Podcast: Talking Florida Gators visits with Kevin Camps

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we talk about the latest Florida Gators recruiting news as they’re now doing virtual visits with prospects.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre are joined by assistant director of creative media for the Florida Gators football team Kevin Camps as he explains how edits come about and how the virtual visits are set up.

Andrew and Nick also talk about how recruits are reacting to the virtual visits that are now taking place.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we’re still under quarantine a little bit. Things are starting to get a little bit better, but still no sports. So, in my opinion, the world’s not back yet.

Nick:                         Yeah. I’ve got my sport fix with some UFC.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Listen, I like the UFC. I love watching some UFC but give me my nightly Braves. I’m not a huge NBA guy, starting to get into it with my Hawks, but give me some NBA postseason basketball.

Nick:                         Just being here in Florida, obviously the Heat are my team. They just opened up a practice facility. Governor Ron DeSantis came out yesterday and said, if you’ve got a pro sports franchise, we’ve got places for you to play, so maybe they’ll figure out something for the NBA. I don’t even know how you do it. We were talking about it yesterday. Only like eight games left roughly for most teams, so you pretty much had the playoff picture.

Andrew:                 Just go to the playoffs.

Nick:                         Maybe extend it to 10 teams in each. Like you guys were close, and maybe you could have snuck in. Hell, the country is ready for it.

Andrew:                 Like you said, yesterday he also said that Florida and Florida State, their stadiums are open if the NFL wants to come to one of those stadiums as well. Everything is there. Listen, the virus stuff is real. The virus stuff is going to be around. I think it’s going to be a yearly thing, like the flu. I’m not doctor, so I’m not going to sit here and get on a preaching spiel or anything like that, but sports can help a lot of people, so let’s do that.

Nick:                         I think we talked about it. I mentioned it. For sure, I’ve mentioned it. I think we’ve talked about it. It’s such a release for people. You go to a job, and maybe you like your job or you don’t like your job, but it’s just something to come home and unwind. Eat some dinner, and what game’s on TV tonight? Cool. Even if it’s not my team that’s playing, it’s just someone or something to watch and get your mind off and relax.

Andrew:                 Listen, I promise for one whole day not to holler or scream at the Braves bullpen.

Nick:                         I don’t know if you’ll be able to do it. I think that’s an empty promise.

Andrew:                 It probably is. Hey, it’s worth the promise. Who knows? Today we’re going to do a special podcast. We’re going to bring on graphic designer for Florida. Doing a great job, by the way. I guess I’m a little biased in this, but there’s a lot of great edits coming out by Florida as of late. Really starting to kind of take some strides into that whole likeness thing. They’re really starting to hit on some of these logos and things.

We’re going to have Kevin Camps on, who’s one of the graphic guys. In my opinion, the graphic guy for Florida. He’s going to come on and talk about kind of what goes into the graphics and also talk to him about some virtual visits, because these virtual visits are becoming a thing for Florida. We’re hearing a lot of different things about why Florida’s are different, so let’s talk to Kevin. We’ll talk to him about all this good stuff, and then you and I will come back, and we’ll talk about some of these virtual visits and anything else that pops out of our head.

Nick:                         Yeah. Let’s get to him. We’re joined by former GC running mate and very good friend to both Andrew and I, one of the best people we’ve probably met in this industry. Now he works for UF on the digital side, and he’s running things over there. Kevin Camps, thank you for joining us. We’re happy to have you back here.

Kevin:                      Glad to be here, fellas. Be back with the fam, you know. Hope everybody’s doing well out there and being safe.

Nick:                         It seems like such a long time ago I bring you out to your first practice, and we’re just hanging there, and we’re watching some ball. Now you’re at more practices than I am. Still working though.

Kevin:                      Still working.

Andrew:                 Still working.

Kevin:                      Those practices were rough. Those turned into some rough years real quick.

Andrew:                 You ain’t lying there.

Nick:                         Are you calling David Bowie now? I see you with the camera in your hand, and when recruits on visits you’re the photographer now in a lot of cases. How’s that coming? I know when I first went out to Omaha with a camera I learned real quick that it’s not easy.

Kevin:                      It’s not easy at all. Photographers are people I do not envy at all. It is definitely work, and in this recruiting world and that becoming such a big deal, it’s something you have to learn and hopefully learn it real quick. Kids love the photos.

Andrew:                 That’s right. Kevin, this is something Nick and I have talked about a lot. We’ll talk to you about this. I want to get your thoughts. The graphic, with the digital age that everything is Twitter, Instagram, not even Facebook for recruits, but everyone wants to showcase what schools are after and that kind of stuff. I guess, is that in your opinion what’s made the edits and the graphics and all that stuff become such huge parts of the recruiting game? Let’s face it, if you’re not sending edits out, you’re losing every day.

Kevin:                      Right. Absolutely. I think it’s really kicked off in the last maybe four or five years. It’s really just taken off. It’s become more than just we want to do something cool for a kid to kind of set ourselves apart. It’s turned into now a strategic platform that you can utilize, and that’s because of what social media’s become. Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, they all have their different things. Now Tik Tok and just different ways for kids to promote themselves.

It’s a very intricate process. More intricate that people kind of think it is. And how we do it and how we manage getting graphics out to kids and who to get the graphics to and what type of graphics to get them to, there’s definitely a process to it. The social media portion and how social media’s just blown up in the past few years has really changed recruiting and communicating with kids, our message at the university as well as how we can connect with them as individuals.

Andrew:                 When you sit down, obviously a lot of it is what’s going on in the world. It’s either the new album that’s coming out or different things that come out. How much of it, where does an idea come from I guess is what I’m trying to say? Is it kind of a collective thing, or is it let’s start looking at some of the social media of these kids and see what they’re into, and then we kind of make an edit off of that?

Kevin:                      It’s kind of different places. For me, I can find inspiration anywhere. If I’m riding down the street or just hanging out with my kids, or just browsing the internet, you can find inspiration to come up with something cool. It’s like, I think I can fit a kid in and do that. Definitely different things that are going on in the culture, in the social world. Just how can we take what’s going on in the music industry or the movie industry and plug a kid into that and still share our message, on top of sharing our traditions, what the University of Florida is about.

It’s just basically how can I take what’s relevant and put a kid in there, and hopefully it connects with them. Some kids are more like they’re all about the culture. They’re about everything. They’re about it. But some kids are real quiet, and it doesn’t really move the needle for them. Even for those kids, there’s something that connects them with something. If you can find that out, then you can really get inspired and push something their direction that they will really love.

Nick:                         Is that the challenge for you? I mean, as even I get older, just staying relevant. You mentioned Tik Tok already. I downloaded it for maybe a week and got rid of it. Just staying relevant and knowing what’s popular right now with kids, because it’s so important. Like you said, what are they into? If I put out something that was popular seven years ago, they might not know it.

Kevin:                      Right.

Nick:                         Something like that. How do you do that, just staying on trends and what’s going on, what’s popular right now?

Kevin:                      For me, because I’m not in it, I’m older. I’ve got kids and all that stuff. So, it’s not something I’m really big in, but at the same time, I try to maybe run down the Twitter feed, see what’s popping there. I rely a lot on my coworkers, the recruiting staff, those that are talking with kids and seeing what they’re like. Just having cool conversations with them about what’s going on now, what’s out there. Like an album may come up, and I may not be aware of it. Somebody will hit me up with it, so it’s really a collaborative effort on that end.

Nick:                         I mean, these albums drop now at like 11:30 at night.

Kevin:                      Oh, it’s terrible.

Nick:                         It’s terrible. 11:30 on a Wednesday. Hey, by the way, new Migos is out.

Kevin:                      As you know, it’s like who can get it first type of race in recruiting. That’s what it is. It’s like if you can get to it, beat somebody to it, then you win the day. I really pride myself and our team on just trying to be first, especially in recruiting. We want to be first to drop something, and then everybody else is playing catchup. If we can accomplish that, then I think we’re doing a good job.

Nick:                         You’ll get dragged on social media if Tennessee comes out, even if you worked on it for 48 hours, and Tennessee comes out and their graphic and yours is similar, and theirs came out an hour before you. That’s just not a situation you can be in.

Andrew:                 Unless you’re Miami. They like to copy everything. Kevin, this is a question I have for you. We’re seeing this more and more. We did a podcast last week with Darren Heitner about this likeness thing. I’ve noticed something. You guys are starting to push the logos and the different kid’s logos. Is that something that you guys are starting to try to take advantage of? Obviously, any leg up you can get in recruiting is huge, but is that something you guys feel like you could take advantage of is promoting that logo stuff? Listen, you might be the first person who ever posts it. We can’t name recruits, because that’d be a violation, but one recruit said, I love this logo. You may the first one to give them that logo. Is that something you guys are starting to push?

Kevin:                      Yeah. It’s definitely something we think is important, and trying to get ahead of some of the things coming down the pipeline. We’ve discussed about just branding in general, just branding kids. That piece that we pushed this past couple days was part of a multi-post type of piece. It wasn’t just that one thing. What you saw was kind of just a portion of it. We weren’t the first to do logos for kids, but I think it’s going to become more a trendy thing now where schools will create these logos for kids. Our thing is educating, and that’s a part of the process. Creating that for kids as part of that is cool. It’s awesome. But then educating them on how to leverage what you have and build on that.

We think that the University of Florida is 1% of the 1% when it comes to launching a brand in our platform and what we have. Just getting kids to understand that, getting our fans to help us push that and understand that, is a really big deal. You can come here, get a great education, a top 10 public university. You can come play for a top 10 football program, live in a great state, no taxes, all these different things. Our partnerships with Gatorade, Jordan brand, all that. Playing in the best conference in college football. You can have that.

You can have that and really launch something special. You see that with all of our guys. Tim Tebow. It doesn’t even have to be guys that played football. You can see that with Laura Rutledge. You can see that with so many different people that have attended the University of Florida. So, this is just the beginning of telling that story and how their story is going to fit into ours, so we can do something special.

Andrew:                 I’m with you. Keep on with that. I love that.

Nick:                         I like that logo thing, because that’s something we really didn’t see until guys became like established NFL guys. Tom Brady’s got his own logo, and it’s kind of like the initials and then their name. A Gator that I know has one. Trent Brown had one right before he signed with the Raiders with his record deal. Guys like Russell Wilson. These guys have that. I think it’s something that a 17, 16-year-old kid knows. If they see a TB12 logo, they know that’s Tom Brady. All of a sudden, they get an email or DM from somebody on staff, and it’s I’ve got a logo with my initials, my name. I think that’s something that’s going to resonate.

Andrew:                 I need a logo. I need to start selling shirts.

Kevin:                      The cool thing about it, like I was explaining this to someone, just think about this. A lot of these kids that play college football won’t have the opportunity to go play in the NFL. Then when they get to the NFL, they average four or five years. So, by the time, if you’re fortunate enough to play till you’re 30, 31-years-old, you still got a lot of living to do.

Andrew:                 Right.

Kevin:                      Starting and educating athletes now about branding, about self-marketing. You can do it in a way, and kids can do it in a way without being selfish, being conceited, but really promoting what they have to offer and telling their story. But a lot of them won’t have that opportunity, so when they’re done playing football, they have a platform to build on. They have something to go on and do great things.

I was explaining to them. Listen, Tim Tebow played in the NFL maybe four or five years, but he’s one of the most well-known football players in all of the world, because he leveraged what he had and what had already been started, and it just took off. So many different guys are like that. That’s the story that kids, we want to help them understand. If you don’t make it, you better have something to launch from and build from to help take care of yourself and your family.

Andrew:                 A smart person once told me that you’re your best marketing manager.

Kevin:                      Yup.

Andrew:                 I do. I believe that. Let’s transition real quick. Obviously, the dead period’s there. It was extended until June 30. Not great, but it’s the world we’re living with right now. You guys are doing the virtual visits at Florida. Myself, I’ve talked to several kids who said that Florida’s visits are different. They’re more interactive. They’re not just a YouTube video. Was that something you guys really decided to kind of take the time to do to set yourself apart and not just be the traditional YouTube video?

Kevin:                      Right. We really wanted to do something that was quality, which is the standard that we try to set in everything we do. We’re building that way. Coach Mullen, he was like, we want to do this. It’s something we want to do. We just can’t pick up the phone and walk around our facilities, because we’re still building in that direction and doing different things in that direction. So, what can we do to really highlight the campus, make them feel there, highlight the program, make them feel that they’re actually there? Our video guy, Randy Mickens, does a phenomenal job, and he put in a lot of work to make it happen. The staff really helped out where we could.

They did a great job with the videos. Just really telling the story about UF, showing them the campus. I mean, everything from the life of what it’s like to be a Gator on campus, in the city, everything with our coaches, what’s it like being in the Swamp. Some of these kids haven’t had an opportunity to come to a game, and who knows what may happen here in the next couple months, so we want to bring that experience to them.

That’s what it was about, just making them feel there, making them feel like family, making them feel that they can be comfortable coming to the University of Florida, getting a great education, having a great time, and winning championships. So, that was the thought process behind it. We took our time. Wanted to be quality and really make it nice and interactive, so they can really feel a part of it.

Andrew:                 Sounds like you guys are doing a great job with the Strength coach being a part of it, with Nick Savage that is, and the nutritionist part. How much has this pandemic, I guess is the word to say. How much has this forced you guys to be new thinkers and to think outside the box? Everyone’s going to call up on the phone and talk to a kid. Everyone’s going to text a kid. But being different is what wins in recruiting. How much has this forced you guys to do it? I guess, how much of this do you think will be able to be used in the future? Let’s be honest, a virtual visit as soon as you offer a kid, could be the difference between getting a California prospect on campus or not on campus.

Kevin:                      Absolutely. I think it’s going to change the way everybody recruits, and it’s going to be interesting to see how the NCAA handles these type of things, and if they really open it up and put restrictions on it or whatever. It’s something that really connects people. I think this has, in an unfortunate situation, we’re still able to capitalize on different things, so I do think this is going to change the way we recruit from a global scale, in our case. We’ve recruited worldwide, different countries. You see that with some of the kids we have coming in in this recent class. I think it’s going to change the way we communicate, how we connect with the student athletes, potential prospects. Showing them different things that they otherwise, because it’s not cheap coming across country. On an unofficial visit, those aren’t cheap trips.

Andrew:                 Right.

Kevin:                      So, you still want to bring that to them and still give them experience. I think it’s something that we can add to our repertoire as far as communicating with kids, recruiting kids, and presenting the University of Florida in such a cool way. Who knows, you know industry and business, so Zoom will continue to evolve their platform, and what features will they come out with that we can utilize to help us? Just like Twitter did. Just like Instagram did. They create different things that we can now utilize to help promote the University of Florida. So, just staying on top of that. I don’t think this is anything that’s going away any time soon.

Andrew:                 With the transfer portal out there, it’s so much about getting kids comfortable. I don’t want to say a kid transfers because he’s not comfortable. That’s not fair to say, but a lot of times kids get caught up in the moment. If they could take three or four virtual visits, really get to know, because any time you can see a person face to face is different than talking on the phone. Maybe this will help this. I’m just thinking of ways that this virtual visit can be taken as a positive.

Kevin:                      Yeah. I think it’s definitely a positive thing. I’m glad we’re allowed to do it. I think it will give kids an opportunity. It’s not easy going 3,000 miles across country, being away from your family and your normal situation. So, if you know I can just go and see it a couple more times and see it three more times and talk to the coaches again, just making sure that this is a place you want to be. Doing that face to face and doing it virtually, it makes everyone more comfortable and does present some opportunities for recruiting at a much wider scale.

Nick:                         How much of the virtual visit is just exactly what they would get in an on-campus trip, and then how much more, I guess, are you doing virtually that maybe you couldn’t do in those visits, like a true on-campus visit?

Kevin:                      Right. I’ll start here. We have the Hawkins Center, which is our student athlete academic center, and it’s one of the best in the country. So, you highlight that. You want to see that. There’s different videos that we show them about that. We would bring them on with an academic advisor. We try to mirror a visit as much as possible. There’s a lot of different things that we can do. We don’t give them the whole shebang on a virtual visits, because when we do open up, we still want them to come back, see everything that we have to offer, and present to them.

On a virtual visit, we’ll show them, I don’t want to say basic, but they’ll have an opportunity to see the nutrition, training staff, weight room. They’ll see all of that. They’ll experience all of that. The way Randy did the work on the video, he did a great job just making it feel like they’re there and seeing everything that they would see in person. So, I mean, you’re not feet on the floor there, but you do get a good feel for what it’s like.

Andrew:                 Showing those pictures of Cabana, or whatever you want to call it, that’ll get a lot of attention.

Kevin:                      We’re really excited. The facility videos are great. Everybody’s excited about what we’re doing there and the new facilities. Hopefully be kicking off here in a couple months. It’s good. I think we really did a great job overall on the virtual visits.

Andrew:                 Absolutely. Kevin, we appreciate it so much.

Nick:                         Real quick.

Andrew:                 Okay. Go ahead.

Nick:                         It’s been a huge topic. Obviously, everyone knows I’m big into baseball, and as soon as the pandemic started, it’s like, get rid of the baseball stadium and start football. How much of that has been playing into recruiting? Just being able to show the recruits this is what we’re going to have ready to move into in 2021.

Kevin:                      Oh, it’s huge. It is a huge piece, because I think what we’re building is a monster, and it’s really going to change the game for us in recruiting. Even if you can see it beginning now, it’s like you’re going to begin to see the process. By the time you get on campus, this is going to be here for you, and these are everything that we have to offer you. It’s really a gamechanger for us and for our fans. Recruiting has its ups and downs, and one thing I appreciate about the staff is that we’re consistent. We’re going to keep pushing forward. We put ourselves in a good position with this class. So, just having that in our back pocket just to share that you come be a part of this, you’re really going to be the beginning of really just building the University of Florida into something special. So, it’s really a big deal.

Andrew:                 No more getting talked about and saying Florida has the worst facilities. Okay. Go check out the pool party that’s about to happen in a few minutes. Any final thoughts, Nick?

Nick:                         No. We’re good. Just make sure Kev slides me a ticket to that pool party.

Andrew:                 The pool party. Yeah. When Tebow and the rest of the guys come, the Sports Illustrated models and all that other stuff comes, Kevin, just slide that golden ticket to Nick and I.

Kevin:                      You know we have some phenomenal athletes at the University of Florida, and we’ve got a lot of National Championships. There’s some great people that help us do that, and they’ll be at the party too.

Andrew:                 We’ll be ready for it. We’ll be ready.

Kevin:                      Make sure you’re ready.

Andrew:                 We’re cool. We don’t mind celebrating with national champions, even if it is Grant Holloway or Lauren Haeger or Amanda Lorenz or whoever on the softball side of things. We’re cool. We’re cool with it. Kevin, we appreciate it so much for you taking some time out of your day. Look forward to watching you guys get back on the field. Congratulations on everything.

Nick:                         Let him plug his social media.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Plug your social media.

Kevin:                      Thanks, fellas. I really appreciate you having me on. I appreciate everything you guys do for the nation. Really help me out, so just keep pushing forward, my man.

Andrew:                 Absolutely, Kevin. We appreciate it so much, man. Take care. Take care of that family.

Kevin:                      Yes, sir.

Andrew:                 Guys, we’re back. Great stuff from our man Kevin, really appreciate that. It gives us a look into things. We kind of take for granted how easy those graphics are sometimes. You see them popping out. To think about this, at times Florida’s doing three and four edits a week. That’s some brainstorming. It’s probably easier for Kevin.

Nick:                         Those are the ones you see on social media. There’s also the ones that they’re working on that they won’t send out for another week, two weeks. I know talking to Kevin during the season, Week 1 he’s like, we got the Kentucky stuff ready for next week, and we’ve got Tennessee stuff ready for the week after that. There’s a lot of work. Lot of work that goes into it. It’s not just my job is to sit down at a computer and make three pictures this week.

Andrew:                 Right. I’m saying it’s probably easier for them to make the edit than it is to come up with the idea.

Nick:                         Absolutely. The ideas are ever changing, always moving.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Good stuff there. There’s a lot of work that goes in behind the scenes that we don’t know about or really even think about.

Nick:                         When you think recruiting, you always name the coaches, but there’s a whole group of team and video and digital that work behind the scenes. When the kids are on campus, Kevin’s there talking to the kids and taking their pictures and walking around with them. There’s a whole team that goes into recruiting. It’s not just the coaches.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Exactly. What did you think of those logo edits?

Nick:                         I think it’s super smart, like I brought up with Kevin. It’s something when you think of having, when I think of those I think of the icons. Tom Brady’s an icon. Guys like that that you’ve reached a pinnacle, or you’ve reached a point in your career where you’re having your name and number being so associated and tied together that it becomes a logo. I think it gives a prospect that kind of feeling, like not only could it be my future, I’m seeing it right now.

A school like Florida that has the resources they have, but then also has the foresight to think of it in that way and to present it to, like I said, a 16, 17, 18-year-old kid. Come here. Like Kevin said, look at Tim Tebow. He played in the League. Obviously, he did so much at the University of Florida, but only played in the League for three, four years. Look, there he is. He is an icon. I think it’s a really good and kind of a unique idea that they’re starting. Not a unique idea in the sense of making a logo for a person, but I really haven’t seen it at the college level, and not at recruiting.

Andrew:                 Yeah. For me, I think it’s taking advantage of that new rule that’s about to come into place. Listen, if you come here. I can say it now. We couldn’t talk to Kevin about it, because he can talk about individual recruits, but Christian Leary, being a guy. That CL logo, he said he loved that with his initials. If you’re Dan Mullen, why are you not telling Christian, and I’m sure he is, but why wouldn’t you tell Christian Leary, come here, get that CL logo popping up on social media. Make you some shirts. Make you some extra cash.

Nick:                         Shoot. Who’s turning that down?

Andrew:                 Exactly.

Nick:                         We’re definitely headed towards the wild, wild west with the whole name, image, likeness, at least until it starts. There’s things that I think you can think of and maybe project, but until it’s in practice, you’re never really going to know that’s a loophole that is being exploited and we need to close.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         But you look at the state of Florida, no state income tax. Alabama has a state income tax. Take that, Nicky. Actually, the governor of Alabama, Nick Saban might just go, go ahead and eliminate state income tax. Excuse me, we’re at a recruiting disadvantage here.

Andrew:                 He’s going to call a special Senate or House meeting and say, hey, Alabama football’s going downhill. No. I think you’re right here. Because until, I’m going to use Jacorey Brooks for an example, because he picked Alabama over Florida, until he sees I’m going to lose a crap-ton of likeness money by going to ‘Bama. Listen, Alabama’s going to make up the difference, and they’re going to give the kid money, because every school does it, to make up for that. But here’s the thing, Alabama, as soon as you graduate, that money is cut off. Ask Trent Richardson and his seven or eight kids, or how many ever kids. Soon as he left, he was cut off, and he was in trouble.

Guess what? Had Trent Richardson been able to use his likeness and got that going, merchandise can still be selling, that kind of stuff can still be selling. A lot of these guys go into the gym, having a gym and having workout facilities when they retire. If they got a logo already ready and that kind of stuff, it’ll help them.

Nick:                         Like building a foundation for the future. I think that’s kind of what UF is trying to sell right now.

Andrew:                 Like I said, wise person once told me yourself is your best marketing manager.

Nick:                         Absolutely. That’s how things are now. Not just in sports, but kind of everywhere. You got to market yourself.

Andrew:                 You and I, and I’m not saying this, we’re nobodies, but if we market our stuff well, people are going to read our stuff. That’s just how it is. I think everyone has a way. Florida Twitter, Gators Twitter. They kind of know, if I want this person, I’m going to go to this website. If I want this, I’m going to go here. It’s the way it is.

Nick:                         That’s kind of where we are right now. I think it is interesting, and we talked about this. I think it’s been talked about not just in the scape of recruiting, but just being in this pandemic for so long, like Kevin said with Zoom. You and I work mainly from home. Obviously, there’s events that we go to, but we’re mainly from home, so I’m used to it, but like my parents, my dad’s retired. My mom is working her last year before retiring, but she’s never worked from home, in 30 years has never worked from home. She’s going crazy. I wonder what people who are not used to working from home, if they’re going nuts, and they’d rather be back in the office.

I think we’ve opened up so many different avenues of conversation and ways to reach people and to hold meetings that I don’t know what a new normal will look like. I think these virtual visits, like you pointed out when we were talking to Kevin, and he said, a kid from California, it’s expensive to come out. We can do almost as good a job through a virtual visit. They’re just starting to do that, and they’ll perfect it and keep adding different wrinkles to it and get better with it. I think this pandemic might completely change the way recruiting is done forever.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Here’s the thing. I learned this a long time ago from Nick Saban, when I was coaching high school ball. I always remember this saying, and you can do your own research and everything else here. He said, if you get a kid on campus or face to face with your coaches three to four times, your chances of landing that kid is much higher than one or two. It makes sense, but he used that number, three or four, as an example.

You’re not getting a California kid on campus four times for unofficial visits. You’re just not. You’re not. You’re not getting a kid from Jersey on campus for four unofficial visits. You’re just not. You may get them on. In my opinion, the best case is probably three, and that’s if you’re lucky. Probably two. Probably an unofficial, and then an official. Maybe you get two unofficials out of the kid. Maybe. If you could do one unofficial, one official, two virtual visits to show more of that, or to have them sit on a Zoom call with Christian Robinson and talk linebackers, chances of getting them are probably pretty good.

Nick:                         I agree with that totally. You start counting in those virtual visits as essentially a visit to campus.

Andrew:                 I’m like Kevin though. I’m wondering how the NCAA is going to do it. Here’s the thing. It’s not going to be unlimited virtual visits. You can guarantee that. So, what is going to be the …

Nick:                         We’re kind of in the wild, wild west right now with virtual visits. Obviously, we’re in pandemic mode.

Andrew:                 It’s the dead period, but virtual visits are allowed. Okay.

Nick:                         Now you’re in the undead period. That’s what it is. You got a zombie period right now.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Kids are saying they’re hearing it more. They’re talking to coaches or getting more phone calls now than ever, because of that. Listen, I think it’s good. Obviously, when things come back you can’t have not talked to recruits for three months, four months, however long this pandemic goes on. Again, it’ll be interesting to see. I’m thinking there’ll be some kind of limit there, but I’m like Kevin. I think that this is going to be something we see for the future.

Listen, it’s kind of weird to say, but we’re kind of behind times in a way almost. Why was these virtual visits not a thing before? It’s so easy. I don’t want to say it’s easy, because that’s not fair to guys like Kevin that do all the work, but in a way it is kind of easy, because it’s like, get on a Zoom call. You can do that after practice. You can do that before practice or whatever. It just kind of seems like it’s almost behind time.

Nick:                         You can’t close Pandora’s box, right? Once this is open and people have had to adapt and change, and I think they’re finding maybe this is something we should have been utilizing. It’s such a tool and can be used in that way.

Andrew:                 What was Nick Saban doing? Why was he not ahead of times in this?

Nick:                         I don’t know.

Andrew:                 Is he starting to slack on the job?

Nick:                         Too many trips to Hawaii.

Andrew:                 No more trips to Hawaii. Now it’s going to be trips to Miami.

Nick:                         I wonder where, Kalua? I don’t know how to say it.

Andrew:                 I think he’s going to Miami. I mean, that family travels together.

Nick:                         They just got the kid from, Georgia Tech?

Andrew:                 Who? Yeah. No.

Nick:                         What transfer did they just get?

Andrew:                 Texas.

Nick:                         Oh, from TCU. Kyle Trask’s old high school, D’Eriq King.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Houston. It was Houston.

Nick:                         Old high school buddy. Yeah. He’s been everywhere.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Houston. Miami. He’s all over the map.

Andrew:                 There you go on that. These virtual visits, Nick, we’ve talked to a couple kids who’ve done the virtual visits, and we’ve had those stories on the site. Seems like so far it’s going to good. Kids are talking highly of it. Again, I think it’s the best that you can get. I’m very high critical of this coaching staff, and of a lot of these coaches. I’m not trying to hide that or anything else, but I said it, you said it, and that is these coaches are at their best when they’re able to see the kids in person and talk to them in person and talk game in person. Now, is video in person? No, but it is kind of in person. I think this is a way for this coaching staff to really get the best of what they can get and not fall behind in recruiting, per se.

Nick:                         Yeah. Another thing, like Kevin said, and like I think I preached it, and I think you. I mean, we’ve been down on the recruiting a little bit, but, like I said, the last time we talked about it I said, it’s May. It still is. So, just relax. It’s a marathon.

Andrew:                 It is. Again, like I said, I’ve been critical of it, and we’ll see how it is. Do I think everything’s going to be better? I don’t. I still think there’s some dead weight on the staff, but that’s neither here nor there. If you continue to win, then guess what? There it is.

I want to ask you something though. I did a couple radio spots on Wednesday. Both spots asked me, and I’m going to ask you this, and I’ll tell you what my answer was after I ask you this. They said, is it a mindset, is it a lack of confidence of going into Jacksonville and beating Georgia? Is it something that Florida has to overcome mentally in that, or what? I’m going to ask you that question.

Nick:                         Say that again.

Andrew:                 Going into Georgia, or going into Jacksonville and beating Georgia. Both of my radio spots asked me if it was psychological of just not being able to beat them, or if it something Dan Mullen needed to talk more about, or if it was just simply Georgia was out-talenting Florida?

Nick:                         Correct me if I’m wrong, but McElwain, Muschamp was always nameless, faceless. Didn’t really make the rivalries. I think McElwain like rivalries, kind of like Mullen loves rivalries and the pageantry and all that.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         I don’t think Dan Mullen downplays it and is like, this is Georgia, whatever. It’s just like we’re playing Vanderbilt, just the next opponent. I think he understands, and he tells the team that that is. I don’t know if that’s a mindset. I mean, I think it was just a talent gap. Florida needs to close. I’m not saying that Florida doesn’t have talented players. I just think when you look at ever since Kirby got to Georgia the talent that he had there, and he also had a couple years up on this staff in terms of recruiting at the school he was at. So, I think that’s what it was. You just got to close up that talent gap. I don’t think there’s any head games really. I don’t think Florida lacks confidence going into that game.

Andrew:                 See, that was my answer, what you just said. I think it’s more of just, let’s just be honest. Mullen’s first year, they’ve lost three in a row to Georgia. Correct? Or is it four in a row? Three in a row. Right?

Nick:                         Three in a row.

Andrew:                 McElwain’s last year and Mullen’s two years. Right?

Nick:                         Yes.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Okay. So, McElwain’s last year, we all know what happened there. Mullen’s first year CJ Henderson goes out. Marco’s already out, and they pick on CJ McWilliams. Then last year, Florida was in the game for the most part of the game and just didn’t execute in the second half. I don’t feel it was that much of a difference there, and that’s what I said. I said, I think there’s been some bad breaks go against Florida, and the depth, the talent of the depth for Georgia has been better than Florida’s. So, I don’t think it’s a psychological thing at all. I don’t think it’s a mindset at all. I think that if you go back, and you look at both games, you could pinpoint some things that had they gone differently, very few things, and Florida may be on the winning end of both games.

Nick:                         Yeah. Florida won in ’14, ’15, ’16.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Then lost, obviously, McElwain’s last year. That week was a disaster. 42-7. 36-17 in Mullen’s first year. 24-17 last year, like you said. Ball bounces a different way, and that could be a totally different game.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You go back to Mullen’s first year, they throw three touchdowns on McWilliams that I think both you and I would agree that they wouldn’t have thrown on CJ Henderson. Vosean misses a couple tackles on Isaac Nauta on that drive. It’s just a couple balls that bounce different ways, and you’re there. So, I don’t think so.

Now, they asked me also on that if this was the year for Florida to take advantage and beat Georgia, and I said I think if you look at it on paper, yes, because Florida has more experience at the quarterback position. But I also said that it depends, because this is a rivalry game. You can throw out everything you want to in this game. Florida has the advantage on paper. Then here’s the other thing. Florida may not even have to win in Jacksonville to get to Atlanta.

Nick:                         Georgia’s got that rough schedule coming up.

Andrew:                 Right. So, would you agree with that though? On paper, Florida should have it.

Nick:                         On paper. Even before all this craziness happened, on paper I’m looking at Florida and looking at the SEC schedule, and I’m thinking this is the year that Florida can win the SEC East, compete for an SEC Championship, and if you’re competing for an SEC Championship, you’re competing for a playoff spot. I thought that was this year. I don’t know. I’m not ready to make a statement one way or the other about it. I don’t know if the roster on paper is better this year than it was last year, but on paper the schedule is much easier for Florida to get. Much easier than it was last year.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Georgia’s got Alabama Week 3.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Exactly.

Nick:                         They got Auburn. They have to play both Alabama schools this year. I mean, Georgia’s playing Alabama, Vanderbilt, Auburn, and then they have to go to Missouri two weeks before. They’ve got a rough SEC slate before they even get to Florida. That might be a banged up Georgia team that comes to Jacksonville, if we’re going to Jacksonville. We’re talking like everything’s happening.

I mean, as we’re recording LSU executive director Verge Ausberry said on May 22, so next week, that’ll be next Friday, a week from when you guys are listening to this, SEC president will vote on whether they’re going to bring players back to campus on June 1 or June 15. I mean, who knows if there’s going to be a second wave of this thing. That seems pretty good in terms of some kind of normalcy coming back to football season. That gets my blood going. I’m ready to go.

Andrew:                 Auburn said that they expect football season to happen, their president. I think it does. I don’t know whether there will be fans, per se. I don’t know if there will be out of conference games. I think those are the question marks that kind of have to be answered. Again, there’s a lot smarter people than you and I that are going to make those decisions. It’s like I said before, I think there’s going to be baseball here soon. I think there will be some people who maybe don’t want it, and they’ll be told, you can stay home. You don’t have to play. Too many rich people are losing money, and they’re not going to continue to do that.

Nick:                         Yeah. I agree with that.

Andrew:                 Also, Vegas and their casinos are losing money. We all know Vegas doesn’t like to lose money.

Nick:                         No. They won’t for long.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone next week, as we’ll talk something else. If there’s anything or anyone you’d like to hear from, hit us up. Let us know. We’ll do our best to get them on the show.

Nick:                         Yup. www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. You can find the podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts. Just search Gator Country. Never miss an episode. Hit that subscribe button. 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, 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.