GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we preview National Signing Day for the Florida Gators as they close out the 2018 class on Wednesday.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down how this past weekend’s official visits went and if the Gators have a chance with those three guys.
Andrew and Nick also give you a mock class on how they see things finishing for the Gators on Wednesday and how they grade the class as a whole.
Previewing NSD for 2018
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, when you guys listen to this we got one day till Signing Day. We’re taping this on Monday here at about 11:30, and things are winding down. The 2018 class is officially ready to roll, and Mullen is officially ready to put the stamp on the 2018 class. Overall, I think what we’re talking about is that this is going to be a pretty good class in what everyone calls a transition year.
Nick: Yeah. It should be a pretty good class. I think, like we talked about last time, last podcast, what really helps is that there’s a lot of crossover in coming from an SEC school to another SEC school. Those relationships are already built there. So I think that really helps. It’s kind of like we talked about before, next year you’re still behind the eight-ball probably a little bit, but I think by Year 3 with Mullen, actually his second full recruiting class that you can probably say he’s caught up with everyone else. What really accelerated that timeline is the fact that being at Mississippi State he’s recruiting and basically looking at the same kind of guys that Florida would be looking at.
Andrew: That’s the thing. You’re going to have relationships that are built. You’ll see a broader approach in 2019, because of the relationships. Again, you’ll be a little behind the eight-ball on some of the instate kids, but overall, you’ll still be able to have a pretty good amount of time to build relationships. A lot more time than you did in the 2018 class. Like you say, you still have guys that were at Mississippi State that maybe they had recruited as a 2019 guy, and maybe they just knew they weren’t going to have a chance at Mississippi State because of Mississippi State, but we’ll see kind of how that builds. As it goes on through 2020, that’s when you’ll start to see these guys really have these relationships.
Again, I think Mullen is a guy that can makeup time and make up these relationships really well. I mean, he’s done such a quick job in the 2018 class. Again, I don’t think you can say enough about how good of a class he’s going to have in what we call the transition year.
Nick: Let’s go to this past weekend, last weekend of official visits, and talk about some of those guys. I think we’re looking at some of those guys potentially being in this class as well.
Andrew: Yeah. When you go back and you kind of look at what Mullen was able to do with his last official visit weekend before the early signing period, he went 4 for 4, I believe is what it was. So now he brings in three guys here on the last weekend of this signing period, and I think he can go 2 for 3. He possibly could go 3 for 3. They had Fabien Lovett in town. They had Dorian Gerald in town, and then they had Jacob Copeland in town. I would say Jacob Copeland and Dorian Gerald are two strong leans to Florida at this time. Florida has a really good chance with those guys.
Fabien Lovett is a little bit different. I think he probably ends up at Mississippi State right now. Had a good visit. Was once committed to Mullen at Mississippi State, but it was his first trip to Gainesville, and it’s always a little bit difficult to get guys out of Mississippi, simply because they either grow up rooting for Ole Miss, or they grew up rooting for Mississippi State, or they go to Alabama or LSU, who are right there near them. To go all the way to Florida would be a little tough, especially with only one visit.
I do know that Florida did make up a ton of ground with Fabien and gave him a lot to think about. It’s just simply maybe a little too late for him, and then it’s another case of will Florida even have room? I think that’s your biggest takeaway from that. Again, I think if you tell people, you’re going to get Copeland and you’re going to get Dorian Gerald, a lot of people are going to be very happy.
Nick: Dorian Gerald, #1 Juco player in the country. From watching him, what is his biggest strength, and where does he kind of fit into a Grantham defense? Looking at that new 3-4, where do you see him fitting in, if he’s a guy that fits in? Because he’s someone who would obviously play right away.
Andrew: He’s a bigger guy, and he’s a guy that I feel like is a perfect defensive end for a 3-4 defense. A lot of people say, “What is a perfect defensive end?” A perfect defensive end in that 3-4 defense is a guy like Gerald, who is a bigger guy who can rush the passer but is also a guy that can really set that edge. He’s 6’3”. 275 is what he weighed in at. If you go back and you look at it, you go back and you look at him, you say, “Man, that’s a big guy, but he’s a very athletic guy.”
At 275, I think he’s a guy that can really set that edge on that 3-4 defense opposite of your outside linebacker. So he’ll be playing that strong side D-End, and he’s able to stop the run and rush the passer and be a guy that’s not going to get bullied around. He’s even a guy that you could slide inside a little bit, if you decided to bring in another pass rusher on obvious passing downs, on a 3rd down.
I think the biggest thing that you take away from Gerald is he’s athletic. He’s a big guy, and he’s a guy that is just very good, a guy that was a good player coming out of high school. Just didn’t have the academics. I think, when you look at Gerald, you kind of look at a guy like a Jon Jon Bullard, and that’s a guy that can play all around. Florida’s kind of comparing him to Montez Sweat at Mississippi State, and that’s a good comparison.
Again, the biggest thing that Gerald’s got to decide is does he like the 3-4 defense, or does he like the 4-3 at Texas A&M? Everything we’re hearing is he likes that 3-4 at Florida.
Nick: If you’re looking at Florida’s defensive line, they’re still trying to set the edge from last year. Didn’t happen yet. I think that’s a really good comparison. You talk about him and Cece Jefferson play the same position. It’s like I think you’re going to see Cece playing a completely different role, kind of standing up this year. If you think back to like Dante Fowler. Yeah, Dante Fowler played with hand down when he was at Florida at times, but there would be times when he would be standing up just ready to get off the line and rush the passer, no mistake about it. I think you’re going to see Cece in more of that role, and that’s probably part of the reason why he comes back. You put Dorian on the other edge there, on the other side of Cece, and that’s kind of the role he would play.
Andrew: It’s a thing where if it’s an obvious passing situation, it’s 3rd and 17 for the opposing team.
Nick: You want to put Moon in, and you have Moon and Cece and …
Nick: Gerald slides inside. Yeah.
Andrew: Yeah. You could very easily go to that, and you would be okay, because you would have three guys that could really get to the passer. Then a guy like Gerald is big enough to go up against that double team of a center guard or however they were to double team you. The same thing with Cece. They’d be able to go against those guys.
Nick: Exactly. That’d be a big one. Might only be a year player, a guy you have for a year, but that’d be a big name. He seemed to enjoy his visit this week. It was a good group of kids to have around.
Moving on from him, real quick. Seemed like Jacob Copeland and Emory Jones attached at the hip this week.
Andrew: Yeah. That’s a thing. You go back to December, when Emory was trying to decide whether it was going to be Florida or Florida State or Alabama, or whoever it may be. Jacob Copeland was the guy recruiting Emory Jones to Florida. I’ve had some people say, “Then why was he not committed to Florida?” Listen, Jacob likes the attention. He likes this game. At the end of the day, he likes Florida. He definitely was. He was recruiting Emory, telling him about Florida, this, that, and the other. I think that the thing for Copeland at Florida is he just wanted to feel comfortable with this new coaching staff, and he did. Having Emory and Trey Dean there really helped this weekend.
I don’t blame Copeland for wanting a quarterback in the class. He was very close to Corral, but now he’s very close to Emory. Emory’s doing a good job. Everyone is asking me, “We haven’t heard much about Emory recruiting.” Emory’s recruiting. He just isn’t the show boater that Matt Corral was on Twitter. He’s the one doing it behind the scenes. Same thing with Trey Dean.
I’ll tell you something else though. Dan Mullen has done an incredible job on Copeland. Listen, I’m not going to tell people about Copeland. Everybody knows about he likes his attention and this, that, and the other. He’s getting it from Mullen. Mullen has made sure to roll out the red carpet for him. He’s Snap Chatting and taking Instagram photos, Copeland is, of him and Mullen, calling him his guy.
Again, it just made Copeland feel comfortable at Florida, make him feel like a priority, and that probably is what makes it, at the end of the day. Copeland goes to Florida and is the guy. If he goes to Alabama, he’s just a guy. Copeland wants to be the guy, and he wants to play early. If you ask Jacob Copeland, Nick, I think you and I can agree here, he’ll tell you that he’s going to come in and play early. I think if you and I asked each other we’ll say, “Who’s going to stop him?” Tyrie Cleveland is the only proven wide receiver at Florida, and he hasn’t proven he can stay healthy.
Nick: I think no matter what a coach tells me, if I’m a receiver, someone as talented as Jacob Copeland or any receiver, I don’t care what a coaching staff tells me. I’ve watched guys come into Florida playing my position and do nothing, because there’s no quarterback. So I want to meet the new quarterback. I want to watch him practice. I want to see him throw. I want to know who he is, what he’s about. In my mind, very smart concern for Jacob Copeland to have. Like you said, very close to Matt Corral, and who’s the next guy going to be? Because I’m not coming in to have Skylar Mornhinweg throw me balls. That’s not what I’m signing up for.
Andrew: Exactly. Again, a quarterback can be the biggest recruiter in a class, and that’s exactly what Emory Jones is doing. When you look at the situation at Florida, Emory Jones has got a good chance to play early. We’ve all said that. Again, Copeland wants to know who is going to come in and throw him the ball, and then he wants to be close to recruits. That’s exactly what he is.
I’m going to say this too. Jawaan Taylor, Nick, has turned into Florida’s hidden gem of a recruiter on campus. It’s almost like if you want a recruit to sign with Florida, you put Jawaan Taylor there. Trey Dean, Emory Jones, Jawaan Taylor’s guys. Jacob Copeland has been Jawaan Taylor’s guy the entire time he’s been on campus. Jawaan had Brad Stewart last year. Jawaan hosted Copeland this weekend, and Copeland’s really close to Jawaan Taylor. Again, Jawaan did a really good job with him this weekend.
I’m still saying Florida for Jacob Copeland. It’s going to be close. There’s no doubt it’s going to be close at the end of the day, but we’ll see just what Copeland says. Again, I’m saying Florida, simply because he can be the guy at Florida.
Nick: It’s also a school that he’s been rumored to be close with. Obviously, he committed to the previous staff. Another thing I was talking about with a friend, a guy I grew up with back home, Gator fan, he was wondering where I would be surprised if Copeland went. To him, he’d be surprised if he went to Tennessee. I said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he went to Tennessee, only for the fact that he didn’t grow up with a great family life, and he really had a strong relationship with Jeremy Pruitt at Alabama.” I said, “That’s where the whole Tennessee came from is when Pruitt went to Tennessee.” Now he has that relationship with that school. To me, when you look at it from a business perspective, making a business decision, that comes down to Florida and Alabama.
Andrew: Tennessee’s not getting Jacob Copeland.
Andrew: I very rarely speak of absolutes in recruiting, but Jacob Copeland is way too big for the University of Tennessee. Way too big. First of all, he knows of the shenanigans that those guys have, some of the guy that were at Florida that left and didn’t really tell Jacob about things like that. That’s stuff that makes him mad. Jeremy Pruitt has done an incredible job on Jacob Copeland. Jeremy Pruitt’s only mistake he made was letting it leak that he was going to play DB at the University of Alabama under Jeremy Pruitt. Jacob Copeland does not want to be a defensive back. He wants the ball in his hands. He wants to score touchdowns and show off. That is going to be there. Also, he’s not living in Knoxville. It just isn’t.
If he goes to Florida, it’s because they’re the instate school, and because he thinks he can play early. If he goes to Alabama, it’s because he’s going to win championships. Tennessee has nothing to offer Jacob Copeland, and so I would be absolutely incredibly floored if he says Tennessee, because I just do not see it whatsoever.
Nick: Right with you. I think where the Tennessee thing came from was that relationship with Pruitt. To me, it’s exactly what you said. If he goes to Alabama, it’s the allure of I’m going to win a championship here. Probably be able to play early, in your mind at least, be able to play early, and I’m going to win championships. If I go to Florida, that’s the school I’ve been most comfortable with the entire time, and I’m going to be able to play early. I think the whole Tennessee thing came just because of that relationship with Pruitt. I would join your boat and say that I’d be shocked if he went to Tennessee, because I don’t think the relationship with one coach really outweighs the other two things.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s like I say, you’re not going to make me believe that he’s going to go to a school that he is not going to win and is going to be far from home. Let’s just be honest, is going to live in a shithole of Knoxville.
Nick: What about the two Apopka boys?
Andrew: They didn’t make it in. North Carolina bound. That’s just all there really is to say about it. People are upset about it. Listen, Florida was a school that got in late because of Hevesy. Brad Davis was a guy they were close with. It was too much to overcome. North Carolina was a school that his mom, William Barnes’ mom, went to. They made Montilus a priority early on in the recruiting cycle. Florida didn’t. You can’t knock Florida for that. Montilus is a Plan B guy early on, and really was up until the last few weeks. They’re going to North Carolina. Hold the bashing. I mean, listen, a guy like William Barnes is going to be successful anywhere he goes. He’s a good football player. He’s going to go to the NFL, and he’s going to get a degree at North Carolina, and so be it.
You can’t knock Florida. They went all in on Nick Petit-Frere, and they went all in on Richard Gouraige. They went all in on Barnes. They didn’t go all in on Montilus, and then at the end of the day, you can’t keep a coach around for one recruit. If Dan Mullen didn’t feel like Brad Davis was the best guy to be the offensive line coach, then he can’t keep him just for William Barnes.
Nick: I agree. We talk about that all the time. We oftentimes say there’s no such thing as a package deal. There’s no such thing as a combo deal like that, but it really seems to be the case here.
Andrew: Again, it’s one of those things where they played together in high school. They have been talking about it, and then last, I would say, month, month and a half, two months they’ve said, “We’re going to play together in college.” It just kind of worked out that North Carolina was the school that was going to take both. Ole Miss would take both, but Barnes was never going to go to Ole Miss. Barnes was only going to go to North Carolina or Florida. That was all it is. I could have seen Auburn maybe sneaking in had they keep their offensive line coach, but he went to Texas. Again, I can’t fault Florida for this. I just can’t. Would it have been nice to get those guys? Sure.
Everyone says, “Where’s the state pride?” Listen, there’s a coaching change. Relationships are everything in recruiting. Anyone who tells you pick a school, not a coach, is lying to you. Everyone’s going to pick a coach, not a school. It just is what it is. Unless you’re just some diehard guy who absolutely does not give a shit about a coach, you’re going to pick a coach over a school.
Nick: That was Martez and Cece. It didn’t matter who was there. They were going to Florida.
Andrew: Yeah. Again, I can’t sit here and tell you, Nick, that I would choose a school no matter what over a coach. I just couldn’t. What happens if I absolutely hated the guy? For instance, I would not go play football for Butch Jones. I would not go play football for Mark Richt. It just isn’t. I’ll use my Atlanta Braves. I wouldn’t go play for the Braves for Mark Richt and Butch Jones, and I absolutely love my Atlanta Braves. I just wouldn’t. I couldn’t stand to look at those guys every day.
Nick: My opinion is you should not pick a coach. A coach is very unlikely to even be there for your four years, as we’ve seen now, but realistically I understand that guys are picking schools because of coaches, because of relationships. I get it. I completely understand it. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. If you look at it, when was the last class, I guess Muschamp’s first class, his very first recruiting class, had one coach the entire time they were there. It’s unlikely. I understand why, and I get it. If you hate a coach, I wouldn’t want to go and be there every day, even if that was a school I grew up loving. I get it.
Andrew: That’s what I’m saying. You just can’t convince me that coaches don’t matter. I can’t fault these kids for that. Let’s move on a little bit, Nick. The big news over the weekend kind of was Malcolm Lamar went ahead and took that unofficial visit to Florida State, after telling a lot of people he wouldn’t. That pretty much sealed the deal. Malcolm Lamar to FSU. Malcolm Lamar is a weird recruitment, a funny recruitment a little bit, in that there was a lot of people that like him, and there’s a lot of people that don’t like him. As far as his playing ability, not as a person. He’s a good person. I think a lot of people are happy he’s not in the class, and then a lot of people are sad he’s not in the class.
For me, personally, I feel like Florida is able to replace him with a guy like Caleb Johnson, and they’re fine. That’s kind of where I think things will go for them. The only thing that I will say is this. You allow FSU to get into Armwood, and Armwood always has kids. Is that a good thing? Probably not, because you kind of like the fact, if you’re Florida, that FSU hadn’t signed a kid from Armwood. Now it looks like they’re going to go 3 for 3 from there. Again, all in all, Malcolm Lamar to Florida State isn’t such a bad thing, but it ain’t a great thing either. What do you think, Nick?
Nick: I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I was thinking about you saying you let Florida State get into Armwood. Florida’s had a very good history of being in that school. Do you want to start losing kids that you want to Florida State from there? No, but I think Florida will be okay at Armwood. I think the bigger thing for me is Florida trying to get into IMG.
Nick: Which with the coaches they’ve had there, one in particular, Florida has not been able to get into IMG. If you had IMG’s senior class go to one school, that’d be a top 2 class.
Andrew: I know we’re getting off the trail here for a second, but I had one of the people who work at IMG, and he told me, “Listen, the day Coach Mac sent Doug Nussmeier and Chris Rumph to IMG was the day Florida was never going to sign a guy from IMG.” He said, “Those two guys couldn’t recruit me,” and it was the guy I was talking to, who is an Alabama alum, “Couldn’t recruit me to my home state Alabama.” I started laughing, and I said, “Why is that?” He said, “How in the world those two guys got to be good recruiters is beyond me.”
Nick: It’s a question where a lot of that stuff comes from.
Andrew: Yeah. When you’re at Clemson, and you have plenty of bags, stuff can work out. Anyway, Nick, let’s move on. Everyone has asked me for a mock class. Everyone. I’m releasing it on Gator Country at noon on Monday. You guys are listening to this, you’ve already seen the mock class. I’m going to release it again here on the podcast, in case you’re not a member of Gator Country. Here we go.
Obviously, you have the commits. Offensive line Griffin McDowell and athlete Justin Watkins. Richard Gouraige is also a commit, and I do believe the Gators keep him in the class, so that’s your three. You can sign nine. I have them adding wide receiver Jacob Copeland, outside linebacker/defensive lineman Andrew Chatfield. I have them adding defensive lineman Caleb Johnson, and I have them adding defensive lineman Dorian Gerald, and I have them adding defensive back Noah Boykin.
For my last spot, right now, in pencil, I’m writing in Caleb Tanner. I very easily could switch Tanner for Nick Petit-Frere. Personally, I’m gun-shy with Nick Petit-Frere, because nobody has a clue of where he’s going, including himself. Me personally, I can’t right now tell you guys and put in a mock class and say that I think Nick Petit-Frere is coming to Florida. I just can’t. Maybe as the time goes on on Tuesday I’ll have a better feeling on that. I do think Florida is in the running for Nick Petit-Frere. I just am not feeling good enough to say he’s in the class. Right now I’m giving that spot to defensive lineman/outside linebacker Caleb Tanner. Again, that’s just my class. I could be completely wrong on Tanner. He’s out and goes to Nebraska, and Nick Petit-Frere is in. I’m not saying that’s out of the question at all. I’m just saying right now that’s who I feel comfortable with.
Nick: Who is more important?
Andrew: Nick Petit-Frere. I mean, five-star offensive tackle. Nick, you know as much as anyone about me, that I could give two shits about five-star or four-star on the line, but I just think that Florida is in such desperate need of tackles. If you add Petit-Frere and Gouraige, you added two really good tackles on Signing Day, and two good players that could potentially be your bookend tackles in the coming years.
Nick: I agree. Where do you think Petit-Frere would end up if not Florida?
Andrew: I think Notre Dame. Ohio State was the school that was talked about for a while, and Greg Schiano is the guy he’s close with. His kids go to Berkeley Prep with Nick. Obviously, news broke on Monday that Schiano’s going to New England, so that kind of hurt them a little bit. He’s very high on academics. Notre Dame is the school that probably has the best academics out of all the schools left right there with Florida. Me personally, it’s a Florida-Notre Dame battle, with Alabama luring in the background a little bit. Nick, you and I both know you don’t count on Alabama.
Nick: No. You certainly don’t. Where would be the school that you’d be most surprised? Would it be Alabama?
Andrew: I think it’d be Ohio State now, with Schiano out, because that’s the guy he’s closest with. He was linked there for a while, but Schiano was kind of the only guy he was talked about with Ohio State. That would be the school I’d be surprised with, now that Schiano’s gone. Here’s the deal. I go back to him not knowing. It’s been a long time, Nick, since I remember a kid just being so close to the vest with the decision that you really didn’t know where he was going to go, and that’s Nick Petit-Frere. I don’t think he even knows right now, as we’re doing this at 11:30, where he’s going to go.
For anybody to predict that, they’re just guessing, or kind of going off of what they’re hearing. I would say nobody would surprise me, but if I had a gun to my head, and you’re asking me I have to say who would surprise me, it would be Ohio State, just because Schiano’s gone.
Nick: Okay. Another name, maybe I’m wrong, but I think might be surprising to some people, just because of the way the visits and stuff went down, Andrew Chatfield.
Andrew: Nick, you and I talked about this. I think it was Friday on the podcast actually. He was a guy that wasn’t offered by Florida, Miami, or Florida State until later in the process. Florida offered him at Friday Night Lights. Miami offered him later in the fall, and then Florida State just offered him under Willie Taggert. I, personally, I don’t understand it. The man’s a freak. I just love his ability off the edge. He’s a poor man’s Dante Fowler, but I’m telling you, and I fully believe this, Andrew Chatfield’s going to put some sack records in the books at the University of Florida. I remember telling Chad Wilson when the guy was a sophomore, “Chatfield’s going to be a monster at defensive end and outside linebacker rushing the passer.”
Anyway, Miami kind of pissed him off a little bit. Same coaching staff that didn’t offer him until later in the process. Then they kind of slow played him a little bit. Florida, they had the lead under Mac, and then Ja’Juan Seider did a good job keeping Florida in the mix under Mullen. Mullen and Grantham has done a good job of really getting him there. That’s where I kind of see things going is that Chatfield goes to Florida, because Florida showed him the most love.
Nick: No surprises then really for Signing Day. Kind of what we talked about, because of just the way that it broke down with the early signing period. Really no surprises, outside of potentially an NPF.
Andrew: We were talking about this within our staff about kind of how Signing Day was going to go. We were like, there’s only going to be Griffin McDowell and Justin Watkins send in their LOI early, because then there’s seven announcements. Jacob Copeland’s going to leave everybody in suspense. Let me just go ahead and tell everybody. He’s going to have the Alabama stuff going. He’s probably going to put out Tennessee stuff. He’s going to have everybody guessing.
Gouraige is going to have everybody nervous until he signs an LOI, because of Clemson. Chatfield has Miami there, and they’re right down the street. You can’t count out Miami. Caleb Johnson is a guy that has Auburn barreling down the race for him. Dorian Gerald has A&M and Arkansas completely after him, and then Noah Boykin still has Maryland right now the street and Notre Dame after him. Then you have Nick Petit-Frere, and you have Caleb Tanner.
You have a lot of guys have to make announcements. I’m sitting here telling you guys I think they’re in the class. By no means is it a slam dunk, and until that LOI, or until they come on TV and say they’re going to Florida, it’s not a done deal. I do think it’ll be an anxious, nervous day inside the war room at Florida. I’m sure fans will be a little nervous about things. Florida should be good. I think worst case scenario Florida doesn’t fill nine spots in this class, and then a lot of people are upset, but I do think they can fill nine spots in this class. I think if you get Nick Petit-Frere you top off this class with a huge slam dunk. If you don’t get him, you still have a huge class.
When you look at it, just adding Copeland, Gouraige, and Dorian Gerald and Noah Boykin to the class on Signing Day would be huge. Getting Justin Watkins, even though he committed two weeks ago, that’s still a huge get. That’s a top 100 player. Getting Griffin McDowell is still a solid player at center. They just didn’t commit on Signing Day. I think a lot of times that’s wasted a little bit. Gouraige is a commit, but if he signs on Signing Day with Florida, everyone’s going to be happy. Again, I think Signing Day is a good day for Florida, no matter what happens with Nick.
Nick: Okay. Still expecting then that full class.
Andrew: Yeah. I do. I think there’s a chance that they maybe sign eight instead of nine, if you slow play Caleb Tanner a little bit, and he decides to go to Nebraska, because you’re waiting on Nick, then maybe you only get eight. I do. I think at the least you get eight. At the most you get nine. Doesn’t look like they’re going to get that tenth scholarship back for Randy Russell in time, which is bullshit. I’ll go ahead and say it. That’s ridiculous. Florida did a good job with Randy Russell taking him out of harm’s way, but that’ll be another scholarship for next year.
Nick: I’ll ask you in our podcast after what your grade is, but if the class comes out and is how your mock class, let’s say your mock class is 100% right. How do you feel about this staff, and what kind of grade would you give them?
Andrew: I’d give them an A. I give them an A just because of what they did on early signing. I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Getting Emory Jones and getting Trey Dean was huge. Getting those guys was huge. If you can land Copeland and Gouraige, you did your job. You got the guys you were supposed to get, you were favored to get, and in a transition class. Then you went out and got guys like Chatfield and Tanner and those guys. I’d give them an A. I’ll say this. People are, “Should we be top 10?” No. Florida should never just be top 10. They should be battling for top 5, and I fully believe Dan Mullen will be battling for top 5 as early as next year at Florida. There’s no reason. There’s no reason you don’t battle for top 5 at the University of Florida.
Nick: I agree. 100%. No reason why you shouldn’t, year in and year out.
Andrew: Exactly. That’s kind of how I go. Let’s go ahead, Nick. On Signing Day we’ll have our normal chats going, starting early in the morning. We’ll have signee profiles going up. We’ll be having our texts go out as guys sign their LOI. That’ll be going up on Monday night on Gator Country. If you’re listening to this, go check it out, because it’s already there. Then Nick will be having stuff from Dan Mullen as he does his post-recap on Signing Day. That’s at what, 3:00, Nick?
Nick: 3:00. Yeah.
Andrew: So he’ll be having all that stuff. Then I’ll be taking a breather on Thursday and Friday. Then it’ll be back to 2019 guys, as Florida is meeting on Monday and Tuesday as a coaching staff, and they’re setting that 2019 board. It never stops, because shortly after Signing Day it’ll be Junior Days. You’ll be looking at 2019 guys. The recruiting grind never stops. First things first, let’s put the stamps on the 2018 class and get things rolling. 2019 should be a special year.
Nick: That should be. They already started. They already started early. Any impact of being able to have those 2020 guys come to spring games now, those rising juniors?
Andrew: Yeah. I think it’s a big thing. It’s always great to be out early on these guys. I mean, Florida was offering 2021 kids during the recruiting period in January, when they were able to go out. It’s great to be out ahead and get guys on campus. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. The more times you get them on campus, the better chance you got to get them in the class. That’s exactly what’s going to happen. Junior Days, spring practices, spring game, and then on into summer camps, that’ll be huge.
Got to remember this, and that is that 2019 kids can now take some official visits in the spring, as long as they’re qualified and have taken the ACT. They can take some official visits in the spring and summer. That’ll be something we have to watch going on through the spring. We’ll get into that after we put the stamp on this 2018 class. It should be fun. It should be fun. Again, I really expect that the 2019 class is going to be a good class for Florida.
Nick: Anything else you want to add?
Andrew: No, but I do want to say this. I am so glad that I do not cover recruiting for like softball. Tim Walton got the youngest recruit in history of college sports. He got a 2023 kid.
Nick: She announced it the day before her twelfth birthday. She was 11 years old when she told Tim Walton that she was going to commit.
Andrew: Sixth grade. Incredible.
Nick: That’s something.
Andrew: My thing is this, Nick. I’m going go off topic here. I mean, is softball and baseball just that different, Nick? I’m going to be honest. There’s a lot of really good players, I thought when I was 12 years old. Tim, are you for sure she’s a Gator? I mean, of course, you can back out of that and all that good stuff, but she must be really special.
Nick: Yeah. Softball is that. I don’t know if Sully would take a commitment from a 12 year old.
Andrew: I mean, if he’s throwing 70, Sully’s got some chart here that says, okay, at 12 throwing 70, so at 18.
Nick: Might be burnt out by the time he comes.
Andrew: Sully’s going to be calling down there. Listen, when you’re playing park ball and travel ball, do not pitch. I want to save your arm for six more years.
Nick: That’s wild. I also wanted to, I predicted the correct Super Bowl champion, and I predicted a high scoring game.
Andrew: You did. I’ll say this. That was one of the best Super Bowls I’ve seen in a long time. Nick, that Hail Mary was close to being completed.
Nick: I would have lost it.
Andrew: Do you not agree? Julian Edelman had a chance.
Nick: Yeah. Had a chance. I think Gronk’s down there as well. I would not have been a happy camper. I grew up in South Florida, grew up a Dolphins fan. The Patriots have been terrorizing me for my entire adult life. I can never root for them, ever.
Andrew: It’s crazy, because they lose both of their coordinators, and they’ll probably be back in the Super Bowl next year.
Nick: I don’t even want to think about that. The job that Doug Peterson did. You lose Carson Wentz, your starting quarterback. You’ve got this train that can’t be stopped with Carson Wentz, and you’re rolling. All of a sudden, you lose your quarterback. Tears his ACL. You have to go a guy in Nick Foles who a few years ago was ready to quit, ready to give up football. Then Nick Foles doesn’t look good, and all of a sudden, you start adding in some wrinkles to your offense with run pass option stuff. You start handing the ball off to Nelson Agholor on some jet sweeps, stuff like that. You start doing stuff with Nick Foles that will help him, and stuff that he’s comfortable with. He just went off, went off on a tear.
Andrew: If you’d have told me when they played the Falcons.
Nick: Yeah. Goes to show you how much a coach can impact a game.
Andrew: If you’d have told me before the Falcons game that Philadelphia was going to win the Super Bowl, I’d have told you you were crazy. Because Nick Foles had looked like nothing compared to what he looked like in the Super Bowl in the regular season. He looked bad. First half of the Falcons game he looked like trash.
Andrew: He looked like trash. I’ll say this. Josh McDaniels, you and Steve Sarkisian need to go have a drinking party together, because both of you guys are crazy when it comes to using your best weapons. Where was Gronk in the first half? One catch for nine yards.
Nick: Yeah. There were a couple plays, I think. It’s almost like the big NBA center kind of thing, where Dwight Howard and Shaq complained of getting called for fouls or not getting called for being fouled, because they’re so much bigger than everyone. There were a couple plays where a cornerback runs up and slams into the back of Gronk, right before the ball gets there. You’re like, how is that not pass interference? Because one guy’s 6’6” 270 pounds, and the guy that ran into him is 5’11”, 180.
I think the Eagles did a good job. I really thought when he came down Malcolm Jenkins is one of the only safeties in the League that can probably cover Gronk one on one. A good job of neutralizing him. Really, there was not much defense to be spoken of. The first sack of the entire game came on the Patriot’s second to last drive.
Andrew: It was a game that was kind of like the anti-Super Bowls of the past. You think back to the games in the past, whether it be the Steeler or the Patriots or whoever it may be, where it was pick sixes or fumbles returned for 99 yards. Wasn’t it James Harrison that did that with the Steelers a couple years ago? Then this one was no defense. I think it was one punt in the game. Doug Peterson, he is the Les Miles of NFL football. Take chances. Trey Burton.
Nick: Unbelievable. Yeah. Can’t forget that.
Andrew: Trey Burton throws a touchdown. Pat Dooley had a tweet that said he’s only the second Gators quarterback to throw a touchdown in the Super Bowl, with Rex Grossman. I mean, just the job Peterson did. Brett Favre was congratulating him on that. Peterson and Brett Favre are close friends. He got them over the hump, man. Like you said, without Carson Wentz. Here’s my question. What do you do at quarterback now? Can you bench the Super Bowl MVP?
Nick: Yeah. You do. Carson Wentz has said he’s coming back, and he’ll be ready. His goal is to be ready for training camp. Listen, man, that’s your #1 pick.
Andrew: I know. I’m just saying. What do you get?
Nick: Nick Foles is under contract for one more year. They only owe him $7 million. You don’t mind paying a backup quarterback who goes home to a Super Bowl MVP trophy $7 million. You don’t mind paying him that. If somebody comes along …
Andrew: Couple first rounders.
Nick: Yeah. I’d say if somebody comes along and gives you an offer that’s sweet you say, “Nick, we appreciate everything you did, and we’ll help you pack up that Super Bowl trophy. You’re always a part of the first Super Bowl that a storied franchise of the Eagles have won.” To me, that was the crazy part, when the Eagles made the Super Bowl. I was like they must have won one back in sometime. Sometime, with all the players they’ve had there. Jaworski and all the guys that they’ve had in Philadelphia. To me it was surprising that they hadn’t won one yet. Another big shocker to me was Doug Peterson was coaching high school football nine years ago.
Andrew: It was insane. Maybe your Dolphins will go take Foles.
Nick: They’re a disaster. They’re such a disaster. Jay Ajayi was throwing shade at Adam Gase yesterday on Instagram. Good for Jay. He was a fun player to watch. Happy that he got to leave such a miserable franchise like the Dolphins and go win a Super Bowl.
Andrew: There you go. Now it’s officially baseball season. Thank God.
Nick: Yeah. I feel like a Cleveland Indians fan in the movie Major Leagues. Not a clue who the Marlins are going to have on the roster. Not one clue.
Andrew: Eight more days until pitchers and catchers report. Thank goodness.
Nick: I don’t know if the Marlins even have anyone to report. Maybe just cancel this season.
Andrew: Playing Minor League ball. Guys, we appreciate it.
Nick: Real quick. The alumni baseball game, first time they’re ever going to do one, is Saturday. Here’s some names for you. Saturday, 4:00. Free admission. Riley Cooper, Hudson Randal, Paco Rodriguez, Danny Young, Justin Shaffer, Zach Powers, Matt Dendecker. Some big names coming back to play on Saturday. Again, you can get in for free there.
Andrew: That’s pretty cool. That should be interesting. I remember some of the South Alabama alumni games when I was a kid and seeing some of those guys come back. I don’t know, Nick, how Florida’s going to do it, but South used to do things where they would have the Homerun Derby for the alumni versus the current team and stuff like that. It was cool to see Luiz Gonzales hitting 400-foot moon shots.
Andrew: Anyway. Nick, tell everybody where they can find our coverage on Signing Day. We’ll get out. We’ll see everyone on Thursday, as we recap Signing Day. Good luck to the Gators. It should be …