Podcast: Previewing Friday Night Lights for the Florida Gators

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we preview Friday Night Lights for the Florida Gators on Friday.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the visitors list and what to expect from Friday Night Lights.

Andrew and Nick also talk about the arrest of Gators freshman Justin Watkins who was arrested on Tuesday.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, Media Days are behind us. Friday Night Lights is tomorrow. You guys are listening to this on Thursday, so things are getting to a close. Next week is the start of camp for the Gators. Things are moving rapidly as football season approaches.

Nick:                         Moving rapidly. It won’t be start of camp for one player, and we’ll start with that. We’ll get that out of the way before we get into the Friday Night Lights preview.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Justin Watkins, the rap sheet that is coming from that police report is not good. Let me say this. There’s three sides to every story. There’s Justin’s side, the victim’s side, or the accuser’s side, and then there’s the truth. What the accuser/victim is saying does not look good for Justin Watkins. I’ll say this, and I’m going to throw this out there before I throw it to you. If charges are true, Justin Watkins shouldn’t be around.

Nick:                         Yeah. Obviously, in the United States you’re innocent until proven guilty. That’s the burden of proof that is set up by the legal system. That’s not necessarily the burden of proof that is set up to play Division I or II, III, or JUCO college football. I think playing at this level is a privilege, obviously, something that you earn through hard work. But the burden of proof to be exonerated of charges is not the same that is held in a football program.

Watkins was arrested just about three months ago back home, and at that time he was accused of breaking an accuser’s cellphone and kicking her car. Then this new one that just came out, according to the arrest report, and obviously the arrest report is one account. It’s not his side of the story. He doesn’t have any representation right now, any official attorney, so I haven’t been able to get his side of the story. This is just the arrest report, which is what she is telling police. According to that, on July 20th Watkins intentionally struck a woman, both with an open and close fist, on both sides of her head, while he held her down on a bed. The report goes on to say that Watkins choked the woman multiple times while continuing to pin her down on the bed.

Police say Watkins then confined the woman to his dorm room by standing in the doorway and blocking the exit. The report says the woman was physically restrained by Watkins until she sprayed him with mace out of self-defense. Police then say Watkins chased the woman out, threw multiple items at her, including a brush and a container of hair grease, causing bleeding and swelling. He’s still currently, as we tape this on Wednesday, in jail on a $40,000 bond.

Andrew:                 I mean, there’s a lot of questions that I personally want to know, and you and I talked about this earlier. Is it the same woman, female, that this happened to? Not that it matters. I’m not trying to say it matters as far as right or wrong. This is in no way right whatsoever. Is it the same woman? Then, has she changed her story at all? Does she change her story at all? Kind of need to know all those details. Right now it doesn’t look good.

Nick, I’m going to throw this out there, and that is this is Dan Mullen’s first big time decision to make here. He’s went around his speaking tours, done media days in the spring, talking about players living up to the Gators standard. Talked last week about how guys are going to make mistakes, it’s learning from the mistakes, that kind of thing. First of all, this isn’t just a mistake. This seems to now an occurring thing, happening twice. Second of all, this isn’t just a mistake. You don’t hit a woman. This, in my opinion, is Mullen’s first shot of what are you going to do? How do you live up to the Gators standard? What do you do here? Does he make an example out of Justin Watkins? How does this all go about?

Nick:                         I mean, the police report says that the girl told Watkins, “I want to leave. Get out of the way.” She has asthma, that Watkins knows she has asthma, so choking her once for about 15 seconds and twice for about 8 seconds. To me, to have two incidents like this, and we won’t be able to find out unless it goes to trial, and that obviously would go way into the season. We won’t know if it’s two different women alleging this, if it’s two different things, or if it was an ongoing thing with one person. Not to say that makes the heinous accusations any better, but we won’t know that, certainly any time soon.

For me, Dan Mullen, like you said, he’s talked about they talk about decision-making and how that decision is going to affect your teammates, your family, the football program, yourself. Players are supposed to stick up for each other as a team. That’s huge. This certainly, this behavior, does not meet any of that criteria. It’s not a good look for him, for her, for either of their families, for Dan Mullen, for his program. This is a Dan Mullen recruit too. This isn’t a junior that was a Jim McElwain guy. This is a Dan Mullen recruited player. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles that.

I just don’t see how Justin Watkins, unless the girl decides not to press charges, and the state attorney decides that they’re not going to go through with anything, then I don’t know how you would see Justin Watkins on the field this year. If you’re talking about Dan Mullen, is it better just for your program and expectations of your program just to cut ties with this player?

Andrew:                 You raise good questions. They’re all questions that I think we have to ask. They’re all questions that I think have to be answered, sooner or later. It’ll be something that will be ongoing. Like you said, I don’t think this is resolved any time soon, unless the victim just takes everything back she said, and unless Justin pleads guilty or does some kind of plea deal, or something along those lines. This seems like something that will drag out for a little bit. I don’t know if you get the answers by the start of fall camp, but, like you said, this is a Mullen recruit, so Mullen has to deal with this in his own way.

Nick:                         You really set a precedent either way. Another thing is at what point do you cut ties? Does that tell recruits that he doesn’t have my back? They didn’t even let the justice system play out. The justice system is slow. The gears of the government move slowly. It could be a thing that, listen, he’s going to get asked about it every week. If he doesn’t come out and say Justin Watkins is kicked off the team, every single week, no matter what happened in the game before, what’s going on with Justin Watkins? He’s going to have to give the same canned answer, we’re letting the judicial system play out, but he’s going to be continually getting asked about it. Now the players are going to get asked about Justin Watkins and all that when they have media day before camp starts.

Andrew:                 Right. Let me say this, Nick. I think we might be getting ahead of ourselves a little bit here, and that is this could be an accusation where it gets dropped. You and I are discussing this, and we’re talking about this. Again, it’s a situation where things could go in a different way. He is innocent until proven guilty, and it is a situation where we have to let it play out, for sure. Let’s do that before we start talking about he has to be kicked off or this or that.

It’s a thing where Mullen is going to have to wait, and Mullen is going to have to answer some questions about it. Media days right around the corner. Is Mullen ready for that? I don’t know. We’re going to see.

Nick:                         That’s the situation that you find yourself in. To me, obviously, we’re not placing guilt, because, like you said, the whole Antonio Callaway thing, or Treon Harris his freshman year. I think everyone kind of just assumed that he was guilty, and you and I were getting information contrary to that. It turned out that the accusations were completely false. This could very well be the same situation. I just find it very concerning that it’s a very similar incident twice now happening within three months.

Andrew:                 Completely agree. Like I said before, it’s something that seems like it’s a reoccurring thing. We’ll see. We’ll see how this goes. Prayers to everyone involved. It is a Justin Watkins situation, hopefully he gets the help needed in the situation and takes this moment as a learning moment.

But the reason for the podcast, Nick, is Dan Mullen has a chance to recruit another Justin Watkins. It’s time for Friday Night Lights. It comes at the right time. Let me say it like that. Recruiting is at a point where fans are very hostile about it. Everyone is very worried about recruiting, and arguably so. Florida has 10 commits. We’re down in the rankings and everything else. Florida needs some momentum. Perfect time for Friday Night Lights.

Looks to be a decent crowd coming to campus on Friday. Like any other year, as the hours get closer to time, more guys will show up. Guys will show up out of nowhere. Be interesting to see how the showing goes. Like every year, fans want at least one commit, and if they get one commit, they’re going to want two. If they get two, they’re going to want three.

Let me ask you this, Nick. I want to get your opinion on this. What are your thoughts on recruiting? I say this respectfully, but you’re a little bit, not on the outside looking in, but you get to see it from a different perspective than I do. What are your thoughts on it?

Nick:                         I try to keep myself somewhat removed from it, so that I can keep that different view of it. I think, because of how gross it’s been this year, I think I’ve even removed myself even further. Like you were talking about, with the hostility towards coaches and towards everything, because it’s slow. I think the first time it hit me about where things were really was when I saw Georgia got another five-star recruit yesterday, and I kind of went and looked and compared Georgia’s class to Florida’s class. I get that they had two completely different seasons on the field last year, and I think that’s a big part of it, but that’s not a good look.

It goes back to what I’ve been talking about, and I’ve said on the podcast before. There’s no better time to recruit, other than maybe after a National Championship, or if your name’s Nick Saban, than when you’re a new coach. You haven’t lost a game. Everything you say sounds good. To me, to not be able to capitalize on that, at least early, is concerning.

I’ve said before that it’s different. You’re recruiting different guys. I said that it might help with Dan Mullen coming in, because he’s been recruiting those same SEC caliber guys, but I’m thinking maybe at Mississippi State it was just so different in how they had to recruit, in that there are guys that even Dan Mullen, I think some of the other coaches who were with him in Starkville said, there were some guys where we tried, but we knew we weren’t going to get them to Starkville. They all say the right things, and talk about it’s different when you walk in with that Gator logo on your chest, but are they still in maybe a Mississippi State mind frame when it comes to recruiting?

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this. Listen, there’s no way to spin this, so I’m not trying to spin this when I say this. How much of the bad smell of the terrible offense that has been at Florida, the way things went about last year, how much of that is affecting recruiting? I can say honestly, without a shadow of a doubt, zero bias, that it plays some part. We can talk about Willie Taggart’s doing well at Florida State. Let’s just be honest with ourselves, Florida State’s done so much better over the last few years than Florida. They also have a National Championship recently. Dan Mullen does bring history with him, does bring he’s a head coach and that kind of thing, but I think at some point in time, and we talked about this last week, I asked Mullen this, about the brand being damaged some. He said, “It’s not damaged, but it needed to be updated.” Personally, I still think some of the affects of Florida is still wearing on kids.

I also agree with you, in that the coaches are still maybe in that Mississippi State mindset a little bit, and that was to recruit all around the country. Again, I am very pro recruit all around the country. You’re at the University of Florida. You should recruit the best of the best, but also focus in-state and in that five-hour radius. Hasn’t been done yet. That’s that.

Also, I will say this. I think the biggest complaint I would have with the staff is not enough options. It seems like when the big DBs fell the options behind that weren’t as there as it should be.

Nick:                         I think, not about the offense, because I think it’s a completely different offense, and Dan Mullen has a very good history, a proven track record of being able to put offenses, but I do think there’s a stick around the program from the last two coaches.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         I wouldn’t say it’s about the offense.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this. Do you not think there’s some concern of who’s going to be the quarterback when I get there? Does Mullen get things right? You know what I’m saying? I get what you’re saying. Mullen’s a genius when it comes to offense, but is that being used against Mullen and Florida right now? What’s there now, that kind of thing, is that being used against them, or am I just completely off?

Nick:                         I just think there’s no hype around Florida’s program, and it comes from the past two coaches. There was hype after McElwain’s first year. They get to Atlanta, or second year.

Andrew:                 I think there was hype after Friday Night Lights last year, when Mullen landed Matt Corral, Jamar Chase, Copeland.

Nick:                         Not Mullen, McElwain.

Andrew:                 I mean, McElwain. There was hype last year around after that. It vanished immediately after the Michigan game.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s a huge thing. There was a hype around it. I think some people say, all these reporters lied to us during the year. I was like, we’re reporting what they say, and everyone in the off season says great things. That’s why I tell my friends, who are fans of other teams, and they’re like, our beat reporter said this, and this guy’s going to be great. I’m like, yeah, no one is saying bad things about their teammates or their team during spring camp. Everyone is doing great.

Andrew:                 Nick Saban is not getting up there telling everybody, two is our starting quarterback, because Jalen sucks. In reality, that’s the truth.

Nick:                         Right. When you get into it, and you get into the game, all of a sudden those lies that were told all off season, they became real apparent in Michigan. Nothing had changed. This is still the same weak team, and it was still the same offense, same quarterback problems. Nothing had changed. I think that’s where it turned into fool’s gold real quick. The same thing could happen with Mullen, and maybe you get some kind of built-in excuse, or maybe a little bit of rope, because it’s first year and these aren’t all your players, and you had a coach who was recruiting for a pro-style system, and now you’re bringing in a different style system, but you have the same guys and stuff. But people will turn on you if you come out and lay out a stinker. Obviously, not against Charleston Southern, but that Week 2, against Kentucky. Another close game against Kentucky.

Andrew:                 Tennessee. Yeah.

Nick:                         A close game against Kentucky, lose to Tennessee, and all of a sudden you’re 2-2, or even 3-1.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s the thing. Again, I feel like there isn’t the hype there, for sure, and there isn’t the hype heading into Friday Night Lights. I will say this. This coaching staff is a little bit different. They don’t have the Ja’juan Seiders of the world, the Tim Skippers, the Chris Rumphs of the world, who are pumping social media on a daily basis. Listen, I get it. That’s not their style, that kind of stuff. Friday Night Lights isn’t as hyped as it has been, and a lot of it is the stink on recruiting so far, and a lot of it is the nature of the coaching staff in general.

Again, do I think Friday Night Lights will fix things? Probably not, because if you get one recruit, the fans want two. If you get two recruits, the fans want three. It just is what it is.

Let’s quickly run through the commits that are coming into town. We’re taping this Wednesday about 3:00, so, again, this list will change before Friday Night Lights kicks off around 6:00 on Friday. More names will come. More names won’t show. So far, these are the commits coming to town. Your quarterback, your alpha male of the class, Jalon Jones. Wide receiver, Dante Marks. Offensive lineman, Wardrick Wilson. Athletes Trent Whittemore and Ja’Markis Weston. Defensive tackle, Jaelin Humphries. Linebacker, Tyron Hopper, and linebacker Jammal Abrams.

Those are your commits coming. Eight of your 10 are coming. Riley Simonds and Jesiah Pierre are not coming into town. Both have already camped at Florida, so no big deal. Alpha male’s coming in Jalon Jones. In my opinion, that’s your big thing. Get Jalon to recruit.

Nick:                         We talked about that a lot, pretty much every year. Your quarterback is kind of your leader of the recruiting class. In talking to him, is he that kind of guy? For whatever people thought about Jake Allen before he transferred, Jake was a guy that was going out and talking to people behind the scenes, whether it was in person or text groups. Whatever it was, he was that guy that was going around and really trying to get other guys to join him.

Andrew:                 I think Jalon’s a little bit different, in that maybe he’s not that outspoken guy as much. A little bit of it is because of where he’s from. He’s from the DC area, Maryland area, so he’s not, I guess, as down and involved with a lot of the guys. But he’s definitely tweeting these guys, that kind of stuff. From talking to him, I definitely think he’s a guy that once kids get around him they like, and I think that’s a big thing. Again, I think that it’s a big thing that he’s on campus this weekend. He was on campus for a couple days in June to help.

I do think he is, and I think it’s big to get around the Florida guys, the in-state guys and maybe get his name out to those guys, because they just don’t see him a lot. A lot of these guys, unless they’re watching film of him, don’t get to see him play. That’s different. A guy like Jake Allen, they got to see him play. Matt Corral was on TV a lot. They got to see him. It’s a little bit different for Jalon, and it makes Jalon work a little bit harder.

Nick:                         Any of those guys need to work out?

Andrew:                 I would say Weston probably needs to work out. Wouldn’t surprise me if Trent Whittemore works out a little bit. Jammal Abrams probably needs to work out as well, a linebacker who ran a little slow time this spring. Fans have been on him a little bit. I would say Weston and Abrams probably will work out. Whittemore usually always works out as well, but he’s worked out every time as well anyway. Wouldn’t surprise me either way. Those two for sure I would say need to work out though.

Nick:                         Along those lines, what’s the vibe going to be? Because Dan Mullen was here when Friday Night Lights was started, and the entire event has kind of morphed and changed since then. So, do you have a sense of what that vibe is going to be? Is it going to be a lot guys just standing around, and it’s that whole thing we talked about where it’s I’m too good, I don’t need to work out at this camp? Obviously, kids have been going to camps all summer, and some of them don’t want to do another one. Are we going to get some high-end, top-end competition?

Andrew:                 From everyone I’ve talked to, Mullen’s wanting these guys to work out. A couple of the guys that are visiting that are bigger name guys have all said they’re planning on working out at the event on Friday. That goes back to what you just said. Everyone remembers Ronald Powell, the #1 player in the country, working out. Everyone remembers Tim Tebow working out. Listen, it’s different for those guys when they’re working out. They don’t go through the drills, that kind of stuff. When it comes time to do one-on-ones or the competition stuff, that’s when those guys are out there competing and showing out.

I go back to Stephan Diggs, when he stole the show at Friday Night Lights when he was going into his senior year, because of what he did. It really separates the energy. Last year, Matt Corral threw a little bit. You had Justin Fields there throwing. The energy was there because of that stuff. Having these guys work out is big, but so far it seems like a lot of guys are going to work out, but that always changes on Friday.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s another thing. Guys get there and start talking to each other. Egos can get the better of you, and, well, I’m not going to work out.

Andrew:                 Or you get a guy who says, you know what?

Nick:                         Some testosterone starts flying.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I’m tired of you. You want to talk that smack? I’m going to give you this game. That kind of stuff.

Let’s run through the list on offense of guys expected. Very small list, so don’t shoot the messenger here. JUCO offensive lineman, Brandon Jones. Running back, Nay’Quan Wright. Wide receiver, TJ Jones. Wide receiver, Trey Knox, which is a big one. Also, tight end, Keon Zipperer, out of Lakeland. That’s a big one. Those are the main offensive guys in the 2019 class expected to visit. Small, I know. People aren’t very happy about that. But a good group of small visitors.

Nick:                         You know they’re going to shoot the messenger.

Andrew:                 They’re going to kill the messenger. I mean, it’s just one of those things where I’m sorry I have to be the messenger. I will say this, when you look at that list, Nay’Quan Wright, big running back out of Carol City, late addition to the board, going to work out. TJ Jones out of Lake City, going to work out. Trey Knox, big receiver, our message board guru, former Gator, Lorenzo Spikes, has got Trey Knox is going to work out. Then offensive lineman Brandon Jones, the JUCO lineman, is going to work out. Then, your top tight end target, Keon Zipperer, is on campus. I would say, people wanted Trey Sanders to come, IMG is not letting their guys visit this weekend.

Nick:                         Why is that?

Andrew:                 They’re starting fall camp on Saturday, so not visits this weekend for anyone. Would you have liked to have him on campus? Sure. I asked people to be a little bit more realistic with the offensive line, because you got your offensive linemen in Wardrick Wilson and Ethan White, both going to visit this weekend, your two commits. Then you have Brandon Jones going to visit. Your lineman list, or board, isn’t big anyway. That’s why your list isn’t as big.

Nick:                         Shouldn’t the tight end board be a little bit bigger?

Andrew:                 Oh, 100%.

Nick:                         You’re really going to have Kemore and Krull. That’s it, right?

Andrew:                 Yeah. Let’s see. I’m trying to think back. You got Dante Lang.

Nick:                         Right. Dante Lang.

Andrew:                 And Kyle Pitts.

Nick:                         So, you’ve got four. Two of them are in the same class. You’ve got four, with three of them in different class. I guess, you could probably get away with taking just one.

Andrew:                 Yeah, but it goes back to this, and that is you look at Keon Zipperer, he’s feeling Miami. Miami is up there for him. If you miss on him, where they go for a tight end is a question we’re all asking ourselves. You missed on Ethan Ray. You missed on Jahleel Billingsley. Luke Deal, who was a backup plan, is already committed to Notre Dame. Where are you going now? That’s the question there is. That’s where the conversation goes back to what I was talking about, and that is the board hasn’t expanded in certain positions, in positions you’ve missed on.

Nick:                         What is the reason?

Andrew:                 Your guess is as good as mine.

Nick:                         You know what I was going to ask. What’s the reason to not having those backups?

Andrew:                 Yeah. I don’t know. I wish I could tell you guys this is why, but I don’t know. I just don’t know why that is, because it kind of seems, I don’t want to say dumb, because that’s the wrong word to use, but it’s a mystery, because when you look at where you were going to get your recruits, in Cali, Chicago, you had to expect to miss on one, or you had to expect to miss on some. Where is your backup plans? That’s kind of iffy where it is.

Again, that might be their Mississippi State days where they were able to find an under the radar guy. I don’t know.

Nick:                         They had to go a lot of JUCO routes though at Mississippi State.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s another thing, your JUCO routes. Those guys will start to pop up as well. We’ll see. We’ll see if that pops up.

Let’s go to the defensive side of the board. Mississippi State defensive end, Nathan Pickering. He’s a commit to them. Trying to find a ride. One ride fell through, and he’s trying to find a ride. If he finds that ride, he plans on coming. #1 player in the country out of Cali, Kayvon Thibodeaux, planning on coming into town, defensive end. Another defensive end from Florida in Lloyd Summerall coming in. Defensive tackle out of tackle, Lloyd Murray is coming in. A linebacker out of Alabama, Mohamoud Diabate, is coming in. Also, Ole Miss linebacker commit Diwun Black is scheduled to come into town. At defensive back, you have Colin Duncan out of Alabama, John Dixon out of Florida, Jayden Hill out of Alabama. You got little Elam coming into town for Thursday and Friday. That’s a big one. Then you got Lousiana DB Chester Kimbrough and former Florida commit athlete DB Jashon Watkins coming in.

That DB board, Nick, that’s where Florida has to start landing some guys. You lose Chris Steele. You lose a couple of your guys that you wanted at that DB board. You took Warren Burrell off, who’s going to go to Tennessee most likely on Monday. Now you got to start looking at this board, and you got to start landing some of those guys. If I was putting anyone on commit watch it would be Chester Kimbrough. In my opinion, Mullen has to land little Elam. Matt Elam is a Gator legacy, a guy that’s been there.

Nick:                         Someone who they just invited back into and around the program to kind of rehabilitate his image.

Andrew:                 Right. You got to land him. You got to. That’s the list of targets for 2019. The DB board is expanding a little bit. They just offered Miami DB commit Jarvis Brownlee, who’s going to be on campus as well. He’s a teammate of Nay’Quan Wright. It’s expanding some, but now is where you got to start landing some of those guys. When you look at Kimbrough, Elam, Jayden Hill, even Jashon Watkins and Brownlee, those are top, top guys that are wanted by a lot of people in the country. You need to start landing some of those guys to turn the tables. Flipping a guy like Diwun Black from Ole Miss, getting Mohamoud out of Auburn, Alabama. Getting those guys starts to turn the momentum. That’s the things that could turn the momentum for you outside of Friday Night Lights and really get the momentum in your way.

Nick:                         We’ll go back to Nathan Pickering for a second, because that’s someone who said all the right things to us when he was on campus, and, obviously, chose to stay home. What about somebody like that, when you’re talking about the flipping route?

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, I would say the door is definitely not shut. Mississippi State people are very concerned about him. I think he went the Mississippi State route, committed there, that hometown pressure was there. This is going to sound crazy when I say it, but him committing to Mississippi State isn’t the worst thing. You let him satisfy the natives at home. You continue to work him, and you try to flip him later in the process to where you can flip and get a signature. The longer he stays uncommitted, or the longer he stays committed to Florida in that state, the worse you probably are. Let him stay committed to Mississippi State, if you’re Florida, and you’re okay with that. Just keep working him, and I think Florida is. I think Florida’s doing a good job. Does that make sense to you about the whole pressure of the natives, that good stuff?

Nick:                         Yeah. That makes sense. There is always going to be pressure. We talked about it a lot a couple years ago, those Alabama guys, with Lamical Perine, a Mississippi kid in Quincy Litton, Jeawon Taylor. We talked about it a lot with those guys. There was a lot of pressure for them to stay home. All those guys had offers like that. There’s always going to be pressure from the kids you grew up with, from the players that you grew up with, to stay home.

Andrew:                 Right. You’re right. Who were you going to ask about?

Nick:                         That was one I was really going to ask about was Pickering, because that’s someone who I knew caused a lot of waves on social media. People were not happy.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I want to hit on Thibodeaux real quick, #1 player in the country out of Cali. This is second trip across. Florida State, Alabama, USC, Florida, those are the teams all kind of in there. He’s going to go to Florida State on Saturday for their big event, so he’s going to hit both of them. Probably returns for an official. If you’re Mullen, you’re doing everything you can there. I don’t knock him for that. He’s doing everything he can there. Like I said with the Cali kids, all you can do is get them on campus and recruit them hard. The only thing I think most people are upset about with the way they’re recruiting Cali is not having the backup plans. If you’re the University of Florida, you’re going to get back to the Urban Meyer days, you got to recruit the elite of the elite. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Chris Steele, all those guys are elite of the elite players.

Nick:                         Not just recruit, you got to land them. Right now, I would sell Thibodeaux being a Gator signee.

Andrew:                 100%. I would sell that for sure. I would say the chances are not very good at the moment, but you get on campus this time, get him on campus for an official, who knows what happens?

Nick:                         Keep doing what you got to do, but I smell Alabama there.

Andrew:                 I smell Alabama or USC.

Nick:                         Shoot. I’d go to USC. Sign me up for LA.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Or sign you up for a National Championship at Alabama.

Nick:                         Either one.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Nick, I want to ask you this and get your opinion on this before we sign out of here. What’s a successful Friday Night Lights?

Nick:                         I don’t know. Last year it was a success, and then you can see how quickly one game completely can derail that. It wasn’t one game. I take that back. It wasn’t one game. It was the promises that were made to make Friday Night Lights a success were exposed in just one game. It could have been exposed in four or five games, but it just so happened that that very first game of the season exposed all the stuff you had been selling. Those roses really smelled like poo-poo at the end.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         I don’t even know if coming out Friday Night Lights with five commits is a great Friday Night Lights, just from the standpoint of is that going to stick? What does that even mean? I don’t think coming out of Friday Night Lights with no commits, I don’t think that’s good.

Andrew:                 Right. My thing is this.

Nick:                         That’s just my perception. I guess, if we’re talking about from just a perception standpoint?

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Then the more the better.

Andrew:                 Right. I think you need to land at least one or two, preferably some of the bigger name guys. Get the momentum in the right direction heading into the season. Listen, I definitely think the product on the field this year is going to be better, but you’re not going to make up enough if you can’t land some of these guys beforehand. It’s tough to flip a guy. You can’t flip an entire class. I think that this is big for that, and it’s big for relationships on the 2020 and 2021 guys. We didn’t go through all those, but we’ll have the list up on Thursday afternoon of the visitors list, complete visitors list of who’s expected, who’s not expected, and all that good stuff. While the 2019 guys are big, it’s also big for the 2020 guys, because you got to start working on those guys. You got to start landing some of those commits. When Mac got fired, he had the #1 2019 class in the country. He had some of the top guys. Weren’t able to keep them in the class, but he was having the momentum going. That’s what Mullen needs to do as well.

Nick:                         Okay. Now turn the question back on you.

Andrew:                 At least one big name commit and gaining ground on guys. Little Elam, gaining ground on him. Zipperer, getting the momentum back in your favor. Getting all these guys on campus, first of all, would be huge.

Nick:                         We know there’s a long history of recruits loving to say, I’m coming to Florida, and not showing up.

Andrew:                 Yeah. We also know there’s a long history of guys saying they’re not coming, and then, boom, showing up. It works both ways. Showing up, getting at least one big name commit out of that. If you land Chester Kimbrough, that’s huge. Gaining momentum with these guys and having a good event. It soured for a while. Last year got better. It needs to be the same or better.

Nick:                         Got you.

Andrew:                 That’s my opinion. We’ll get out of here, guys. We’ll see everyone on Friday, if you’re coming into town. Make sure to say hello to Nick and I and Bailiegh. We’ll all be out there. David Bowie, our photographer, will be out there. Follow us for coverage on social media. Nick will tell you how to do all that. And on the site, and on the message board, and all that good stuff. We’ll be live from the indoor, or in the Swamp, depending on the weather, on Friday. Nick, tell everybody where they’ll find us.

Nick:                         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 and subscribe, never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. Find me @NickdelaTorreGC, and him @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. Guys, we’ll see you on Friday on the boards and stuff, and we’ll see you next week for a recap podcast. As always, chomp, chomp. Go Braves.

Nick:                         You stay class, 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.