Podcast: Talking Florida Gators fall camp and recruiting

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we talk about the start of fall camp for the Florida Gators football team.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down what Dan Mullen and the players had to say last week heading into fall camp, plus talk about the first two practices so far.

Andrew and Nick also talk about recruiting and break down the last three commits for the Gators football program.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, you’re back from your cruise. You’re on the mainland. Guess what welcomed you back? Football season, my friend.

Nick:                         Football is back. Podcast will be getting back into the swing, into our normal football schedule of three times a week, here pretty soon.

Andrew:                 I don’t know if it’s just me. Maybe it was just me, but I’m going to ask you this. Did the off season not seem shorter?

Nick:                         It did. To me at least.

Andrew:                 It seemed really short to me. It seemed like just not too long ago Mullen was getting hired. I was up in Atlanta, where Emory was committing. It just seemed like the off season was by us.

Nick:                         We made it so long without having any off season drama, and that helped too probably.

Andrew:                 Your boy, Edgar Thompson, has to go up to Atlanta. Edgar, if you’re listening to this, thanks buddy. We didn’t need to write about the negativity. We were trying to be positive people in the world.

Nick:                         Edgar made just an offhand comment that no one had been arrested, it had been a really quiet off season for us, and then all of a sudden, it wasn’t.

Andrew:                 As soon as he made that comment, we all turned our notifications on to the jail.

Nick:                         Yeah. That stuff, obviously, we’ll touch on it quickly. Lot to do about nothing. Obviously, it’s bad decisions. It’s bad press, and it’s immaturity. Talking about the bb guns and stuff like that. It goes back, kind of against a little bit, what we were talking about players being good with the fans and turning over that leaf. I don’t even know if this guy’s a fan or what this whole situation is. Obviously, he was provoking players, but you’ve got to know that when you’re a football player at the University of Florida you’re held to a different standard. You’re in the public eye. You just have to understand. It’s kind of like football coaches will tell you, if somebody hits you after a play, don’t hit him back, because the second person that swings is the one that always gets caught. They were retaliating, and they got caught.

Andrew:                 Let me say something real quick, and I’m saying this tongue in cheek, I guess, because I’m sure somebody’s going to have a comment to say. I guess I’m preparing myself for that comment. I’ve heard some people and have read the things about Kadarius Toney. Personally know the guy, personally been able to be around the guy through a couple years in his high school. Known him through his college time now. Kadarius Toney is not a bad kid. People are saying Kadarius Toney is a bad kid, staying in trouble. He hasn’t been charged for anything. He hasn’t been arrested for anything. He’s just brought negative light to himself, mad some bad decisions with the gun, whatever it may be. I don’t think any of us will ever know the full story. I don’t think Florida wants anybody to know the full story. I don’t think the other guy wants anybody to know the full story.

Point being, Kadarius Toney hasn’t been charged for anything. He just needs to find better people to hang out with, and he needs to get his name out of the public eye for a bad reason and get back to focused on football.

Nick:                         The Constitution gives him the right to have a gun. You can’t have it on campus. That’s a campus rule. To me, the only thing that really pops out there is that he said he felt like he needed protection, needed protection from locals. To me, that’s scary. That’s when you need to start thinking, who are my guys hanging around? There was obviously the whole deal with Antonio Callaway last year getting pulled over in a car with weed in the car and a felon in the car. To me, you just got to have a conversation with these kids about who are you hanging out with, who are you associating with? A lot of times you’re guilty by association. Make sure you’re hanging out with the right kind of people.

Andrew:                 Exactly. That’s about all I’ve got on it, to be honest with you.

Nick:                         That’s as much as we need to talk about it. It’s over. No charges.

Andrew:                 Let me say this real quick. I think both sides in the Justin Watkins case handled themselves well. Justin Watkins leaving is probably best for him, and it’s definitely best for Mullen and Florida that he’s gone. Not that he’s been convicted of anything or anything like that. He may turn out to be innocent. I don’t know what it is. In the public eye right now, Mullen didn’t need that, especially with what’s going on with his good buddy Urban and Ohio State and all that. Just didn’t need that headache around.

Nick:                         I agree.

Andrew:                 Let’s talk football. Last Thursday we had Media Day. Mullen took the podium, followed by Hevesy and Grantham. Had a lot of different things talked about. Mullen, again, was asked about the quarterback situation. Once again, he said he would love to answer it today. He even joked that his wife asks him all the time who’s going to be the quarterback and that sort of thing. Nick, I’m just going to be honest with you. I don’t think we get it until the first week of games.

Nick:                         I agree. I agree 100%. It might be leading up to that first Monday Mullen media session before the game. That might be it. I don’t think we get it anytime soon.

Andrew:                 Someone mentioned to us, Nick, and that was Nick Fitzgerald didn’t get announced until he walked on the field for the first snap of the game for his first start. I don’t think that that’s the case. I think you get it before then. It’s going to be interesting to see. We’re three practices down now, and all reports you and I have gotten are that all three quarterbacks have done good things and bad things. That’s, honestly, what I would have wrote the storyline to look like last week, of what the first three days were going to look like.

Nick:                         Yeah. The first two days of practice, when you’re in shirts and shorts, it’s really just about effort and getting down, almost a refresher of the spring. This is how we practice. We’re going to do it real quick, because when we put on the pads, that’s our time to go. There’s going to be no explaining. You’re going to know how to go from drill to drill, and we’re going to be full contact. Those first couple days a lot of it is spent on just procedural stuff and not a whole lot to see. Their practice on Sunday was canceled. Monday, when you’re listening to this, practice will be open, and they’ll be in shells. They’ll be in uppers and helmets. So, we’re getting close to that first full. First full padded practice should be Tuesday the 7th.

Andrew:                 Right. It’ll be the time when I think you know more, when the pads come on. You have live in your face defensive linemen really pushing the offensive line. The offensive line really being able to defend the quarterback, that kind of stuff. That’ll be kind of where that is.

The big news, of course, on offense is Van and Trevon being cleared. Not that any of us thought differently, but that’s the big news with that. Nick, I think we go back, and we can look. I don’t think the receiver position was bad heading into the recruiting and transfer season of last year, but I definitely think, when you go back and you look, you say you added those two guys, and you added Copeland. That receiver core got a major upgrade. Especially with a guy like Van and his experience.

Nick:                         I agree 100%, especially a guy like Van with his experience. A former big four-star kid in Trevon Grimes. I really like the way that he has played to his size. He’s big, 6’5”, over 200 pounds. I like how he plays to his size. The coaches used to ask Quinten Dunbar to play as big as you are, and it always seemed to be an issue for him. To me, Trevon Grimes uses his size to advantage. I like that. He’s a guy that can really stretch the field. Jacob Copeland, I’m interested to see when you get him in pads. Then you’ve still got Kadarius Toney, Josh Hammond, Van Jefferson. There’s a lot of talent. I think it’s still unproven. Grimes only has three catches for 20 yards, and Jefferson’s the most experienced guy with 91 for 999. I think the talent is there. The question is, I see on social media, naming all the receivers, and who’s going to stop them?

Andrew:                 I can tell you. Van’s stopping it.

Nick:                         Still a big question at quarterback, and that’s someone who can stop them.

Andrew:                 That’s what I was going to say. That’s who can stop them, the quarterback. If the quarterback doesn’t get the ball there, a lot can be stopped. I mean, let’s be honest. There was good receivers, and as big of a problem as Antonio Callaway was, he was an electric receiver when on the field. Him and Tyrie Cleveland two years ago, they couldn’t do nothing. The quarterback wasn’t getting them the ball. Last year, you had some decent players, good players there. Couldn’t get them the ball.

If they can get them the ball, you look at the receiver position, not to mention the tight end spot, and that’s where I wanted to go next. When you look at what’s there already, C’yontai and Kemore, then you added Lucas Krull, and you added Kyle Pitts and Dante Lang. You got five legit tight ends that could find a way to press to get on the field. Obviously, all five is not going to get on the field, but you’ve got five guys now that I think are better two years ago’s options. Period.

Nick:                         I kind of know what C’yontai Lewis is. He’s been around here for going into his fifth year, kind of know what he is. I’m interested to see what Kemore Gamble is. We didn’t really see that last year. Interested to see that. Very interested in Lucas Krull. Want to see what kind of rust are we talking about. What can he bring? Those are things I want to see from him, and that’s really what I’m looking forward to is seeing what that tight end position can be. It’s been nothing for the past, maybe since Jordan Reed left. Really, it’s a big part of this offense.

Andrew:                 All reports early on, from what we’re hearing, is Pitts and Dante are doing well for freshmen. They’re very athletic. Don’t mistake that at all. Those are two athletic guys. Might be the two most athletic guys on the field. Maybe Krull is a little more athletic than those guys, but maybe the two most athletic tight ends at the position. Very good players. They’re going to figure into it. I think you can see Kyle Pitts playing a little H-back role some this year. I mean, at the end of the day, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Dante Lang play either, if Kemore or C’yontai doesn’t get their act together. I do think Krull finds a way to play.

Nick, you and I were able to see him run around a lot at Friday Night Lights. That’s kind of the first action we’ve seen of him before fall camp. He’s athletic. He’s quick, very quick guy. The one thing I’ve heard through practice is he’s trying to polish up his routes a little bit more, that kind of stuff. One thing you can know is he’s going to have good hands. He’s a baseball player. I personally think they’re going to find a way to get him on the field. How much will depend on how quick he’s able to get back into the football swing of things.

Nick:                         Yeah. There’s being in shape, and then there’s football shape. We talk about that all the time. That’s something that I’ll be looking forward to as well. He’s a big dude, and he seems like he’s fitting in, in terms of … What am I trying to say?

Andrew:                 Players love him.

Nick:                         Yeah. In terms of in the locker room. Really seems to be fitting in.

Andrew:                 I don’t think that was ever a question mark there. Again, it’ll be interesting to see how quick he picks up on the playbook, and then how quick he’s able to finetune his routes. Just the mental side of the game. That’ll be the interesting part. Then, let’s just put the elephant out there, how well does he react when he gets popped one good time? Standing on the rubber you’re not getting popped. Nick, you would agree with that, right?

Nick:                         That’s true. I didn’t know he was leftie. We saw him out there throwing passes before Friday Night Lights throwing leftie.

Andrew:                 Exactly. I guess, when you look at those two positions, Nick, obviously there’s upgrade there. Got to go to offensive line. What are you expecting from that group?

Nick:                         I would expect that they would be better.

Andrew:                 Wait. Is that Jim McElwain better or real better?

Nick:                         I really love Brett Heggie, his intensity. I really enjoy watching him play. In the first couple of days of practice, all the reports are that he’s running around participating and looking good. So, I like that.

The hard part for me, when I say that I expect them to be better, it’s still really the same guys. Does Richard Gouraige get in? I always say, it’s a hard position for those guys to play. What does Fred Johnson look like? What’s the center situation? Who’s playing there? To me, there’s a lot of shuffling that might still go around. I would expect them to be better. I think John Hevesy is a really good coach. I don’t know how he is as a recruiter, but I think he’s a really good coach.

Andrew:                 I think he’s a technician. I had this conversation with somebody the other day. Let’s just call it what it is. Mississippi State wasn’t getting elite offensive linemen, but when you go back and watch Mississippi State play LSU, they play the Bamas of the world, the Auburns of the world, their offensive line was holding their own. That’s tough to do with superior talent.

Nick:                         Right. Inferior talent.

Andrew:                 Inferior talent. Martez and those guys are better than those guys that he recruited at Mississippi State. My question is how much of the flaws from the last few years were technique and how much of the flaws the last few years were mental? I think both can be fixed, but I think it’s a lot easier to fix the technique part than it is the mental part. I was watching a clip that came across the Twitter today, on Sunday, and it was of Brett Heggie and Fred Johnson just absolutely not blocking a soul against LSU. If that’s the case, is the game too quick for them? Will the game slow down for them this year? That wasn’t a case of them getting beat because of technique. That’s my question. How do these guys come about mentally? I do think Hevesy is going to get technique right.

Nick:                         Yeah. He’s an intense guy.

Andrew:                 No soft-assed guys are playing offensive line for John Hevesy.

Nick:                         No. Not at all. That’s a big group for me. Probably after quarterback that might be my biggest question mark. I think there is talent. We might not have been able to say that all the time, but I think there is talent there.

Andrew:                 Early projections for starters?

Nick:                         It’s interesting to me.

Andrew:                 Martez is your left. We know that.

Nick:                         Yeah. Then, to me, is TJ McCoy still your center? If TJ McCoy isn’t your center, then you’re moving a Brett Heggie or a Tyler Jordan. Nick Buchanan has also been working at center. I think it’s harder to play center than it is to play guard, and I thought that in the spring, at least, Buchanan was better at center than he had at guard. That’s interesting to me. Who is going to be the starting center? Until I see who the starting center is, it’s really hard to pick those guard spots, because it could be Heggie, Jordan, Buchanan. There’s a bunch of guys that it could be in there.

Andrew:                 I don’t think it’ll be Heggie, for the simple fact of …

Nick:                         I know your tackles are set with Jawaan and Martez.

Andrew:                 Right. I do still think it’ll be Heggie. I don’t think you have a left guard that is better than Brett Heggie.

Nick:                         So then, we would have Martez, Heggie, and then, I assume, Fred Johnson would be your right guard, and Jawaan your right tackle. Then you’re looking at Tyler Jordan, Nick Buchanan, and who’s the one I’m forgetting?

Andrew:                 Fred.

Nick:                         No. I said Fred at right. TJ McCoy.

Andrew:                 TJ McCoy. Yes. I think that’ll be the battle to see. For sure, when you look at who that is, I think you can argue TJ McCoy might be a little bit better fitted. Well, I don’t think you can argue. I think it’s the truth. TJ McCoy is better suited for this offense than he was for Mac’s offense, in my opinion, as a shorter center. You’re not asking him to do a lot of man blocking, per se, one on one. It’s a lot more zone blocking and that kind of thing, stretch runs, that kind of stuff, with Mullen. Maybe he’s a little bit more suited for it. If a guy like Nick Buchanan is able to kind of go, I think he’s a guy that definitely makes you better up front. He’s bigger. Makes you better up front.

My question mark heading into the season isn’t any of those guys. My question mark is Fred Johnson.

Nick:                         Yeah. He’s had some issues, especially last year. There’s been that Florida curse. Come on, look great as a freshman coming off the bench, and then sophomore year take a dive. It’ll be interesting to see where he’s at when the pads come on. You really can’t tell until the full pads are on, from practice, about the offensive line and defensive line.

Andrew:                 That’s the truth. Again, maybe Fred improves under Hevesy. To me, that’s the question mark. I never questioned Brett Heggie. I never really put into question Martez and Jawaan. I figure those guys will get better. I figure they’re the guys there. Center is a question mark of who it is. I do think any of those three guys would be good there. To me, having Fred and Jawaan both there, Jawaan was a little weak at times, and then Fred was just bad at times last year. That’s the weak spot.

Nick:                         I’m with you on that.

Andrew:                 Let’s go to defense, Nick, a little bit. I think we can start up front and say that’s the most talented group, and that’s tough to say, because the DB group is very good. When you look at that D line group, that is a stud group.

Nick:                         Yeah. Let’s start with the secondary, because I think that will be the one that has the least to talk about really. Then we can go work our way back. You got CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson and Chauncey Gardner. Those are your three corners. Then you’re just finding depth behind them. I think Jeawon Taylor is one of your safeties. After him, you’re just finding another safety. Whether that’s Brian Edwards, Trey Dean, Brad Stewart. Donovan Stiner is back there at safety as well.

To me, that’s your strongest position on the team, that secondary. Strongest position on the defense is that secondary. Weakest would be linebacker. We can go to the defensive line. I just wanted to get defensive backs out of the way. I think that’s the known commodity. Everybody kind of knows what you’re going to get out of them. Right?

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         So, on the line. I guess, Elijah Conliffe and Khairi Clark, if you’re looking at nose tackle. That’s going to be a competition. It’s a senior versus a sophomore, but I think that’s going to be one to watch. I think Elijah was taking over some of the reps the last practice there, and that would be, to me, a battle to watch moving forward the rest of fall. Who’s starting at that nose tackle spot?

Andrew:                 Right. I think you look at Cece and Jachai or Cece and Jabari, those are going to be your two ends, your two spots at ends. I think, when you look at inside, that’s where you have a lot of options. You got Kyrie Campbell. You have several options inside to go with Khairi Clark and Conliffe and those guys. You have a lot of options inside. I think, from a rotation standpoint, you’re going to be better this year, because you should be able to rotate eight to nine guys in and not lose too much.

Nick:                         Yeah. Khairi Clark, TJ Slaton. Marlon Dunlap, Jr. is a guy that I know we haven’t talked about, the transfer. Going through just the outside. Cece can play outside. I think he will play a little bit inside, if you move down to a 4-3. Maybe put him inside when you’re facing a 3rd and long, and you’re trying to get Cece and Zuniga and another pass rusher, maybe putting Moon in, to stand up there and to get four guys going. Just get off the ball and get into the backfield. I think, obviously, he’ll be playing more of that buck position, what’s we’ve called in the past, it’s a star position. Conliffe, Zach Carter, Jachai Polite. There’s a lot of depth there. There’s probably eight guys you’re very comfortable with.

Andrew:                 Antonneous Clayton works his way in there as well. A guy who I think is going to be better with the change there. Then you kind of look at does Jeremiah Moon factor in there? Where does Moon factor in? Does he see some time at that star position, where he rushes the passer some? I think he’s a candidate for that, as well as playing an outside linebacker spot there.

I think you go to the linebacker position, that’s your weak spot.

Nick:                         Especially when you’re talking about in coverage. It might not be against the LSUs, or maybe not even against Mississippi State, but you’re going to face teams that are going to be able to throw the ball and teams that are going to have athletic tight ends that you’re going to have to try to match up with and cover. To me, that’s the biggest issue. You’ve definitely got David Reese in the middle there, but what do you have around him?

Andrew:                 Right. Is it Kylan Johnson?

Nick:                         Kylan is a guy that’s really …

Andrew:                 Is it Vosean?

Nick:                         Kylan’s really struggled with injuries. The kind of guy we talked about, maybe like Keanu Neal, who’s so big, so muscular and tight, that that hamstring issue becomes a lingering one.

Andrew:                 Right. I think you have a lot of options at the position. I goes back to who performs at that position going forward. When you look at Ventrell Miller, James Houston. You have Kylan. You have Vosean. You have David Reese, and then you have the younger David Reese, who by talking to a lot of people, is doing well, is performing well. You still have Jeremiah Moon there. You have options there. That might be a position that you and I are not talking …

Nick:                         I’m very low on it right now. Maybe just because Ventrell Miller, James Houston, Nick Smith, Cedric Brunson, guys that thought of highly when they were brought in, but obviously missed all last season. Kylan Johnson and Vosean Joseph. At times Vosean just doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing out there and finds himself out of position. As I was watching the Hall of Fame inductions on Saturday night, and Ray Lewis was sitting there saying, I was never the biggest, I was never the fastest, maybe not even the strongest, but you put Ray Lewis on your team any day of the week, and you trust that he’s going to be there. He’s smart. He’s going to be in the right position. He’s going to attack the ball and be in the right places. We haven’t seen that from Vosean, and really haven’t seen that from Kylan as much.

There are those redshirt freshmen, Houston, Brunson, and Smith, and Miller, four of them, that you’re thinking those are probably the guys that are next in line.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly.

Nick:                         Also, Andrew Chatfield. We didn’t mention him with the defensive line. Andrew Chatfield is a guy that will be in that edge rusher spot, where Moon and Cece and Zuniga will be playing as well.

Andrew:                 Good point. I forgot about Chatfield there. Maybe linebacker isn’t the spot. Maybe we haven’t talked about it enough. That’s a good battle to watch, now that we start talking about it. There’s a lot of options there. It’ll be something to watch, for sure.

DB though. You know what you’re getting at corners. You’re getting Marco and CJ. You’re probably getting Chauncey at the nickel, which is probably best from all accounts. Then safety is where you’re going to have a little competition.

Nick:                         I like Jeawon Taylor. I like to have at least one guy back there, because safety and middle linebacker are your quarterback positions. It’s a cliché, but it’s your quarterback positions. Those are the guys that are checking to make sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be, especially at safety, because you’ve got the whole field in front of you. I think that Jeawon is a very heady player. He knows where everyone is supposed to be. He doesn’t know just his position in the playbook. He knows everyone’s position in the playbook. I think that’s such an asset to have on the field.

Andrew:                 Right. When you talk about Jeawon, you’re talking about that leader at the position, who is going to be there. He’s going to make the plays. I say opposite of him you look at a guy like Brad Stewart, who at times performed really well last year. I think you put him in serious consideration that he might be the guy to start opposite of Jeawon.

Nick:                         Very possible. Can’t forget about Shawn Davis.

Andrew:                 Shawn. A lot of people go back to the Michigan game on him. That’s kind of their only memory of him, but Shawn had some good times and good plays as a freshman last year.

Nick:                         Marcus Maye got torched and ended up having a great senior season, very good junior season.

Andrew:                 He’s making money right now.

Nick:                         Rookie starter for the putrid New York Jets, who I have nothing but hatred for.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Still, when you look at that, very good year for Shawn overall, with the exception of that. Again, we’ll be watching that. There’s a lot of names there. I do think moving Chauncey down to the nickel is a good move.

Nick:                         Yeah. That needed to be done. He was playing out of position last year.

Andrew:                 I completely agree. Any other final thoughts on football as we kind of close out and move to recruiting?

Nick:                         Just like there was in the spring, heavy emphasis on special teams. Doing punt blocking drills and kick blocking drills to start. Really every practice starts with a big emphasis on special teams. I’ll tell you right now, even though it’s my job to kind of know these things, I don’t know the last time Florida blocked a punt.

Andrew:                 Yeah. This is my thing, Nick. It’s something that we talked about every time last year. I feel like I’m just venting again, going off on it again. Special teams is a want and a will. That’s all it is. A want and a will. The team who wants it more, wills themselves more to it, usually wins. There’s no sense of having your stars not playing on special teams. I go back to the good teams around college football. We can talk about Urban all we want to for his problems right now, which are very uncalled for, should be punished. We’ll get into that if we have time. Still, he puts his best players on the field every year on special teams. Nick Saban puts his best players on the field for special teams every year. Georgia did the same last year. Oklahoma does it. You put your best out there.

There’s three facets to every football game, offense, defense, special teams. You don’t put your worst on offense or defense, so why would you put your worst on special teams?

Nick:                         Why give up in one of three facets of the game? Why just give up?

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly. When you look at punt, when your long snapper is the first one down there making the tackle a lot of times, you have problems. When you’re not blocking punts, you have problems. Look at the speed Florida has. Just to name a couple guys right off the top of my head, Kadarius Toney, CJ Henderson, Chauncey. Those are all elite guys with speed coming off the edge. Let him go get a punt. Flip the field 50 yards. Granted, Mullen’s offense is going to be better, but I like my chances with any team to score from the 40 compared to the 10 on the other side.

Nick:                         Agree.

Andrew:                 I’m not for giving up on special teams. Period. When’s the last time Florida forced a turnover on a kickoff? I can’t remember.

Nick:                         I couldn’t tell you.

Andrew:                 To be honest, I think the last time was LSU two years ago, when they had the fumble, when he lost the grip on the ball. If you have headhunters that go down there looking to make contact and force the guy to fumble, you got a better chance of getting that. I like the circuit drills of special teams and making guys feel like they want to be on special teams. You shouldn’t find it a punishment to be on special teams. It should be a privilege to be on special teams. You should have 115 guys on your roster, 85 that are on scholarship, begging and pleading to be on special teams on every asset of the game.

Nick:                         Really, that’s how you’re going to get on the field at the next level. Not everyone is going to be a Keanu Neal who jumps in and starts right away.

Andrew:                 Guess what? Keanu plays special teams.

Nick:                         You got to be able to play special teams.

Andrew:                 He plays special teams. The NFL only carries 50 men.

Nick:                         53.

Andrew:                 53. The reason I said 50 was I had heard that number, 50 non-specialists. If you’re a skill position guy, you’re playing special teams. Period. You’re playing special teams. Better get used to it now.

Nick:                         Absolutely.

Andrew:                 Go ahead. Any final thoughts before we move to recruiting?

Nick:                         That’s all. I wanted to get that special teams in there.

Andrew:                 Okay. Sounds good. Recruiting. Everyone was hot not getting a recruit after Friday Night Lights. Well, the recruit that did commit during Friday Night Lights, or one of them, Diwun Black made the flip from Ole Miss to Florida. Big linebacker. Potentially starts out at safety, then moves to linebacker, depending on how big he gets, that kind of good stuff. Still, he flipped from Ole Miss to Florida. Many have him as a top 50 national guy, whatever it is. Don’t keep up with the stars, all that good stuff.

Point being, that was a big, big get for Mullen, and it happened at Friday Night Lights. The kid just wanted to finish up a video, make his video. Made his video, and now he’s officially in the class. He’s just the first of many that I think are going to start this domino effect. Nick, you and I both got the chance to watch him. Very athletic linebacker/safety type players.

Nick:                         That’s what the coaches told him. They said, the plan would be to start you at safety. You just look at him, and he’s big, tall, long. Has some muscle on him, but still long. You could see him adding 30, 40 pounds and becoming a big, big linebacker. To me, he doesn’t move like a linebacker. I was watching him go through drills with Christian Robinson during Friday Night Lights, and he’s not moving like a linebacker. He’s moving like a big defensive back and really going through and just killing the linebacker drills. To me, big prospect if you can get him on campus. Very talented. One of those guys where you say, I don’t know where the ceiling is. Can’t see the ceiling right now.

Andrew:                 Right. Some academic things to get fixed, but Florida and him and his family came up with a plan. Not came up with, talked about the plan to what he’s going to need to qualify. He has that plan, and he’s going back home to start that plan and get ready. Still has a year, so we’ll see where that goes. Most think that he will qualify. We’ll see. At the end of the day, it was still a big pickup for Mullen.

The next one was the big 2020 quarterback, local kid from Gainesville, Anthony Richardson, made the commit to Florida. He threw at Friday Night Lights after throwing for Florida earlier in the year, and that was a real big pickup for Florida in that quarterback spot. He’s another guy that really fits what Mullen likes to do.

Nick:                         Red dreads.

Andrew:                 Red dreads. Him and Diwun Black together, popping them red dreads, and both commit.

Nick:                         He’s another one, big, long, lean. Hometown kid. I love to see those guys. He goes to Eastside High School. Love to see the guys that have grown up. I remember you and I both watching Chris Thompson come and earn his scholarship at Friday Night Lights. It’s a dream for those guys. Everyone, I don’t discredit anyone that says it’s a dream to play at the University of Florida, but especially the kids where they grew up in the backyard, where they can hear the Swamp from their house on game day, stuff like that. Excited for him to be able to earn a scholarship. He spun it pretty well. Obviously, only going into his junior season, has some time, but he spun it pretty well at Friday Night Lights.

Andrew:                 6’3.5”, 6’4” kid, about 215, 220 pounds. Definitely has a frame to fill out more, and is a guy that when you look at him, good footwork already. Good arm. I think it’ll be a fit for him to be in there as he continues to grow. Went to Clemson. Went to Florida State. Went to a lot of these schools this summer and picked up a ton of interest. Decided to stay home. I think he’s a good fit for Mullen.

Then the other guy was defensive end that also camped at Florida, Kendrick Bingley-Jones, out of Charlotte, Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina. First of all, that’s a big school. That is the St. Thomas or the Lakeland of North Carolina, when you talk about putting out big-time players every year. 6’4”, 260-pound defensive end. Watched him briefly with Sunseri, and really good D-end. Very athletic D-end. If you didn’t know he was 260, you wouldn’t think he was 260, as he carries it very well and can still add a good bit of weight. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him be a 280-pound freshman, easily. Big pickup out of Charlotte.

Nick:                         You’d say the momentum, everyone the sky was falling for a little while, but the momentum is kind of getting back to where it should be?

Andrew:                 It is. I’ll say this. I was talking to someone about this the other day. I think that, while everyone wants to say it’s an excuse that kids say they want to see the product on the field, the more you talk to these guys, the more they do. They just want to see the product that’s going to be put on the field this year. You definitely can see that the coaches are interacting with these guys, and they’re building good connections. I think Game 1 is just so important, and this season is going to be so important for the team. I do think that more momentum is coming down the road, maybe even this week.

Nick:                         Sounds like a prediction, Spivey.

Andrew:                 There you go. I will say this. Jalen Jones was everywhere recruiting at Friday Night Lights. Was a guy who looked good at the camp, because he went ahead and threw, which was no surprising, knowing who he is. Good to see him throwing. Him and little Elam were chomping it up a little bit. It was good to see from Jalen. I think that things are going to improve. They have to improve, first off, but I do, I think that a lot of people just want to see the year.

Nick:                         To me, not just him, but Diwun Black’s doing a lot of recruiting as well now, now that he’s become official. Back to Elam, I think Elam was a guy that was kind of singled out by the coaches when it came to one on ones, and just kept repeatedly making plays at Friday Night Lights. I think that might be a guy that really steps up and kind of blows up his senior year.

Andrew:                 Him and Chester Kimbrough were the two DBs that had the pressure put on. Then Keon Zipperer and Lloyd Summerall were the two guys that had Mullen and Mullen’s wife with them all night long it seemed. When Mullen wasn’t with them, Miss Megan was with them. Those two guys were together. You could definitely tell those guys were feeling the love from the staff. Somebody that Florida is really on the rise with, with those two guys.

Nick:                         Sky not falling.

Andrew:                 Sky not falling.

Nick:                         Okay. What happens now? We’re in the dead period now.

Andrew:                 Yes. In the dead period now. Ends the end of August. Guys will start coming back on campus. It’s a good thing, because the staff right now, recruiting’s great and all, but at the end of the day, these coaches are paid to win ball games. Fall camp’s important. Big for that, but they’ll still be talking to these guys, trying to set up visits with these guys and all that good stuff, as you get to the season and you start to try to get these guys back on campus to see the games, to see Mullen’s offense in person, see Grantham’s defense in person. That’ll be big as that goes. Like I said, maybe still a few more commits. I like the dead period right now.

Nick:                         Gives you a little break.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Not only that, but it gives the coaches a break.

Nick:                         Got you. It’s also nice that they can kind of just focus on getting ready, getting the football team ready for that first game. September 1st only about three weeks away.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I’m done with recruiting, Nick. I wanted to talk about the Urban situation for a second.

Nick:                         Okay.

Andrew:                 Are you up for it?

Nick:                         Ready.

Andrew:                 This is my take. I am not in the belief, I’m not in the select crowd who are former Gators who don’t like Urban Meyer. I like Urban. I think Urban is a good coach. I think Urban’s tactics and all that good stuff was wrong for the way he left, all that good stuff. My take is this, Nick. If the accusations against Urban are true, there should be no questions, no second chances. He should be out. Period. What he is doing, what he allowed to happen, if he did allow that to happen, is just wrong.

Nick:                         Yeah. To me, the whole, you’ve known that there was at least one situation since 2009. You’ve literally kept a woman-beater, a wife-beater, on your staff since 2009, for a decade, essentially. Then there was another situation in 2015. How many strikes does somebody get? I understand this is a guy that played for Meyer at Bowling Green he obviously has a very close relationship with, but what does it take? What costs are you will to win at? At some point, you have to let somebody go. You can say in 2009 we tried to go to counseling or rehabilitate or do something like that. When it happens again six years later, that hasn’t worked.

In my mind, that hasn’t worked, and now it’s time to cut ties, let the proper authorities know. You can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing. I’m with you. If it comes out, obviously police reports it’s only one-sided, but then Zack Smith goes on and starts talking about, I’ve never hit my wife. I’ve never this and that. He just seems so disingenuous. I really wasn’t buying anything he was selling in his ESPN interview. Really just kind of victim blaming the entire time. To me, Ohio State is going to do their investigation, but it seems like they’re all trying to throw blame on Gene Smith, the athletic director up there.

Andrew:                 Yeah. He almost kind of looked like he threw it at Florida a little bit too, talking about Florida and Ohio State. It’s kind of like, no, dude. My thing to this, Nick, and I don’t want to go on too much of a rant about this, but Urban Meyer is not qualified to give advice on a man hitting a woman.

Nick:                         No.

Andrew:                 First of all, that’s that. Second of all, one time is too many. If Urban knew he did it one time, why did you keep him on your staff? My thing too is we all know Urban and Shelley’s relationship. Shelley told Urban. We all know that. There’s proof already that Urban knew, when he said he talked to Zack about it. If Urban wants to throw Shelly under the bus, that’s just retarded. There’s just no room in football, society, for that. Like I said, if Urban is proved that it happened, nobody should hire him.

Nick:                         I agree. This is really a black eye for me. Really a black eye on his career.

Andrew:                 Like I said, I lost a lot of respect for Urban in this situation. I honestly lost a lot of respect for Shelley in this situation. I think she’s just as much guilty as Urban is in this situation for this. Urban’s statement, some people said this, that, and the other about it. First of all, what did you expect Urban to say? He wasn’t coming out in that statement and admitting the truth. All he did was postpone the probably, most likely. We’ll see. To me, this is a big step for Ohio State, because parents and mamas in general, this isn’t going to help Urban.

Nick:                         No. Definitely not going to help them when it comes to recruiting, anything like that. That’s one thing. I think the other thing would be really you just need to think about the victim in this situation.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s absolutely. I didn’t mean to take that away from it. I’m just saying, if Urban is allowed to come back, don’t think that this problem is going to be swept under the rug for that. Again, there’s just no place in football. Winning in football is not more important than that kind of stuff, just like I said with Justin Watkins. There’s no place for that. Anyway. Off my rant. I wanted to say that. I know you did as well.

Nick, we’ll be back on Wednesday to do our mid-week podcast. We’ll get Mullen on Monday. Players Monday as well, right?

Nick:                         Yes.

Andrew:                 Okay. We’ll be back on Wednesday. Tell everybody where they can find us, Nick. We’ll get out. We’ll see everybody then.

Nick:                         www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. Check it out on iTunes. Subscribe there. It’ll send you a notification. Never miss an episode. Also on social media, @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter, @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. Guys, we’ll see everybody on Wednesday. As always, chomp, chomp. Go Braves.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.