Mailbag: How are the Gators handling the coronavirus pandemic?

The sports world has ground to a halt amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With so much uncertainty surrounding Gator Country wanted to reach out to its members and try to give some answers to questions they may have.

Q: OaktownGator: What approach is the S&C staff taking with training plans and assessments with our athletes during these times of likely little direct contact? Same when it comes to spring ball? Plans for some sort of education/assessment on playbook, schemes, other?

A: It’s very similar to when a player signs their National Letter of Intent. When a player signs with Florida they will receive a workout plan from Nick Savage. The workout plan can be individualized or a group plan and will come with a nutrition plan that is catered to the athlete depending on if they’re supposed to be gaining, maintaining, or losing weight. If you’re like me and you’re spending your quarantine eating everything in sight, it’s not the ideal time given the circumstances to be trying to lose weight, but the real takeaway here is that the coaching staff didn’t just send the kids away without a plan or a second thought.

Q: Camtheman: Any indication on what some of the draft-eligible juniors/seniors on the baseball team may be thinking? There’s obviously a lot in play with giving guys an extra year but just wondering if you’d talked to any of the guys and if they’d consider coming back. We got robbed of a pretty good rotation with Mace-Leftwich-Barco.

A: I would be very surprised to see draft-eligible juniors come back. I don’t know what kind of pro prospects that Kirby McMullen or Austin Langworthy have and Langworthy has expressed that he would like to be a coach. I would encourage those two, if it’s feasible, to return for their senior year, as the NCAA has already said they will be given another year of eligibility.

I would be very surprised if the juniors returned. Even if they’re given an extra year of eligibility, that hasn’t been their plan. We need to monitor what the MLB is doing. The AP posted a story saying a source has told them the draft could be cancelled this year. I don’t understand that the league has done their scouting for years on these guys and they’re ready to draft, even if it’s an abbreviated draft. It’s also a draft that can be done remotely.

I would be very surprised if the juniors like Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich decided to come back to school.

Q:Juggernautz: Is there a possibility that the football season will be cancelled because of the virus?
A:Right now there is no plan for that to be the case. The NCAA is following national experts and guidelines right now but the longer that the coronavirus continues to effect the nation, sports will continue to take a backburner. Here is what Greg Sankey said on a teleconference with us earlier this week.

“Our focus is on preparing for the 2021 academic year, the fall seasons, as currently scheduled, so there’s a period on the end of that sentence. Well obviously, I think about everything going forward because we’re being guided by public health information in decision making, but my hope is we can return to our normal organized activities, our normal experiences and be part of that celebration around soccer or volleyball, cross-country, football in the fall. But, we’ll have to see.”

It’s obviously a wait and see situation but the SEC and NCAA are fully preparing to have a 2020 football season. They have to do that but at the same time, they have to be talking about and preparing for other scenarios.

Q: DoctorV: Has construction on the Baseball facility been halted? If so, do we run the risk of the field not being ready for next season? On the flip side, if construction is up and running can we get a head start on the McKethan demo?

A: Construction on the new baseball stadium has not stopped at all. In fact, the field was recently sodded and most of the seats are installed. You can view the progress live through a fixed camera by following this link.

D1Baseball also just posted a bunch of new pictures of the stadium and its progress.

The McKethan demo will not happen until the new facility is ready to be moved into. McKethan has offices, player locker rooms and has all of the equipment it takes to maintain a baseball field. The new stadium isn’t ready to hold all of that at this time. Here’s Scott Stricklin’s answer to that question just over a week ago.

“We still have our coaches and staff and all of our equipment in baseball and that can’t be moved over until the other facility, the new facility, is completed. We feel really good about the timeline we have on moving baseball over and beginning on the new football training center, the Heavener Training Center. We think we’re going to get it done in a timely manner and we look forward to breaking ground this summer.”

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, the season is cancelled, a lot of student-athletes are heading home and the coaches are working from home, why can’t they start demolition and construction? It’s just not in the cards and in the timetable that the UAA has been operating on. The new football facility, like the new baseball stadium, are going to be great but they’re on timelines and the coronavirus, as of now, isn’t changing that.

Q: COMountainGator: What are the players doing now? Any team organized training combined with social distancing?
Most student-athletes are at home now. All of Florida’s classes are online. I know from players I’ve spoken with that they are all still working out as best they can and doing their classes. They’re just like you and I. They’re just trying to stay healthy and monitor the situation the best they can.

Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC