Podcast: Previewing SEC Media Days for the Florida Gators

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we preview SEC Media Days for the Florida Gators that starts next week in Hoover, Alabama.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre breakdown the Gators three players that will represent the team in Hoover next week, plus we talk about the rest of the players that will be in attendance.

Andrew and Nick also breakdown the latest in recruiting and the recent commits, plus we start to preview Friday Night Lights.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man Andrew Spivey here with Nicholas de la Torre. We’re kind of out of our summer month hiatus, and Monday starts football season pretty much. SEC Media Days will go back to Hoover. I kind of call it the heart of the SEC, with the SEC office there and all that good stuff. Even though I did like Atlanta last year. It’ll be the unofficial start of the season. Really, what, two weeks later the Gators get on the practice field.

Nick:                         Talking season is winding down, but it doesn’t wind down before we have the biggest talking event of the off season. Media Day, by the time you’re listening to this, I mean, Florida will already be done in a week’s time. Florida goes the first day, Monday, and we’re going to talk about who they’re bringing, who the rest of the SEC teams are bringing. There’s always something interesting that comes out of SEC Media Days, good or bad. Always something interesting. Then we will definitely pick the wrong champion as a media collective out there.

Andrew:                 Will Tennessee get a pick?

Nick:                         To win?

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         No. I mean, yeah. Someone will. Not this guy.

Andrew:                 Just checking. My vote will be Alabama. Till they lose.

Nick:                         Not Georgia?

Andrew:                 Yeah. Okay. I do think I’ll pick Georgia to win the East, when it comes time. We can hit on that here in a few minutes. I do think I’ll probably go Alabama-Georgia. Just for the simple reason that until it happens, you know, Georgia is the team to beat right now. Do you agree with that?

Nick:                         Maybe. Yeah. How many guys do they have committed for this upcoming recruiting class? 40 again?

Andrew:                 40 again. Yeah. And they’re all five-stars. Let’s move on here. Florida announced on Wednesday. We’re taping this on Wednesday. You’ll be listening to this on Thursday. Florida announced that they’ll bring Feleipe Franks as the quarterback, Lamical Perine at running back, and Jabari for defense. I think there was a back and forth of would it be David Reese for the second time, or would it be Jabari. You had a good point about that, and that is you try to reward guys who come back for their senior year. That’s no disrespect to David Reese, but David Reese has already kind of got that shining moment of attending SEC Media Days last year, so give someone else a chance to go. I will say this. I think he might have took the three nontalkative guys for the most part, or the guys who will give the least headlines. Lamical is my guy, all that kind of stuff, but he’s a little bit more laidback. Jabari is the same way, and we all know what Feleipe is going to bring.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think the most interesting one to me was Feleipe Franks.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         Florida hasn’t brought–

Andrew:                 We lost you for a second.

Nick:                         Sorry. Florida hasn’t brought a quarterback since Driskel went in back to back years, in 2013, 2014. It’s really just bringing a quarterback to SEC Media Days you’re not bringing your backup.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         You’re not bringing a guy that’s going to be in a split role really. I do think Emory Jones has a role on this team, but I think it’s Dan Mullen clearly saying, listen, this is my quarterback. Feleipe Franks 100% earned that right. He had, including us, so many doubters, and not only last year with his performance, and especially the way he ended last year, did he silence doubters, but I think he’s turned a bunch of them into believers. This is a good vote of confidence from Mullen that this is Franks’ team. Hey, you’re our quarterback. Go represent us at SEC Media Days.

I do agree with you. These three guys, it’s a very intimidating environment to be in, SEC Media Days is, because, I mean, shoot, there is thousands of media members, and you’re going to be getting asked the same question over and over again as you go from room to room. There is a lot of cameras. I think these three guys, like you said, are all laidback, all know how to handle media. Feleipe’s been doing it for four years, handling media. Jabari and Lamical, that’s just their personality.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly.

Nick:                         You’re not going to get any bad headlines from these guys, I don’t think.

Andrew:                 Here’s my thing with Feleipe, and that is if you want to get back to that point, and I’m going to say this, and it might come off the wrong way, but if you want to go back to being taken serious from a national standpoint, you got to bring a quarterback. You got to have that quarterback that’s the leader of your football team. To me, like you say, you’re saying this is the leader of our football team. In order to get back to competing with the Georgias, the Alabamas, the Oklahomas of the world, for national titles, you better have a quarterback that’s the leader, the face of your program.

Don’t get me wrong, when you think about Florida, you’re thinking CJ Henderson, Marco Wilson. That’s kind of your guys. But you need a face that’s the quarterback, and like it or not, us in the media, fans in general, most of the time they look at a team, and they look at your quarterback first. I think that’s the same way it is in the NFL. When you look at a team, you look at their quarterback first. If their quarterback sucks, you say, they don’t have a way to win. If their quarterback’s good, you’re like, I’ll watch this team.

Nick:                         It’s kind of just the nature of the game.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         And the nature of that position, where everything’s gone.

Andrew:                 Would you agree though, like in order to be taken serious, you got to have a quarterback that’s kind of the face of the program?

Nick:                         Yeah. Shoot, this isn’t the 2000 Baltimore Ravens that can win a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer at quarterback. The game has changed, especially in Mullen’s offense, for sure too.

Andrew:                 Let’s go back to, Driskel was what year? 2012? That was his last year, right?

Nick:                         No. Driskel went to SEC Media Days in 2013 and 2014.

Andrew:                 2014 was his last year.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Since 2014, every year we’re talking about who’s going to be the quarterback at Florida. First year since probably 2014 that we haven’t had that question mark. Look what Florida has done since. I mean, not that they were good in 2014 under Driskel, but they haven’t done anything since either. It’s always been a question of what will the offense do. I think, you, I, and a lot of other people are going into the season a lot more positive about what the offense will do. Let’s face it. It’s because I think we all know who your quarterback will be. We all think that the quarterback position will be better, so yeah.

Nick:                         You’re right. It is a big deal. I would say, I’m trying to think of who, I guess Alabama we’ve pretty much known, because I’m thinking maybe Alabama hasn’t needed that guys.

Andrew:                 I mean, I would say the team that probably has done well at times without a proven guy who we knew was going to be the quarterback would probably be LSU.

Nick:                         Yeah. They’re the outlier. I agree with what you’re saying. I was just trying to think of a team that was that, and it’s probably LSU.

Andrew:                 But has LSU done anything?

Nick:                         They win 10 games.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Here. Let’s just do this. Let’s support our theory right here. Alabama, bringing two of them. We all know Alabama’s going to be legit this year. Arkansas and Auburn, neither one of them are bringing a quarterback. I think both you and I would agree that we don’t expect either one of those teams to make noise. Agreed?

Nick:                         I think Auburn could be a good team. I think it’s going to be a tough game for Florida too.

Andrew:                 Okay. So, maybe one outlier. Georgia, Jake Fromm is coming. There it is. Kentucky, not bringing a quarterback. I think you and I can agree that Kentucky will be down this year.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 LSU is bringing Joe Burrow, a senior. I think that LSU should be a team to contend for the SEC. I don’t know if they can knock off Alabama. I think they can contend. Ole Miss is bringing a freshman quarterback in Matt Corral, because why? That’s their quarterback.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’ll be an interesting one to me. I mean, we had him on the podcast. He was a nice kid.

Andrew:                 He’s a good talker now. You’ll walk out of that thing thinking he was going to win the Heisman Trophy. That’s just the way he’s going to present himself. California kid. Got some confidence. Cool. Missouri is bringing Kelly Bryant. South Carolina is bringing Jake Bentley. Tennessee is bringing Jarrett Guarantano, however you want to say his name. A&M is bringing Kellen Mond. It’s a lot of teams bringing a quarterback.

Let me ask you this. I think Feleipe had to come. Were you shocked at the other two?

Nick:                         No. I thought, when we started thinking about this probably a month ago, I thought if you’re going to take Feleipe, this is the year. There’s really no competition for starting quarterback, and we said that in the spring. Some people, I think, fans or people, just want Emory Jones to start, were trying to make it, how is Jones doing in spring? Is he going to start? No. This is Feleipe’s team. Where were you the last month of the season? This is Feleipe’s team.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         So, I figured Feleipe would come. I figure you would reward Lamical for coming back to school, and he’s going to be a huge part of the offense. Then I thought that third spot, it had to be someone on defense. You’re not going to bring only three offensive guys, so then I started thinking of do you do Reese again or do you bring somebody different? To me, that third guy was the one I’m trying to figure out.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It’s tough to bring a guy like CJ or Marco, coming back off an injury, when you have that guy who came back in Jabari. Had Jabari left, you could have made the argument that CJ or Marco come. Again, had either one of those guys been announced, I personally wouldn’t have had no argument with it. I think you look at those two guys, and they’re kind of the face of your defense. At the same time, it’s a reward to represent the team, to represent your fellow teammates, to come to SEC Media Days.

Nick:                         Shoot, man. You’re going to fly in a private jet.

Andrew:                 Fly in a private jet, get whisked around all day, and then get back on there and go home.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Maybe get you a Chick-Fil-A sandwich or something. Wasn’t that what Muschamp gave them a couple times or something? I think that’s what it was, something like that.

Nick:                         They’re eating something for free.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Exactly. Nick, let’s move on a little bit here. We’ve been away for a little bit, as we enjoyed the summer months here, but something you and I talked about, and I think it’s been kind about a lot, Will Sammon wrote a pretty good article in The Athletic. I’m a big fan of The Athletic, by the way. Talking about the guys who have left. Florida’s lost nine guys since the end of last year, including two guys in the freshman class. Really, it’s 11 if you count the two guys who didn’t qualify. They’ve lost some guys. I think that Dan Mullen tries to rebuild this roster, losing guys like that isn’t good for doubts, but let’s get into hat.

Nick:                         Okay. I don’t want to be disrespectful to anybody, but I want to kind of run through the list.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         Because nine is a big ugly number.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         But I think when you look at it, the impact for this year, extremely minimal, other than maybe depth in a couple spots. But now, you start looking. I’ve got Florida at like 79 scholarships, so now you’re almost putting yourself on a probation, in the sense that you’re not up to 85. You’re not even close to the 85 really.

Andrew:                 That hurts in practice.

Nick:                         That hurts in practice, and then it hurts you as you get later on in the season, because you’ve had those guys taking more reps, not getting the kind of rest that they’re supposed to be getting in practice, things like that. When you look at the list, Antonneous Clayton, we all thought this is going to be his redshirt senior year, this will be his time. Shoot, his probably had his letter drafted up ready to say he was transferring at the spring game, he got out of there so quick after the spring game. But he had gotten passed up by guys already in the spring.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Malik Langham was a guy that when he first came in we thought the world of him.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Got passed up by guys, probably wasn’t going to play this year either. The two linebacker, Rayshad Jackson, Kylan Johnson, probably weren’t going to play this year, other than maybe special teams. So, right there you’re already looking at four guys, almost half of the guys that left, and you’re looking at them and saying, probably weren’t going to play much this year.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Another one, TJ McCoy. Love TJ McCoy. He was always great with us, great with the media. Comes from a great family. It’s great that his dad is in remission, but TJ McCoy barely played last year. Nick Buchanan came back for his redshirt senior year, so he wasn’t going to slide over and not play center. Another guy, five now that we’re talking about that weren’t going to play. Six, Daquon Green, he wasn’t getting reps. With as deep as the wide receiver room was, was not going to get reps.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Then you get down to the last two. That’s going to Jalon Jones. It was going to be a while before he played, and then considering all the stuff that he was getting into and the stuff that he was being accused of, probably better for Florida that he leaves. Then you get down to Chris Steele, and there’s no spinning that one for me. That one hurts. Chris Steele was going to play as a freshman. I think Chris Steele at some point was going to be an All-SEC type of guy. I think he’ll be an All-Pac-12 kind of guy.

Andrew:                 Yeah. With the Steele thing, there’s no way to spin the playing time. I think there was, to see the way his teammates reacted to him, and some of stories you hear about the dorm room thing and all that. Listen, if he asked to be transferred from his dorm room, he should have been. To me, Nick, I don’t want to say you hurt yourself on the field but helped yourself off the field, because that’s not fair, in a way, but it almost seems like he just didn’t fit in with those guys, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It just kind of seemed like he didn’t fit in off the field.

Nick:                         Yeah. I mean, that’s tough. I think homesickness plays some kind of role into it, but then if you’re going that far away, and you think that the coaching staff, we always talk about that de-recruitment process. Maybe that played into it as well. Shoot, they’re not kissing my butt anymore.

Andrew:                 No longer a five-star. You’re just one of the 85.

Nick:                         One of the 79.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Also, I think people are going to forget, because it happened so long ago, I mean, it happened before the spring, Jonathan Greenard, getting him as a graduate transfer from Louisville, being able to pay immediately. I think that’s huge. He’s going to be a guy that plays immediately as well. Having played for Grantham already at Louisville and having the most productive season of his college career with Grantham, I think he’s going to be an instant impact kind of guy. So, the transfer portal giveth, and it taketh away.

Andrew:                 Huge. There’s just no other way to say it. That was a huge pickup. You added some good depth at that position, a guy who brings some veteran upperclassman leadership, and a guy who already knew the system, all that good stuff. So, that was huge for that there. You lose Brian Edwards. Again, off the field stuff probably forced their hand a little bit on that. I think Brian Edwards was a guy who would have probably got into some games late. I don’t even know that, how true that is, because last year it seemed like he had gotten passed up by several different guys. You and I would talk about when fans would say why is CJ McWilliams in the game, when CJ Henderson got hurt. Well, he passed Brian Edwards.

Nick:                         Yeah. Brian Edwards, really a good special teams player. I think he works hard, just he had already been passed up by pretty much everyone not named CJ McWilliams.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Then you get some stuff going on off the field. I mean, those charges were all dropped. He’s not in any legal trouble. He’ll find a new place. I just don’t think, outside of special teams, I don’t know where he would have played. It’s like you said. Marco goes down last year.

Andrew:                 That was a prime spot.

Nick:                         Prime spot for him to show that he could do it, and it just didn’t happen.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         From a depth standpoint, losing nine guys is not going to help. Then you’re still waiting for three more guys from the recruiting class to get in.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s where I was headed next. You lose two guys already in the class in Hammond, the offensive lineman out of Lakeland.

Nick:                         Going JUCO.

Andrew:                 Going JUCO. Diwun Black going JUCO. We had pretty much prepared everyone that Black was pretty much going to have to go that route, and it was going to be a miracle to make up ground. He did make up a lot of ground his senior year, did a good job. I do think that he’s a guy who is now prepared to go handle the JUCO ranks and go out there and go through what I call hell. I mean, JUCO is not fun. JUCO ball is not fun. If you think JUCO ball is fun, you’re lying to yourself. I do think you could possibly see him back. He’s very loyal to Dan Mullen and his staff and that kind of stuff. Again, there’s two more guys that are depth problems.

Good news is it does look like Dionte Marks will get in at receiver. He let everyone know on Wednesday that he’ll be rolling July 21. We’ve heard that RJ Henderson should also be able to enroll here as it gets closer to fall semester. Really as it gets closer to the first day of fall camp, he should be able to enroll. So then you’re only looking at Wardrick Wilson, who is dealing with a Visa issue. Nick, I’m not privy enough to know enough about the Visa situation with the government. When you start talking about the federal government, that’s like talking about the NCAA. They work at their own time.

Nick:                         Yeah. I don’t know. To me, it should be super easy, cut and dried. Listen, if you’re from a different country, and you have an opportunity like this, an opportunity to go to the best public university in your state for free, and to get an education, to me that should be, if I’m in the Visa office, yup. Here you go. Stamp it, and there it is.

Andrew:                 But there’s also so many pieces of paper and all this other stuff. Again, you and I aren’t privy to that information. We’ll just have to see. There is some hope that he’ll make it in. I know Florida, from a standpoint of needing offensive linemen, they would definitely welcome Wardrick Wilson to campus.

Nick:                         Right. Yeah. If the government figures it out, then yeah. I absolutely agree.

Andrew:                 So, that’s it. Like I said, and like you said, from a depth standpoint you are hurt a little bit form losing starters, per se. You didn’t really lose anybody. You lost a guy in Chris Steele who probably would have played this year, but outside of that you just lost depth.

Nick:                         It’s like you said, that hurts you on the practice field, or if anyone gets hurt. It hurts you then.

Andrew:                 Any other things football-wise you want to talk about before we move on to some recruiting?

Nick:                         No. We’ll get more into it next week. We’ll start breaking down what we think will happen at what position, stuff like that. I think it’s probably the deepest team Florida’s had in a long time. As we say, just talk about depth, probably the deepest team Florida has had and probably the best team. Maybe most excited that a fanbase has been probably since before the 2013 season, after the 11-1 2012 year. Hopefully a different result than 2013. That was a long year.

Andrew:                 I mean, I think there is a lot of reason to be excited. I think you can’t look past the fact that you’re starting the year against an instate rival. I mean, that’s huge. There is nothing better to have fans fired up than to play Florida State or Miami or one of your rivals Game 1. The trash talking started the day Florida left the Peach Bowl from winning, and it hasn’t stopped.

Nick:                         Yeah. It’s Florida. It’s Miami.

Andrew:                 No love lost.

Nick:                         I don’t know how bad either team could have been last year. Like Florida could have won the National Championship, and Miami could have won four games last year, and that would not have changed how much trash would have been talked, or vice versa. Miami could have won the National Championship, and Florida could have gone 4-8, and that would not have changed how heated it would have been between fanbases and how much trolling would have been going on in the off season. It’s Florida-Miami, and it’s probably a rivalry that you and I don’t really understand as much as people who are a little bit older than us, people that remember when they used to play every year. But the Twitter era and social media era, that has ramped everything up. I think even a notch from back when Florida and Miami were yearly hated rivals.

Andrew:                 I think that’s a good point. I mean, we maybe don’t recognize and understand that as much as some of the older people do, but I think it’s a rivalry that’s a good rivalry. It’s hated in recruiting. We seen that, what was it, three years ago? When Mark Richt and those guys tried to start false accusations and posted them everywhere. The storm that came when Florida took CJ Henderson from them. Then it followed this year when they took Keon Zipperer and Lloyd Summerall from them. Everyone in Florida’s fanbase kind of calls Miami the minor leagues to Florida, because Florida seems to flip Miami commits more than anyone. Would you agree that that’s where it starts?

Nick:                         Yeah. I thought people told us that Zip and Summerall weren’t getting into school though.

Andrew:                 Who knows? Miami’s got their own problems down there. Let’s get into some recruiting. I’ll say this. I think recruiting is on an uphill. I think the momentum is there. I know someone is going to say, Florida’s had some decommitments in Jaheim Bell, Morven Joseph. Those two guys decommitted. Florida’s still at 17 commits, and picked up a monster one right before the dead period, Nick, on the 22nd of June when they flipped Derek Wingo, #1 linebacker in the state of Florida, out of your school down in St. Thomas. They flipped him from Penn State. Goes out the next week and wins an MVP at a camp and performs well. For me, Nick, getting Derek Wingo was huge for this recruiting class. Not only is he the #1 linebacker there, but they flip a guy from Penn State, but they keep an instate guy home.

Nick:                         Yeah. Keeping an instate guy home. Obviously, Georgia, Alabama, the schools you’re competing against, have had so much success, kind of coming in and just cherry-picking some of the best talent in your state. Good to keep an instate guy home.

Andrew:                 Right. I think that’s a big thing, just keep an instate guy home, and a guy who is very close to a lot of top prospects in the state. He’s going to be a big recruiter. Him and Gervon Dexter together will be two of the bigger recruiters for this class overall. The way this staff went about it, Derek was a guy who was committed to Penn State, didn’t want his visits public. He took a few secret visits to Florida, and everyone kept him under wraps. He kind of gained confidence in how the staff handled things because of that and ended up paying off. It was a big win for Christian Robinson. Surprise, surprise, Robinson wins another big one.

Nick:                         Pay that man.

Andrew:                 Pay that man. That’s right. A guy though, Nick, and he’s a guy that maybe isn’t talked about enough. There’s two of them actually, two of the most recent commits as well. A defensive tackle out of Connecticut in Lamar Goods, and then a defensive end out of Virginia in Antoine Powell. Two guys that I don’t think get the notoriety or get the publicity that they deserve. Antoine Powell is a really good player. 6’3”, 234, out of Portsmouth, Virginia. There was some questions about a shoulder injury he had, but everything I’ve been told, Nick, is that the shoulder was good. Florida liked how everything checked out with him, and he’s a guy at that Buck position. He’s not going to be asked to play Year 1, per se, so if there is a little bit of an injury there it can heal. 6’3” 234, already is a junior about to be a senior in high school. It’s a good size kid to play defensive end.

Then Lamar Goods out of Connecticut. We all know Connecticut guys don’t maybe get as much recognition as they should, but 6’4” 290-pound guy who was committed to Kentucky. Georgia tried to come in late on him, but I think it fills a need that Florida needed big time. They need D tackles in this class. Him and Gervon Dexter are two guys that really fill that up. Dexter at 286, Goods at 290. Some size being added.

Nick:                         Dexter has kind of been an early guy in this class that has been trying to take over as far as being the leader in this class really.

Andrew:                 Absolutely. He’s a guy that I think his personality in general is very infectious, and he’s a guy that other guys are drawn to. Him and Jaquavion Frasiers have been two of the main recruiters in this class, and they’re joined by Wingo there. For me, to have that defensive lineman in Dexter to start that, is big. I think that was something that was kind of lacking last year, in last year’s class. There’s no disrespect to anyone in last year’s class, but it just wasn’t, there was never a huge recruiting class last year, per se, and that’s kind of changed this year.

Nick:                         Now, you’re talking about the guys that they’re getting in and everything there. What about some guys to be on the lookout for? It’s kind of a weird period where you’ve got kind of some down time, and we’re focusing on football right now, but Friday Night Lights is in a couple weeks. It’s going to be later this month, so that is always an event where you start to look at guys who are going to pop and guys that you need to be on the radar for. Who is it big to get recruits in for? What has been going on in terms of just setting that up? Obviously, you’re not going to have a full list for us now, but is there going to be hype surrounding Friday Night Lights?

Andrew:                 Yeah. This new month-long dead period that started at the end of June and kind of runs to days before Friday Night Lights kind of takes a little of the air out of recruiting. It gives all of us a chance to catch our breath. I think focus a little bit more on the team and get ready for that, but it does take the sell out a little bit, but Florida did still land a commitment there in the dead period in Richie Leonard out of Coco.

For me, the talk about Friday Night Lights has been good so far. You got a big receiver out of Louisiana in Coy Moore coming down. Michael Drennen is a big running back out of Ohio, already saying he’s coming down. Then on defense, Alabama commit Jacquez Robinson out of Jacksonville has already said he’s going to come down. You’ll have most of your commits there. I do, I think you’ll see a Friday Night Lights that’s got some very good players. I think you’ll see most of your commits there as well and some of your top targets there.

That’s the good thing about the dead period, in a way, you’re able to kind of talk to those guys a little bit through text and stuff like that, kind of build that excitement up a little bit, settle those plans for Friday Night Lights. As we get, we’re taping this on the 10th, so you’re 17 days away, you start to kind of build that momentum there. I do, I think early on, from 17 days out, you’re looking at a pretty good Friday Night Lights visitors list.

Nick:                         That is probably, I mean, other schools imitate it, but probably the biggest recruiting event for Florida. They’ve had some other stuff. Shout out to Shannon Snell and his relationship rips. They’ve got kind of events, but Friday Night Lights is always the headliner of that off season.

Andrew:                 It’s your last big one too. This is really your last chance you’ll see a lot of those guys on campus before their season starts. Their practice starts on the first of August, and then Florida with the earlier start to the season this year will now have practice a little earlier. Really the last opportunity that the coaches just focus on recruiting. You know, when it gets into season, you’re kind of more focused on the team, less focused on recruiting. You still focus on recruiting, obviously, but still it’s a little bit different thing. I think that’s a big thing, and that’s why you see so much emphasis on getting some commits and that kind of stuff in this event, and you try to get as many guys as possible in town for Friday Night Lights.

It will be interesting to see how many out of state guys come in for the event, and then just overall the performance. You and I have seen some really good stuff over the years. Stefon Diggs, Jarry Jeudy. I would say a couple years ago Justin Fields and Matt Corral. We’ve seen some very good performances over the years. Who steals the show this year? I think some early candidates are a guy like Coy Moore out of Louisiana. I think you’ll see Antony Richardson throw it around, spin it a little bit. It’s always exciting to see a quarterback. That’s always something you look for is who is going to kind of have the best performance. There’s always a guy who comes in who isn’t maybe highest on the radar that comes in and really has a good camp.

Nick:                         That’s true. I think you’ll probably see most of, if not all of, the guys that are committed in the class, in the 2020 class, there as well. So, obviously, a guy like Antony Richardson, that’s a five-minute car ride, 10-minute car ride.

Andrew:                 10-minute walk.

Nick:                         Yeah. But getting a guy like Gervon Dexter, who’s from Lake Wales. That’s not too far away. Getting him in there and getting him around. Leonard Manuel, just down the road in Ocala. So, to me it’s getting those guys around. Jonathan Odom is a guy that maybe we don’t talk about too much, but you need to fill in that tight end position. He’s a legacy. Then, of course, you’ve got your Lakeland pipeline still going. It’ll be interesting to see how those guys interact, because, I mean, Gervon Dexter out at the Opening, I mean it seemed like he was just in everyone’s ear at the Opening.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It’s another opportunity for Derek Wingo to come out and recruit, show off, that kind of stuff. It’s always big for the underclassmen. We talk about the 2020 guys, but in all honesty, this is a big event for 2021 and 2022 as well. It’s just another opportunity to get guys on campus and just another opportunity to get in front of the staff and to be in the Swamp, that kind of stuff. Again, if you’re Dan Mullen, if you’re this coaching staff, you do want a couple guys to pop. Get that momentum rolling, so that when you start the season momentum is there, and you can carry that into the season.

I think that was a thing that last year there wasn’t a ton of momentum heading into the season. Then Florida goes out and wins 10 games. Then the momentum’s there. This year is a little different. You got some momentum in the off season. Keep that carrying on to when you go play Miami, so if you do have another 10-win season, get back to Atlanta or get back to another big-time bowl game, you’re just carrying the momentum. You’re not picking up the momentum. You’re not trying to play catch up as much as you were last year.

Nick:                         What about, we’ll get more into that. Never mind. We’ll get more into that after SEC Media Days, once we get a more firm list of guys. Where is you expectation, I guess, heading into SEC Media Days? Anyone on the list of people coming that you’re surprised, other than Matt Corral? I think that surprised both of us.

Andrew:                 Yeah. To kind of bounce back to that, I’ll say this. I’m excited to see the SEC in general this year. The overall consensus the last five years has been quarterback play in the SEC is down. Would you agree with that?

Nick:                         Yeah. Probably up and down.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         There were a couple years where they got, Jared Stidham came.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         You had Tua and Jalen and Fromm, and before he left, Justin Fields. For a while, it seemed like it was trending up, and then not now, I think.

Andrew:                 I agree with you. So, I think this year is going to be a pretty decent year for quarterback. When you look at Bama at Tua, when you look at what LSU brings in Joe Burrow. I think there’s question marks at what Joe Burrow really is and all that other stuff. I think you bring some excitement with Matt Corral there. Then you have what Jimbo is doing out at A&M. You can’t forget about those guys. Kellen Mond, what he’s going to do. Then, I think when you go to the East, you got some good quarterbacks in the East. Fromm, Feleipe, can’t forget about Kelly Bryant. I mean, look at what he done at Clemson. Does he do what Trevor Lawrence does last year? Who knows. He did fairly well for Clemson. You got another senior in Bentley, and then you got Jarrett at Tennessee.

I think you have a pretty solid 8-9 quarterbacks in the SEC overall. I’m pretty excited to see what the SEC will be. If I’m picking today, July 10, on this Wednesday, I do have Alabama-Georgia as my teams to go to the SEC. I do think Florida will give Georgia a run for its money, possibly win that East, but until it happens, I’ve got to go with the favorite.

Nick:                         Go with the favorite.

Andrew:                 One thing is interesting, Nick. A&M is bringing one of your people.

Nick:                         Who are my people?

Andrew:                 A punter.

Nick:                         It’s fantastic.

Andrew:                 A punter. They’re bringing Brandon Mann, a senior punter.

Nick:                         I’m only upset that I won’t be there. That’s the only thing I’m upset about.

Andrew:                 He is the only special teams guy coming, to my knowledge.

Nick:                         Only upset that there aren’t more.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Well, there you go. Who, outside of Corral, because I think if there’s one guy that is gong to make some kind of news, it’s going to be Matt Corral.

Nick:                         Maybe they’ve reeled him in.

Andrew:                 Maybe Kelly Bryant. Does Kelly Bryant say something? Kelly Bryant come out and say, you know what, Missouri, you tricked me?

Nick:                         I don’t know. I think those guys are probably …

Andrew:                 Grant Delpit’s another guy that I think could come out and say something crazy. Jerry Jeudy’s an interesting one. I think Jerry Jeudy and Dylan Moses. That’s two big ones for Alabama, two guys we’re very familiar with.

Nick:                         I don’t know what kind of talkers they are, but it’ll be interesting to see. It’s always a statewide holiday when Nick Saban shows up in Birmingham.

Andrew:                 Yeah. For Auburn though, Nick, this is I think where you and I disagree. I think they’re going to be absolute trash.

Nick:                         Okay.

Andrew:                 I think they’re going to be absolute trash. I think there is a 50-50 chance Gus Malzahn is coaching Auburn when they come to Gainesville.

Nick:                         Wow.

Andrew:                 Because hearing Auburn boosters around the state talk, and, Nick, you know this, you can’t be that much worse than Alabama at Auburn and expect to survive. As dumb as that sounds, and as dumb as Auburn fans can be, you’re never going to be Alabama, so just forget that. You’re never going to have the dynasty Alabama has. Just forget that. But Auburn still somewhere in their brain believe they can be. Somehow or another they think Bruce Pearl, man, their baseball team, is going to hop over and bring some magic. Well, too bad, too sad. Gus Malzahn is not cheating as bad as Bruce Pearl. Maybe you should have some, what was it? Backyard cookouts. Isn’t that what got him in trouble at Tennessee? Yeah. Maybe you should have some backyard cookouts.

Nick:                         That’s one way to do it. Go ahead.

Andrew:                 I’m just not high on them. I’m just not high on Auburn. They may surprise me. They may. I just look at this roster. You look at the quarterback play. I mean, nothing on that one surprises me. It seems like if I’m looking at the West I’m looking at A&M, much better than them. I’m looking at LSU, much better than them, and I’m looking at Alabama that’s a hell of a lot better than them.

Nick:                         Yeah. Looking at the quarterback play, you think it’s Joey Gatewood? Is that the starter?

Andrew:                 Probably.

Nick:                         Redshirt freshman from just up the road here.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         In Jacksonville.

Andrew:                 A guy that they were contemplating moving to receiver.

Nick:                         Well, losing Jarrett Stidham …

Andrew:                 Here’s the thing. You had Stidham, and you still didn’t do nothing.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think Gatewood would be a better fit for that Malzahn offense than Stidham was, and Stidham was mobile enough, but kind of just …

Andrew:                 At Auburn though, it’s all about the running game.

Nick:                         It was surprising to me that he went. Yeah. It was surprising to me that he went there to being with.

Andrew:                 Auburn’s all about the running game. We’ll see. No Kerryon Johnson walking through the door tomorrow.

Nick:                         No.

Andrew:                 Okay, Nick, tell everyone where they can find us. We’ll get out of here. See everyone next week, as we’ll recap SEC Media Days from Hoover, Alabama.

Nick:                         Shout out to the Homerun Derby. We both watched that, and our damn National League can’t win an All-Star game, but the Homerun Derby was an absolute show.

Andrew:                 Vladimir.

Nick:                         Vladimir Guerrero just launching balls into the stratosphere. Your boy, Acuna, not too bad.

Andrew:                 Just unreal power, Nick. I mean.

Nick:                         That first round he’s flicking balls to right field 400 feet.

Andrew:                 Just they make it look too easy, Nick. Them balls are juiced. I don’t care what anybody says. This is my question. Vlad and Pete, the two big boys there, they looked like they were still good to go.

Nick:                         Yeah. When I saw Vlad in the first round, like oh my God, he is going to gas out.

Andrew:                 He’s putting 175% of his effort into those things.

Nick:                         Yeah. He is just trying. He’s not getting cheated on any swing. I thought, he’s going to tire out. Then to go into not only an extra round, but then two sudden death rounds, that was incredible.

Andrew:                 You and I have been big Pete fans for a while. If Pete has better VP pitcher, no doubt he gets it. Pete’s such a pure homerun hitter. I mean, those balls you were hitting to center field, Nick, were getting 10 feet off the ground at most.

Nick:                         Yeah. He was just incredible, the display of power. Congratulations to Pete, first Gator to ever win the Homerun Derby.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s exactly it. If it’s not for Christian Yelich he may be up for the MVP this year.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Too bad he plays for those sorry Mets.

Nick:                         Sorry Mets.

Andrew:                 I’m cool with that. My first place Braves are just cruising on along and doing just fine. I caught a few games this weekend. I got to boo Bryce Harper in person. That’s always a great thing.

Nick:                         The Braves are going to go ahead and do nothing in the playoffs again, just as they always do.

Andrew:                 Break my heart again. It’ll be all right. Dan, that’s your turn. You better have the Gators rolling in October. Take my mind off things. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone in Hoover next week.

Nick:                         www.GatorCountry for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. You can find the podcast in audio form wherever you listen to your podcasts. Just go ahead and search Gator Country and subscribe, never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. Guys, we appreciate it. As always, chomp, chomp and go Braves.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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.