mullen if he only had one spot, and both wanted to come, because I think you have to figure out a way. If both of those guys say they want to come, you let them come. I think you and I would both agree that getting offensive linemen and revamping that offensive line is the biggest challenge and priority for Mullen, outside of the quarterback position.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s got to be, especially when you start looking at …

Andrew:                 Especially the different stuff that they do. I mean, no offense to Jawaan Taylor, but Jawaan Taylor’s not pulling and moving around in this offense.

Nick:                         When you look at their ages too. I mean, Martez Ivey is going after this year. Fred Johnson is potentially gone. He’ll be a junior.

Andrew:                 Heggie’s a redshirt sophomore.

Nick:                         Heggie’s a redshirt sophomore. I think Heggie will be around for next year, but especially those tackle spots, you start losing those tackles.

Andrew:                 Right. You need to start getting those guys. Granted, if you can get a guy like Gouraige and Nick Petit-Frere at tackles, you’re golden, but I think we both agree you need depth. A like Barnes can play guard at the next level and be okay at guard. Again, you need as many offensive linemen as you can get. I don’t know if you can fit both though.

Nick:                         Okay. Let’s keep moving on. Glenn Beal.

Andrew:                 Little bit of an interesting guy, Nick. A guy that when you look at it you’re like, Florida already signed two tight ends, why are they trying for another tight end? That’s a little bit of a question mark. There’s some talk maybe a guy like Dante Lang goes to defensive end. That was his position before this year. Then there’s some question of Mullen probably just isn’t happy with the guys that are on roster right now. A guy like Beal can play that H-back role.

We talked about this on the podcast a couple weeks ago. A guy like Aaron Hernandez, the things he did at that H-back role were crazy. Taking the shovel pass, taking the handoffs, that kind of stuff. That’s what Glenn Beal can do. I think it’s more of a case of if the numbers just totally don’t work, I mean the guys totally don’t come that they think are coming, and they have an extra spot, and a guy like Glenn Beal wants to come, you take an athlete.

I think Mullen will be the first to tell you right now that he wants to revamp the roster and improve the roster. There’s no doubt, getting a guy like Glenn Beal improves the roster. I just think it’s a thing of he’s a guy that if we have room we take him, but they’re not going to push out a guy like a Gouraige or push out a William Barnes to get. Again, right now they’re fighting an uphill battle with Beal, because Texas A&M and Tennessee are both schools that look to be ahead of Florida heading into that visit.

Nick:                         I also think with tight end you’re looking at a completely different way that they’re going to be used in this offense.

Andrew:                 Agreed.

Nick:                         C’yontai Lewis is gone after this year. Moral Stephens. Really you only have Kemore Gamble and Kyle Pitts, so to take another tight end, I don’t think …

Andrew:                 And Dante Lang.

Nick:                         Right. I just don’t think, I think even if you take three, even if Dante sticks, and you take three, you’re only going to have four on the roster next year, or in two years.

Andrew:                 Right. You have to go back to the same question we talk about all the time. Can Kemore stay healthy? He was hurt all last year. Can he stay healthy? Then you look at it, and you think, “Maybe Dante Lang is a better defensive end than he is tight end. If we can get Beal, then we basically signed a defensive end in Lang.” Again, there’s plenty of ways. I think the biggest thing that I can tell people with Mullen is Mullen likes having guys that can play multiple positions.

Nick:                         Right.

Andrew:                 That’s a guy like a Lang. That’s a guy like Beal. That’s kind of where I’m at with him.

Nick:                         Fabien Lovett.

Andrew:                 Again, I think he’s a little bit of a backup plan. Was once committed to Mississippi State and Mullen, and is a guy that I think Florida’s a little bit of a third option for him right now. it looks like it’s Ole Miss/Mississippi State battle for him. Again, if Florida, say Dorian Gerald doesn’t show up this weekend. They really turn up the heat on a guy like Fabien and could possibly get in. Again, he has the best relationship with Fabien, because he was committed to him. Doesn’t have the best relationship with the guy at Mississippi State, Morehead, because Morehead’s new.

It’s a situation where if Florida has room and has that spot open, they very well could push for him. Right now, I think he’s a little bit more of a backup plan. As I look back it, and look back at that question you asked me earlier, and that was what about the signing backup plans? Fabien Lovett’s not a bad backup plan. He probably plays at Florida and probably does well.

Nick:                         I won’t ask you for your mock class. When will your mock class come out?

Andrew:                 Never.

Nick:                         Never.

Andrew:                 No. Monday. Monday is the mock class for me.

Nick:                         How long have people been asking?

Andrew:                 Since December. The reason, Nick, people ask me this all the time. “Why wait till Monday?” It’s simple. If I put out a mock class, people take it to heart. As many times as I can say, “This is right now,” it is what it is. For instance, if you’d asked me two weeks ago, I’d have put a 100% or 99% chance Dorian Gerald was visiting this weekend, and would have put an 80-90% chance he was going to be a Gator. He gets the flu. He doesn’t make it in this weekend. Guess what? Now this is all crazy. Again, I say Monday, because all the official visits are done, and you have a better idea where things are.

Nick:                         What do you think heading into this last stretch, your best guess about how things end, what kind of grade do you think this coaching staff would get, based on when they came in? Honestly, they got a head start on some of the other schools, because Florida was quick to get rid of Jim McElwain early on in the year. They got a head start on schools like Arkansas and Tennessee, for sure, because that was a dumpster fire. Where do you think this class, or this coaching staff, would get a grade, based on what they’ve done in the three months that they’ve been here?

Andrew:                 I can’t say enough about it. Again, I’m sure someone’s going to tell me I’m sunshine pumping or this, that, and the other, but I can’t enough about what they’ve done. First of all, I go back to that December, signing 13 guys. That was crazy. I mean, what day was he hired? The end of the month.

Nick:                         November 27th.

Andrew:                 So he has less than a month to go in and solidify these commitments, and then he went out and got arguably a top 100 player in Emory Jones, arguably a top 150 player in Trey Dean, to flip. Trey Dean publicly decommitted from Tennessee before he committed to Florida, but still you got him to leave Tennessee and spurn Alabama to Florida. You got Emory Jones to leave Ohio State’s class. We didn’t think he was going to go there, but still. Alabama thought he was going to go there. You and I both know how bad Florida State wanted him. You look at just that right there. Period. Those guys. Win.

I mean, in the three years Mac was here he couldn’t land a top 100 quarterback. He had Matt Corral, and that was by default. That’s no disrespect to any of the guys on the roster. It just is what it is.

Then you look at what he’s done now. He’s went out, got Justin Watkins, a guy that the old staff just didn’t recruit much, and then LSU was there. Alabama was there. They got him to commit. He’s a very good player. Does he have some questionable transfers in high school? Sure. Again, he’s a very good player.

Then you look at what they’ve done with Nick Petit-Frere. Florida went from not even looking like an option to probably being one of the two finalists, with either Notre Dame or Alabama, depending on who you talk to. Florida is that one school that’s the staple in the final two, no matter who you talk to. Then you look at just other guys. Like I said, Noah Boykin. You just look at guys they’ve been able to get either on campus or recruited and been a finalist for. It’s incredible. I just can’t say it enough. To do what he’s done in such a short period of time is crazy.

Now, let’s see what he’ll be able to do with a full year. I mean, you and I talked about this off the air. He flew in with his helicopter yesterday at IMG. He’s doing what the big boys are doing, and he’s not afraid to go to California. Heck, John Hevesy was in Hawaii for two days. We can talk and joke, “That was a vacation.” No. He was seeing good players out there.

Me personally, I feel like Mullen is back to the staple of what the University of Florida is supposed to be about. You shouldn’t be begging to get the top 10. You should be thinking about being top 5. I mean, it’s the University of Florida. Yes, you have to be heavy in the state of Florida, but you shouldn’t be worried, “I got to have 30% of my class from Miami, or this isn’t a good class.” Recruit the state of Florida hard, and then cherry-pick the rest of the country. You’re the University of Florida. You’re supposed to be a national powerhouse.

Nick:                         I agree. I’m going to shift to a different national powerhouse.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         That is current national powerhouse down in my neck of the woods in Plantation, American Heritage and two kids there who both visited a couple weeks ago. What about Chatfield and big Nesta? What’s coming down? It seems like a UF and Miami battle for Nesta. Then Chatfield’s someone who, I remember, it was all the way back at Friday Night Lights, when there was some buzz about a potential of him flipping back then and seeing him there. What’s the latest on them? What do you expect to come down next week?

Andrew:                 First of all, let me just say this about Andrew Chatfield. I don’t know what in the world Randy Shannon didn’t like about him early on, but I told our good buddy, Chad Wilson, when he was a sophomore. I said, “This guy is incredible.” I said, “This guy is all over the ball. He’s a dominant force.” Chas was laughing at me and was telling me, “This kid’s only a sophomore.” He’s a good player. He’s such a really good player. I feel good on Florida’s chances with Chatfield.

Again, there’s a little bit of question mark now. Miami is hosting Patrick Surtain and Nesta this weekend on official visits. Miami’s campus is just down the road, so they’re trying to get Chatfield to join those guys on unofficial visit this weekend. Right now he says he’s not. That’s going to be something we have to kind of look at over the weekend. Does he show up? Heading into this weekend, I feel good about Florida’s chances with Chatfield. Florida’s really made him a priority, and he fits perfect in that 3-4 defense. He’s a long, lanky guy, can play that defensive end spot, as well as drop back into coverage at that outside linebacker, kind of that Buck spot that Dante Fowler, the Jason Taylors of the world really kind of put on the map.

As far as Nesta goes, it’s going to be tough. Listen, he’s been committed to Miami forever. Miami was the first one to kind of notice him and go after him. Florida was way, way late in offering him. Our good buddy, Randy Shannon, didn’t think he was good enough or quick enough and was out of shape, so they didn’t offer him until later. Again, Florida made up a ton of ground, and they’re one of the finalists for him. Again, I just think it’s going to be too much, too little, too late on Nesta, but I do think they go one of two there, as long as Chatfield don’t show up on campus. If he shows up on campus this weekend, it’s going to be a lot of heartache in Gainesville over the next couple days.

Nick:                         Would you say, at least with Chatfield, strong chance? Probably tougher with Nesta.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I would say 55, 60% on Chatfield, and I would say 30-40% on Nesta. I think you and I both agree, the first time you go to predicting South Florida kids, you should stop any time you want to predict South Florida kids.

Nick:                         You can’t predict me.

Andrew:                 That’s right. Especially American Heritage. I think our good buddy, Chad Wilson, sends them to psychological school just to screw with people.

Nick:                         What will you be committing to on Wednesday?

Andrew:                 We’ll be here. It depends.

Nick:                         You’ll be committing to a vacation on Wednesday.

Andrew:                 I wish. Maybe. Mullen’s trying to throw in some Junior Days quick. I need to talk to Mullen. Mullen and his crew need to go to Hawaii for a week and just chill. No. I mean, we talk about this all the time, Nick. It’s been a little bit of a wild adventure since football season. Usually December is a little bit quieter, but now with the early signing period and the coaching change it was transition, straight from football into coaching search straight into early signing period, and then it was a couple days off for Christmas, and then it was Under Armour. Now it’s official visits. It’s been wild for us all. Again, it’s been fun. I can say that Dan Mullen’s making covering recruiting fun again. I mean, it’s nice having 200 guys being offered instead of the same 30 guys.

Nick:                         Got you. Anything else you want to hit on?

Andrew:                 No. I think the other thing to watch this weekend is Malcolm Lamar. Does he take that unofficial visit to Florida State this weekend, or does he stay home?

Nick:                         Florida’s battling the Seminoles there.

Andrew:                 Yeah. His buddy, Warren Thompson, committed to Florida State. Wasn’t a take for Florida. Florida never recruited him. His other buddy, the linebacker James Miller, is going to go up on an official this weekend from Armwood to FSU. They’re trying to get Lamar to join him. Lamar says he’s not. We’ll see how that goes. Again, heading into this weekend, I feel like Florida has the edge for Lamar, if he doesn’t take that visit. If he takes that visit, throw it all out the door, because FSU gets the last chance, because as of Saturday night no off campus visits.

Nick:                         Big game this week.

Andrew:                 What’s that?

Nick:                         The biggest game this week.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Who you got?

Nick:                         You know I can’t. As a South Florida native, you know I can’t ride with the Patriots. I am fly Eagles, fly. Let’s go Philly. I’m eating cheesesteaks all Sunday.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this. You say you can’t ride with the Patriots.

Nick:                         Never.

Andrew:                 You and I both know damn well Tom Brady is not losing a Super Bowl.

Nick:                         He could lose. He’s lost Super Bowl before.

Andrew:                 But he’s not losing this one.

Nick:                         He could lose this one.

Andrew:                 He’s not losing this. Thanks to our good buddy, Steve Sarkisian up there. Philly should be at home right now, and the Falcons should be there. Sarkisian doesn’t believe that running a normal play on 4th and goal on the 2-yard line with the game on the line. Maybe just throw a slant route to the best wide receiver in National Football League in Julio. Let the Eagles off the hook.

Nick:                         You sound very bitter.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I’m very, very bitter. The fruit loop got to keep his job. What an idiot. Come on, Dan. By the way, Dan Quinn’s mock draft came out, and it looks like Dan Quinn may be targeting Taven Bryan to join him up in Atlanta.

Nick:                         Was he part of his recruitment? I thought that was the year Dan left. Dan left as Taven was going into his senior year of high school.

Andrew:                 Yeah, but you know Dan still talks to Muschamp and those guys. I personally hope they pass on him. I kind of hope they go DB at their pick. I’m sure. I forgot what number they got. Something in the 20s, 23 maybe, 24, something like that. Anyway, I hope they don’t. I’m going Patriots. Brady. I’m not going against the Goat. Greatest quarterback, maybe football player, of all time.

Nick:                         I’ve got to ride with Philly.

Andrew:                 High scoring game?

Nick:                         I think so.

Andrew:                 I do too.

Nick:                         I think it’ll be in the high 20s, 30s.

Andrew:                 I think so too, but then I go back, and I think about how bad, what’s his name? Philly’s quarterback? I forgot his name.

Nick:                         Nick Foles.

Andrew:                 Foles. How bad he was against Atlanta. He was atrocious. It was terrible. He was bad. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out. We’ll have a podcast on Monday, recapping everything and putting out the mock class and getting you ready for Signing Day. Wednesday be sure to check out Gator Country. We’ll have tons of stuff, have our normal chat, have the profiles, all that good stuff. We got a special little surprise coming from Kevin Camps. He’s got some awesome videos coming out of these guys as they roll their letter of intents in.

Nick:                         Absolutely. Appreciate all the work Kevin does. Make sure you’re following us on social media to check all those out. As always, www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. You can also find the podcast on iTunes. Search @GatorCountry. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. As always, guys, we appreciate it. As always, go Braves. Chomp, chomp.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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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.