Podcast: Talking Peach Bowl and December 7th official visitors

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we talk about the Peach Bowl, plus we recap the weekend’s 14 official visitors.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre breakdown what Dan Mullen and Scott Stricklin had to say on Friday about the Peach Bowl and all the talk about UCF.

Andrew and Nick also breakdown how the 14 official visits went for Florida and who the Gators gained ground on the most.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:​What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, it’s recruiting season. It’s Peach Bowl season. It’s Chick-Fil-A, whatever you want to call it, season. Let’s talk about all this stuff here. Also, the good ole UCF talk is still around.

Nick:​Yeah. The National Champion Knights, right?

Andrew:​Well. First things first, we’re going to talk recruiting at the end here. We’ll spend a good amount of time talking recruiting, after Florida hosted 14 official visitors on campus this weekend. Huge amount of guys on campus, lot of big-name guys. We’ll talk about all that stuff here in a little bit. But on Friday, Nick, you had Coach Mullen, Scott Strickland, and was it the president of the Chick-Fil-A Bowl?

Nick:​Yeah. He’s president and CEO.

Andrew:​Okay. Yeah. So, you had all that there to officially accept it. All that good stuff. I guess, how did that go and all that good jazz?

Nick:​So, it was Gary Stokan. He’s the CEO and president of the Peach Bowl. He’s been in that spot since 1998. It was the, I guess, formal acceptance, the formal invitation to Florida, which is why the CEO and president of the Peach Bowl is there and Scott Strickland is there. Kind of just told us a little bit about the bowl game. They fed us Chick-Fil-A, which sign me up for that any day of the week, especially on Sunday.

Andrew:​What did you get?

Nick:​I got an original. Original chicken sandwich and a cookie.

Andrew:​There you go.

Nick:​I thought one interesting thing was, all of the bowl games, there’s always a focus on the community. You and I were both there in Birmingham. I forget the year. The Birmingham Bowl, that was 2013? 2014?

Andrew:​Yeah.

Nick:​2014 or 2015. It was like January 1st. The players always go to a children’s hospital, and that’s always great to see, because kids in those situations are pretty helpless. They didn’t deserve or do anything. They just got a bad hand dealt to them, and they’re fighting for their lives in many cases or dealing with serious ailments. It’s just the hour or two that the teams that are there, the players from both teams are there, it’s just you can see that the kids kind of forget all the medical stuff that they’re going through. Florida and Michigan will both do that.

​But then Gary also said that the Chick-Fil-A Bowl gives more money to charities and to things like that than any other bowl game. I thought that was interesting. So, that’s pretty cool, for me. Then also a little bit, they showed us like the events that they do. So, they have this like WWE Championship belt looking thing, and the teams will compete in like non-football things. There’s, I think, like a tug of war.

Andrew:​Basketball or something.

Nick:​A basketball game. Maybe bowling or something, dance off, something like that. It’s just another way to let these guys compete and have fun throughout the week, and then the winner gets to take home that Championship belt after three events. So, that will be something fun to watch during the week. It was just good to see, I guess, more what the players are going to be doing. And then we got a little talk from Gary about the conspiracy theories coming out of Orlando.

Andrew:​Yeah. That’s what I wanted to get to a little bit here. As much as everyone wants to make it out that Scott Strickland got to pick the game, he didn’t. In all honesty, it’s kind of one of those things where it’s, I don’t want to say it was had to or anything like that. I mean, there was a chance Florida could have went to the Fiesta Bowl, but there was zero chance UCF could have went to the Peach Bowl or Chick-Fil-A Bowl, whatever you want to call it. Zero chance.

​Again, and this is something you and I talked about from the beginning, and that was it just didn’t make sense for Florida to go to Arizona. It really didn’t. All these bowl games, I think you’ve been battling it, but I think it’s even more of a case now, you’re battling trying to get attendance there. You’re trying to get out of state attendance from these schools, hotels, that kind of stuff. No way is Florida going to travel to Arizona as much as LSU fans were. Now, Florida’s going to travel to Atlanta much more than probably LSU would have.

Nick:​I will never say that LSU fans won’t travel. They’ll go anywhere, but you’re 100% spot on. I mean, Atlanta is right in the Gator’s footprint.

Andrew:​One of the biggest Gator clubs.

Nick:​When it comes to fans, when it comes to recruiting, right in the Gator footprint. Atlanta is probably up there with like Orlando and Tampa. Maybe not more so than Orlando or Tampa, but right up there in terms of boosters, in terms of alumni. Even with the excitement that Florida fans have of being in a New Year’s Six bowl, I don’t know how well they would have traveled to Arizona. I don’t think it would have been very good.

Andrew:​I don’t think it would have been either. Like you said, Atlanta has got one of the bigger Gator clubs there. Listen, all of that stuff goes into talk. All of that stuff goes into all that. Again, it is what it is. I find it, like you said, a conspiracy theory, I guess is the best way to say it. I just find it very funny that people think Florida is dodging UCF.

Nick:​Right. Here’s what it is. There’s nothing written, like there’s no written rule, but there’s six bowl games.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​Six New Year’s Six bowl games. Two of them are playoff games. UCF was not in the playoff, so those are out. Two of them, the Rose and the Sugar Bowl, have conference tie-ins with the SEC, the Big 10, and the Pac 12. The Rose Bowl is contractually obligated to take either the Big 10 and Pac 12 champions or if those teams are in the playoff, they’re contractually obligated to take the two highest ranked teams from those conferences. Contractually obligated to. Same thing with the Sugar Bowl. So, Georgia was going to the Sugar Bowl no matter what. UCF couldn’t go to one of those two bowl games.

​So then, you have the access bowls. It’s really the only way that a Group of Five team is going to get into a New Year’s Six bowl, and those three bowl games, the Cotton Bowl, the Orange Bowl. No. The Cotton Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, and the Peach Bowl, those three have agreed amongst themselves, because, listen, frankly, whether you like it or not, a Group of Five team is not going to have the same kind of draw in terms of fan attendance or in terms of TV attendance, people plugging in, ratings, as a Power Five team.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​So, they’ve agreed, we will rotate them. The Peach Bowl took the Group of Five, UCF, last year. The Cotton Bowl is a playoff game this year, so UCF is out. The only other way, the only other bowl game that they could take was the Fiesta, so they were going to the Fiesta.

Andrew:​Right. Exactly.

Nick:​Scott Strickland had nothing to do with that.

Andrew:​Right. That’s the thing. Again, it’s just conspiracy theory. Before we talk more of the bowl game here, I wanted to get into the talk, and I know you have some things to share on this as well, but UCF talks about we’ll play Florida whenever, yada, yada, yada. Maybe. But then they want a home and home. Okay. Nick, I don’t know about you, but I’m just going to go ahead and say this here. That will never happen. Never, ever is that going to happen. It does not make sense for Florida to do that. It doesn’t make sense, and it’s not financially good for Florida to do that.

That’s not Florida dodging it. That happens everywhere. Everywhere in the country that happens. People in Alabama are mad every year because Alabama and Auburn won’t do a home and home with Troy or UAB or South Alabama or any of those schools. It’s simple, it doesn’t make money for those guys, and there is no win situation for those teams. It just is what it is. Get used to being the little brother of the state. Sorry. That just is what it is.

​Florida’s talked about then that they would play a two and one, with one of the games potentially being in the Camping World. That makes sense. For Florida, it does not make sense to go play at that little high school stadium UCF calls home.

Nick:​It would have to be like Florida and Miami are doing next year, where you’re going to get a bunch of money to go play an opening game. Here’s the thing, and I think it’s news to UCF fans, and I went there. I went to UCF>

Andrew:​You’re a supporter.

Nick:​I’ve loved watching the Knights and what they’ve done the last two years. It’s been exciting. I mean, they’re an exciting team to watch. They score 30 every week. They hit the over every week, and they cover every week. They’re fun to bet on, and they’re fun to watch, because it’s an exciting offensive-minded football team. No one outside of the state of Florida gives a crap about Florida and UCF playing, so you’re not going to get a bunch of money to play in like the Advocare Classic, like Florida and Michigan did. You’re not going to get a bunch of money to have two teams that are an hour and a half away from each other to fly to Texas to play each other.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​That’s not going to happen. I doubt that even they would play the game in Orlando, the Camping World, like Florida and Miami are doing. I doubt that’s going to happen. It makes no sense for Florida to go down to Orlando to play them.

Andrew:​No.

Nick:​UCF had a chance to play Florida in 2007, and they backed out of the game. Right now, I get that it doesn’t make sense for Mike White, or not Mike White, sorry, Danny White saying it doesn’t make sense for them to only go up and play one game.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​Listen, because he wants to be and he wants to build his program to be one of the big dogs, one of the elites, and that’s not what elite programs do. They don’t just go and play teams on the road one time.

Andrew:​Listen, Florida going down there would be a huge notch in his belt.

Nick:​Not going to happen.

Andrew:​Just that would be. Listen, I don’t hold that against him at all. Major props to you, big dog. If you can make it happen, you know. What was it? Arkansas State a couple years ago had Miami come all the way there to play them. Hey, if you can find an AD dumb enough to do that, more power to you. Nobody is going to say anything bad about it, but you’re not going to get that from Florida. Florida is not that dumb. Scott Strickland is not that dumb. It’s just not going to happen. That’s not Florida dodging you. That’s simply your program is, like it or not, the little brother of Florida, of Miami, of Florida State.

Nick:​Hey, I’ve said this for a long time. I’ve said, why can’t UCF be good? You know, you’ve heard me say that. Why can’t they? There’s so many kids in the state of Florida it’s impossible for the big three, Florida, Florida State, and Miami, to get all the kids in Florida. So, if you can get a program that can just take those guys and put them in positions, they could be good, but it makes no sense.

​Listen, all the UCF fans that are in love with Danny White right now, the second Danny White gets a chance to go and be an AD at a bigger school, he’s gone. You’ll be angry when he leaves, but he’s not staying there his whole career.

Andrew:​Right. Exactly. Listen, Nick, you know I’m the same way about my South Alabama Jaguars. Unfortunately, and it’s just the world we live in, and it’s not a bad thing at all. Listen, Danny White will always love UCF. Guys that’s come through South Alabama have been loyal to the Jags, but at the end of the day, the Jags nor UCF can pay the money other schools can. Period.

Nick:​Just a fact.

Andrew:​Yeah. It’s just a fact. Again, the conspiracy theory needs to be thrown away. Nick, let’s move on a little bit. Mullen said on Friday they’re starting practice. They practiced on Friday. They practiced on Saturday. As this week is finals week, and it’s also the last week for Florida to be out on the road before the early signing period, so that was a big thing for Dan Mullen and crew. Also talked about the bowl players, or the NFL Draft eligible players in the bowl game. If I remember correctly, Nick, he said he expects them all to play?

Nick:​Yeah.

Andrew:​So, that’s big. I don’t think that we, outside of Chauncey, I don’t think there was anyone that I questioned that for. That’s not to say Chauncey wouldn’t, but just how early he declared, that kind of stuff. I thought there might have been a chance he would have decided not to. Now that kind of clears the air.

Nick:​I would say maybe, I expect Jordan Scarlett to leave, and I’d say maybe, it’s not something he talked about, but maybe he would sit it out, just because I think with Michigan’s defense this is going to be a very physical game. But he’s also a competitor, so I’m not sure that I would, I guess I just wouldn’t be surprised if maybe by the time comes around he decides he doesn’t want to. I don’t know. Listen, I don’t blame any kid. I don’t blame any kid that wants to sit it out. There is millions and millions of dollars to be made, and you guys are, I mean, shoot. It’s New Year’s Six bowl. I get that, but you’re talking about generational money that these guys have a chance to make.

Andrew:​But also, Nick, and I say this and you know the position I take, and that’s fine. Think about the money a guy like Dante Fowler made in a bowl game.

Nick:​Yeah. No. Dante had a great game. He went off in the Birmingham Bowl.

Andrew:​Yeah. Again, I just say you play in the bowl game. That’s just me. Again, I get it. I get it. For instance, Will Grier. I get Will Grier not playing. I get it. You got a chance to rest up. He’s going to go to the Senior Bowl. He gets a chance to rest up and not get his body killed in another game. I get it. I’m not taking away or saying anything bad about it. I just think that you should play in the game. For instance, with Grier, let me just point at him a little bit here. His team has very little chance to win the football game now, because he’s gone. Now, does the game matter? I don’t think so, not really. But at the end of the day, you just let 84 other scholarship guys down, because you decided you weren’t going to play.

Nick:​Yeah. I mean, is that a decision, and I don’t have the answer to this, are Will’s teammates finding out when he tweets his statement, or is it something where he addressed the team and then does it?

Andrew:​I’m sure Will Grier is a bigger guy. I think he would probably address the team first.

Nick:​I think that’s the way to do it. You address your team, so that they’re not finding out on Twitter.

Andrew:​Right. Exactly. I don’t know. Again, there’s no right or wrong answer. Everyone has an opinion on it. Again, I don’t fault. I’m never going to sit here and say I fault someone for not. I mean, it’s a business decision, and it’s there.

Nick:​Will has a daughter and a wife. He’s thinking about not just himself, but he’s thinking about his decision and something that could happen to him is affecting the lives of family now.

Andrew:​Yeah. I mean, god forbid McKenzie Milton or an Alex Smith situation happens. I mean, you all think that will never happen, but I don’t think either one of those guys went into their respective games thinking, this is it. I don’t know if this is it for either one of them, but there’s a possibility it is.

Nick:​Football is a physical game. Anything can happen.

Andrew:​Again, I think they should play, but I get it. Any other talk, football talk, before we move on to recruiting?

Nick:​No. We already hit on the guys that we think are going to stay versus leave, so no. I think we’re covered.

Andrew:​Okay. Last thing for you. Run down here the schedule. Guys will be back on the practice field when and all that good stuff.

Nick:​Yeah. So, the schedule is light until the weekend, and fans will also have a chance to come out. Let me pull this up realquick. Friday, Saturday, Sunday are football practices. I’m trying to get the exact times, in case you’re in town or coming in town. Friday the 14th, practice is at 3:10-5:40. It’s the entire practice is open to the media.

Andrew:​Okay.

Nick:​Saturday is 3:10-5:25, entire practice open. Then Sunday the practice is 2:25-4:40, and the entire practice is open. Then Monday there’s something. Nothing Tuesday and nothing Wednesday, because Wednesday is Signing Day.

Andrew:​Right. I like the open practices. It’s a big weekend for recruiting again. Big target Trey Sanders, Evan Neal, those guys are going to be on campus. Big weekend. I like it. I think it’s a cool move. Again, there’s nothing in a bowl practice. First of all, Michigan could care less. Florida could care less. They’re going in these first few practices working on themselves. I like it, and it’s a chance to get the fans involved and get the players a little juiced up for practice.

Nick:​How would they handle recruiting? I know it’s an official weekend. What will the recruits’ involvement be? Then, I guess, Sunday is the day where the coaches kind of meet with everyone and recap and give one last sales pitch, so with the coaches being on the practice field, how do you think the staff will handle official visits ending on Sunday, when you’ve got practice and guys have flights out as well?

Andrew:​I mean, from everything I’ve heard, they’ll adjust things a little bit around that. The good thing about recruiting nowadays is everybody has someone with them, whether it be Otis or whether it be Chuck Canter, whether it be Lee. They always have an off the field staff member with them for that. Watching practice for those guys is a good thing as well. Listen, we’re talking about two hours of practice, maybe, so they’ll work around that and get those guys a little bit on the practice field. Just kind of like them going to the basketball game this past Saturday. It’ll be good for that. Then they’ll just have to adjust their times with Mullen on Sunday a little differently.

​Also, Mullen will probably want to keep those guys on campus as long as he can. That’s the last opportunity he has totalk to those guys before they depart and then go for early Signing Day.

Nick:​Might be an opportunity for some graduate assistants to get to run a practice on Sunday.

Andrew:​It might be. Again, it’s one of those things where these practice are more about yourself. We always talk about these bowl practices being good for the young guys as well. There’s nothing Jordan Scarlett or Perine or any of the older guys are going to get out of these first few practices. Can they get better? Sure. But these are very good practices for guys like Iverson Clement, other guys that are young guys. That’s how I take it.

Nick:​I’ll have a story out this week. I’m interested to see how much, especially these first three practices, because you’re not really game planning these first three practices. Dan Mullen said it’s almost going to be like a spring practice.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​So, how are the guys like Iverson Clemente, who else is a freshman? Chatman.

Andrew:​You got Copeland.

Nick:​Copeland. Noah Banks. Some of the offensive linemen. Some of the guys that can still play and still redshirt, how much are they going to be involved? Kind of what are we going to see from them?

Andrew:​Right. Again, I think it’s a huge opportunity, but in Florida’s case though, I think you have to go into this game, and not that they wouldn’t, but you go into this game being serious about wanting to win. This is another opportunity to kind of say, our program is back. You’ve been embarrassed by Michigan the last couple times you played them, especially that 2017 game in Dallas. So, you go into this game really, I think, wanting to win this game. Mullen really wanting to win against Michigan and kind of put his stamp that, go ahead, get ready, get the preseason hype ready. We’ll be back in 2019.

Nick:​Yeah. I think that’s a big thing. As we tape this, I’m watching, Michigan is doing their, I guess, end of the year award show or something, so I’m watching all this stuff scroll. I’m looking at all these guys, and I’m thinking, man, yeah. There’s a lot of, I guess, pride to take back, because Michigan handled you the last two times you played.

Andrew:​You got to think about it. Guys like Rashan Gary already made a business decision not to play. Devon Buch may make a business decision not to play. So, you got several guys who make a decision not to play, so that’s an opportunity for them.

​Let’s go into recruiting, Nick.

Nick:​Real quick before that. I can’t wait to see Don Brown versus Dan Mullen. That’s a chess match that I’m going to pull up a chair and bring some popcorn to.

Andrew:​Chick-Fil-A.

Nick:​Yeah. Some popcorn chicken.

Andrew:​There you go. Get some Chick-Fil-A, and you’re Chick-Fil-A cookie that you like. Let’s talk recruiting though, Nick. Big weekend. There was 14 guys on campus, like we said. It was nine guys that were committed this weekend, so that kind of made it not as hectic. Not that it was hectic, but not as hectic as having 14 kind of uncommitted guys. That would have been insane. That would have been crazy. So, you had those nine commits on campus, and then you had the five big targets. You had Tyrique Stevenson. You had Kayvon Thibodeau. You had Lloyd Summerall. You had Keon Zipperer, and you had DB Marcus Banks on campus.

Again, it was a big weekend for those guys, as you’re trying to get to early signing period. I say that the two guys who’s probably dominated the headlines this weekend, Nick, is Keon Zipperer and Lloyd Summerall.

Nick:​My St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders fell short to those guys. Congratulations to them, but that was a sad day for me Friday watching Lakeland beat my St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders again.

Andrew:​Well, Ahmad Black and those guys weren’t on the field, but these guys were pretty good.

Nick:​Yeah.

Andrew:​Let’s talk about it. We’ll kind of talk about everything that’s going on with them. So, heading into the weekend most, including myself, we felt pretty good on Florida. Kind of came up out of the blue, or not out of the blue, but kind of came up starting Friday a little bit and moved in until really last night where I personally got more intact of what exactly was going on. Those guys now look like they’re heading to Miami. There’s some rumors out there about videos, that kind of stuff.

Myself and several others now feel pretty good that it looks like those guys are probably headed to Miami. They’re heading into their Miami official next weekend and probably that looks to seal it. There’s still a week and a piece to go here, so it’s time to get it. But I have heard more things over the last 24-48 hours that kind of point me in the direction that it’s probably Miami for those guys. Listen, Mark Richt and those guys really justouthustled Florida for those two guys.

​I’ve heard people say, it doesn’t really matter you lose those guys. They’re not big contributors. Whatever you say about them as players, and Nick, I know you want to touch on Summerall from that Lakeland-St. Thomas game you watched, but the biggest thing for me is you just can’t lose Lakeland guys. I think that hurts Florida from a recruiting standpoint. It just, the word is slipping my mind here.

Nick:​For me, it’s worse to lose a Lakeland guy to Miami than to Florida State.

Andrew:​Yeah. I guess it’s perception. That’s the word I’m looking for. The perception is bad that you lose Lakeland kids, two Lakeland kids that you really wanted. Lakeland is like, and there’s a lot of schools that have been good to Florida, but Lakeland is probably the most prominent school lately that’s produced for Florida, and to lose those guys is hurt for them.

​I wanted to hear your take. You had some good points on Lloyd Summerall. I wanted to hear your take on that as well, from that St. Thomas game.

Nick:​That dude can run the football.

Andrew:​That’s Bowman.

Nick:​Sorry. Bowman can run the dang football. I don’t know how much, I mean, I get the hype and why people are so enamored with Keon Zipperer, especially because he’s been around for a while.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​Has been around and stuff like that. I think Lloyd Summerall, I think he’s going to go wherever Zip goes, but I think he’s an intriguing prospect. He’s one that I thought would probably take a little time though.

Andrew:​Right.

Nick:​6’5”, 220. You’re aiming for him to be a buck. I think you got to put some size on that frame. I probably would have been more excited as a Gator fan about him than Zip. I think Zip, he fits the offense, because he’s more of an H-back than a true tight end.

Andrew:​Right. Exactly. Again, I get your point, as far as Zipperer goes. With Lloyed Summerall, I just think he’s a guy that would really grow into a guy that would be a freak off the edge, and that’s what you were talking about, being a good player off the edge.

Nick:​I just think it would take time. I think you got to put some size on that frame, but I think you’re right. I’d probably put a freak tag on him, potentially.

Andrew:​I mean, again, with Zipperer I know what you’re saying. He is a guy that’s more of an H-back kind of guy. I thought he’d be a good fit, and he still could be there. It’s just that perception of that. Listen, there’s still time to go. Florida can still make that up. It’s just it looks like Miami heads into that official visit this week ahead, but Florida does have Dan Mullen to go in-home this weekend, so that will be good.

​Move on though. The FSU commit, Dontae Lucas, FSU offensive line commit was on campus this weekend, and that was a big one.

Nick:​That is a big old boy. Big old boy. Not missing many meals in the Lucas household.

Andrew:​No. Definitely not missing many meals. The thing for me with him, and this is something a lot of people don’t know a lot about, but we’ll hit on it here. That’s why you’re listening. He’s very close to Nay’Quan Wright, and that’s something a lot of people haven’t really touched on. His relationship with Nay’Quan and his mom’s relationship with Nay’Quan and Nay’Quan’s mom is very good. Apparently, they’ve talked about wanting to play together, so that was a big key in getting the Florida State commit on campus this weekend.

​They have to endure next week him going to Florida State, but I think it’s a lot closer now with Lucas. I still think that Florida has a shot there to potentially flip him heading into that weekend visit to FSU. Of course, they’re going to try to shut it down and get him back solid, but I still Florida has a shot there to flip him.

​To move on to Kayvon Thibodeaux, #1 player in the country by a lot of people. Came on campus this weekend. Out of California. Every is talking about he didn’t bring his parents. He brought his brother. Heading into the weekend it was a long shot for Florida anyway. I still think he goes to Oregon, but it was nice to get him on campus. Created a little buzz and makes everything think, the #1 player in the country is visiting, why not us?

Nick:​Hey, you and me, we are big proponents of if they’re going to pay to fly you across the country, you take that trip.

Andrew:​Yeah. Not bad, except for that flight. Last, but certainly not least from the targets, is Marcus Banks, the DB out of Texas. Coming into the weekend it was kind of unknown where his interest really was with Florida. This is his first visit to Gainesville. I mean, that’s never a good thing when your first time to visit is a week and a half before Signing Day, but, again, I think Florida legitimately has a shot there with him. I do ultimately think he goes to Texas A&M, with A&M losing one of their DBs to Alabama on Saturday. I think he ultimately does go there. The big news was he’s going to sign early, so Florida will kind of know where he is in the process here on December 19th.

Nick:​Yeah. It’s almost like you find out in two weeks, or I guess just in 10 days’ time. Find out who is signing, and then take a sprint to clean up.

Andrew:​Yeah. That’s what we talked about before. There’s a lot of guys that don’t get offers, or are committed to smaller schools or don’t have the offers, but when Florida, let’s just say they head into the next cycle needed a defensive lineman, then they start turning on more defensive lineman tape and start looking. Look to see, who did we miss? Who had a good senior year we missed? Those guys pop up on the board.

​Nick, I think the biggest news out of the weekend was Tyron Hopper kind of reassuring that Florida is going to be the place for him.

Nick:​Will Muschamp trying to throw a wrench into Dan Mullen’s plans there.

Andrew:​He’s trying to do it with him, Jaden Hill, and Chris Steele. He had some family in Gaffney, South Carolina, Hopper does. Some family there kind of was driving that. Also playing for Willy Muschamp. This weekend solidified it, his relationship with Christian Robinson he says was the key. He says he’s going to sign with Florida. Said for everyone to stop worrying, and that he was going to sign with the Gators on December 19th. So, that will be big for Florida. Outside linebacker guy who they say is going to play the Vosean Joseph role. Just an overall really good athlete.

Nick:​He was all Gator. All Gator when I talked to him at the airport. He had a whole list. We asked him, who did you talk to during your trip? He goes, “Oh, hold on.” Pulled out his phone and opened up notes on his iPhone. He had a whole list of players that he was supposed to talk to and that he was hanging out with.

Andrew:​Yeah.

Nick:​None of the guys we talked to really said that they were hanging out with KT, with Thibodeaux.

Andrew:​That was more Jalon Jones being with him this weekend. Again, to kind of recap it, the weekend was a good weekend, kind of outside of the Zipperer, Lloyd Summerallnews. Again, I don’t think, you can’t count it out, for sure. They’re Lakeland kids, and that’s big. Also, the whole getting to Signing Day and actually going through with signing with Miami, if that’s the move they make, will be something to watch. Again, I don’t think that it’s over with, for sure. It’s just something to watch as we head into the stretch run here. I don’t think they land Thibodeaux right now, and I would say A&Mprobably has the upper hand for Marcus Banks.

​Next weekend will be big. Trey Sanders comes on campus. Potentially Evan Neal coming on campus. Then potentially LSU commit Cordale Flott coming on campus as well. I’m sure we’ll add some more as the week gets going. Should be a good week. Final week for Dan Mullen to really get into some homes and kind of solidify some things and get things rolling his way.

Nick:​When will you have a schedule of where Dan will be? I am flight tracking? Are we going to see a helicopter this week? What are we in for?

Andrew:​You were at the airport, and you see Sal running around.

Nick:​Sal is already out. Sal’s in a home right now, I think.

Andrew:​Yeah. We’ll have it throughout the week. We’ll have that list going of who he’s seeing this week. Pretty much anybody he hasn’t seen that’s early signing, expect him to be there. Trey Sanders, Evan Neal. I expect him to probably get down and see Dontae Lucas as well. Like we said with Summerall and Zip and Hammond. That’s another one, Hammond from Lakeland, the offensive lineman, will be on campus this weekend. He’ll be in all those homes this week as he makes kind of that stretch run to really go out and solidify things and kind of get a pretty good picture of where he sits on the 19th.

Nick:​It’s always exciting, this last little stretch run before Signing Day. I think the coaching staffs around the country kind of figured it out and at least got a sense of what this early period is, because last year we were kind of, us and the coaches were kind of looking and wondering how the early signing period would be handled.

Andrew:​Yeah. I think that people, and I get it, people don’t like it. Coaches don’t like it. Some of them don’t. I think it’s a good thing, Nick. I really do. You look at it in basketball. You look at in baseball. All of them have early signing periods. I say this in no disrespect to some of these guys, but for instance, what good Florida doing have to bug Jalon Jones in his house every night or every week?

Nick:​No need.

Andrew:​Or any of the commits. What good are they doing? No disrespect to Jalon, he deserves the recruiting process, but honestly, does Dan Mullen need to waste any more time or Brian Johnson need to waste any more time going to visit somebody that’s that solid? No. Just let him sign and be done with it.

Nick:​Yup. Let the kids focus on school and their last semester, even if they aren’t enrolling early. Let them sign.

Andrew:​You can get that workout program. You can get all kind of stuff. I will say this. More guys are saying and coming out and making this point, Elam is one of the guys, Derick Hall, the linebacker out of Gulfport, Mississippi, Nathan Pickering. They’re saying they’re not signing early, because of the Mel Tucker, Urban Meyer and those guys quitting and leaving school. I think that’s something you’re going to see more of as this early signing period comes about. Listen, there’s going to be coaching changes December 20th.

Nick:​Good for them. Yeah. Sure will.

Andrew:​December 20th will be coaching changes. You can mark it down in your book that somewhere around in the country there will be coaching changes.

Nick:​Recruiting’s dirty.

Andrew:​It’s dirty. It’s a dirty business. Dirty, dirty business. It’s like some gang stuff over here. It’s a dirty, dirty business. Nick, I wanted to hit on something before we get out of here. It’s something that I guess I was more interested in because I knew the kid a little bit, but Asa Martin, the former Florida target from last year that ended up signing with Auburn. He was a guy out of Huntsville. Big target for Florida at one time. Florida decided to pass on him after going after some other guys, getting Damien Pierce and Iverson Clement. He’s transferring from Auburn now, because Auburn coaches forgot how many games he played in and put him in his fifth game, after telling him and his family he was planning to redshirt.

Nick:​Wildly irresponsible of the coaching staff.

Andrew:​Did you read that story?

Nick:​Yeah. I read that. Came out last night?

Andrew:​Yeah. Well, it came out a couple days ago, but it was pushed again last night, Saturday night, when he announced the transfer.

Nick:​Just wildly irresponsible.

Andrew:​How do you tell a mom, we’re redshirting your kid. She tells you, he’s already played in four games. You say, no, he’s played in three. You put him in a game for one play in a blowout, and then you go tell mom, we’re still redshirting your kid, and she has to say, no you’re not. He’s already played five games.

Nick:​Nope. Can’t. See you.

Andrew:​Then I’ve seen Auburn fans and coaches upset that he’s leaving. Why? You lied to the kid. You lied to the kid. You lied to his mom. Basically you’re acting stupid. I saw one response that the Auburn website was wrong. I don’t care if the Auburn website was wrong. I don’t care if your media relations was wrong. I don’t care what was wrong. You as the coaching staff know. You chart plays. You have your counter of who played. You know that stuff. If you don’t, somebody needs to be fired.

Nick:​Yeah. Wildly, wildly irresponsible. Good, good for Asa. You were lied to. Leave.

Andrew:​To me, Nick, this is what I took out of that more than anything. Things are incredibly bad for Auburn. From Gus down. This patchwork of a contract they gave him this year was just that, a patchwork.

Nick:​Yeah. I think they were just making it easier to get rid of him later.

Andrew:​Yeah. What about this, Nick, Hugh Freeze to Liberty instead of OC for FSU or Auburn or Tennessee. He thinks more of the Liberty program than he does those.

Nick:​How about that?

Andrew:​I don’t blame him. How would that have worked? You and I have a good friend, Trey Wallace, and we talked about. He hit us up about it. He was asking me about it. He said, how would that work? I told him. I said, that would not work at all. First of all, Freeze’s offense and Willie Taggert’s offense is completely different. Second of all, can you imagine those two guys trying to get along? No way.

Nick:​I don’t think so.

Andrew:​No way, shape, or form would that happen. Anyway, any final thoughts, Nick, before we get out of here?

Nick:​No. Ready to go. We’ll be back mid-week, or be back Friday. We’ll preview what to look forward to this weekend. If you guys are out there on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, let me know. I’ll come and say hello.

Andrew:​There you go. Getting ready for this final stretch run, and then we’ll be heading up to Atlanta for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and then I’ll be headed down to Orlando for the Under Armour game. We’ll be getting all that good stuff going. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here and see everyone on Friday.

Nick:​www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and in transcript form. Find your podcast wherever, find our podcast, wherever you listen to your podcast. Just search @GatorCountry. Subscribe, and never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC, and he’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:​There you go. Guys, we appreciate it. We’ll see everyone on Friday. As always, go Braves and chomp, chomp.

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.