Jake Allen talks Florida Gators recruiting on GC’s podcast

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as this time we’re joined by quarterback commit Jake Allen to talk Florida Gators recruiting, plus how his summer has gone this year.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre discuss with Allen which players he’s actively recruiting, plus who he was able to hang out with and watch during his summer’s two events.

Andrew and Nick also talk about the difficult ending to the Florida Gators baseball season, plus preview who could replace the guys that are leaving the team this year.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? It’s again your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, not the ending to baseball we all expected maybe, wanted, but good season so far. It was a good season. I thought a lot of good players. What are you thinking? Disappointed, for sure. Failure?

Nick:                         I think, you know, there’s 295 teams in Division I baseball, so to say that we’re one of the last eight teams playing, we didn’t win a championship; that’s a failure. I think no in one breath, and then in the second breath I think, this team kind of put that expectation on themselves, and they came into the season almost with a national championship or bust kind of mentality.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         So that doesn’t happen, you don’t win a national championship, but 294 teams don’t win a national championship. So they’re disappointed, but I don’t think you can call the season as a whole a disappointment. When you look at the season that Pete Alonso had. When you look at Dalton Guthrie, there were so many questions about what he would do at shortstop, fantastic season. Jonathan India, along with the other freshmen, Deacon Liput, Jackson Kowar, Brady Singer, there’s a lot of positives from the season. Logan Shore breaking a school record for consecutive wins. 52-16 is a damn good record. You don’t win the SEC regular season. You don’t win the SEC Tournament, and you go 0-2 in Omaha, so that is disappointing, but I think the season as a whole is not a disappointment. Disappointing ending to a pretty spectacular season.

Andrew:                 We’ll talk more about that here in just a little bit. We do have a surprise today though. Gator commit, Gator Twitter recruiter, whatever you want to call him, Jake Allen is going to be joining us here in just a moment. We’re going to talk a lot of things with Jake, Nick. There’s some shakiness going on with recruiting a little bit. We’ll talk about that with Jake, and then we’ll talk about that afterwards. You and I can break that down a little bit. We’ll talk to Jake and get his thoughts on where recruiting is. He’s had two big events in the last month. He was out in Cali at the Elite 11, the semi-finals. Didn’t make the cut to go to the opening, but still had a good performance. Then he was at the Rivals Five Star Challenge in Atlanta, and had a good event there. So we can talk to him about that, and see just where his mindset is of this recruiting class.

Nick:                         Shameless plug, STA Raider, so always love to have a fellow Raider on the podcast.

Andrew:                 That was one of the stipulations I had with Jake. He could come on the show, but there was no STA pride talk and yada, yada, yada. Let’s not make the people wait anymore. I know Jake’s ready. Should we just go ahead to Jake, or we should keep going here a little bit?

Nick:                         We’ll go. I’ll see if I can even find the Bell Song and add that in. Jake will know what I’m talking about. Add the Bell Song in to lead Jake in.

Andrew:                 There you go. Let’s go to Jake real quick.

Welcome back, guys. We’re joined by the Jake Allen from St. Thomas Aquinas. Jake, first of all, thanks for joining us. How is summer treating you?

Jake:                        Summer’s going great. We just work out as a team. It’s not easy. It’s real hot down here, but I think it’s going pretty well so far.

Andrew:                 No jet ski videos or anything like that?

Jake:                        Not yet. Not yet.

Nick:                         How much fun was that?

Jake:                        That was so much fun. I’ll never forget that.

Nick:                         How long did it take to figure out what you were doing there?

Jake:                        We practiced on Friday, so we went out on the water for like an hour and half, hour, just to get the feel of the jet pack thing, and then we filmed on Saturday morning. It was like a 15 minute learning curve, because it was hard at first, falling, doing everything, but once you got the hang of it, it’s like snowboarding. Once you know how to snowboard, you’re fine. It’s just getting it first.

Andrew:                 I’d still be learning, because I can’t snowboard. I have no balance.

Jake:                        There you go.

Andrew:                 It was cool though. I thought it was something that was a once in a lifetime experience for you.

Jake:                        Definitely. I’ll never forget that.

Andrew:                 Jake, the thing on everyone’s mind is you playing quarterback, of course. You’ve had two nice events this summer. The Elite 11, I’m sure it didn’t end the way you wanted it to, but I guess, what was that experience like meeting some of those guys, those coaches? What was that experience like?

Jake:                        The experience was great. It was getting to see where you stand, and all those 24 quarterbacks, they’re all damn good quarterbacks. Everyone can throw. Everyone can do anything, and just being around those coaches is a great experience. I’ll never forget it. Moral of the story, it was just a good time, just getting out there. Get to California, free paid vacation, just to learn. I learned a lot of stuff. I definitely could take away a ton from that.

Andrew:                 First of all, let’s just rewind. You’ve gotten a free vacation to California, and you’ve got to try the jet pack.

Jake:                        There you go.

Andrew:                 Nick, we’re in the wrong sport, man.

Nick:                         I played baseball. They didn’t do all that for us.

Jake:                        It’s definitely a blessing.

Andrew:                 Jake, what was it like? What was some of the things you maybe picked up from Coach Dilfer, Coach Whitfield, those guys? What were some of the things? I know the big thing is the mental side of things. Give us a look into that, and maybe some of the things you picked up from those coaches.

Jake:                        I had no idea going in how mentally strong you had to be. It was crazy. Just getting up there, they have this sports psychologist talk to us, and that guy was crazy. It was so cool learning from him and just feeding off what he was talking about, but Coach Dilfer is an awesome guy. Hang around him and Whitfield, it was special. They put us through a little beach Navy Seal, well just a beach little workout in the waves and the in the cold Pacific Ocean, but it’s just cool just hanging around those guys. Nobody knows football like those guys, so just taking away anything I really could was just what I went up there to do.

Andrew:                 Was it tougher on the field or off the field?

Jake:                        Definitely off the field. The on field stuff was stuff I’ve done every day, stuff I’ll go to the field and do, and stuff I’ll be doing for the rest of my career, but what we did off the field is something that you can’t really get anywhere else. They really stress you mentally and physically by the stuff they had us doing. They had us doing relay races in the sand and on the beach, which was so hard. I’ll never forget that. Overall I had a great experience. Didn’t happen, I didn’t get the results I wanted, but I took away a lot, and I’m going to use that as motivation going forward.

Nick:                         Is there any point where they say, “Hey, Jake, I need you to go do this,” and you kind of look at them, and you’re like, what does this have to do with football or with a quarterback? Then maybe you go ahead and do it, and then after they say, “This is how this ties into either being a leader or something intangible that goes along with being a quarterback.”

Jake:                        Yeah. Coach Dilfer told us on the bus ride home, he said, “Be up at 5 AM tomorrow.” We were thinking, what are we doing? Coach Rumpf texts all of us in a group chat, and he’s like, be ready, and sent us a Navy Seal, like what they did in 2013, I think it was, the Navy Seal workout. We’re all thinking, shoot, we’re going to go do some Navy Seal stuff.

So we wake up, we drive down to the beach, and it turns out it wasn’t Navy Seal stuff. We had to do these relay races. You think relay races, you think fun, competition. That was not fun. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We had, it honestly felt like it was pretty much a half mile each. So what we to do, we had to run about .3 of a mile to the up-down station. We had to do 10 up-downs, and then we had to run .3 more to the lifeguard station, and then sprint back. It was just so hard. Mentally all you wanted to do is break down, and physically your legs couldn’t move anymore. My legs have never felt like that. Then we had one more, but that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Then we had to do one in the water. We had to run in, and literally when I was running back up, like where my guy was standing where I had to touch his hand, my legs gave out. I just fell.

When you’re in it, you’re thinking, “This sucks. Why am I doing this? This has nothing to do with football.” Then you get out, and you’re thinking, “Wow. I made it through it. I wanted to stop. My body wanted to stop. My mind wanted to stop, but I just kept fighting.” Looking back on it, it was definitely cool. In the moment it’s hard and not very fun.

Andrew:                 I guess it’s good to kind of look back at that kind of stuff. Maybe in a game situation you’ll kind of remember that as well.

Jake:                        Yeah, just keep fighting.

Nick:                         Running in the sand is no joke.

Jake:                        That’s the hardest thing ever. I was just at the beach, and I was walking. I had like a flashback, like PTSD, thinking, “Am I back here? Do I have to run that again?”

Andrew:                 That’s funny. That’s not what you want to remember on the beach there, Jake.

Jake:                        No, definitely not. Every time we go to the beach I’ll never forget what I did.

Andrew:                 Take a beautiful girl, and things will be fine.

Jake:                        There you go.

Andrew:                 There you go. Let’s move to Atlanta. You got to go to the Five Star Challenge in Atlanta. Did well there as well, but you were also doing some recruiting. Who were some guys you were maybe talking to recruiting in Atlanta?

Jake:                        Don was my guy. I was just after him, hanging out with him, making sure. He was actually on my seven on seven team, but he hurt his hamstring in the morning session, so he wasn’t able to go for the seven on seven. Just talking to him, just staying in his ear, that’s all I got to do. Just keep talking to him, and he’ll come around. Definitely him. Alex Leatherwood, big old tackle, I was watching him do his little drills, and that dude is the real deal. Definitely want to get those two. Kai Herbert, I’m on him heavy; you know that, and AJ Terrell, the corner, big old corner, I’m on him heavy too. Those are major guys that I was going after at that camp, because those are guys I think we really have a shot at.

Andrew:                 To go to that event, just to be invited is special, first of all, but to go to that event and perform as well as you did, does that maybe, I guess, lessen the blow of California a little bit?

Jake:                        Yeah. You could look at California, and you could think, he didn’t do well, or whatever, but it was an interesting thing in California. We had this pro day, and it had 21 throws, all these NFL throws. Coach Dilfer put it up. He said if he put a quarterback through a pro day that’s what he would them through, and I scored the third overall quarterback out of all the scores out of any quarterback there. Then I look back on the next day, the ranking comes out, and I wasn’t in the top 11. So I was just thinking I just don’t know what happened there. Looking back on the score, the numbers didn’t lie. I was #3 out of the 24, but I don’t know. Maybe they saw something different. I don’t really take that as a loss in California. I look at it as a positive, because I’m going to go forward and work out. I’m thinking, didn’t make that 11. I go out to the field. I didn’t make that 11, so I work even harder. I don’t take it as a loss. I look at it as a gain, honestly, because it’s going to help me. Honestly, in the long run it’s going to help me more that I didn’t make than I did make it, because that’s is even bigger on my soul there.

In Atlanta it was good. I got to hang around with a couple of guys, and it was more relaxed, because in California it was super tense. There was not a break, but Atlanta it was just having fun, having a good time. Hanging out with the best guys in the country, and some of the greatest coaches too. I don’t look at California as a loss, but just it was fun to go out in Atlanta and just compete. That’s really what I like to do, so it was just good to get up there.

Andrew:                 Nick and I will tell you a secret about California. It’s called politics. If you’re not a part of the politics, you’re not there. Don’t take it personal.

Jake:                        I don’t. I have plenty of conversations with a ton of people. I don’t look at it. I know it looks good to the fans, like this kids Elite 11 quarterback. It’s great and all. A bunch of my buddies made it, and I’m super happy for them, but at the end of the day that doesn’t make you a good quarterback or not. I don’t really look at it like that. Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch didn’t make the Elite 11, and they were both first round draft picks.

Andrew:                 At the end of the day you’re judged by wins and losses and championship rings, not awards.

Jake:                        No. Exactly.

Andrew:                 Nick, I know me and you were talking about this afterwards, and I’ll pose the question before you do. Jake, what’s maybe one guy you’ve met so far that either you were impressed with off the field or on the field, that maybe you didn’t know beforehand?

Jake:                        Wow.

Andrew:                 Put you on the spot.

Jake:                        I’m trying to think. Wow. I’m thinking just Donovan Peoples-Jones. You look at him, the kid’s a stud, and then he’s a stud on the field, and he’s a stud off the field. I wasn’t surprised by that. Leatherwood, you look at him, 6’5”, just a tank, and he’s a tank on the field. There’s not a guy that I’ve been so much surprised with. I guess you could say a guy like Jerry Jeudy. When I was in Atlanta that kid just blew up. That kid’s a stud. I always knew he was good, but I didn’t think he was that good, but that dude deserves his fifth star. He’s arguably one of the best receivers in the country. I’d say I was surprised with Jeudy. That kid is a baller.

Andrew:                 How long is your notebook now of guys you’re recruiting, or is it even a notebook anymore? It’s just all memory.

Jake:                        I just have them, I have little notes and things. I just have a bunch of names that I’m really going after, because those guys will make this class what the class is going to be. People, the fans may look at it and see the small class, but it’s not by choice. I mean it’s not that it’s just happening that way; it’s by choice. That’s why the class is so small right now. The coaches are being super picky who they get, which I like. I don’t want them just to take some random dude that they think is good, and then later on turns out to be not that good. So I’m glad they’re being really picky about who they’re getting. We got a good corner in Elijah Blades today, so I’m excited about that.

Andrew:                 That’s my next question to you, my final question, and then Nick can ask you something. Overall, fans maybe look at that as the eight. I think you and I are both in agreement that the eight player are really good players. The staff’s being really picky. What do you think of this class so far? As far as your opinion of it, nobody else’s opinion, just your opinion.

Jake:                        I really like it. Daquon, the big D lineman we got. I mean, we got some studs in this class, and it may not appear that way. I just think Mac’s recruiting style is much different than any other head coaches. He doesn’t really care about how many stars you have or whatever. He’s going to do his own evaluation. He’s not going to let Rivals do their evaluation for him. He’s going to do it himself, and it may look differently to fans. They might not like it, but at the end of the day Mac knows what’s best, and Mac is going to get his guys, and he’s going to make sure he has the best guys playing for him. I really like our class, and I think it’s only going up, and I think there’s some guys that are going to make some fans really happy. I think Mac knows what he’s doing. He definitely knows what he’s doing. I put 100% of my faith in him. So I’m just trying to help them get some guys.

Andrew:                 Nick, I know you got something for him.

Nick:                         I mean, you put me to sleep over here. You’re just shutting me out and boxing me out of the lane. How do you go about recruiting? I’m sure you don’t want to bug guys, but you’re trying to, as the quarterback of the class, you’re trying to get guys around you. I think you’ve said it before, in order to win you have to have guys around you. It can’t be just one person. So how do you kind of go about that? Not being overbearing with guys, but still kind of dropping something in their ear.

Jake:                        Right. Just finding out guys, and just finding out what they like. You can’t recruit every kids the same, and I think every coach knows that. Everyone’s different. I take a different road to every kid, and just find out how to go about it, because every kid’s different. I can’t give away my secrets now. I mean, I just can’t do that. There’s just go about it differently, and just talk to them. Tell them what they can do in the Swamp, what some other schools they just wouldn’t be able to do. Just it’s different with every recruit.

Andrew:                 Nick’s trying to get you, that’s why we have to box him out, because he asks questions like that. We can’t let him do that.

Jake:                        No. I can’t give my secrets away. Come on now.

Andrew:                 Come on, Nick. I mean.

Nick:                         I have another question.

Andrew:                 Go ahead.

Nick:                         What is the best high school in America?

Jake:                        St. Thomas Aquinas.

Nick:                         That is easy answer. See, I can ask easier questions.

Andrew:                 There you go.

Jake:                        There you go. I like that one.

Andrew:                 Jake, we appreciate you coming with us and always being the guy that is great to talk with. We hope you enjoy your summer, and maybe no more running on the beach for a while. Take a pretty girl and relax.

Jake:                        I hope not. Thank you guys. Thanks for having me on.

Nick:                         Jake, you go.

Jake:                        We go. There you go.

Andrew:                 Jake, we thank you so much, and we’ll see you in Gainesville soon.

Jake:                        Alright, guys. Have a good one.

Nick:                         Appreciate it.

Andrew:                 That was good stuff with Jake. I thought Jake brought it like always. Jake’s always good to talk that. Nick, let’s talk real quick. There was some things that, I even put up something about it on the message board as well, but Florida maybe, Florida had a bad week last week. Let’s just say it like it was. Florida had a bad week last week, mainly from a perception standpoint, in my opinion. When you look at Florida State, Tennessee, Michigan, they landed some big recruits. Mainly a lot of the guys that Florida wasn’t recruiting, so Florida had a bad week from a perception standpoint. What are you thinking here, Nick?

Nick:                         I think just the fact that you’re talking about it right now is kind of what you need to know about it. You are someone that always kinds of finds the positive, and if it’s at a point where even you are saying, hey, I think Florida’s falling behind, maybe not necessarily falling behind in the coach’s standards. Like Tennessee signed eight kids in a day, how many of those kids did Florida even want or was even looking at? So in the coach’s eyes maybe not, but in public perception. Why is Tennessee signing eight kids? Why is FSU getting this guy? Why is South Carolina getting this guy? Ohio State got a quarterback. What’s going on with Florida? I think in public perception absolutely Florida is falling behind. That was helped a little bit Tuesday, but, yeah, I absolutely see it.

Andrew:                 That’s the thing. Let’s look at FSU, okay? They land five star Stanford Samuels. FSU legacy, to be completely honest, Florida, I never talked to Stanford Samuels. That’s how much interest he had in Florida, and Florida had, vice versa. Daniel Wright, the younger brother of Major Wright, someone you’re very familiar with, Nick, now at St. Thomas Aquinas, it was pretty much a given from day one. Daniel was not going to follow Major to Florida. He just didn’t want to do it.

Nick:                         I actually have some insight on Major. I graduate with Major. We were good friends at St. Thomas. Major wanted to go to Miami.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Mom didn’t want that, wanted him to get out. His next choice would have been Florida State. It was not the school. It was not being a Gator. It was nothing about the University of Florida. That was Urban Meyer, and Urban recruiting. Major Wright came to Florida because of Urban Meyer. So to say, he’s a legacy, yeah, his older brother went there, but it’s not like the family grew up Gator fans.

Andrew:                 Not Tim Tebow.

Nick:                         Yeah. They bleed orange and blue. That’s not the case. So when I see that happening I think, that’s not, it didn’t surprise me.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s the thing. To me it’s always a little different with a brother. Dad being there it’s a little different. I want to follow my dad’s footsteps, but brother you’re constantly going to be referred to as Major’s little brother. That’s just the way it was going to be. So there’s that. There was that. When you look at Tennessee, they got eight guys. One of those guys was offered by Florida. So Florida didn’t lose targets.

It’s like you say, they didn’t pick up any over the weekend to get the momentum going there. Florida fans were, what’s a good word to use here, Nick? Pissed. Burning the walls down. They were upset, but it all kind of calmed down a little bit when Elijah Blades, cornerback from California, committed. 6’2” corner, long, long athletic corner. Ran a 4.42, laser time, 40. Really good there as well, so that was good there to get him going. It is what it is. The staff has got to get someone to pop in state to get the dominoes going, whether that be a Zack Carter, whether that be a Shawn Wade to flip, whether that be anyone. They need someone in one of these battleground areas to commit, get on board, and start recruiting other guys in state.

Nick:                         We just talked to one of them that is doing it, but you’re right.

Andrew:                 Here’s the thing, and let me ask you this.

Nick:                         You need that momentum. You need the momentum. Jake didn’t just commit. He is actively recruiting, but he didn’t just commit, and there’s something to be said of dominoes, a domino effect. Somebody who commits and it gets excitement, and they talk to somebody else, and you can build on that excitement.

Andrew:                 That’s what I was about to ask you. Jake committed almost a year ago to the day here pretty soon. The luster of his commitment has worn off. Granted, he still does a great job recruiting, but, for instance, Zack commits or Shawn Wade commits. That’s a, boom, big name guy gets on board now. Then the stuff rolls. Just like Jake, when Jake committed it was Jake, Kadeem Telfort. Then it was Daquon Green, back to back to back. Boom, boom, boom. That created momentum. So they need someone to help create some momentum on that. It’s kind of now heading into a dead period. You’ve got a dead period really until July 11, I believe is what it is. So it’s going to be super dead. Coaches go on vacation. Nothing happening as far as visits go, that kind of stuff. You can’t do none of that. Only phone calls, text messages. It’ll be a little dead for recruiting until the middle of July.

Nick:                         At least the coaching staff gets a bit of a break after a crazy weekend, a crazy month of all of these camps and running around everywhere.

Andrew:                 You’re saying they didn’t like the little satellites and flying around?

Nick:                         Don’t want to speak for them, but I wouldn’t have.

Andrew:                 Definitely. Let’s go to the main attraction for you, Nicholas, and that is Omaha. Like we said before, it was not what they wanted. I’m going to speak for myself here and say this, Nick. I don’t cover the team near as close as you do. I didn’t follow it as near as you did. I was with softball, and for me it was disappointing for me for softball. I’ll admit. I thought it was a failure of a year. It sucks to say, because of what they did, but when you’re a team like Sully’s team and Walton’s team not winning almost sets up to be that. For me, and, Nick, I’ll ask you this. I’ll pose this question to you. For Sully do you feel like he just needs that one to happen for it to start rolling? Almost like it kind of did for Billy Donovan. It seemed like he got so close, and he could never get there, and he finally got that one, and then he turned around and repeated. Is that kind of your feeling there, he just needs that one to happen to kind of get things moving?

Nick:                         Maybe. There’s a saying, keep knocking on the door, and it will eventually open, unless you’re Mike Martin, who has been pounding on the door for 30 years and no one’s answered. I think there is something to be said for that when you think of are they tight? Is the coach tight, and he doesn’t know how to calm the players down? Maybe. There’s something that can be said for that. It’s kind of one of those things where…

Andrew:                 It’s not talent.

Nick:                         It’s definitely not talent. It’s so hard to win a championship that, to me, I can’t say that, and it’s why I don’t say that it was a failure. It’s so hard to win a championship, but, to me, when you look at the team, and you look at who they have coming back, who they had this year, who they had coming back this year, to me, and I told people, I think this is Florida’s year to win it. You don’t have Logan Shore. You don’t have AJ Puk, Dane Dunning, Shawn Anderson. You don’t have these guys coming back, so to me those were huge pieces to the puzzle. So, do they have enough? Are they as good next year as they were this year?

Andrew:                 No.

Nick:                         I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that, and if they aren’t as good, can they win it? Can that be expected? A lot of it is when you get into this tournament situation, not necessarily the best team is going to win the tournament. The hottest team, or the team that gets some breaks is going to win the tournament. You look at the Super Regional. Florida State had like the 130th ranked defense in the country, an abysmal defense. They don’t make an error on the first game Saturday, and they win the game. Make four errors over the next two games, that’s the team that they were the entire year, and then you end up winning.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s what I was going to say. It’s definitely not the most talented team wins. I mean, if that’s the case Florida, you don’t even play the games.

Nick:                         No. You play the games, and there’s so many variables, especially in a school like baseball.

Andrew:                 Here’s my thing, and maybe this will make my point a little clearer. I think it was more failure that you didn’t make it to the championship series maybe. To go two and out, here’s the thing. Was I surprised they went two and out? Yes and no, because had you watched Florida all year you knew they either were going to hit really well or be awful at the plate. So was I surprised by it? Yes and no, because you kind of almost went into it thinking, I really hope the bats decided to show up in Omaha, not stay in Gainesville.

Now, where I am surprised is I’m surprised that they didn’t find a way to scrap out at least a few runs in the game. You look at the Coastal Carolina game, they faced a really good pitcher, but Florida’s still the better team there. Florida just never made adjustments. In that first game against Carolina I think you could say that they played tight. The Texas Tech game, I don’t know. I don’t know what you say the reason was behind the not making adjustments at the plate were in that game. I will say this. Maybe Florida does get better offensively next year. I just don’t know how you get better pitching next year when you look at what they have. You’re possibly looking at three starting pitchers in Major League baseball in Dunning, Puk, and Shore.

Nick:                         And you lose your best bat in Pete Alonso. I don’t know how you replace Buddy Reid defensively. So there’s a lot of questions. The unquestioned thing though is Sully has a slew of recruits that are arriving on campus here. The only recruit in the entire class that’s not going to make it to camp is going to be Braden Ogle, who got almost double his slot value. So he’s going to go, but the rest of the class is good. It’ll be interesting to see. I’ll be out there in the fall when those guys start practicing to see what the freshmen look like. It’s tough. It’s tough to end the season, especially, I think Florida at some point towards the end of the season, towards the end of the SEC play, the weight of the expectations, and the weight of getting everybody’s best shot every week, starts to weigh on you, and it looked like they had started to tighten up a little bit as they got closer. When you go into a season, and you’re expected by everyone, and you expect of yourself, to be the national champion, even before you’ve played games, I think it’s easy to brush that pressure off when you have in your mind we have to play 56 regular season games before we even have to worry about that. Then all of a sudden, when there’s only 12 games left in the regular season, that’s starting to creep up now.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         You can’t push that to the back of your mind anymore. It’s up in the forefront every at bat that you’re going, and you try to push it, but when it gets that close it comes to a point where you just have to take it head on.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this though. You look at the, and I’m trying to remember exactly the year. Was it ’12 when Preston Tucker and Zunino were seniors, or is that ’13? Juniors, excuse me. That was the team.

Nick:                         That was ’12. They went in ’11, in 2011, and they made it all the way to the final, got swept in the final, and then that entire team came back in 2012, and that’s when they lost two in a row.

Andrew:                 That’s what I’m saying. It’s kind of like that. I don’t know. Here’s the thing. I bet Sully’s very happy he’s coming back, because no coach wants to leave the school without winning that championship. My biggest thing is this. You see people say, Sully can’t close. Get out of here. I mean, you act like it’s something you can do. It’s not like he has a switch, and he says, I’m not going to close. It’s not that. It’s baseball simply, I got asked on Twitter about it. Baseball’s simply getting the bounce. I mean, how many Texas Leaguers fall right over the shortstop’s head? Small things like that that happen that a shortstop makes a great play, or had one of those double play balls been hit a half a foot more to the right, and you have runners on the corners, nobody out. You look at that, and it’s crazy. For instance, Dalton Guthrie, if Guthrie’s safe at second, who knows what happens? Or India, it was India, correct? Not Guthrie.

Nick:                         The end of the game it was Jonathan India, yeah. That, let me just, Jonathan India, people who are watching on TV are telling me he made the wrong decision. Jonathan India has that play in front of him, so if anybody has the vantage point of thinking, I know my speed; I can see what the fielder’s doing. He’s in a better position than anybody else on the field to make the call. This isn’t the Major Leagues. These are kids still in college that can make mistakes, and 10 times out of 10 you’re going to tell the runner, if you have some speed. Now, I don’t tell Mike Rivera or JJ Schwarz to try to stretch that, but someone like India who’s got some speed, yeah. Make the fielder come up cleanly. Make him crow hop and throw a dart perfectly on the money to second, or hit the cutoff man quick enough, and then force two perfect throws. I would bet on myself if I’m Jonathan India, 10 times out of 10, there.

Andrew:                 It was still a bang-bang play.

Nick:                         Bang-bang play, and Texas Tech had to have everything on that play go perfectly to make the out, and they did. At that point it’s hats off. Good job. You made the play.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this, and then we can move on to a different point. Let me ask you this. What, without bashing anyone, without naming anyone’s names, we won’t even name names, do you like the approach at the plate? Does something need to change in the off season with the approaches? What’s your take? My take is this. I thought they were in between things. I thought they weren’t a power hitting team for the most part, but they also weren’t a small ball team. So they were somewhere in between, and that’s always tough. Didn’t do a lot of hit and runs, because they didn’t handle the bat maybe particularly well, didn’t bunt a lot. Didn’t hit home runs. What are you thinking here? Does something need to change in the off season?

Nick:                         I think there will be changes, but the other thing that you have to understand is that college pitchers are told, get ahead.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         At all costs, get ahead. So most of the season you would see Florida swinging early in the count, and you might say, this guy is not accurate; we’re swinging at first pitches and early in the count. This is terrible. Then later I would be told, they’re not being patient enough. There’s always a different, they’re not doing this well enough.

Andrew:                 You and I both can agree that most people, most coaches, especially when you’re trailing, you take a strike.

Nick:                         Yeah. You saw, I think India worked a walk, because he clearly was told to go up there and not swing. I think that’s the big thing. Then Florida kind of we get into situations where they’re being aggressive early, and then maybe too selective late, but there’s always something to work on, and then you got to see what the sophomores will do. So JJ Schwarz didn’t really have the kind of season that he would have expected, or that anyone would have expected of him, after his freshman year. Now what do Nelson Maldonado, Danny Reyes, Deacon Liput, Jonathan India, what do those guys do going into their sophomore year? Those are a lot of bats.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         To come back. So what are you going to get from the sophomores? That’s going to be a big thing, because the freshmen this year played such a big part of the season. They’re going to play an even bigger part next year.

Andrew:                 Then what part do the new freshmen come in? Do you have anyone, I mean, when you look at it. Let’s take a quick look ahead real quick. You look at centerfield. Buddy Reid’s out. You got to have someone in the outfield to replace him. Your fourth outfielder was Ryan Larson; he’s gone.

Nick:                         No. Ryan Larson will be back.

Andrew:                 Okay. My bad.

Nick:                         He’s a junior and was not drafted.

Andrew:                 I thought he was a senior not drafted.

Nick:                         No. Unless he decides to go to a Division III school he’ll be back.

Andrew:                 Okay. That’s my bad. So Larson’s back. I think we can both agree you don’t go into the year thinking he’s going to be your everyday right fielder if you move one of your guys to center. So you’re looking for an outfielder, and you’ve got to replace your first baseman in Vasquez.

Nick:                         In Alonso.

Andrew:                 I mean Alonso. You would think that would be Vasquez. If he gets his bat together is that what we’re thinking here?

Nick:                         It could be Vasquez at first. He’s just a guy that doesn’t have a position at all. I still think you move JJ Schwarz to first. Mike Kolozsvary is a good defensive catcher, hit a homerun earlier this year. He’s back. He can catch. You put JJ Schwarz at first, in my opinion, you have the rest of the infield set up. Austin Langworthy is a freshman outfielder. He’s a left handed bat, left handed thrower. He was drafted by the Reds, and the Reds announced him as a pitcher. He’s a kid that can pitch, but I think Florida likes the bat and likes him in the outfield. I’m not sure where he would fit in in the outfield. I’m not sure if you put him at center. He’s under 6’, smaller guy, so he’s a stud. He’s someone that I expect will play, and then you’ve got a lot of pitching coming in.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Florida needed to replace the pitching.

Andrew:                 Seven of the eight drafted guys were pitchers. Correct? No, six of the eight.

Nick:                         Trying to think. Pete Alonso, yeah, six of the eight. Pete and Buddy.

Andrew:                 Pete and Buddy. Yeah. So six of your eight guys were drafted, and we think all but maybe Scott Moss is gone. Be tough for that. Nick, that concludes it though.

Nick:                         To wrap it up. It was a really, I had a really fun time covering this team. They were a great bunch of kids, and this is my first class to follow. My first full season was this junior class’s freshman year. So to see all of them go from these freshmen to getting drafted was cool for me to follow, and for me it was a lot of fun to cover the team. It’s fun covering a winner, and it’s fun covering a team that has some of these personalities, like Buddy Reid and Pete Alonso. So I had a good time.

Andrew:                 That’s kind of how I feel about softball. It’s going to be different not seeing Kirsti Merritt or Kelsey Stewart or Monro back behind the plate. It’s going to be different. It’s going to be different for sure. I, like you, enjoyed the heck out of that softball season, and it was fun. It was fun for sure, but that kind of does, that concludes Gator sports for the season. Next thing up is soccer and football, and, Nick, we’re about three weeks away from SEC Media Days. Things are coming quickly.

Nick:                         Excited for SEC Media, one of my favorite events of the year.

Andrew:                 It’s up there. It’s up there. It’s a good time. Get to go to Birmingham, of course, and see everyone. It’s a good time. Get to see some good friends there as well. Until then, Nick, we’ll get out of here. We’ll do a podcast next week. We’ll come up with something. Maybe rewind the whole sports season in general. Shoot us a message with what you want, but, Nick, until then, tell the people where they can find us. We’ll get out of here and see everyone on the site.

Nick:                         Www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gators news. On Facebook, Gator Country. On Instagram it’s TheGatorCountry. On Twitter, GatorCountry, and @NickdelaTorreGC, @AndrewSpiveyGC to follow us. As always, thank you for tuning in all sports season long, and looking forward to next year, which is not too far away.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Give yourself a plug for Saturday.

Nick:                         Oh. Saturday I’ll be at IMG Academy for the seven on seven tournament, so follow me there on Twitter and on our message board for updates.

Andrew:                 Be some good players out there. Until then, guys, go Braves, and 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.