Podcast: Talking David Turner hiring, plus Florida Gators recruiting

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we breakdown the hiring of new Florida Gators defensive line coach David Turner.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre talk about what Turner brings to the table, plus we talk about the remaining targets for the Gators in the 2019 class.

Andrew and Nick also breakdown the junior day visitors list for the Gators this weekend as several big targets are expected in town this weekend.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, it’s winding down here, getting closer to Signing Day, and the Gators have a new defensive line coach. So, I guess all things are good again in Gainesville?

Nick:                         Pointing up at least. Yeah.

Andrew:                 I mean, fans don’t have nothing to gripe about yet.

Nick:                         Full coaching staff.

Andrew:                 Except for Mike White. I mean, poor guy. Man, he’s getting the Willy Muschamp treatment.

Nick:                         Yeah. The natives are restless when it comes to the basketball team and to Mike White. I don’t know. Lot of people say four years. I was talking about it, and let’s see if you agree. I think really, I think Egbunu probably getting hurt and then staying, I think that might have set them back a little bit, because if he leaves it opens up another spot. He stays, ends up not even playing, and then that’s just a roster spot, a scholarship spot that you don’t have.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         I think that’s kind of what is holding it back right now is post play and bigs.

Andrew:                 Yeah. And Jalen Hudson. I mean.

Nick:                         He could have left too.

Andrew:                 I mean, geez. You think about it, and I mean, I’m not going to sit here and tell you guys Jalen Hudson was a good ballplayer last year. I thought he was decent. I mean, he was one of the Gator’s leading scorers, and he was at least thinking about going to the NBA. I mean, guy can’t even buy a basket right now.

Nick:                         And Keith Stone has regressed. You’re going to keep seeing that small lineup with young kids. Mike White likes those young kids.

Andrew:                 Noah Locke. Man.

Nick:                         Noah Locke’s a player.

Andrew:                 Nembhard.

Nick:                         Nembhard’s a player. You got some guys coming in too.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s the thing, I think, for me, Nick. We’re not going to talk much basketball here. We’re going to get onto football and other things, but you have to remember and look at what he has coming in next year. I think you give him next year, and if he can’t do anything next year with those guys, then it’s okay, it might be time to look elsewhere for things, if he can’t do it with one of the, if not the best recruiting classes Florida ever had, with Scottie Lewis, Tre Mann, all those big-name guys that are going to come in next year. So, if you can’t do it next year, then that’s when you start to wonder and think, okay, is Mike White really the guy here?

I think the biggest thing that fans have against White, and I’m not saying that it’s wrong, by any means, but the offense just is so stagnant. At times it looks like there’s not even a coach on the court, I mean, on the baseline or the sidelines, however you want to say it. I think that’s the biggest thing. At times the offensive play is just awful. We’ll have to get our guy Eric on here and get his thoughts on it as well, but just, to think this team is in danger of not even making the tournament. I don’t think nobody thought this team was a national contender, but to not even make the tournament?

Nick:                         To not make the tournament, that would be rough, especially in Year 4. I mean, Billy had similar struggles starting off. I think really the 2000, was it 2000, when he had Mike Miller and those guys? That kind of put him and the team on the map, and then obviously the ’04 blew everything up.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         I think Mike White is a good coach. I know that’s not a popular opinion in Gator Nation right now, but I like Mike White. I think he’s a good coach. I have confidence he can be a good coach. Like you said, it might come down to a point where he becomes a good coach somewhere else, because time just runs out at Florida, because you got to win games. I think he’s going to be a good coach.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, I do. I think he’s able to recruit and that kind of stuff. It’s shown. I think the biggest thing was bigs, but for a while that was a concern for Billy Donovan as well. Also, Nick, and I think you’ll agree with me here, but it’s never good to follow a legend. Billy Donovan only has two rings, but Billy Donovan is a legend in Florida basketball. Nothing Mike White does, short of winning a national title, is going to satisfy everyone.

Nick:                         Right. That’s completely true. You look at Ron Zook following Spurrier, Muschamp following Urban. It’s just the expectations are crazy different when you’re following a guy who’s had success at that highest level.

Andrew:                 Think about the guy who’s got to follow Nick Saban.

Nick:                         No thank you. I mean, that would be a great job. When Nick Saban retires, hopefully soon, think about that. You’re inheriting a machine. You’re also inheriting all those expectations, and I’d be like, you know what, I’m not going to get much better of a program to inherit as a coach, but no thank you. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll follow the guy that you fire that followed Nick Saban.

Andrew:                 Unless it’s Dabo Sweeney.

Nick:                         Call me in three years when you fire that guy, and then I’ll do it.

Andrew:                 Unless it’s Dabo. I could easily see Dabo taking that job.

Nick:                         How furious would Clemson fans be?

Andrew:                 I mean, they have to know a little bit.

Nick:                         No. You’re asking for rational thinking.

Andrew:                 That’s true.

Nick:                         In a fanbase losing a legend coach.

Andrew:                 Little old Clemson.

Nick:                         Little old Clemson.

Andrew:                 Let’s get into it, Nick.

Nick:                         Little old Clemson, with a barber shop and a slide. Little old Clemson.

Andrew:                 And a multi-million-dollar machine.

Nick:                         Poor little Clemson.

Andrew:                 Poor little Clemson. Yeah. For real. Let’s get into it. So, Mullen made the hire official after days and days of everyone knowing who the defensive line coach is going to be. Makes it official, and David Turner is rejoining his staff. Was previously with him at Mississippi State, and then went to A&M and also was at UT San Antonio, University of Texas San Antonio, after leaving Texas A&M with all that coaching changeover and all that good stuff.

Coached some good players. Coached Mile Garrett. I think a lot of people consider him to one of the better defensive linemen to come out of college the last few years. Has a good track record, I would say. People talk highly of him. I will say it’s probably not the sexy hire that a lot of fans expected it to be, but then again, and I say this respectfully to Mullen, Mullen is not caring about the sexy hire, per se, as much as he wants somebody he’s more familiar with.

Nick:                         Yeah. There was familiarity in two different stints. I honestly didn’t know too much about him until going in and looking at really the track record. There’s some really good players that he’s coached. I don’t know how much credit you give him for Miles Garrett.

Andrew:                 You and I might have could have coached him.

Nick:                         Yeah. I could have made a career coaching Miles Garrett. Really it’s just, to me, it’s going to be wait to be seen. I’ll be really excited to get out for spring practice and kind of just watch the defensive line, see how he coaches them. See how him and Todd Grantham interact as well.

Andrew:                 I think that’s a thing to monitor as well, to kind of see how he interacts with the guys and how him and Grantham mix. That’s something that Grantham and Sal were really kind of in coherence, I guess is the best way to say it. They were very connected as far as their schemes and their coaching styles. Sal Sunseri is very familiar with the 3-4 and that kind of stuff. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes and just see how the transition goes. He’s got some guys like Zach Carter. He’s got Jabari coming back. He’s got several different guys here that are looking to make that big jump. I think Jeremiah Moon is a guy who’s in that verge of making that jump. To really see how he’ll do with that as well.

Then you can’t really judge him on recruiting. We’re taping this on Tuesday, and you’ll be listening to this on Wednesday, a week from Signing Day, so you can’t really judge him this year on that. It’ll be interesting to see kind of how he does once he’s able to get on the trail and get with these guys, juniors and stuff like that, as they get into the 2020 class. I do know this. He got to talk to Chris Bogle a little bit while he was on campus for his official visit, and it seems like Bogle and his mom both walked away impressed by Turner and everything he has. He’ll have a chance to meet with Bogle this week. He’ll have a chance to meet with Charles Moore, and probably even Nathan Pickering a little bit. You can’t really judge him on that.

I say the first real test will be Junior Day coming this Saturday, and then how he does in the spring. Kind of see how it goes. I’ll say this. Him and Sal Sunseri kind of have opposite ways of coaching, so it’ll be interesting to kind of see how that works this spring.

Nick:                         I think when I first started covering college football I talked about the continuity on staffs and being able to do that. You look at an Alabama, and Nick Saban is replacing six coaches this year.

Andrew:                 Every year.

Nick:                         He replaced six last year. Then you look at a team like Clemson. I forget the recruit that was talking about it, but he basically said, I don’t want to go to Alabama, because I don’t know who’s going to be coaching me. He ended up going to Clemson. He’s like, I know who’s going to be there.

Andrew:                 Justyn Ross.

Nick:                         That’s who it was. Yeah. Those guys are there. I know who’s going to be coaching me. Those guys are loyal to each other, and they stay. At Alabama really you can go, and you can have three different position coaches in the three years you’re there. Something to say about that. Obviously, it’s just a part of the business. I mean, these guys are used to getting to know new coaches and working and trying to mesh, because it happens everywhere.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, the old saying is if you’re having coaches, then that means that you’re doing something right. I think you can say that doesn’t happen at Clemson, because they’re doing something right, obviously. They’re not losing a ton of coaches, and that’s true there as well. I think that the biggest thing for anybody who’s coming to Florida on defense is Todd Grantham. I mean, whatever coach comes in, whether it’s Torrian Gray at corners, whether it’s David Turner on defensive line, and if something was to change with one of the other guys, English or Robinson or any of those guys, the one constant is going to be that Todd Grantham is going to run the 3-4, and he’s going to be very aggressive. I think that’s the biggest key for anyone coming to Florida.

I’ll say this. Todd Grantham is very involved in all defensive recruiting. I think that that’s a big key, and I think that helps ease tensions with guys like Elam, when he loses Charlton Warren, or a guy like Bogle, who was getting recruited by Sal Sunseri, and now loses him. I think that’s a big key. It’s kind of the same way on offense. Dan Mullen is very involved in just about every offensive recruit. I mean, he’s involved in defensive recruits as well, but more so on the offensive side. I think the one constant is Todd Grantham. No matter what David Turner brings to the table, and I’m sure he has different ways of teaching everything, just like Sal Sunseri did, but the one constant is going to be they’re going to put pressure on the quarterback.

Nick:                         Yeah. Listen, a Todd Grantham defense is going to use as many players. They’ll use 13 if they need to. They’re going to get after the quarterback.

Andrew:                 They’re going to get after the quarterback. They’re going to be aggressive, and it’s going to be a defense that is expected to play man coverage a lot, get a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and create turnovers. I think that will be a big key. I will say this. I’m interested to kind of see Turner, what he does differently. I’ll say that for the most part I was underwhelmed by the defensive tackle position.

Nick:                         Yes.

Andrew:                 I’m interested to see kind of how he does with that group. That’s something that we didn’t talk a ton about, and I think it deserves to be talked about. Now that we’re getting down to breaking things down differently, Sunseri was more of an outside linebacker, rush kind of defensive line coach. That’s what he did in the NFL with Khalil Mack, and that’s what he was doing to Alabama to do. So, I’ll be interested to kind of see where Turner focuses. Is he more of an inside guy, or is he more of an edge guy? I want to see him really get with guys like Kyrie Campbell, TJ Slaton, those guys, and get those guys playing better.

Nick:                         Not to disparage either of those guys, but I expected much more from both of them really, all last season. I hyped them up before the year. I thought they were going to be those guys, those dudes.

Andrew:                 The bam-bam twins.

Nick:                         Yeah. I really didn’t see what I wanted to see from any of them, from either of them.

Andrew:                 I’ll say that the defensive line, for the most part, played well, except for the inside guys. We’ll see that. Those guys are a year older now, so that’s a big key as well, getting older and all that. We’ll see. One guy that did play well is Dunlap, inside.

Nick:                         Dunlap, Shuler.

Andrew:                 Shuler played well. That’s who I meant, Shuler, not Dunlap. Dunlap’s a guy that I’m looking forward to seeing play more. We’ll see how it goes. Again, it’ll be the first real test for Turner starts this Saturday, as Florida will host Junior Day.

Nick, we’ll go ahead and move into that a little bit. Man, the names that are coming in this weekend are just insane. The first Junior Day is usually your biggest day, biggest Junior Day, and you try to set that up. You and I have talked about this. It’s kind of getting moved up a little bit because of the early signing period.

When you talk about some of these names that are coming in, Nick, first of all, you got a lot of your commits coming in. You got Anthony Richardson coming in, Keyvone Lee, Jaquavion Fraziars, Leonard Manuel, Gervon Dexter, Josh Griffith, and Rashad Torrence. Those are your 2020 commits coming into town.

Then, when you look at some of the big names that are just targets here, Nick, first off, you can’t. The list starts and stops at the top when you talk Demarkcus Bowman, the running back from Lakeland. You and I have talked about this off the air. You watched it in the state championship game as well.

Nick:                         I was wondering if we were going to talk about that state championship game.

Andrew:                 Freak of a player, Nick.

Nick:                         We’re done talking about that state championship game. It never happened, as far as I’m concerned.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Well, he’ll be in town. Clemson just offered. He was just at Clemson last weekend. Florida needs to kind of turn that table there. We talk about this all the time, and it’s worth noting again and talking about again. Dan Mullen’s got to do a better job here of stopping Clemson from coming in and getting who they want. They did it last year.

Nick:                         Dabo’s been able to do that for so long too. I mean, you’re really fighting years of creating an inroad into these schools. Yeah. I agree with you 100%. I mean, it started …

Andrew:                 Ray-Ray McCloud a few years ago. Deon Cain.

Nick:                         Yeah. Ray-Ray, Deon Cain. I mean, that Tampa, Lakeland, that Central Florida area, Dabo’s got that.

Andrew:                 He’s getting his pickings there.

Nick:                         Big-time recruiting. Yeah. You can’t. It’s one thing to lose instate guys to Miami and to Florida State. You don’t like that. Even to a Georgia, who is right there up the road, but you start losing them to Clemson. Listen, Nick Saban’s going to come in and get some kids from Florida that he wants, but don’t let those ACC teams come in and take the kids you want from Florida.

Andrew:                 Nick Saban’s coming in every year and getting the best player in South Florida he wants.

Nick:                         I’m out, but yeah.

Andrew:                 Except for this year.

Nick:                         I know how. You’re winning games, and you’re kids to the NFL. That’s how.

Andrew:                 Except for this year, because Frank Ladson, the #1 receiver in South Florida, went up to Clemson. I mean, that’s a big key. I’ll say this. Florida should be better off here in Lakeland. Lakeland is a pipeline, and just signed three guys from there. You got Torrian Gray back, a Polk County guy, who does really well there. You got Larry Scott that’s going to do really well recruiting that area. You feel good in getting Demarkcus Bowman, but it all starts this weekend with really getting that momentum back for you and away from Clemson.

When you look at the other big names, and there’s several big names, we’re going to go through it. A lot of them here. I wanted to get your opinion here. This is something you and I talked about off the air a lot, and I figured we’d talk about it a little bit more. Alabama quarterback commit Carson Beck coming into town this weekend from Jacksonville. Was once a Florida baseball commit to Sully, decided to take the Alabama football offer last year, when they offered. Florida had also offered him in football, but he decided to do away with baseball and just go football.

Now, after Dan Enzo left Alabama to go to Miami, he’s looking hard at Florida. I feel very good at Florida’s chances to land him. He says he’s going to visit Florida on Saturday, and then on Sunday he’s going to visit Miami. He seems like a guy that wants to kind of get it over with pretty soon. Again, like Florida’s chances. I mean, he’s already committed to Florida once. Nick, let me ask this. Do you feel that in 2020 they need two quarterbacks?

Nick:                         It’s tough, because remember you don’t want to get behind and then get into a situation. Florida’s been in that situation since I’ve been here, where they had to have two quarterbacks, because you literally didn’t have enough. Right now you’ve got enough on campus.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Then you’ve got your 2020 quarterback already signed. To me, no, but Feleipe Franks, we both have said that we think Feleipe is your starter next year. Does Kyle Trask see that in the spring and then want to transfer? Does something happen where it looks like Jalon Jones is going to beat out Emory, and Emory transfers, or vice versa?

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Do you get a quarterback to transfer? I think that’s the only case. If you get a quarterback that transfers, and I don’t think Emory is going to transfer in the spring. I think the only one that would potentially transfer after the spring would be Kyle Trask. I’m not saying that he is, just the only one that I could potentially see right now. Then I think yes, otherwise you start getting into a logjam situation where now you’re creating a situation where somebody will absolutely transfer, because you have too many. There’s only one ball, and the nature of quarterbacks right now is if we’re not playing, we’re out.

Andrew:                 Right. I mean, I get that. Here’s the thing. I know people are going to laugh when we say this, but Feleipe at least thought he was ready to go to the NFL after this year. I mean, you’ve told me that story several times. We’ve had that story told to us several times, that he at least thought he was ready, whether he is or not. I think we both agree he’s not, but anyway. So, if he has a good year next year, does he definitely think he’s ready? Then you look at, like you said, Kyle Trask. I say this respectfully to Kyle Trask and to Feleipe and everyone, but at some point Mullen has to start getting the guys he wants. He’s got Emory, who he wants. He’s got Jalon, who he wants. If he feels like he needs two guys in this class to compete, I’m all for it.

Here’s the deal, if you can get both Richardson and Beck to sign, and I say this as well, it doesn’t always work out like this, but if a guy transfers out it’s because you had somebody better on campus. So, I’m all for it. I say personally, go ahead. Go ahead and take two. This is my thinking. Anthony Richardson is a phenomenal athlete. I think he’s going to get his passing game turned around. Then Beck’s a phenomenal thrower, got a rocket of an arm. Smart kid. Is a guy who grew up loving Florida, big Gator fan. Big arm. We talked about this. He’s a big-time baseball prospect at one time.

If you can get both of those guys to commit and sign and say they want in, let them battle it out. If one of them decides down the road, when they’re sophomores, that the other guy is just that much better and they transfer, then you got to choose which one was better out of the two.

Nick:                         That’s true.

Andrew:                 I’m all for it. Again, I’m a Kyle Trask fan. I think Kyle Trask is a good player, but I think if he was going to be the guy, he would have already been the guy. That’s just my take.

Nick:                         That’s fair.

Andrew:                 You’re going on your fourth year on campus. Some time or another you got to show it. Let’s go down the list here a little bit. We got three offensive linemen, two uncommitted guys. One is committed to South Carolina. South Carolina offensive line commit Isaiah Walker going to come into town. Florida feels really good there. Walker has admitted that Florida’s a school to keep an eye on for him. Then two big-name guys that are highly ranked guys in Josh Braun and Jalen Rivers. Rivers from the Jacksonville area as well. Both of those guys are big-name guys. Both of them are high on Florida early on.

I wanted to touch real quick on Josh Braun. He’s got an older brother, Nick, at Georgia Tech, who is now looking to transfer. Parker Braun. Three-year starter up at Georgia Tech and is going to transfer out after graduating this spring. Hey, duo package?

Nick:                         When I look at that scholarship chart right now, offensive tackle you’re fine. You got seven of them. Noah Banks. You got players spread out through all different classes. When you look at that offensive guard class, no seniors, no juniors, no sophomores. You’ve got five freshmen. Tarquin, Hammond, White, Simmons, Harrod. Then you’ve got a couple guys, I have them slated as centers, like a Griffin McDowell or a Kingsley — good luck saying that name — Kingsley, that could play either spot. Nick Buchanan, Brett Heggie could play interior. Yeah. If you’ve got a guy who’s been All-ACC, a veteran interior offensive lineman, you got some interest? Come on down.

Andrew:                 I mean, that’s my thing. I say you and I are both pretty much on the same page here when we say that we expect that Brett Heggie will take one of those spots at guard that’s left open. Who takes the other one?

Nick:                         Listen, if Brett Heggie is not your starting center, Brett Heggie is your starting guard somewhere, left or right. You put him somewhere.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Brett Heggie is one of your best five. You put him in there.

Andrew:                 Right. If he’s not playing, something’s wrong. Again, I’ll say this, and that is if you can bring in a guy next year who has that experience, go for it. If that means you get his younger brother, who then has four years of eligibility, that makes it even better. Again, I think that when you look at next year’s roster, and you look at the makeup of next year’s team, biggest question mark I have is offensive line. I feel good about everywhere else on the offensive side of the ball, except for offensive line.

Nick:                         Yeah. We talked about needing to see more out of those interior defensive linemen.

Andrew:                 No. I’m saying on the offensive side of the ball.

Nick:                         Okay. Yeah. I think that’s really the offense. You feel great about receiver. You got really everyone coming back at receiver.

Andrew:                 Running back you’re great.

Nick:                         Running back you’re great. Tight end is probably a position where you’ve got a lot of starts and a lot of time coming back, but probably want to see, still waiting to see it there. Offensive line, that’s you’re really replacing four starters.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly. So, watch out for Braun there. On the defensive side of the ball, a couple names to watch. You got Chance Williams, teammates with Jalen Rivers, a defensive end coming in. Defensive tackle Johnnie Brown is coming in. Then another Lakeland guy, that return guy that whooped you guys up in that state championship game, Finley Graham, DB coming into town.

Then a DB that I’m very, very high on, Nick, is Jahquez Robinson out of Jacksonville. I know he’s rated as three-star, something like that. Every school in America is offering him. I had a couple coaches tell me that he’s going to end up being one of the better cornerbacks in the country. Just picked up an offer last week from Florida. Torrian Gray’s first official offer at Florida this time around. He’ll be in campus. Then Oregon athlete commit Devonte Williams, Nick, coming into town.

Good chance for Florida this weekend to really build on that 2020 class. It’s a 2020 class that’s already really good, already got some really good playmakers there, but a chance to really add to it. Again, I say that with Demarkcus Bowman. I mean, if you land Bowman, you can realistically say you’ve gotten a couple of the best players in the state already, and that’s a big one for Florida. Then you look at Carson Beck, and then you start to really look at the offensive line, with Rivers, Walker, Braun, those kind of guys. It’s a chance, Nick, to really keep the momentum going and to start this, what I call the 2020 period, really off strong. I mean, after next Wednesday this is 2020’s time.

Nick:                         Yeah. It’s really just the last, you’re just putting the sprinkle on top of your sundae with this recruiting class. You want to finish strong, but the bulk of the work has already been done. Turning that attention to the next class, you’ve already seen coaches across the country do it.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly. Let’s go ahead, Nick. We’ll talk about this more on our pre-Signing Day show, and we’ll get deeper into this, but let’s run down a couple. Kaiir Elam is the big guy that every Florida fan is watching in the 2019 class. Torrian Gray has done a great job there. The family loves Torrian Gray. Feel really good on Florida’s chances. Probably feel the best on Elam out of all the remaining targets out there.

Mark-Antony Richards is an athlete out of South Florida. Has taken visits to Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Miami. For a while it looked like Miami was going to be the team to watch out for, outside of Auburn. Didn’t take his family this weekend. You know, it looks like now he’s going to kind of stick with what he said all along, and that is he didn’t really want to follow where his brother was, Ahmad Richards at Miami.

It’s kind of Florida, Auburn, Georgia battle here. Georgia’s kind of snuck in late. Still think it’s a Florida, Auburn battle here. Florida’s the team that has been talked about the most. Kind of playing that Percy position, Nick. He really like that. I’ll ask you this, Nick, and I say this, but outside Kadarius Toney, I don’t know if you have a player that can be that Percy kind of guy that plays a lot of positions. Outside of Kaiir Elam, I think Mark-Antony Richards might be, defensive line would be more important, but I think Richards is a big recruit for Florida.

Nick:                         That’s a name that gets thrown around a lot. I think people know, we’ve done enough that people know we’re not saying he is Percy Harvin. We’re just talking about a role.

Andrew:                 Right. Wouldn’t you say outside of Kadarius there’s really not that guy on campus?

Nick:                         Yeah. There’s not. He’s not Percy, but yeah, when you’re coming into terms of who plays what position, positions when you’re talking about that spot. That’s really, that’s it. Just KT.

Andrew:                 Yeah. The next one is defensive lineman Charles Moore. Florida was the leader for him after his visit, but losing Sunseri kind of pushed him back from that. Personally, I just think Auburn ends up landing him. They’re the school that’s been on him the longest. His dad was living in Prattville last year, which is like 30 minutes, 15 minutes from, excuse me, Opelika not Prattville. Opelika, so it’s like 15 minutes from Auburn. That’s a big place for him. I just feel like Auburn will end up with Moore, but Florida’s still in the mix there.

You have Chris Bogle, who came on campus this past weekend. Like I said, his mom and him really liked David Turner and the message they were giving him. He’s also close to Diwun Black. Florida’s a team to watch there. Tennessee is still a little bit in the mix there. Miami’s definitely in the mix. He’s committed to Alabama, so they’re definitely still in the mix. Now that they got Sunseri and also got Charles Kelly, who was his main recruiter to Florida State when he was at Florida State, and then when he was at Tennessee was the main recruiter there. Can’t rule them out either. I think Bogle will be the one to watch the most, as his recruitment has been played close to the vest. While he’s not a huge need, because he’s a defensive end that they kind of already got, but you can’t never have enough defensive ends in the class.

Nick:                         You can never have enough people that rush the quarterback.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Never have that. Like you said, Todd Grantham will play multiple guys and likes to rush those guys. Those are kind of the biggest names still out there. It’s going to be coming down to the wire. Like I said with Mark-Antony Richards, that’s a close battle there. With Chris Bogle, that’s a close battle there. Charles Moore is still a close battle there. Several guys. They got four spots left.

They had Diwun Black on campus and looks like everything is going to be good to go for him to sign. Still have to watch in the spring to see if he gets everything together in the classroom to be able to enroll this summer, but it looks like everything is going to be good to go for him to sign next Wednesday as well. Four spots to go, and Dan Mullen made his visit to see Elam on Monday night. He’ll be making his rounds to see the rest of the guys the rest of the week and get ready for next Wednesday.

Nick:                         What’s a number to expect?

Andrew:                 I’ll say two, maybe three. I don’t think they fill all four.

Nick:                         Okay.

Andrew:                 Again, with Moore leaning elsewhere, in my opinion, and Bogle playing it close to the vest. Like I said, I could see Bogle happening, and I can still see Moore happening. I’m not ruling that out at all. I would say they don’t fill all four spots in the class. Again, that’s not a bad thing. Outside of defensive tackle, in my opinion, they hit all their needs. They hit the offensive line need. That was huge. They hit the linebacker need. That was huge. They hit all their needs that they needed, so, again, I think it’s a good class, outside of defensive tackle.

Nick:                         That’s a position where you’ve got guys. I mean, you definitely need to reup there.

Andrew:                 Depth is what I think is the biggest key, and I don’t think you’ll see it in 2019, but in 2020. You and I both know how this is, Nick, and that is it’s tough for a freshman to start.

Nick:                         Yes.

Andrew:                 Okay. They may go sign some 2020 guys at defensive tackle and all good, but you really can’t count on those guys to really help you until 2021.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s probably why you’d want to get those guys in the class now.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         In this signing class. It’s not going to happen. You can’t cry over spilled milk. Talk about what’s going on now.

Andrew:                 Exactly. We’ll see. We’ll continue to follow that. We’ll have another podcast before Signing Day. Nick, I wanted to get onto something real quick else that’s going on, outside of football. That’s the diamond sports. They’re about to kick off.

Nick:                         Yup. First pitch is, for softball, what, two weeks?

Andrew:                 10 days.

Nick:                         Baseball is the following week, and they’ll host Long Beach State, the Dirtbags.

Andrew:                 Okay. The Dirtbags.

Nick:                         It’ll be interesting to me, and I’ve got a story coming out. I’m going to be actually at the diamond, at the Mac Tuesday and on Wednesday for nine inning scrimmages. There’s some freshman pitchers I need to see. The big question for me is Tyler Dyson and what is he going to be? He’s a guy that …

Andrew:                 Is he healthy?

Nick:                         This is a guy that at the end of his freshman year won a pair of win or go home games in beating Wake Forest in the Gainesville Super Regional that sent Florida to Omaha, and then he pitched and started against LSU in Game 3 of the College World Series and threw seven. Then he comes in last year, his sophomore year, and there’s all kinds of expectations. Former players and coaches and national writers told both of us he could be better than any of the guys on campus. At that time, you were talking about Michael Byrne, who’s school’s all-time saves leader, Brady Singer, who’s a first-round pick, Jackson Kower. People thought Dyson was going to be better than all of them. He still has that talent, just you got to get mentally prepared. You got to get physically right. He had a good summer in the Cape, but Florida’s going to need him on Friday nights.

Andrew:                 You hit it right on the head. I had Preston Tucker tell me that he thought, and Sully had told him, that he thought he was going to end up being better than all those guys. I mean, Nick, I’m not telling you nothing you don’t know, but Sully doesn’t exactly go out and give compliments like that away for free. That’s something if you hear him say that, that meant a lot. I think the biggest thing, like you said, is being healthy again. It’s tough for any pitcher, or anybody, let alone a pitcher, to throw with fatigue in the arm and that kind of stuff. Be interesting to see. I’m excited to see him. Nick, the guy I’m excited to see, Will Dalton. Can he put it all together?

Nick:                         Shoot. He’s going to hit homeruns. With his approach, he’s going to hit homeruns. He’s going to strike out. He’s a guy that coming in last year as a transfer, not necessarily a young guy, he’s a sophomore. By terms of playing at a school like Florida or an LSU or any of those powers in college baseball, sophomore means you’re an upperclassman now. Junior means you’re pretty much done. He’s a guy that came in as a sophomore and was one of the young guys, at least a new guy, at the time, because he transferred in. Now he’s a guy that started almost every single game last year and is a guy that is now being looked up to. He’ll be playing next to a freshman in the outfield.

I talked to Kevin O’Sullivan about Jud Fabian. I wrote about Jud Fabian already. Sully said there’s no offensive expectations for Fabian, but remember when Reggie Nelson was at Florida, and they said water covers 70% of the Earth, or 75% of the Earth, and Reggie Nelson covers the rest? That’s the kind of outfield Jud Fabian is going to play.

Andrew:                 I mean, Nick, you know I’m a big, big minor league baseball guy. I love watching the Draft and following along with the Draft and seeing all that good stuff. Fabian is a guy who some had as a first-round Draft pick.

Nick:                         Yeah. He was going to be anywhere from the first to the third.

Andrew:                 When you talk about that, I mean, there are thousands and thousands of high school and college players in the country, and he was projected to be one of the top 100 players in the country. To get him on campus, and you got him on campus now for three years. It’s insane.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 It’s insane. Reminds me of, what was he, Gushue. Gushue that came in early. Right? Didn’t he early enroll?

Nick:                         Yeah. Taylor Gushue was an early enrollee.

Andrew:                 Yeah. A guy like Gushue that comes in early.

Nick:                         For people that don’t follow baseball as closely as they follow football, enrolling early for baseball is pretty much unheard of.

Andrew:                 Yeah, because you’re basically skipping a whole …

Nick:                         They’re skipping their entire senior season of baseball. It just doesn’t really happen. For somebody who maybe doesn’t know, and thinks football they have nine early enrollees, what’s the big deal? It’s a big deal for baseball. It’s not something that happens. You’re skipping your entire senior year of baseball.

Andrew:                 That’s a big deal. It’s big. We won’t get into much of breaking it down. We’ll do that here later. Nick, we talked about Fabian, but give me another name to watch out for this year.

Nick:                         Fabian is a name to watch out for. Tyler Dyson, obviously. If we’re talking about younger guys, there are two that I want to point out. One is, let me pull up. I have to get his name correct. I never say it right. It’s Kendrick Calilao.

Andrew:                 Okay. Can we just call him Kendrick?

Nick:                         Yeah. Kendrick. He’s going to probably start at first base. This kid can hit. He’s from Kissimmee, Florida. Played at First Academy. Dude can hit. Another name is Nolan Crisp, talking about guys who early enrolled. Nolan Crisp was a guy who early enrolled. He’s only 5’9”, 175, but a kid that’s going to throw strikes. If you’re playing for Kevin O’Sullivan, you got to throw strikes. Another one is Hunter Ruth, redshirt freshman. This is a guy that I’m pegging right now early season, or preseason, to be the closer.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         Hunter throws high 90’s. Just missed last year, because he had Tommy John surgery. That’s a guy that I think is going to play, pitch that back of the bullpen. One more guy, Brady McConnell. He’s a guy I was super high on before last year and needed to come back and figure some things out. He didn’t play much last year at all. The last one, I need to pull this last one up. I’m blanking on his name right now. He’s going to be your starting third baseman. He’s from South Florida. Where is he? I’ll come back to him.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         Cory Acton. Sorry.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         Sorry. Cory Acton is going to be your starting third baseman, and those are big shoes to fill, filling Jonathan India’s role.

Andrew:                 A guy who is rumored to be in a big trade with the Marlins and top 50 prospect in Major League baseball. Running real quick to the softball diamond. First off, open that beautiful stadium up. They’ll start here on February 8th. Ranked #5 in the preseason polls right now. I mean, Tim Walton’s got a machine rolling. They don’t rebuild, they just restock over there.

It’ll be a good year for them. Kelly Barnhill is back. They’ll be very, very good over here. They got the big transfer in Kendal Lindeman out of Minnesota, or she’s out of Iowa, but came in from Minnesota. Back to back years of being Player of the Year in the Big 10. Transferred in and is immediately eligible to play. Be your starting catcher. Again, Tim Walton and those girls will be ready to go here in about a week or two. 10 days, so a little over a week here. They’ll be playing out in Tampa in the tournament they have every year to start the year. That’ll be big.

Nick, we’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone next week, as we’ll preview National Signing Day and all the good jazz. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out, and we’ll see everyone next week.

Nick:                         www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. Do your, social media, I skipped over all of them. Podcast is on iTunes. It’s on wherever you listen to podcasts. Just search Gator Country. Subscribe. You’ll never miss an episode there. It’s on everything. Google Play, Stitcher. Just search Gator Country. You’ll find it. Social media, @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. You can find me @NickdelaTorreGC, and he’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. Real quick, Nick, Patriots or Rams?

Nick:                         I’m never going to pick Patriots. As a lifelong South Floridan and Dolphin fan, I’m never going to pick the Patriots. I’m over it. I’m done with them. I hope Tom retires. I hope Bill retires. I hope they move the team to Mexico. Let’s go, Rams.

Andrew:                 I mean, every bit of me says the, I mean, I want to see the Rams win, because I think McVay, Goff, and them, but every bit of me says you don’t pick against the Patriots. I mean, Tom Brady doesn’t lose. What they did to the Chiefs last week, or two weeks ago. I mean, they really made Holmes and those guys work, an offense that hadn’t worked all year. I think the Pats win.

Nick:                         I would hate to see it.

Andrew:                 I know you’d hate to see it, but I think you’ll be hating the Super Bowl. Guys, we appreciate it. Spring training is right around the corner, and that’s the big news of the day. As always, go Braves and chomp, chomp.

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.