Podcast :The latest moves for the Florida Gators football team

Gator Country’s latest podcast discusses the latest moves for the Florida Gators football team including linebacker Jeremi Powell deciding to leave the football program to pursue other opportunities.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre discuss the latest with quarterback transfer Austin Appleby who made news on Monday when he decided to transfer to Florida from Purdue.

Andrew and Nick also talk about some more moves that could happen, plus they talk about the latest regarding the junior’s who could leave school early or return to school.


Andrew:                 Hello, Gator fans. This is your man, the one and the only, the Goat, Andrew Spivey here for another edition of the Gator Country podcast. Nicholas de la Torre, what’s up, brother?

Nick:                         What is going on, everybody? Another cold day in Gainesville. I need this weather to go, get up and move on. You ain’t got to go home, but you got to get the hell up out of Gainesville. I’m not appreciating it one bit.

Andrew:                 I am feeling the sickness of from 88 degree weather in Orlando, or 90 degree weather.

Nick:                         Got to love that 90 degree, 100% humidity. That is Christmas. That is winter. That’s what I need, not this 50 and raining in Gainesville.

Andrew:                 Winter wonderland in 90 degree weather. It is. Also it’s another season in Gainesville, Nicholas.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Transfer season, or cutting season I guess is the best way to say it. Today, well Tuesday. You guys are listening to this on Wednesday. We broke the news about Jeremi Powell leaving the team. He’s been away from the team for a little bit, but asked not to release it until now. Nick, you know we talked about this on the message board, that kind of stuff. He’s just going to go live his life now. He’s done playing football. Probably not going to do anything after football, or in the NFL. So go ahead and move on. Graduate and get a job.

Nick:                         Listen, Jeremi Powell was the first person in his family to even go to college. So to get the opportunity to go to college and to play football is great. He plans on graduating in this spring, so he’ll be the first person in his family to graduate college. That’s an awesome story. He came in as a four star player, kind of long, lean. Maybe viewed as sort of a project, someone who needed to put on weight. Had to battle some injuries throughout his career. Just came down to a situation where, I went through the same thing. I got to college and was playing baseball, and for me it was a little sooner. I figured it out my first year, probably not going to be a professional at this. I might just want to move on to the next phase of my life.

To me, the view that fans should have is thanks for coming. Thanks for what you contributed. Thank you for not being a black eye on the program. Jeremi Powell’s never a guy that I had to write a police story about for him being arrested. By all accounts he was a great student athlete, and he’s chosen to pursue other endeavors that aren’t football. Made that decision before the bowl game. He didn’t travel with the team down to Orlando for the bowl game. My point of view is just best of luck to you. It’s not an easy decision to make. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him. Both parties are going to be moving on. Jeremy will move on, and Florida will move on.

Andrew:                 Great for him. Gets to go on and get his degree and that kind of stuff. Too bad baseball didn’t work out for you, because I wouldn’t have to put up with you if it did.

Nick:                         You might be watching me on the Braves. I could be the Braves starting catcher.

Andrew:                 I’m glad you’re with me then. If you’re talking about hurting my daily life or my Braves, I’d rather you affect my daily life. That sounds bad, but there it is.

Nick:                         I probably could have stuck with catcher. I preferred the outfield, but when you hit 220 there’s a little more room for that if you’re catching, and you’re managing a bullpen. There’s not much room for 5’10” slow outfielders who are going to strike out a lot and hit under their weight. Maybe room for a catcher. I had a great pop time.

Andrew:                 Whatever. We’ll see. JJ Schwartz is not in your blood. Let’s go real quick to another deal. Martez Ivey, shoulder surgery, torn labrum from kind of what we’ve all heard on that. For me, let me try to say this in the right way. For me, it maybe makes me think more of Martez Ivey, because I was a little worried about Martez the last few games thinking he was just playing bad, but to know he was playing with an injury maybe it makes me appreciate his toughness for sure, and it doesn’t concern me about his blocking as much as it did. I know that sounds really bad, and I’m not trying to say I’m glad he was hurt, by any means. I’m just trying to say that I’m glad…

Nick:                         It kind of explains it to you.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It more explains it to me. Everything we’ve been told is that he’ll be back. He’ll be ready to go, and it’s good for him. One thing that is concerning now is that’s two injuries for the big guy in his first year. Hopefully this isn’t a pattern for Martez, as he does have a long future ahead of him at the tackle position.

Nick:                         Yeah. If you’re talking about offensive linemen, we talked about it with Jon Halapio when he had his pec injury. A shoulder injury for an offensive linemen, we also talked about it with Trip Thurman, that’s tough, because you’re putting your hands, and you’re trying to get your hands extended, getting those long arms out, keeping defensive big strong freaks on the defensive line in the SEC, keeping them away from your body so they can’t get in and use some of those moves.

If you have to extend, if you have hurt your shoulder, I have, just extending and not holding any weight, not trying to push another human, just putting your arms out that hurts. Obviously going through a lot with a shoulder injury trying to play offensive line. We talked a lot during the season about it’s tough to transition from tackle to guard and back and forth. Maybe it wasn’t that. Maybe it was just the shoulder injury.

Andrew:                 I always say a shoulder injury for a lineman is like an ankle injury for a basketball player, or an elbow injury for a baseball player. In that that is your ticket. That is your main movement, and it’s bad. It’s bad for Martez, but good thing he got it cleaned up. Another guy, Quincy Wilson, sports hernia. That’s no joke for anybody, but especially a cornerback who has to be flipping hips a lot. That says a lot about Q as well.

Nick:                         I’ve never had a sports hernia, but my dad had a hernia. I’ve talked to people who’ve had sports hernias, and they’re saying how painful it is just walking or jogging. That’s not getting into playing five games of the season, like you said, flipping your hips and running full speed and tackling with it. It’s not really anything you can do other than pain management. That just shows you the kind of toughness that Quincy has to be able to say, “We can either do surgery, and you’ll feel better, and your season’s done if we do surgery, or you can just take some Advil, take some pain medication, and tough it out, because all it is with that is pain management.” He chose to stick it out. Played five games of the season with a sports hernia. Had surgery on Tuesday. Just a tough guy. I probably would call our boss and tell him I’m not writing today if I had a sports hernia.

Andrew:                 That’s why you’re not playing in the Major Leagues. We won’t get there.

Nick:                         That’s just one of the many reasons on the list of why I’m not playing Major League baseball.

Andrew:                 You’re a sissy. It’s okay. Some people like the Goat are tough, and then the minions of the world are the sissies. That’s why you won’t have the Goat status like myself.

Nick:                         You wouldn’t even podcast if you had a hernia. How dare you.

Andrew:                 Absolutely I would podcast.

Nick:                         You would not.

Andrew:                 The family, my Twitter family, my Gator Country family need to hear from the Goat. If I’m on my deathbed, Gator Country, I am podcasting, because I am the Goat, and I succeed through adversity. Adversity is nothing to me. Hear that, Nicholas. Take life lessons from me. Take life lessons from me.

Nick:                         We’ll have to test that theory out.

Andrew:                 No. We’re not going to test that theory. I don’t want a hernia. I’ve heard about hernias. No thank you. Let’s not be going in that direction by any means. Another big news, it was just drop big news on us here. Austin Appleby, quarterback transfer in from Purdue. Nick, before we get into this, let me say something. So my comment was kind of taken out of context when I said if a grad transfer comes Dwayne Haskins is not. I was more so talking about guys that you know from Day 1 are coming in to start.

Austin Appleby is more of a depth guy. He’s probably a Josh Grady type of guy that’s coming in there for depth. He’s not Kyle Allen. He’s not Trevor Knight. He’s not Davis Webb, one of those guys that he comes in, and he’s the instant starter. Getting Austin Appleby doesn’t throw Dwayne Haskins out of the picture, and I wasn’t clear about that. That’s my fault. I take the blame for that. Dwayne Haskins is still on the board, because Austin Appleby’s not a surefire starter from Day 1.

Nick:                         No. Kyle Allen, it was announced on Tuesday that he’ll be transferring to Houston. He is going to have to sit out a year, per transfer rules. Florida was looking for depth. They were looking for somebody to come in who would be eligible to play this year in case they need it. Right now your guy is Luke del Rio.

Andrew:                 Right. Trevor Knight goes to A&M, so that causes him off the board. Davis Webb still up for grabs. Texas, Cal looks to be the top two teams right now. Again, Florida’s not pursuing Davis Webb hard. He’s a guy that comes in in the summer.

Nick:                         It’s a situation where Davis Webb still hasn’t graduated yet. He has to finish this year, so now you’re not going to get him in for spring practice. You’re going to be getting him in some time in the summer, and then how quickly can you get somebody up to speed? Florida’s looking for depth now, but for me, and from, I think you agree with me, from everything we’ve heard, everyone we’ve talked to, Luke del Rio’s your guy going in, and that’s it. What the future holds for Treon Harris, not sure, but right now Luke del Rio is your guy. Best case scenario he’s healthy and plays well, performs well, and you can get the two freshmen coming in time to redshirt and grow, and you get time to develop them. You have Luke del Rio for two more years, so theoretically you could have Luke for two seasons, and now you have a redshirt sophomore coming in ready to play in Franks or Trask two years from now.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s the biggest thing is I understand my comment was taken out, because I wasn’t clear when I said that, but it’s a situation where Haskins wants the opportunity to come in and compete from Day 1. Can he come in and compete against del Rio and Appleby? Yes. Can he come in and compete against Trevor Knight or someone who’s experienced? It’s tough. I know someone’s going to say, the Haskins family wants guarantees. No. Any big time quarterback like Haskins, like Jacob Eason, those guys, they want the opportunity to play. That’s it.

Let’s talk about Appleby. It’s not Treon Harris. That’s the good thing, but the numbers are just okay for Appleby. Played only in five games last year as a junior. Completed 57 or 58% of his passes, 1,260 yards, 8 touchdowns, 8 picks.

Nick:                         His career numbers he’s completing 55% of his passes, 2,777 yards. That’s a 108 quarterback rating. 19 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. That really is concerning there as far as turning the ball over.

Andrew:                 I think Mac may need to tell him what color jersey’s the Gators are wearing.

Nick:                         We’ll hear that. We will hear a lot of that. To me, and this is something I want to talk about, McElwain certainly has a type when it comes to quarterback.

Andrew:                 Blond chick?

Nick:                         No. It’s not Johnny Manziel in a blond wig. It’s not that.

Andrew:                 It’s not Billy?

Nick:                         No. If you go back to when he was at Alabama, his three quarterbacks there, John Parker Wilson, 6’2”, Greg McElroy, 6’3”, AJ McCarron, 6’4”. Go down to Colorado State, Garrett Grayson was 6’2”. MJ McPeak was 6’4”. Connor Smith, 6’5”. Will Grier, these next two guys at Florida obviously inherited. Will Grier was 6’2”. Treon Harris just 5’11”. If you look at Trask, Appleby, and Franks, all 6’5”. Jim McElwain likes a tall quarterback. He probably won’t come out and say it in those words, because you never know who’s going to pop up in recruiting, but the quarterbacks he has had, and the quarterbacks he has used, there’s a type. They’re tall.

Andrew:                 You know what else his type is?

Nick:                         What’s his type?

Andrew:                 They throw it to the right color jersey and win football games. Something #3, Treon Harris, has not done.

Nick:                         He did all right. He kind of like regressed in that matter.

Andrew:                 He lost four games, or three games in a row. Four games overall. That’s not winning football games.

Nick:                         I’m not going to argue that he played well, but I have argued in the past that winning is not a quarterback specific stat, although the media makes it out to be that.

Andrew:                 Would you agree with this, Nick, and we’ll get back to Appleby in a second. I know I just threw out this whole conversation. Would you agree though that Treon Harris is a big reason of why the Gators offense was poor since Will Grier left?

Nick:                         Yeah. I think what it goes back to is what Jim McElwain kept saying over and over, and it was before the season. We’re looking for a guy, a quarterback, that elevates the play of the 10 people around him. I think Will Grier did a better job of that. So even though I don’t think all of Florida’s problems are Treon Harris, not his fault, I think that Harris didn’t do a job, a good job, of elevating the guys around him, and that’s Jake McGee, Demarcus Robinson, Antonio Callaway, the offensive line. I don’t think Harris, his skill-set or his performance, helped the other 10 guys on offense. I don’t think it’s all his fault. The offensive line could have played better. There’s a ton of things that could have been done better, but absolutely. You can’t argue that the offense was the same or even close to the same in the first six games with Will Grier as it was the rest of the season with Treon Harris.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s what I was going to say. This Appleby move is simply that. It’s a depth move. It’s experience on the thing. I think, and I’m going to get blasted for this, so go ahead and Twitter blast me. Nick, you can blast me as well. I think McElwain would be okay with interceptions if he got some damn touchdowns, if he was able to throw the ball, and if Austin Appleby or del Rio is able to make plays he would be okay with a few interceptions. You’re not okay with Treon’s interceptions, because they’re stupid interceptions. He’s not giving you good play to go up with the interceptions. It’s bad play, bad play, bad play, interception. You need some good play. Maybe that’s what Appleby does.

Here’s the thing also. Maybe Purdue wasn’t the best fit for Appleby. Maybe he does come in and have a good senior year, grad senior year like some other quarterbacks have done, or del Rio comes in. It’s the good thing of now you can almost say Franks will redshirt, because you have that depth of if a del Rio goes down Appleby’s ready to go. Had Appleby not come in, and it’d been del Rio, Franks, Trask, Franks’s redshirt would have had to come off had something happened to del Rio.

Nick:                         Right. Both of us are in agreement that both freshmen need some time to develop. Getting a grad transfer in, someone who has experience, you can argue what was his effectiveness his senior year, or his redshirt junior year last season? He lost the starting job to a freshman. You can argue his effectiveness, but if you’re thinking long term, and if you’re the coaching staff, and you say, “We have two freshmen who we really like a lot, and we project them to be very good. We project maybe even one of them to be our franchise guy, but we think they need time, and we’d rather not have to throw them in and mess with their confidence, because we don’t think they’re ready. If we can get by with Luke del Rio and another grad transfer, and keep that redshirt on, and keep that development process going, it’s worth it.”

You look at Will Grier and what he was able to do through his first six games. He took a redshirt. People were clamoring when Jeff Driskel was at Florida. People were clamoring for Will Grier. Put Will Grier in. We kept saying, “That’s not the plan. You’re not going to burn Will Grier’s redshirt in a losing season. What are you really playing for right now? You need to stay to the plan. Don’t be reactionary. Don’t be a prisoner of the moment. You have a plan. The plan was to redshirt Will Grier. We’re going to stick to that.”

I think the plan is to redshirt both Trask and Franks, and Appleby coming in gives you that safety net where you don’t have to be a prisoner of the moment, and an unfortunate injury doesn’t force your hand.

Andrew:                 The thing is this. Redshirting is not a terrible thing.

Nick:                         No. Everybody develops differently. Of course, any kid that’s coming to Florida is an elite prospect.

Andrew:                 Absolutely.

Nick:                         No elite prospect thinks, I’m going to go to college and ride the bench. They’ve never ridden the bench their entire life.

Andrew:                 Right. This is what everyone says, “Andrew, you say Feleipe Franks is redshirting. Why do you think he sucks?”

Nick:                         That’s not the case at all.

Andrew:                 No. Feleipe Franks needs to redshirt. He has some tools. He needs to develop some more tools. Redshirting is not a bad thing. A lot of elite quarterbacks that are playing in the league today redshirted. Let’s not make this into a bad thing. You look at quarterbacks right now. I can only name two or three quarterbacks that are playing in NCAA right now that started as true freshmen. One of those being Deshaun Watson, and the other being home boy at UCLA right now.

Let’s not make this into a bad thing because they redshirt. That’s my biggest thing is just because they’re redshirting doesn’t mean they’re bad football players. You’re trying to hit a stopgap right now that was open because of Grier transferring. Like we say all the time, McElwain’s trying to rebuild. That all starts with the quarterback play, because of needing guys to be able to go. Quarterback is the hardest position in America to play as a true freshman, and you see it every year.

Nick:                         You look at the Heisman Trophy winners. Marcus Mariota, 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, redshirted. 2013 winner, Jameis Winston, redshirted. 2012 winner Johnny Manziel, redshirted. Robert Griffin did play as a freshman at Baylor. Cam Newton, redshirted at Florida. Sam Bradford redshirted. Tim Tebow did not redshirt.

Andrew:                 But Tim Tebow didn’t play a ton as a freshman as a quarterback. He was more of a running back.

Nick:                         Very limited role, more of a running back. A redshirt is not a condemnation or damnation of a player’s ability. It’s just saying we think in your best interest would be to just practice, develop. We want to teach you some things. We think it’s going to make you a better player to take a redshirt year and use that year to develop, get bigger, to learn. Thousands of reasons for a player to redshirt. It’s not a damnation. We’re looking at Heisman, the supposed best player in college football, and these guys are redshirting.

Andrew:                 The thing is it’s becoming more natural to do this, because of the style of offenses you run in high school. That is the no reads, no reading the defense. I have one read. I’m going to throw it there. If not, I’m taking off and run. So you’re starting to see it become more and more evident there. Of course, go and run the spread offense of Ohio State, of Clemson, that kind of stuff, it’s easier to do that, but if you’re going to run a pro style offense like a Florida, like an Alabama, like a Georgia, those kind of offense you’re going to redshirt more. You look at Alabama, Blake Barnett is probably one of the best quarterbacks in the country last year, and he’s redshirting at Alabama this year, and Jacob Coker’s not great. He’s not great, but he just knows the offense better. He was more ready to play.

That’s kind of where I’m at. Let’s not make this into a bad thing for Franks. Appleby coming in is strictly a depth thing, and to come in and compete. Who knows? He may beat del Rio out in the fall, and if he does, so be it. Let’s go win a title and get to the SEC championship game or whatever it is. Then the next year you have a battle between del Rio and Franks. Who knows?

Nick:                         I think McElwain didn’t want to get into a situation where, “Okay, Luke, we don’t really have any other options, so the job is yours.” He wants to create that competition.

Andrew:                 Competition makes better.

Nick:                         He’s not going to tell, when Franks comes in he’s not going to tell Franks, he’s not going to tell Kyle Trask, you guys are redshirting, so whatever you want to do this year. Doesn’t matter. He’s going to tell those guys, come in and compete. I still think the plan is to have them redshirt, but you don’t tell a player that. You want the player going into every practice thinking I’m trying to earn this job, and you want them competing at that level and with that intensity.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Competition makes you better. It’s all it is. The moment you think your job’s safe you don’t compete, and it shows up on Saturday as when you take that test, as Jim McElwain says. If you knew you were going to take an A you wouldn’t study. That’s why they have to do it.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think that’s the big thing. Every day on Twitter I get asked, do you think Franks starts Day 1? We go through it every single day.

Andrew:                 I think I have a question for you.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Will Franks start as a freshman?

Nick:                         I don’t think so.

Andrew:                 You don’t think so. Why, Nick?

Nick:                         It’s probably because I hate him, and I think he sucks.

Andrew:                For real.

Nick:                         That’s what Twitter would tell you.

Andrew:                 That’s what Twitter would tell you.

Nick:                         We’ve already talked about what the redshirt means, and both of us think it’s a good thing. I do want to talk about Jeremy Powell.

Andrew:                 Go ahead. Let’s talk about Jeremy Powell real quick, add on to what we talked about already.

Nick:                         Less about Jeremy Powell, and more about the depth at that position now.

Andrew:                 Let’s hold that talk for a second. Let’s continue talking about the team next year. Vernon Hargreaves officially put his name into the draft. We knew it was all coming.

Nick:                         We knew that was coming when he signed his letter of intent as a high school senior.

Andrew:               Like Demarcus Robinson, like KT. We all knew that was happening. There is some controversy, I guess you could call it. Supposedly Gator Zone has a little clip or, I guess it’s Florida Gators now, has a clip that Jarrad Davis may not come back to school. I can say this without a shadow of a doubt, and that is Jarrad Davis and his family plan on Jarrad Davis coming back to school next year. I was even told by his mother that there was never even a question coming back to school, that Jarrad is planning to graduate school, and that means coming back next year to school and playing football. Unless the family has just a 180 degree change over last Saturday, Jarrad Davis is coming back to school.

Nick:                         Yeah. There was a little bit of, I put out a tweet that said, I probably could have worded it better, it’s tough to word things perfectly every time when you only have 140 characters, but somebody asked Jarrad Davis before the Citrus Bowl, “Have you put any thought into the draft and coming back?” He’s like, “No. I haven’t really put any thought into that.” I tweeted that out, and people were saying, “I thought he said he was coming back? Does this mean he’s thinking about it now?” The question was posed in a way like with other people leaving have you thought about your decision and maybe tried to change it? No. I haven’t thought about it. He was asked point blank, but you’re still coming back next year? He said, “Oh yes.” He has a plan.

What you’re talking about now is there was a story on Florida Gators.com written by Scott Carter, and it said the Gators are now awaiting the final decisions of three key defensive players, junior safeties Marcus Maye, Keanu Neal, and junior linebacker, Jarrad Davis. Maye and Neal have yet to officially say that they’re coming back, but you and I both from everyone we’ve spoken to close to them, close to the program, tell us that Florida is expecting to get those two back. We expect Davis to be back, and I think that gives Florida an incredible defense, possibly even a better defense next year than they had this year.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly. That’s where it is. I just wanted to address that real quick. That’s more of your leaving guys early. I think Florida has already dealt with the guys that are leaving early. That was KT, D Rob, and Vernon. Isn’t that the only three? Right? That’s the three that’s leaving.

Nick:                         Alex McAlister as well.

Andrew:                 Alex McAlister, yes. Those are four guys that are leaving. I don’t think any of the other guys leave. Yes, we all want to hear them say, “I’m coming back to school,” but at the end of the day no news is good news, and that’s where it is for this.

Nick:                         Yeah. We expect them back. If we can break it, we’ll break it, but I don’t think, I would be more surprised if any of those three left than when we get official word of them coming back.

Andrew:                 You know Jarrad Davis, his family keep a tight lip, and for them to say without a shadow of a doubt they’re coming back to school, to me that’s one of those things that speaks volumes. There’s certain guys that when they talk they talk so much it’s like he’s just talking, and then when someone that doesn’t talk speaks.

Nick:                         Like you.

Andrew:                 Yeah, like me, but everything I say is factual, Nicholas. The Goat, when the Goat speaks the Goat’s speaking truth, my good friend. Let’s talk about that linebacker position that you were just now talking about. It’s skinny as far as depth goes, but some good dudes coming back to play ball.

Nick:                         They might even have more linebackers, scholarship linebackers, this spring than they had last spring, because you think last spring both Antonio Morrison and Davis were out, both dealing with knee surgeries that kept them out. When you look at the team this year, going into spring you really only have five guys, and one of them is a redshirt freshman, in Rayshad Jackson, and the other one’s an early enrollee freshman in David Reese. You’ve got those two, Alex Anzalone, Davis, and Matt Rolin, who came on at the end of the year, but is also a guy that’s dealt with injuries in the past. Florida is still going hard after these linebackers in this recruiting class, and you can kind of point to it now with Powell leaving as kind of, another open spot there.

Andrew:                 Jeremiah Moon is a guy that for me fits that role of Jeremy Powell in that he’s a tweener. He’s an outside linebacker, DN kind of guy. Long and athletic is Jeremiah Moon, and he’s a guy that can play there. David Reese is a guy that he’s going to come in, and he’s going to be ready to ball at linebacker, 230 pounds already. That’s one big old boy coming from Michigan, and he’s ready to ball there. The thing for me is this. Matt Rolin is a very good football player when he’s healthy. He was no joke coming out of high school. I’m very interested to see what Randy Shannon, Geoff Collins, and that crew can do with him this spring if he’s healthy.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think the interesting thing with him would be can he stay healthy?

Andrew:                 He hasn’t proved that, so it’s tough to say. Can he? It’s just like Anzalone. Can he stay healthy? We hope so. I think we’re both in agreement that if Alex Anzalone can stay healthy for a year he may be on the All-American team somewhere.

Nick:                         Yeah. I do wonder if he’s the same player. If you take him back to his senior year, and he never goes through these two ACL injuries, I think you’re looking at an All SEC type of player. Can he still be that? As far as structurally there’s nothing wrong, but after going through things like that it takes a toll on you mentally. So to me, can you trust your body enough to play at that level where you had all that potential? That to me, getting over that mental hurdle of completely trusting that knee that has already let you down twice might be his biggest hurdle.

Andrew:                 Exactly. That’s the thing. I think his big thing was mental. The mental part of his game maybe wasn’t there. He didn’t trust himself fully, but after playing in a couple of these games I think he trusts himself again.

Nick:                         Maybe that is. Mack was kind of…

Andrew:                 Hard on him.

Nick:                         Hard on him, yeah. I was going to say noncommittal on him, but pretty hard on him, I guess that’s a good way to put it. Pretty noncommittal on his status, saying, “He’ll play when he wants to play.” Maybe it was just him needing to get over that mental hurdle, and maybe being able to play, even getting a start, maybe that’s what he needed. I agree with you that he’s a great linebacker, great player. Plays with instincts, tough kid on the football field. We’ll see. We’ll see if he can be. The opportunity is there.

Andrew:                 Right. Then back to Anzalone real quick is Anzalone’s probably your most athletic linebacker on the team. When he’s playing ball he can cover those running backs, because, remember, he was a running back. He’s a smart guy, that kind of stuff. Alex Anzalone will be a player if he can stay healthy. That’s there. Florida’s got Moon, Jeremiah Moon that we talked about. They got Vosean Joseph down from Norland High School in the class, and they’re still going full on blast on a guy like Mack Wilson. Mack Wilson plays ball for the Gators next year if he enrolls in Gainesville. They’re still going after a guy like Josh [Utch], Dontavious Jackson, Jaleel Laguins that’s committed to Georgia. They’re still going after a lot of linebackers.

I think you’ll notice, that you notice about this is Florida knows where they need players, and they’re going after those guys that need player, going after the position they need players at. They’re not letting it die at receiver. They’re not letting it die at line, a quarterback, at linebacker. Where they need bodies they’re going after it, defensive back’s another one. They’re not going to go into this year with low depth. It may be low experience, but that’s only a problem for one year.

Nick:                         Then I have a question about Moon. When you look at him, based on his size, his skill-set, where do you project him as? I don’t think, he’s not your middle linebacker type.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Where, do you project him as maybe even growing into sort of a buck, kind of a rush end linebacker, or maybe a weak side, strong side? Where do you see him fitting in as far as how he develops?

Andrew:                 Like I was kind of saying about him being comparing a little bit to Jeremy Powell, in that he’s listed at 6’4”. He’s a 6’3” guy. He’s 215, 216 guy, and he’s got a big frame to put weight on, a lot like McAlister did. He’s a guy that can put on weight. He’ll put on weight. I think he is at outside linebacker, like you said, that jack or buck, whatever you want to call it in Florida’s defense.

The thing that impressed me a lot when I saw him this year at Hoover and at the Alabama Mississippi All-Star game is he is a guy that can play really well in coverage. He plays really well with his lateral movement in space, but he’s also a guy that when he comes off that edge to rush he’s a rush guy that’s there. I like him at that outside linebacker/jack position in the 3rd down a lot. I think he is a guy that will replace the Matt Rolins of the world or the Jeremi Powells of the world after he gains weight. His off the ball skills for rushing is great, but the thing that impressed me the most was his ability in coverage and his lateral movement in open space is legit, and he comes from a very good football program in Hoover, and is a smart football player that can learn multiple positions to go for that. If I was saying right now I’d say he’s probably a 6’3”, 235 guy in two years.

Nick:                         That’s a lot of weight to gain.

Andrew:                 That’s 20 pounds.

Nick:                         I wish someone would tell me, you need to gain 20 pounds. I’d love that.

Andrew:                 You know what I’m saying? For a guy like a Moon who is 6’3”, 210 pounds that just has so much room to jack up. Mike Kent and that workout staff will put weight on him instantly. It’s nothing for a guy to put on 10 pounds over a three month period in the weight room of eating right and bulking up in the weight room. He could easily be next year 225 pounds. Then another full redshirt year, 235, 240 easy.

Nick:                         Even if you ask Mac I think Mac might leave the crusts on those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Sorry, buddy. We need you to gain weight, so you need to eat all that crust.

Andrew:                 That PB&J probably doesn’t hurt the gaining the weight either. Then a guy, like we said, in David Reese, a guy like Reese is a guy that is a bigger linebacker at 6’1”, 6’2”, 240 pounds. He’s a guy that, and I say this will all due respect to Antonio Morrison, who I think is a great linebacker, but he’s a guy like Morrison that you want him going downhill and crushing the linebacker. You don’t want him in space one on one with somebody. You want him going downhill and crushing a linebacker. That’s David Reese.

He’s a guy that is going to come out of the gate on 3rd down when Jalen Tabor or when Marcus Maye or Keanu Neal is coming in to play that nickel dime package. He’s coming out of the game, but on 1st and 2nd down when Derrick Henry’s coming at you, Reese is the guy that’s hitting the middle, and that’s where David Reese is going to be a good player for Florida, as well as a guy like Vosean Joseph who is only 6’2”, 217, 220 right now, but he’s a guy that’s going to be a middle linebacker type player. So you get two inside guys in the class. Already an outside guy in the class in Moon. You go after another outside guy like a Mack Wilson, like a Dontavious Jackson, and then they’re still in the running for a guy like Josh Uche, who is Jeremy Powell, who is Matt Rolin, who is Jeremiah Moon, that outside linebacker type player.

Nick:                         Help is on the way, and it’ll be nice to see Reese in spring practice, like you said. Physically has the build, has the body, the mentality, and very much. Watching him I see a lot of that Antonio Morrison, that kind of guy that is crashing in the A gap on a run blitz, that is big enough and physical enough, and nasty enough, to take on that duty and take on that role. You kind of lose one, and Jeremy Powell does open up a scholarship. You get a grad transfer in Appleby, and Powell leaves the next day, so those kind of cancel each other out. Florida’s still on track for about 28, 30 recruits. That’s a gigantic class.

Andrew:                 It’s needed though. It’s so needed to get some guys in that are players. I joke on Twitter, and I say Florida gets new toys, and that’s exactly what they’re getting. Kerry Dixon right now has to be licking his chops thinking, I’m getting Dre Massey. I’m getting Josh Hammond. I’m getting Freddie Swain. I got guys that can catch the ball? Wow. I’m getting players. It’s that kind of stuff. Chauncey Gardner coming to Kirk Callahan. He’s licking his chops right now. He’s getting new toys that are there and guys that are Mac guys. I say that, no disrespect to Muschamps’ defense, but you’re getting Mac’s guys, guys that Mac recruited and are going to play hard for Mac. They’re going to go in.

A guy like Mark Thompson. That is a work horse that Mac just got at the running back position. He’s a prototypical Alabama Jim McElwain style running back, just like a Scarlett is, just like a Perine is. Those are guys that Mac wants in his offense. You say he has a style for a quarterback, he has a style for a running back too, and he wants 215, 220+ running backs that can carry four or five guys on the line of scrimmage on 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1, 4th and inches. He doesn’t want to be running some trick play like he did in the Citrus Bowl. He wants to tell his running back, I’m handing you the ball. Go truck four guys and get in the end zone.

Nick, I guess, you talked about Powell. Anything else? Any other thing you want to hit on before we talk a little recruiting?

Nick:                         No. I think we’re good on the team. They’re starting class, drop/add this week. Recruiting still inching closer every day.

Andrew:                 When does the team start workouts? Is it Wednesday or Thursday?

Nick:                         I think they hold off until after drop/add. So drop/add is Monday.

Andrew:                 That’s all the time we have for today but make sure to check us out on Friday.

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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.