GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we breakdown the latest coaching news surrounding the Florida Gators.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre breakdown the hiring of Torrian Gray to coach defensive backs and what it means for the Gators.
Andrew and Nick also talk about the candidates to replace Sal Sunseri on the defensive line, as well as recruiting and who the Gators are still after.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, it’s supposed to be the off season and just recruiting. I thought we did a coaching search last year.
Nick: Yeah. I was looking forward to it. Here we are. At least it does not appear that we’ll have a head coaching search any time soon. That’s when things get hectic.
Andrew: So, you’re telling me Dan Mullen is not going to take one of these still open NFL jobs.
Nick: I don’t see him as an NFL coach. I don’t know where that rumor and stuff came from. I think it’s like before the Peach Bowl. People kept asking me. I’m sure they’re asking you. It’s just like, what are you talking about, man?
Andrew: Somebody tweeted that Mullen and Kirby and Saban were all candidates for the Bucks job or something like that. I mean, the Bucks should know better after Schiano, right?
Nick: I don’t know if the Bucks know better than anything.
Andrew: I want to ask you this though, and this is a serious question to you. Do you see any college coach right now being a great NFL coach? There’s one or two I think that come to mind, but not a ton.
Nick: It’s so different. I think Pete Carroll’s done well. There’s some coaches that maybe just get their start, but they’ve always had aspirations of being an NFL coach, but it’s so different. At the college level you’re teaching, you’re recruiting. You have ultimate control over really the lives of these players. You say to jump, they have to say how high.
Nick: When you get to the NFL, I remember there was a story that came out when Nick Saban was in the NFL, and he’s trying to make guys run gassers after practice. Vernon Carey straight up, and I think Vernon Carey had been in the League like 8, 9 years at that point, and was making significantly more than Nick Saban, and he straight up walked off the field and said, I’m not doing that. I’m not running gassers. Nick Saban freaked out. Next day he gets a call from Vernon Carey’s agent, it’s in my player’s contract specifically that he doesn’t have to do any extra conditioning after practice.
Nick: So, stop. That rubbed him the wrong way. There’s just a level of control that you don’t have. When you’re a coach in the NFL, there’s a lot of players that are more important than you.
Andrew: That’s what I was going to say. I mean, guys make more money than you, that kind of stuff. You’re not the big boy. I would say a guy like James Franklin, Nick, seems like he would be a good NFL coach. I’ve said that to a couple people, and they’ve asked me why.
Nick: Yeah. I don’t know if I’d agree with that.
Andrew: I just feel like he kind of is more, I don’t like. He did well at Vandy. I don’t know. I think he would do well. I’m trying to think of other guys. I don’t think Kirby Smart would do very well.
Nick: Rob Ryan’s not doing great.
Andrew: No. But, I mean, you think about it. I mean, he’s taking his teams to the playoffs. I don’t know. I mean, then again, Nick, we talk about this, and I don’t mean this as any, to bring bad memories to you at the Dolphins, but you think about it. There’s so many changes. Dolphins sign Brees and not Culpepper, Saban’s probably still down there. At the end of the day, the coach is only as good as the GM who gets him the players there, in a way.
Nick: A lot of times the coaches are working their way into contracts where they can be. The old Bill Parcells quote, if you want me to cook dinner, let me buy the groceries.
Andrew: Right. I mean, outside of a few coaches now, they’re not GMs as well. Jon Gruden is, but that’s turning into a madhouse. Let’s move on a little bit. The Gators lose Sal Sunseri, and they lose Charlton Warren to Alabama and Georgia respectively. Then on Sunday, or Monday, excuse me, my days are messed up with the holiday, on Monday they make news when they hired Torrian Gray back.
I wanted to get into that a little bit. I first wanted to start with Charlton Warren. There was rumors out there that he turned down Georgia. First of all, that’s coach talk. That’s coach talk 100%. Oh, I’m never going to go to Georgia. First of all, if you say those kind of things in our business, Nick, you go 100%, you’re setting yourself up to look wrong. That’s exactly what happened.
People have asked me, how big of a loss is Warren? I’m going to sit here today, Nick. What day is today? Today is January 22. I’m going to sit here today on January 22 and say the Gators upgraded there. We’ll get in a little bit more on that on why that is. First of all, Torrian Gray is a technician, as far as defensive backs. People question some of his recruiting, per se, but he’s only got four to one year. He landed Marco Wilson. He landed CJ Henderson. We’ll get into that a little bit as well. But as far as being a technician, on the field coach, Torrian Gray is one of the better.
Nick: Yeah. He was wildly loved by all of his players when he was at Florida. I think Charlton Warren was a great guy. He’s an Army guy. Sorry, a Navy guy.
Andrew: Air Force.
Nick: Air Force. Geez. I’ll get it right eventually.
Andrew: Go through all of them, you’ll get there sooner or later.
Nick: I had a lot of respect for him. I didn’t know much about him when he got to Florida. I know much more about Torrian Gray, obviously, having covered him for a year and doing all that. I just know how much the players like him, and what you said, him being a technician. Absolutely. He knows what he’s talking about when it comes down to technique and teaching players how to play these positions.
Nick: And he’s a great recruiter.
Andrew: The thing that I say about Warren is there is some people out there who say they weren’t maybe as high on Warren as a coach, even some of his players say that. I know his personality in recruiting wasn’t great for that. I kind of think he, and also four jobs in four years catches up to you, Nick. That’s something that he’s going to have to answer to. Again, when we talk about players loving him, at that DB position, your players better love you. It didn’t seem like that was the case for there, but it’s a completely different now with Torrian Gray.
Nick: Yeah. There is definitely a level. I mean, you look at the guys at Virginia Tech, and I think some people on the message board yesterday were talking about how he had made some comments about how Virginia Tech is DBU, and there’s been a debate back and forth. Virginia Tech is really one of the other ones, along with Florida, that claims that. He’s coached a huge number.
Andrew: The Fuller brothers.
Nick: A huge number of cornerbacks there. Then he had a great group at Florida. Quincy, Duke. Did he have Poole for a year, or Poole was gone? Poole was gone in 2016. He had Teez, Quincy, Duke.
Nick: Marcell. Yeah. He had some dudes there. He’s just a great coach. To get guys like that too, when he kind of just came in, and then to get a guy like Teez Tabor, Quincy Wilson, Duke Dawson start listening to you, when they’ve been doing it for two, three years already. I mean, you think that’s something that Callahan wasn’t able to do, to immediately walk in and earn the respect of the room and to get guys to listen to him. To me, that’s a sign of a good coach to begin with as well.
Andrew: Well, when you walk in the door, and you can name of pro ballers that you’ve coached, a lot of people are going to listen. I’ll say this, and if the person listening that I’m about to say this didn’t want me to say this, I apologize, but, Nick, you and I are very close to Chad Wilson. You and I have gotten to know that family very well, and I consider Chad a good friend of mine. Chad and I traded some texts, and I consider Chad to know that position very well. I mean, he has two sons that are very good players at that position, and he played it as well. He has the utmost respect for Torrian Gray. I’m not saying that he doesn’t have respect for Charlton Warren or anything like that, but to hear that from guys like himself and other people who say that as well, just goes around and tells you how much it is with Torrian Gray.
Now, like I said, he was only here for a year. He recruited some good players, does really well in the Polk County area as well in recruiting, so that’s something that will be big for him. That’ll be something that he’ll have to continue to improve on in recruiting, but that’s everyone. You have to improve every year. As far as on the field coach, Gators upgraded.
Nick: Torrian was instrumental in helping sign Marco Wilson.
Nick: That was also a Drew Hughes thing, so credit to Drew. But Drew and Torrian had the shirts made up, like Marco Wilson t-shirts, when Marco was on his …
Andrew: Marco island, right?
Nick: Yeah. When he was on his recruiting visit. Talking to Marco, they said, hey, we’ll be right back. Chad’s there, and his wife Carmen is there. They’re on an official visit, so the whole family is there, and Drew and Torrian come walking back in with these Marco Island shirts on. That’s a pretty shrewd recruiting move. Getting a guy like Marco Wilson, when he could have gone anywhere. Obviously, there’s a legacy thing, but Marco is his own man. He wasn’t going to go somewhere just because his brother was there. Just knew he wasn’t going to go to Miami, not a fan of the Canes.
That just shows you some creativity and that Gray does have recruiting chops. There might be misses. Every coach, Nick Saban is going to miss on some players. There’s going to be misses, but it just goes to show he’s not out there with a blindfold on Bird Box challenging the recruiting trail.
Andrew: I think too, Nick, I think this is something we have to remember as well, but when you can go out there and name guys like that that you’ve recruited and played for, recruiting will almost take care of itself. Almost. I mean, not fully. You still have to go out there and do your job, but that’ll take care of a lot of things when you can go out there and start name-dropping guys that are like that. Listen, you call Quincy Wilson and those guys, and they’re going to come to bat for Torrian Gray as well. When you start name-dropping stuff like that, you can do a lot of damage in recruiting because of that.
Again, I think that while Kirby thought he was going to get the last laugh at the Gators on this situation with Elam, think the Gators got the last laugh, and I think Dan Mullen kind of pulled a book out of Urban Meyer that said, you know what, you think you’re a bad boy, guess what? I can outdo you.
Nick: I think this is a great hire. I think that will show. I think it’s going to be better for Florida on the recruiting trail, and then Torrian Gray’s resume obviously speaks for itself when it comes to developing players for that position.
Andrew: Right. Exactly. Nick, I think it comes at a perfect time too. I say this, and I don’t say this to say that Trey Dean didn’t have a good year. I think he had a fantastic year, but Dean can learn a lot of things from a guy like Torrian Gray. The younger guys, I mean, we think about what is behind CJ Henderson and what is behind Marco Wilson, and I think you can even say what’s behind Trey Dean right now. There’s not a lot of depth. There’s not a lot of experience there. There’s a lot of young guys there, the guys like Chris Steele, Jaden Hill, Chester Kimbrough, who will be in in the summer. There’s a lot of young guys that could benefit from having a guy like Torrian Gray really get out there and teach the techniques. That’s something that I think was really a knock on Charlton Warren as well is what he was able to do as far as on the field teaching, that kind of stuff.
I posted this on the board, and some people were saying, you guys didn’t have any bad things to say about Warren beforehand, and I admit it. I was like, I didn’t know that he wasn’t as big of a players coach. I wasn’t aware of that kind of stuff. You kind of hear that stuff afterwards when you start asking around about it. All in all, I think it was a good move for Florida. All moves can be questioned a little bit when it happens. Still have to see how it goes, but all in all I think I agree with you, Nick. It was just a win-win for Florida.
Nick: When you look at just the history of his players, he teaches a very physical, he likes long, big cornerbacks. That is Trey Dean. He likes to teach a physical style, bump and run. Get your hands on the receiver type of technique. That couldn’t be any better for Trey Dean.
Andrew: Yeah. Even Chris Steele. I mean, that’s a big one. There’s a little bit of an intrigue here as well, and this is something that kind of made its rounds on Monday night, and something we were able to confirm as well. Elam, Abe Elam and Kaiir Elam are close friends with Brandon Flowers. I know who Brandon Flowers is going to be recommending to Elam.
Nick: Torrian Gray.
Andrew: Torrian Gray. So, Kirby, get you some, big dog. Get you some. I mean, the man goes out there and says, you know what, Kirby, what you can do, I can do better. Get you some, big dog. It’s on. Nick, I’m going to get ahead of ourselves a little bit. We’re taping this on Tuesday, and guess where Dan Mullen is?
Andrew: He’s flying his chopper around Georgia hitting all the big boys. Instead of flight tracker, we’re on chopper tracker on Tuesday. Just going around, flying around the state of Georgia seeing all the big dogs, him and Christian Robinson living it up. Probably waving down to Kirby saying, I’m up here in the sky, big dog.
Nick: Yeah. That’s going to be a big one. Then Sal Sunseri, real quick on him, I don’t think Florida is going to upgrade from a coaching standpoint.
Andrew: I don’t think so either.
Nick: Like we were just talking about, Torrian Gray being a technician and a great coach. You’re not going to upgrade from Sal Sunseri. I think you can upgrade from a recruiting standpoint, and Sal’s fine. I just don’t know how great he was going out. When people were on campus, the defensive players probably loved, defensive linemen probably loved talking to him, because he can talk X’s and O’s to you all day long. I just don’t know if he’s the kind of recruiter that maybe like a Torrian Gray would be or someone like a Tim Skipper was.
Andrew: Chris Rumph.
Nick: Chris Rumph. That’s not him. As far as a coach, you’re taking a hit there. It still remains to be seen who will fill that spot, but you’re not going to get a better coach than Sal Sunseri.
Andrew: Yeah. I think that’s a big thing, the experience he had. I mean, listen, he’s coached some of the best and that kind of stuff. I know people give him a lot of heat for his recruiting and that, and I get that. I do. He didn’t recruit as well this year, but let’s also remember what he did last year. I mean, he went right into Birmingham in the middle of Alabama country and stole Malik Langham from Saban. People forget that. Again, I get that. I get that people forget that, and they go, he didn’t do much this year. Still, he went in and stole him last year. Again, it’s so much easier to recruit without that Alabama A on your chest, but still, go get him.
Nick: Yeah. That one, we had started hearing about that, Sal possibly leaving, probably back in November. To me, once I saw that his son Vinny was going to be, he played safety at Alabama, once I saw that Vinny was going to be a graduate assistant, the writing was finished there, on the wall. The opportunity for Sal to go and coach and be with his son as his son learns coaching, that’s the kind of offer that you don’t pass up.
Andrew: Right. Exactly. Again, people rip him a little bit for that and leaving and that kind of stuff. First of all, Sal Sunseri had a bad year. Losing his mom, all that kind of stuff. To go home and work with your son now, that’s special.
Andrew: That’s special. I know people get onto that a little bit, but I’m not going to hate on the man. There’s no way I’m hating on the man for going home and coaching with his son and that kind of stuff. I know some people, again, ripped on him for recruiting. What he did on the field, and I know some people said, he didn’t coach Jachai Polite. He was an outside linebacker. Get out of here. Get out of here. Period. Get out of here. Jachai Polite will tell you straight up that Sal Sunseri was huge for him in his game this year.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, he’s probably not his main position coach, but yeah, absolutely.
Andrew: I mean, let’s remember who Khalil Mack credits for a lot of what he did in Oakland.
Nick: Yeah. I don’t know. Khalil Mack is just a freak. It just might be all Khalil Mack. That’s one of the scariest football players I think I’ve ever seen.
Andrew: Who are you hearing as big names that could replace him.
Nick: I was talking a little bit to my friend Will Sammon, who writes for The Athletic, because obviously Mullen has been able to, or had to replace coaches before, and he started to say that obviously history is not the only indicator of what is going to happen, but it’s a good indicator. He was saying they really like to go into NFL circles. That shows up with Torrian Gray. To me, I’m thinking I’m looking at NFL coaches and what NFL coaches are going to be looking for new jobs, because there’s so much turnover there, and who could you get? I think we a lot of times get stuck. I remember when we were going through McElwain’s search, he didn’t have any ties to any of the guys, unless they were Colorado State guys. He didn’t have any ties to them. I think I’ve been looking at guys that have ties to Mullen and guys that don’t have ties to Mullen. To me, it’s wide open.
Andrew: Right. We’ve heard Chris Wilson’s name, but that seems like a name that is kind of dying down a little bit there. David Turner out at Tennessee San Antonio is a name that’s out there a little bit. He coached with Mullen. The latest we have, and we’re taping this Tuesday around lunchtime, noon, 12:30 here, the latest we hear is that they’re still interviewing some names and that kind of stuff. That’s something we’re continuing to monitor there. It’s something Dan Mullen would love to have done by the time this weekend comes around, as Alabama commit Chris Bogle is supposed to be headed to town for an official visit. That’s somebody Florida’s really after. Again, they would love to have it done by the weekend, but everything we know about Dan Mullen says he’s not going to rush to hire for one recruit either.
Nick: One name that I think would be interesting, on a great coaching staff, is Bam Hardmon. Graduated from Florida in 2003, and that Troy program, shoot, talk about a season that they’ve had and what they’ve been able to do there. I mean, he’s someone who he coached Corey Liuget, who was a first round pick. Just someone interesting, as far as being a Jacksonville native, a Florida alum. Some names that I’m looking at. That’s probably, that’s definitely an under the radar name.
Andrew: Right. Yeah. There’s a couple names that are out there. I know Kevin Patrick’s a name, from NC State, just thrown out there. You and I both hear that that is very unlikely, that Patrick wants a DC job when he leaves NC State. There’s several names that are out there. I think that, like you said, he’s going to continue to do his due diligence on that and continue to kind of see what’s out there.
Again, it’ll be tough to replace him. It’ll be tough to replace him, Sal, as far as on the field. I think you can get better some in recruiting there, but I think the biggest thing that Florida has to do on the defensive line is just get someone that’s good as far as on the field. Of course, it can’t be Sal good, but just someone that’s a very good technician. I mean, there’s going to be some young guys, like Zach Carter, there are there. You got Lloyd Summerall as well. There’s going to be some young guys as well that need to be kind of taught up on that, so you need someone who’s been around and knows it and at least can teach up the young guys.
Nick: That’s going to be a big thing. Obviously, recruiting is big, but like you said, there’s going to be a lot of turnover on that defensive line. As I’m looking at it right now, you look at the defensive line, and Ancrum and Zuniga are going to be gone. Shuler, Dunlap are going to be gone. Then you’ve got Antonneous Clayton, Elijah Conliffe, Kyrie Campbell, TJ Slaton and Zach Carter, and then you’ve got a lot of freshmen. Jalen Humphries, Malik Langham, Andrew Chatfield, Lloyd Summerall. There’s a lot of teaching that needs to be going on there.
Andrew: Right. Exactly. So, that’ll be something to watch as well. I know there’s rumors floating around about a couple other coaches possibly leaving. Right now, we haven’t confirmed anything. There is that rumor out there. I’ve also heard that Ron English may have gotten a new contract as well, so that’s out there.
Nick: There were rumors that he’d be gone, and then he’s sending some welcome messages.
Andrew: Yeah. We’ve heard that he possibly got a new contract extension. We’ll see on that as well. I know Dan Mullen wants to keep Ron English. Mullen likes his continuity between his staff. It’s not like he’s trying to push anyone out or anything like that.
Nick: Ron English is in a very interesting position, because if you go back and look, he’s not somebody that’s going to leave until he gets a better job offer. I mean, at one point, when he became the head coach at Eastern Michigan, he was one of the only African American head coaches ever in college football, and he was a rising star. Obviously, there’s a little bit of a scandal with some language and the way he was treating players, or at least verbally treating players, and kind of had to fall off the map. He was in college football purgatory for a while. So, he’s a guy that’s really trying to do a good job here, because he doesn’t want to be an assistant coach forever. He’s going to want to try to get a better job. What better place to do that than the University of Florida? If you can put together a couple good recruiting classes and some good production from players.
Andrew: I mean, of course, if somebody calls and is asking for him to be the DC or something like that, that’d be great for him, and he would absolutely take that. I’m just saying I don’t see him just leaving to leave or anything like that. Again, it’d be interesting to kind of see how that shakes out with the defensive line. Also, Nick, you know this as well as I do, jobs around the country will open up more after Signing Day.
Nick: That’s the dirty business of recruiting.
Andrew: Let’s move on to that. I had a conversation yesterday with someone, and I don’t want to name the person’s name or anything like that. The person might be listening to this. If he does and tweets about it, then I’ll confirm it. No big deal. Whatever. Person I was talking with brought up a very good conversation. Nick, I wanted to ask you this as well. Let’s have this discussion. You and I may or may not agree on it. We’ll see.
The person was talking about how Nick Saban has kind of watered down the market for coaches, maybe overpaying them a little bit and that kind of stuff. It’s kind of forcing other team’s hands. We’ve heard the rumor that Todd Grantham’s in line to get a big pay raise from Florida, because Saban was after him. Saban picked off Sal Sunseri. He picked off Charles Kelly from Tennessee. He’s picked off the running back coach, I believe, from Mississippi State. He’s picked off names, and schools are forced to either pay more or lose their coach.
I agree with this. Saban is kind of watering down the market, but at the same time, Saban does have a job to do, and that’s to get the best guys. Where do you stand? Do you agree?
Nick: Yeah. I agree. That’s the thing. A lot of these guys have the same agents too, so it’s not just Saban. It’s the agents, and the agents don’t have any allegiance to any of that, except for their pocketbook and their client. That happens all the time. Like when so-and-so comes open for a job. Hey, there’s a lot of interest here, and it never happens, and it never was going to happen, but it gets out in the media. All of a sudden, five coaches get raises to stay where they are, and they never really had any intentions of leaving.
Andrew: Corey Raymond at LSU, that guy gets a raise every year because he’s in line for coaching jobs. What was it? Was it after Torrian Gray, Nick, or was it before, or was it after Kurt Callahan? Where he was rumored to be coming?
Nick: It was after Callahan.
Andrew: It was when Christian Fulton was a recruit, and he was rumored. He ended up getting a big pay raise. He got another pay raise this year, because of the Georgia rumors. He’s a guy that makes that money. Listen, I’m not saying that it’s a bad practice, but I do agree that a lot of coaches are getting paid a lot of money, whether they’re worth it or not, because of guys like Saban. I mean, the offensive line coach, Sam Pittman at Georgia, is going to get paid very handsomely, because not only was Alabama after him, but Tennessee was after him, and Kirby wanted to keep him.
Nick: That’s the nature of, not even just college, but just the nature of coaching. I get it, to an extent. Listen, there’s no guarantees in coaching. These guys live, they’re compensated well, but they’re constantly uprooting families and moving across the country. Being a coach’s kid or being a coach’s wife is not easy. Of no fault of your own, sometimes you’re a kid and you go to three different high schools, and that’s not easy for a kid. But they’re compensated well for it. Get your money while you can.
Andrew: Get your money while you can. Might as well. Listen, it’s a business that’s, what would you say, Nick? About 340 days a year? I mean, outside of those couple days in December where you get off for Christmas and a couple days during the summer, during the dead period there in the month of July, and maybe a little bit in February. I would say probably 20 days out of the year they’re completely off. I mean, there’s other times that they’re maybe not in the office, but they’re still recruiting.
I mean, I’m not against it. Listen, I’m not. I was in the business, and just coaching high school ball, and the hours. One time we figured it up, and we were making something like $1-something an hour, if we added up all of our time we were in the office studying film and that stuff. I’m not hating it at all. I’m just saying some, I do get that notion where maybe Saban is watering down the market a little bit.
Nick: Yeah. Well, hey, Nick Saban gets what Nick Saban wants at Alabama, and that’s why he’s not in the NFL, and will never be in the NFL.
Andrew: To be the man, you got to beat the man. Right?
Andrew: Let’s move on a little bit, Nick. Recruiting. Recruiting is kind of the main thing here. Florida didn’t host anyone this past weekend. Looks like they’ll host Chris Bogle, the Alabama defensive line commit, this weekend on campus. Like I said before, the big weekend of visitors was that first weekend, that January 11th weekend, when Mullen wanted to bring in everybody, get his name out there, get their message in their mind. Set the bar high, that was their point.
I guess, it hurt them a little bit. Charles Moore loses his defensive line coach. Elam loses his DB coach, so that kind of hurts them a little bit. I don’t think it hurts them a ton. Moore was very close to Todd Grantham and is very close to Dan Mullen. He’s been committed to them before. He was close with Sal, but not as close with Sal as the other two. Whoever the new defensive line coach will be able to go talk to him, that kind of stuff. At the end of the day, they also know Grantham’s style, Mullen’s style, that kind of stuff. I don’t think it’s a big deal. I mean, it hurts a little bit. I don’t think it’s a big deal.
Then we got with Elam, with Torrian Gray. While it could have worked out where they could have had the position coach on campus, that kind of stuff, I don’t think it’s overly bad.
Nick: I agree with you there, especially in the sense of Gray. The part, to me, that you start, obviously, it’s not an ideal situation, getting a kid like Bogle in and them going, who’s my coach?
Andrew: Right. I mean, it’s kind of like Georgia. They don’t have a DC.
Andrew: Heading into the visit, Elam really didn’t know who his DB coach was, until he found out it was Warren, and that worked out well for him. That’s kind of how that was as well. Florida is on the road recruiting. They’re on the road and doing in-home visits. Mullen still has his in-home visits with those big guys like Moore, Mark-Antony Richards, Kaiir Elam. He still has his visits with those guys. He’ll wait till the last week to use that. I think that that will, Florida’s not going to lose any of those guys because of the position coach leaving, in my opinion right now.
They are focusing more on underclassmen. It looks like this weekend they’ll have a pretty good amount of underclassmen, as the Nike camp’s in Orlando, and you have the seven-on-seven camps in Orlando, that kind of stuff. You start to see those teams visiting. A big seven-on-seven team out of Houston is coming in to Orlando for a tournament. They’re going to visit Florida. Then one of the top DBs out of Virginia in Keontae Jenkins is going to visit Florida as well. You’ll have some underclassmen. Nick, with the early signing period, and we talked about this, you start to see it more turning into focusing on underclassmen. We talked about Mullen and Christian Robinson in Georgia on Tuesday. They’re not seeing any 2019 players. They’re seeing 2020 and 2021 players.
Nick: Is that the biggest takeaway, you think, you’ve seen from the early signing period?
Andrew: Yeah. Because you would usually start seeing Junior Days and stuff that last week of January, and then in February, before the early signing period, so you really recruited from February to February. Well, now you’re almost recruiting December to December. It kind of moved everything up a little bit, and now that you have juniors being able to take official visits in the spring and in the summer, the process just moved up a little bit.
I saw a number the other day. Right off the top of my head, I think ESPN had out of their top 300 players something like 75 or 80% of the players were already signed. I mean, you’re all battling. Florida has four or five spots left. Not a ton to do. So, why not? Why would you not? Again, if you’re not recruiting 2020 players, you’re getting behind. Saban is. Smart is.
Nick: 2022 kids.
Andrew: Yeah. 2022, 2023. Babies. They’re in a hospital. Let me ask you this. We’re talking recruiting.
Nick: Are you saying Nick Saban has nurses on his recruiting staff?
Andrew: Wouldn’t surprise me.
Nick: OB-GYN is on Alabama’s payroll.
Andrew: He’s got the reception in the hospital. Hey, Nick, John Doe’s grandson just was born here. He’s an Alabama legacy. He weighed in at 7 pounds. Nick, you might want to get down and offer him real quick.
Let me ask you this, Nick, though. As we’re talking recruiting, do you think we’ll get back to a point where guys don’t sign early? I mean, Elam, one of the biggest reasons Elam said he wasn’t going to sign was he knew there was going to be changes with position coaches, and Georgia didn’t have a DC either. He knew all that stuff. You’re seeing more and more of this stuff happen.
Let’s just look at Florida, for instance. Chris Steele and Jaydon Hill and Chester Kimbrough are all signed. Steele and Hill are already on campus going though workouts, and they just lost a coach. Charlton Warren was not the key piece to landing either one of those guys, was not the main recruiter for either one of those guys, but they lost their position coach. Do you think we’ll see it get back to a point where guys don’t sign early?
Nick: I’m not sure, because I think a lot of those guys, when it comes down, when it gets down to that point, I think a lot of those guys are tired of it. Tired of being called. It’s not just called by people like you or people like anyone that covers recruiting, but it’s every single coach and friends and other players.
Andrew: The in-home visits.
Nick: In-home visits. At some point, they’re just like, listen, I know where I’m going to go. I just want to be done with this. Just because you tell Kirby Smart, I’m going to Alabama, that doesn’t mean Kirby Smart, until he can’t talk to you anymore, he’s going to keep talking to you.
Nick: That’s every coach. I think a lot of kids are going to want to do it, just because they know where they want to go, and they want to get it over with.
Andrew: Right. I mean, I get that.
Nick: There’s still a prestige to that. I’m signing early. I don’t have to wait until February.
Andrew: Yeah. I say this, and Elam and those kind of guys, they’re hot topics right now. They get the best of the best. Now listen, that means their phone’s blowing up too. Still, I don’t know if it’s a bad thing. It also goes back to the age old saying of never commit to a school for a position coach. I’ll say this. I may be the bad guy, but we can say that till we’re all blue in the face, but kids commit off relationships. A lot of times that’s with their position coach.
Nick: Yeah. I’d go even farther and say, don’t commit to any coach. Who knows how long that coach will be there?
Andrew: I mean, that’s true. We can say that till we’re blue in the face.
Nick: It’s going to keep happening.
Andrew: It’s going to keep happening, that kind of stuff. I guess, let me ask you this and go a step further. Do you think maybe the NCAA should let them put themselves into the transfer portal or something like that, if their position coach leaves?
Nick: Sure. I mean, I’ve said it all along. Once kids sign that letter of intent, that NLI, they don’t have any rights. Give them some more.
Nick: Sure. I mean, Sal Sunseri doesn’t have to sit out a year.
Nick: Charlton Warren doesn’t have to sit out a year.
Andrew: That’s true.
Nick: Why are players bound to a contract that coaches are not bound to?
Andrew: Right. That’s true. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing at all. I don’t necessarily agree with that, for the most part. I mean, I agree with you, but I don’t know. I just think it becomes too much. Then again, like you said, Charlton Warren is not sitting out a year. He’s not doing anything else. He just basically lied to your kid.
Nick: Yup. That happens everywhere, all the time.
Andrew: Exactly. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. Let’s get out of here, and we’ll see everyone later this week, as we’ll talk some defensive line coaching hire, if that happens this week, and all the other good stuff that’s surrounding Gators. We were going to talk baseball and softball. We’ll get to that though later in the week. We kind of ran out of time here blabbing on. No worries. The diamond sports are getting ready. Softball is about to open that beautiful stadium.
Nick: Oh yeah. Stadium looks great. I’ll be out at baseball on Friday. Lot of new names and new faces, so I’m going to go out with my camera and get some pictures of these new guys. If you haven’t checked it out, check out my story on Jud Fabian. He’s a freshman, going to be starting in center field. Softball, baseball, the stick sports, getting ready.
Andrew: The Fabian, that was a big one. That guy was a first-round Draft pick next year.
Nick: He’s going to be a first, second-round pick, for sure.
Andrew: This year. Excuse me.
Nick: This year. Yeah. Sully gets him to campus. There’s people who aren’t happy about that, but he’ll be starting at center field.
Andrew: Exactly. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here.
Nick: Check it all out. www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. You can find the podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts. Just search @GatorCountry. Subscribe. Never miss an episode. You can find us @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC, and he’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.
Andrew: There you go. Guys, we appreciate it. As always, chomp, chomp, and go Braves.
Nick: You stay classy, Gator Country.