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Florida Gators Podcast: Baseball
recap and football updates

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  • Florida Gators Podcast: Baseball recap and football updates
Written by Andrew Spivey, June 24, 2015, 0 Comments,
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The Florida Gators baseball team fell short of its goal of winning a national championship but the season wasn’t a total loss after the Gators won over 50 games, the SEC Tournament and were one of the last four teams playing this season.

While the baseball team was doing their thing in Omaha, football coach Jim McElwain was busy rebuilding the offensive line, and he now has 15 scholarship linemen on campus for the 2015 football season.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre cover both topics thoroughly, as well as look ahead to what next year’s baseball team will look like when they take the field in February.

Transcript

Andrew: Gator Country! Andrew Spivey here with my man Nicolas de la Torre. You know, he went home, played some golf. I was in Atlanta this weekend, so I guess we’re both back rested and ready for some action. Nick, that’s kind of the…the last little period of time where there’s nothing going on. We’re under 30 days until media days, under 100 days until football season. I’m pumped, man, I’m ready for media days. You and I have a good time in Birmingham. What’s going on with you?

 

Nick: Yeah, got to go home to South Florida for a little bit of golfing action for Father’s Day. You had a birthday, so we’ll do a belated happy birthday podcast style for you, and yeah, we’re just…I think you and I are…are…we’re in a weird place. We’re ready for football to start, I’m sure as everyone is, but we’re also enjoying the time of year where we actually have time to, you know, go to Braves games and go home and golf a little bit, it’s a…‘cause, you know, as soon as SEC Media Days start, you know, then we have Florida Media Days and practice starts and…and things start to get ramped up and there’s not much time for golf after that.

 

Andrew: No, not much time for golf and, you know, it’s…it’s kind of disheartening a little bit, you know. I kind of feel like that’s why my golf game sucks. At least that’s what I make myself believe is that, you know, I have to take that football season off so when I come back I have to get re-prepared and, you know, finally getting back into a groove now and now I’m about to stop, so, anyway, a couple more weeks of that, and, yeah, you know, I enjoyed this off time but I love media days and I’m ready some…ready for some football finally, see Coach McElwain and Friday Night Lights, can’t forget about Friday Night Lights. You and I and Kassidy will be kicking tail with that as always and having a little fun with that and yeah, I think everything’s good. Baseball though? Not so good. Yeah, kind of…while I was in Atlanta, kind of noticed that Omaha took the wind out of the sail of the Gators. Give us your recap of Omaha.

 

Nick: Well, it was a really fun season to cover. You know, you win over 50 games. You know, you just run into a team, sometimes a team has your number. I still think that, you know, top to bottom, pitching, offense, defense, that Florida had, you know, the best team in the country or right up there, you know, could match up with anybody. You know, they beat Virginia on Friday night and then run into, you know, the duo of Waddell and Sborz again and can’t really put up much even though you put up four runs; you don’t get shut out again. So, I still feel, having talked to some of the players, having talked to Coach O’Sullivan since Saturday, I think they feel that they didn’t get the job done, that they came up a little bit short, but when it comes down it they were one of the last four teams in the country playing baseball, so, disappointed you don’t have a championship to show for the season but there’s still a lot to be proud of, you know, the way they played and what they were able to do this year.

 

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, only one team gets to take home that trophy at the end of the year, you know. I think I’d agree. You know, outside of LSU, Florida was probably the most talented team I watched all year. You know, I thought that Vanderbilt is a very good baseball team; do not get me wrong when I say that Florida and LSU were better teams, I thought, you know, Carson Fulmer is a stud-

 

Nick: Yeah, he won last night. Won his last start last night and looked dominant-

 

Andrew: Yeah.

 

Nick: When they beat Virginia.

 

Andrew: Dansby Swanson, I mean, number one overall, but I think when you look top to bottom, though, Florida’s better, but, you know, I think the thing for me, though, I was watching the game in Atlanta with a couple of people that didn’t really know to much about the Gators team and they were asking me about it and I was like, “The thing that’s crazy about this team is they’re still young.”They’re still young. It’s still an inexperienced team. When you look at the clean-up hitter in JJ Schwarz, he’s a freshman. When you look at Logan Shore and AJ Puk, they’re sophomores, so the future’s bright, you know, I think that’s one thing to take away from it. Again, getting back to Omaha next year will not be easy, but if they do, then you got to like their chances again next year.

 

Nick: Well, I would say that Florida should be back in Omaha next year. Ok, so you’re going to lose pretty much everyone that was drafted from the roster, so, you know, you’re talking about, I mean, Bobby Poyner, Josh Tobias, were seniors, they were going to be gone, but you’re going to lose Richie Martin, Harrison Bader, Mike Vincent, Aaron Rhodes, Danny Young, Eric Hanhold, Taylor Lewis, but you’re returning Logan Shore, AJ Puk, Alex Faedo and Dane Dunning. You can only start three guys on a weekend and those are four weekend starters right there, so one of those four is going to draw the short straw and they’re going to be a weekday pitcher but that four. And then you got to think, you know, you still get Brett Morales, Kirby Snead, Shaun Anderson, Scott Moss, Tyler Deel, Logan Browning, Frank Rubio, all these guys are coming back with big-time experience. And then, like you mentioned, the bats are all coming back. Pete Alonso really…you know, people are saying, “Oh, well, he got hot during the World Series.”And yeah, he did get hot, but that’s the kind of power that Pete Alonso has. You know, the 420-foot home run, that’s going to be a…that’s going to be a thing next year. You know, unfortunately for Pete, he had the broken foot, comes back two weeks later and now he has to play with a mask on. He says he has a really hard time seeing though it, especially hitting, so a healthy Pete Alonso is that guy that’s going to hit those balls that, you know, the Preston Tuckers did; the balls that make you go, “Wow, damn, he got a hold of that one.”So, you know, him, Schwarz, Rivera, Dalton Guthrie, Buddy Reed comes back, and the jump Buddy Reed made from freshman year to sophomore year, I’m excited to see what jumps and what kind of progress he makes from a sophomore to a junior, because Buddy Reed, as a guy who didn’t really focus on baseball as a primary sport in high school is going to be a guy that could be a first or second-round pick in the draft next year, so he’s a guy that, you know, you’re going to look at. Jeremy Vasquez, there’s just so much talent, and the experience of facing four elimination games in the SEC Tournament and coming back from losing your opening game to winning that tournament, going to Omaha, winning two games there. That experience, for that freshman, for those sophomores, is irreplaceable, so I think coming back into next season, Florida’s offense, we talked about how much their offense improved from last season to the one that just finished, it’s going to be even better going into next season, into 2016.

 

Andrew: Yes, I mean, you didn’t even talk about Dalton Guthrie, second-team freshman All-American by Baseball America-

 

Nick: I mention Dalton…I mentioned Dalton. That’s probably your leadoff hitter. I mean, Dalton Guthrie led off single game and played second base every single game until he hurt his wrist in the SEC Tournament semifinals, so that tells you about the kind of player he is and the kind of trust the coaching staff had in him as a freshman, and you only expect him to make a jump and to get better from his freshman year and sophomore year.

 

Andrew: Yeah, this is…a couple of things I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to AJ Puk. I think AJ Puk goes through this offseason, he’s going to go to Team USA if I’m not mistaken, or already at Team USA, maybe. I think you get him, once he gets it squared away and he’s able to put a complete game together, where of…locating his pitches, he is that true maybe number one pick overall next year, so I’m looking forward to that, but I’m also…Nick, you know I’m high on this guy Christian Hicks. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next year at third base. You know, I thought he showed some flashes with the bat when he did get in the game as well but I want to read you these numbers real quick on JJ Schwarz. He batted .332 on the year, 18 home runs, 73 RBIs.

 

Nick: 73 RBIs leads the SEC, by the way.

 

Andrew: What does he do with a a year in the training room and a better eye for baseball? This guy…could he really have a 20-home-run year? 80-RBI year? I think so.

 

Nick: Yeah, I absolutely think so. You know, JJ for most of the year was hitting sixth or seventh so you’re not even really being put in positions where you’re getting maximum amount of at bats per game. You’re not getting, you know, really those table setters in front of you. You know, guys like Dalton Guthrie, Buddy Reed next year. I think, you know, you might even put him…put JJ at three just to make sure he hits in the first inning, and, you know, a lineup with Guthrie, Reed and then Schwarz, that’s very good speed at the top and that’s a lot of RBI opportunities for him, and I don’t know how much better his approach at the plate can get because it’s already major league level. The approach that he takes, you know, hitting a home run, if it’s during the super regional, hit a home run, next at-bat, draws a six-pitch walk, third at-bat, stays back on a low fastball, smacks it down the first base line. As a kid and as a baseball player, if I hit a home run my first at-bat, I was kind of screwed rest of the game because now all I was just thinking was, “Hey, I should do that again; I should hit another home run.”You know, and I start swinging like Harrison Bader, trying to hit a ball 700 feet and JJ just doesn’t have that approach. He really…I guess has a way to compartmentalize things and say, “Hey, that first at-bat I got a good pitch to hit; I made a good swing. That’s over and now we’re on a new one.”So…so I really don’t know if he can get any better and I’m not saying that in a bad way, I just don’t know if he needs to get any better. His plate approach, his vision, his patience are not freshman level, they’re not college level, that’s…he’s at a professional level as far as his approach to baseball, his approach at the plate.

 

Andrew: Yeah, I guess I was thinking…I mean, I was going more along the lines of, you know, expecting, you know, coming in expecting curveball first pitch or expecting slider first pitch. You know, just being able to drive the ball and I think that all comes with experience but, you know, I agree with that. Then, as you said, the pitching staff. That’s a nasty pitching staff and we hadn’t even dug into really who comes in as a freshman and comes in and plays. I mean, Kevin O’Sullivan is known for playing freshman. This year one time during the College World Series, I believe five guys on the field were freshman, so you know, you never know with Kevin O’Sullivan and if you don’t throw 90-plus, don’t come to Florida, ‘cause you’re not pitching.

 

Nick: Well I’ll touch on the freshman class real quick, but the other thing that you mentioned with JJ is as far as, you know, now he’s a full year into, you know, the college weight lifting system. He’s going to get stronger, he’s going to get another great experience playing with the collegiate USA team, he’s going to be joined by Logan, by AJ, and I think Dalton Guthrie…I could be wrong, I’m missing…there were four Gators, I’m missing the fourth right now, but that’s going to be a great experience for him and, you know, JJ Schwarz somehow is going to get better going into next year, so-

 

Andrew: Hold on, news flash, news flash: He’s Taylor Schwarz’s sister.

Nick: Oh, in case you weren’t watching the College World Series, they quickly ran out of things to talk about and that was…I think Taylor got as much airtime as anybody that was actually playing baseball.

 

Andrew: Well yeah, give me your thoughts on that freshman class. You know I didn’t…I didn’t dig in to it as much as usual, I’ll be the first to admit that, so I’m not exactly sure. I knew Kyle Tucker, but he’s playing with the Houston Astros now.

 

Nick: Right, well, the big thing that happened, I think, with the…with the draft is that the pitching coming in really got touched a little bit. You know, you’re going to lose obviously Tucker, a big power bat that would’ve, you know, stepped into the lineup right away as a freshman, but we’ve already kind of talked about how they already had, you know, freshmen ready in waiting and the bats aren’t going to be a problem. But as far as the rest of the staff…the rest of the recruiting class goes, it’s going to be, you know, after all the…after everyone signs and they go back and they rate them all, it’s going to be another top five class, and you’ve got kids that are coming in who can make that kind of impact, and Sully, you know, all year, you mentioned in the College World Series they were playing five, but opening weekend of the season they had…on Sunday they started five freshman, so, you know, there’s a middle infielder, Jonathan India, great, great fielder; very good bat; a power bat. An outfielder in Daniel Reyes who’s going to make it to campus. You know there’s a lot of pieces and there’s some guys like Michael Zimmerman, Hunter Bowling, McGregor Hines, Troy Bacon, all pitches who I think will fit in somewhere in the bullpen. And then Sully went through, got some other good infielders, a kid Deacon Liput, Eddy…I’m going to butcher his name…it’s like, Demurias? But a lot of, a lot of good players. I think the two that really stand out to me in the class are going to be Reyes, who’s an outfielder and India, who’s going to play somewhere probably middle infield. And then the one that kind of…the four that I think will definitely leave are, we mentioned Kyle Tucker. A big lefty who’s a very good pitcher in Thomas Szapucki, S-z-a-p-u-c-k-i. My fault for probably butchering that. A big right-handed pitcher in Jacob Woodford and another right handed pitcher in Brady Singer, and those guys were all, you know, 92, 94. They’re going to play pro ball right away and, you know, would’ve loved to see them in orange and blue, but that’s not how it works with the draft, but another great class and it does a lot…it does a lot as far as filling needs along the infield, because you know, you’re losing Richie and you’re losing Josh and you’ve got some guys that are leaving so Kevin O’Sullivan just did another great job. It’s just him, you know, and his staff do a very good job of finding and identifying talent and then getting those kids to Florida.

 

Andrew: Yeah, I agree. Well, you know, let’s kind of put a wrap on the baseball season. It was a great year, I know you had fun covering it like I did with softball. Unfortunately, you didn’t get your ring, so maybe…maybe I’ll bless you with one next year as softball goes for three-peat. I think I say it though for both of us is that, you know, it was a pleasure covering both baseball and softball and Kevin O’Sullivan and Tim Walton are both incredible, incredible coaches and it’s just…it’s a pleasure to watch.

 

Nick: Yeah, it really is, and I know they’re all disappointed, but like I said before, there is a lot of…a lot be proud of, you know, the way that they performed this year and there’s…it’s a bunch of good guys. It was nice to get to know them, there’s a lot of good personalities on that team and looking forward to seeing them again next year.

 

Andrew: Yeah, definitely, well let’s move on to football a little bit, and, you know the topic of conversation all spring was offensive line- they don’t have enough to play, we don’t have enough to play, that’s all you kept hearing, you know. When you talked to the coaching staff, when you talked to the players, they said, you know, “We don’t have enough depth, we don’t have enough depth.”Well now Florida is staring to get some depth. You know, props to Jim McElwain. After the spring, he had six offensive linemen that were participating in practice. Now he’s going to be up to 15 when fall camp starts, you know. And he didn’t just get bodies, he got some guys that could potentially play. He added Mason Halter, the transfer, a big 6’8, 300-pound guy. He added TJ McCoy from NC State, you know. Hopefully his father, former Gator defensive tackle Tony McCoy gets better from his remission from cancer; hopefully everything gets better from there. And then he just added some very good players, and Nick you and I have talked about this a little bit off the air, you know. It is a process and it’s going to take maybe two years to build this depth up, but I think you have to applaud McElwain for getting the numbers up to at least be able to two deep this fall.

 

Nick: Yeah and, you know, I think that is, you know, Florida was in a position where if you were a certain body type, it didn’t matter what the film showed, they needed bodies on campus, so, you know, you get to a point where at the end of spring you don’t even have…you barely have enough people to field a starting five on the offensive line and now you’re in the position where you’re almost at the level you want to be, the numbers you want to be, you know. I’m sure McElwain wants anywhere from 15, 17-20 offensive linemen, so 15’s, you know, not far off of, you know, their ideal number, and we don’t know, you know, what they’re going to look like. Yeah, I’m interested to see what Mason Halter looks like because he was a two-time FCS All-American at Fordham, but how does that play and how does that transition from an FCS school in Fordham, where I’ve even had friends play at Fordham that I went to high school with, but how does that transition from playing offensive line there to then going up and playing offensive line against the monsters in the SEC. TJ McCoy, good kid, freshman, we’ve talked about it before how difficult it is for freshman to come in and play right away on the offensive line and with the way the line is set up you’re already kind of saying to yourself, “Well, Martez Ivey is going to have to play at some point, if not start, he’s going to have to play.”So you’re already in in a position where you’re playing freshman. I still think that the line is a weakness on the offense. The numbers are incredibly better. Hat’s off to McElwain and his staff for being able to get the numbers right, or as close to right as they could, but I’m not buying in, at least until I see it, that, you know, just because the offensive line now is 15, that’s better than six, so now the offensive line is going to be a strength for the team. I’m not buying into that yet.

 

Andrew: No, and I’m not going to say that. I didn’t…I don’t mean it to say that either, I meant it to say it’s impressive that you come in in January or December and you see the talent and you see the numbers are just terrible and then six months later, five months later, however you want to put it, it’s better. I think Mason Halter has the chance to start; I do. I think the talent level of an offensive lineman in FCS to FBS is not as different as it is in maybe quarterback, receiver, that kind of thing. You see a lot of guys in the NFL come from the FCS level playing offensive line, so I don’t think it’s as big as an adjustment for him as it is for some other places as well. Again, do I think TJ McCoy’s going to play this year? Probably not, but I think it’s just impressive to see that McElwain actually understands, “Hey, I have a problem,”and he fixed it and didn’t just say, “We’re going to get it fixed.”And then I think when you start to look, though…when you start to look at the starting lineup I think that’s where it starts to become a question mark. Nick, what are your thoughts, who do you think starts game one at the offensive line?

 

Nick: Well, real quick, I wasn’t really saying you, it’s just kind of, you know, I see, you know, on our message boards and I see on Twitter, “Oh, we have 15, now this is a strength,”and I would just say-

 

Andrew: Cool your horses.

 

Nick: Temper your expectations, yeah. Slow your role a little bit there. You know, numbers don’t equal talent necessarily. You know, we still need to see these guys. You know, I also want to see them play at least in a practice before I say, “Hey we’ve got a bunch of guys now, so now it’s a strength.”As far as what the line looks, and I think this, you know, will even play to our point, or to my point a little bit more, it’s just a lot of inexperience, so I think, you know, at left tackle you’re going to have David Sharpe, who had some playing time last year but then we fall into that same type of category where Xavier Nixon and DJ Humphries were and it was kind of they looked great when they were freshmen. Well, why did they look great? Well, they came in a lot of times in the middle of games or they came in in packages where there were six offensive linemen, and maybe that is why they looked good, ‘cause there’s five other offensive linemen next to them; they had a limited role, they don’t have to think very much. What will he do when he’s the left tackle, starting left tackle, ready to go now. At left guard, I think there’s some options. I think Antonio Riles and Andrew Mike, Trevaris Dorsey and even maybe a freshman in Nick Buchanan, Brandon Sandifer and Richard Desir-Jones. I think all those guys are going to be in the mix for the guard spots. At center, I think you’re going to have Trip Thurman, Cam Dillard, Tyler Jordan, TJ McCoy would probably factor into there at center or one of the two guard spots. And then at right tackle, I think it’s going to be Mason Halter and Martez Ivey and I still don’t think Kavaris Harkless is ready to play, just based on what I saw in the spring. You know, I think he’s still two years away; someone who will contend for a starting spot as a redshirt junior.

 

Andrew: Yeah, you know, I think you pencil Sharpe in as your left tackle. I think you pencil that in right now. My question is, do they figure out a way to put Mason Halter inside and play Martez Ivey at right tackle? That’s…that’s my biggest question. Or do they figure out a way to put Mason Halter at left tackle, put Sharpe inside?

 

Nick: Right.

 

Andrew: You know, because I think when you start to look at your best guys, and I know you’re about to rip my head off for saying Martez Ivey’s one of them- get over it Nick, I’m saying it. Mason Halter, David Sharpe, Trip Thurman, Martez Ivey, and probably Antonio Riles is probably your best five, and when I say, you know, that’s your best five, find a way to get those best five on the field, and that’s not disrespect to Andrew Mike. I think Andrew Mike can play the guard position, but a guys like David Sharpe is a big body already; can he move inside? Can a guy like Mason Halter move inside? Does a guy like Mason Halter want to play inside? You know, you and I have heard from Max Garcia, Jon Halapio, Trenton Brown, all those guys that said the NFL loves it when you can play all the positions on the line, so maybe a guy like Mason Halter wants to slide inside to show he can play that guard and tackle position, so again, it will be interesting to see, you know, and, hey, maybe Nick Buchanan or Desir-Jones or one of those guys comes in. I think Brandon Sandifer needs a year of getting his body in better shape before he’s ready to play, but a guy like Buchanan’s guy that I did hear a lot of praise about that can play. Desir-Jones is a guy that looks like he could possibly play as well, so it will be interesting to see, you know. Again, I think you find a way to get your best five on the field and then go from there, you know. A lot of people of people discount David Sharpe as being a solid left tackle, but, you know, Nick, you and I talked about this, when he played against Alabama, he looked really, really good and that was against some very good players, so I’m not discounting that David Sharpe can’t be a very good player.

 

Nick: Yeah, I mean, we’ll see, and, you know, I think you would have said the same thing about Xavier Nixon after his freshman year. I think you would have said the same thing about, you know, DJ Humphries after his freshman year and they kind of were both-

 

Andrew: Uhhh…I don’t know about that now.

 

Nick: And they were kind of both disappointing after that, so, I think he’s a nice player. I’m a little worried about, you know, his weight jumping up and how he’ll be able to handle his footwork that way. Also he was a guy that as a a run blocker was definitely ready. As a pass blocker had a lot, a lot to do, and a lot what I saw in the spring was him struggling with the smaller guys, him struggling with the quicker guys like Daniel McMillan, like Alex McCalister, so kind of a similar thing you saw Florida struggle with when they’ve played Missouri, when Missouri had the guys like Shane Ray and Michael Sam who were quicker off the ball, not as big as a 4-3 defensive end, they had those smaller, faster guys, that’s where Florida…Florida’s tackles have struggled in the past, kind of keep those players in front of them. They almost cheat to get back so quickly and they they’re susceptible to the guys cutting back inside, get beat now once inside and then you’re not quick enough off the line, you get beat around the corner. So, I’m interested to see how Sharpe can…can progress, because what I saw in the spring as far as him handling a speed rush is not going to get the job done and is going to get a quarterback hurt. So, as a pass blocker, I think he still leaves a lot to be desired and at a point could hamper the team pass blocking if it’s not something he gets better at.

 

Andrew: Well then maybe you put him at guard like we were talking about because then you don’t worry about those big speed rushers and you put Mason Halter at left tackle. Again, I don’t know, you know, it’s interesting to see, you know. Again-

 

Nick: And I think this is proving my point again because we’re still…we’re sitting here and we’re like, “Well,”you know, kind of poking holes and obviously it’s the offseason. We haven’t seen anyone play in any game action so everything we doing right now is prognosticating and we’re just guessing but that’s what the offseason’s for. But I think it’s proving my point, because you can’t really say that the offensive line is a strength and we’re sitting here and we’re already saying, “Well, maybe David Sharpe isn’t my left tackle,”and, you know, that’s probably, that was probably one of the ones where going into the spring he probably was only the penciled in starter on the line, so…I mean, we both said and agree that the staff did a great…the staff did a great job, absolutely; a big step forward in getting the numbers right, because if you go into this season with 10 offensive linemen…football is a game where overgrown human beings run fast and hit each other very hard. Injuries are going to happen. Florida would not have made it through a season…would have had to forfeit games if they had gone into the season with six, seven offensive linemen, they wouldn’t have made it through the season, so to have 15 regardless of ability, to have 15 is absolutely a huge step in the right direction.

 

Andrew: Yeah, again, it will be a think where next year you’re looking and you’re like, “Ok, we have a solid group of guys that have played or have been in the weight room.”And then the next year it’s not even a talk, so again, it’s a positive step forward. I think we all can sit here and say Florida’s not winning the national championship in 2015, so let’s build forward and make a positive stride forward. You know, again, Jim McElwain says he’s not here for a participation ribbon or whatever the crap he says. I think it’s participation ribbon. So, hey, he got offensive linemen. You know, heck of a job, you got that in there and, you know, I can’t…I can’t say enough that he realizes, “I need to do something,”instead of sitting back like the other guy would and be like, “Well, we’ll get it fixed.”But, you know, today, Monday and Tuesday was also arrival dates. The freshmen did arrive on Sunday. Safety Kylan Johnson from Texas and defensive end Jabari Zuniga- my favorite player of the class possibly- both got on to campus and, you know, it looks like everyone is going to make it onto campus except for D’Anfernee McGriff and, you know, it just…everything right now’s pointing that he’s going to go to prep school or JUCO. Everybody’s on his side is kind of like, you know, not talking much over there, so it looks…that doesn’t look positive, so…Nick, I guess, have you heard anything on that and what’s your thoughts? I know the plan is to I think get…Monday is when they start working out with Mike Kent and his staff.

 

Nick: Yeah, I mean, Monday, as soon as they enroll in class they are good to go. They can start working out and getting into the program. I think that, you know, for a while I don’t think either of us have thought…I think, for a time to have your confidence raised that McGriff would get in to campus…or get on to campus. I was never really holding my breath there. I do think that it’s a situation where Florida’s done enough that fans don’t really need to worry about him, you know, as far as going to a prep school and then going somewhere else, you know, which could happen. I think he wants to get into Florida; this isn’t a situation where Florida’s keeping him out.

 

Andrew: Right.

 

Nick: So there’s no really bad will on his part towards Florida, so I think that get him in a prep school or a JUCO, get him back in for next year, and it’s someone that when you watch his highlight tape you can’t help but be excited to watch and to see what McElwain could do with that kind of player in the offense.

 

Andrew: Yeah, agreed, you know, I think it’s a…I think it’s a guy that when you send him to prep school he does get to come in with still his four years of eligibility left. His clock doesn’t start until he gets on here. Hopefully that’s the case, and it’s not that he has to go to JUCO where then his clock starts and then it all gets messed up where you have to wait at least three semesters to get him on there so, yeah, that and…you know, I think we’ve talked about this before, Luke Del Rio is expected to arrive today or tomorrow and arrive for his I guess redshirt year after transferring from Oregon State; that’s nothing new and, you know, I wouldn’t be surprised McElwain didn’t sneak somebody else in. He doesn’t like to talk about that too much and maybe he snuck somebody else in but good of McElwain to get all his guys in and ready to go. Before we sign off on this-

 

Nick: Oh, and my favorite…my favorite player from this class is arriving today and that is St. Thomas Aquinas state champion and alum Jordan Scarlett.

 

Andrew: The monster?

 

Nick: Yeah, he is going to be a monster.

 

Andrew: Well how did that talk go, Nick? You know, I know you wrote your story, you had that all up. Give us some snippets of it. I see it on Twitter where he plays the piano. How does a big guy-

 

Nick: Yeah, actually at University School, where he was before he saw the light and transferred to St. Thomas, at University School he said he took piano classes I think his freshman and his sophomore year, and his favorite song to play on the piano is 2 Chainz’“I’m Different.”

 

Andrew: Wow.

 

Nick: You know what that is?

 

Andrew: I do not.

 

Nick: It’s like a dun-dun, dun-dun-dun-dun. So it’s…I thought when he said that…Once he told me he played the piano I was shocked and then I didn’t know whether to think what he’d be playing on the piano. I think I would have been shocked if, you know, he said he was playing Bach or Beethoven on the piano, but I got a good laugh when he said was playing 2 Chainz on the piano. But yeah, it’s always cool to find out these little things that you don’t even find out or you would never know just from watching someone on a Saturday.

 

Andrew: Yeah, real quick, before we get off this, got to mention it real quick, Thursday is the NBA Draft. You know, I don’t expect any body from Florida to get drafted. I know Michael Frazier has been talked about a little bit on there. Nick, I guess any thoughts on that before we sign off?

 

Nick: I would say maybe Frazier will get drafted, you know, and I like that…I don’t like it…I understand that they said, “We need to protect the college game, protect these high school players and that’s why they have to go to a year of college,”but, you know, you look at a kid like Chris Walker who grew up so…who had such a tough upbringing…he was talked about being a top 10 pick out of high school. That’s millions of dollars, that’s life-changing money and now he’s…after two years of Florida, probably isn’t going to be drafted at all. So, you know…I don’t know, it seems like the NCAA and…seems like the NCAA and these leagues, you know, the NFL and NBA are kind of in cahoots sometimes but I feel bad for someone like Chris Walker who could have an opportunity to make life-changing money to help him, to help his family. Hopefully he’ll find a team and make it in the NBA, but I think really, like you said, the only player I think will be drafted will be Michael Frazier and that would be second round.

 

Andrew: Yeah and Chris Walker will probably go overseas and find a home over there. You know, I guess one question mark for me with Chris Walker is, and this is no disrespect to Chris Walker, is it’s time for him to mature, you know, and he had a tough upbringing but it’s time for him to mature and go on and hopefully he does well. Hopefully my Atlanta Hawks get some players and get some more athleticism on that team. It’s time to get back and beat LeBron James, but, anyway, Nick, we’re running a little long on this, let’s sign off. Any final thoughts before we get off of here?

 

Nick: Just want to let Gator Nation to know to stay classy.

 

Andrew: That’s it. The man has spoken, so that’s it. Gator Country, we appreciate it. Stay tuned. Media days is right around the corner. Nick and I will be there, and, yeah, as Nick said, stay classy.

Andrew Spivey

About 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.

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The Florida Gators baseball team fell short of its goal of winning a national championship but the season wasn’t a total loss after the Gators won over 50 games, the SEC Tournament and were one of the last four teams playing this season.

While the baseball team was doing their thing in Omaha, football coach Jim McElwain was busy rebuilding the offensive line, and he now has 15 scholarship linemen on campus for the 2015 football season.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre cover both topics thoroughly, as well as look ahead to what next year’s baseball team will look like when they take the field in February.

Transcript

Andrew: Gator Country! Andrew Spivey here with my man Nicolas de la Torre. You know, he went home, played some golf. I was in Atlanta this weekend, so I guess we’re both back rested and ready for some action. Nick, that’s kind of the…the last little period of time where there’s nothing going on. We’re under 30 days until media days, under 100 days until football season. I’m pumped, man, I’m ready for media days. You and I have a good time in Birmingham. What’s going on with you?

 

Nick: Yeah, got to go home to South Florida for a little bit of golfing action for Father’s Day. You had a birthday, so we’ll do a belated happy birthday podcast style for you, and yeah, we’re just…I think you and I are…are…we’re in a weird place. We’re ready for football to start, I’m sure as everyone is, but we’re also enjoying the time of year where we actually have time to, you know, go to Braves games and go home and golf a little bit, it’s a…‘cause, you know, as soon as SEC Media Days start, you know, then we have Florida Media Days and practice starts and…and things start to get ramped up and there’s not much time for golf after that.

 

Andrew: No, not much time for golf and, you know, it’s…it’s kind of disheartening a little bit, you know. I kind of feel like that’s why my golf game sucks. At least that’s what I make myself believe is that, you know, I have to take that football season off so when I come back I have to get re-prepared and, you know, finally getting back into a groove now and now I’m about to stop, so, anyway, a couple more weeks of that, and, yeah, you know, I enjoyed this off time but I love media days and I’m ready some…ready for some football finally, see Coach McElwain and Friday Night Lights, can’t forget about Friday Night Lights. You and I and Kassidy will be kicking tail with that as always and having a little fun with that and yeah, I think everything’s good. Baseball though? Not so good. Yeah, kind of…while I was in Atlanta, kind of noticed that Omaha took the wind out of the sail of the Gators. Give us your recap of Omaha.

 

Nick: Well, it was a really fun season to cover. You know, you win over 50 games. You know, you just run into a team, sometimes a team has your number. I still think that, you know, top to bottom, pitching, offense, defense, that Florida had, you know, the best team in the country or right up there, you know, could match up with anybody. You know, they beat Virginia on Friday night and then run into, you know, the duo of Waddell and Sborz again and can’t really put up much even though you put up four runs; you don’t get shut out again. So, I still feel, having talked to some of the players, having talked to Coach O’Sullivan since Saturday, I think they feel that they didn’t get the job done, that they came up a little bit short, but when it comes down it they were one of the last four teams in the country playing baseball, so, disappointed you don’t have a championship to show for the season but there’s still a lot to be proud of, you know, the way they played and what they were able to do this year.

 

Andrew: Yeah, I mean, only one team gets to take home that trophy at the end of the year, you know. I think I’d agree. You know, outside of LSU, Florida was probably the most talented team I watched all year. You know, I thought that Vanderbilt is a very good baseball team; do not get me wrong when I say that Florida and LSU were better teams, I thought, you know, Carson Fulmer is a stud-

 

Nick: Yeah, he won last night. Won his last start last night and looked dominant-

 

Andrew: Yeah.

 

Nick: When they beat Virginia.

 

Andrew: Dansby Swanson, I mean, number one overall, but I think when you look top to bottom, though, Florida’s better, but, you know, I think the thing for me, though, I was watching the game in Atlanta with a couple of people that didn’t really know to much about the Gators team and they were asking me about it and I was like, “The thing that’s crazy about this team is they’re still young.”They’re still young. It’s still an inexperienced team. When you look at the clean-up hitter in JJ Schwarz, he’s a freshman. When you look at Logan Shore and AJ Puk, they’re sophomores, so the future’s bright, you know, I think that’s one thing to take away from it. Again, getting back to Omaha next year will not be easy, but if they do, then you got to like their chances again next year.

 

Nick: Well, I would say that Florida should be back in Omaha next year. Ok, so you’re going to lose pretty much everyone that was drafted from the roster, so, you know, you’re talking about, I mean, Bobby Poyner, Josh Tobias, were seniors, they were going to be gone, but you’re going to lose Richie Martin, Harrison Bader, Mike Vincent, Aaron Rhodes, Danny Young, Eric Hanhold, Taylor Lewis, but you’re returning Logan Shore, AJ Puk, Alex Faedo and Dane Dunning. You can only start three guys on a weekend and those are four weekend starters right there, so one of those four is going to draw the short straw and they’re going to be a weekday pitcher but that four. And then you got to think, you know, you still get Brett Morales, Kirby Snead, Shaun Anderson, Scott Moss, Tyler Deel, Logan Browning, Frank Rubio, all these guys are coming back with big-time experience. And then, like you mentioned, the bats are all coming back. Pete Alonso really…you know, people are saying, “Oh, well, he got hot during the World Series.”And yeah, he did get hot, but that’s the kind of power that Pete Alonso has. You know, the 420-foot home run, that’s going to be a…that’s going to be a thing next year. You know, unfortunately for Pete, he had the broken foot, comes back two weeks later and now he has to play with a mask on. He says he has a really hard time seeing though it, especially hitting, so a healthy Pete Alonso is that guy that’s going to hit those balls that, you know, the Preston Tuckers did; the balls that make you go, “Wow, damn, he got a hold of that one.”So, you know, him, Schwarz, Rivera, Dalton Guthrie, Buddy Reed comes back, and the jump Buddy Reed made from freshman year to sophomore year, I’m excited to see what jumps and what kind of progress he makes from a sophomore to a junior, because Buddy Reed, as a guy who didn’t really focus on baseball as a primary sport in high school is going to be a guy that could be a first or second-round pick in the draft next year, so he’s a guy that, you know, you’re going to look at. Jeremy Vasquez, there’s just so much talent, and the experience of facing four elimination games in the SEC Tournament and coming back from losing your opening game to winning that tournament, going to Omaha, winning two games there. That experience, for that freshman, for those sophomores, is irreplaceable, so I think coming back into next season, Florida’s offense, we talked about how much their offense improved from last season to the one that just finished, it’s going to be even better going into next season, into 2016.

 

Andrew: Yes, I mean, you didn’t even talk about Dalton Guthrie, second-team freshman All-American by Baseball America-

 

Nick: I mention Dalton…I mentioned Dalton. That’s probably your leadoff hitter. I mean, Dalton Guthrie led off single game and played second base every single game until he hurt his wrist in the SEC Tournament semifinals, so that tells you about the kind of player he is and the kind of trust the coaching staff had in him as a freshman, and you only expect him to make a jump and to get better from his freshman year and sophomore year.

 

Andrew: Yeah, this is…a couple of things I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to AJ Puk. I think AJ Puk goes through this offseason, he’s going to go to Team USA if I’m not mistaken, or already at Team USA, maybe. I think you get him, once he gets it squared away and he’s able to put a complete game together, where of…locating his pitches, he is that true maybe number one pick overall next year, so I’m looking forward to that, but I’m also…Nick, you know I’m high on this guy Christian Hicks. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next year at third base. You know, I thought he showed some flashes with the bat when he did get in the game as well but I want to read you these numbers real quick on JJ Schwarz. He batted .332 on the year, 18 home runs, 73 RBIs.

 

Nick: 73 RBIs leads the SEC, by the way.

 

Andrew: What does he do with a a year in the training room and a better eye for baseball? This guy…could he really have a 20-home-run year? 80-RBI year? I think so.

 

Nick: Yeah, I absolutely think so. You know, JJ for most of the year was hitting sixth or seventh so you’re not even really being put in positions where you’re getting maximum amount of at bats per game. You’re not getting, you know, really those table setters in front of you. You know, guys like Dalton Guthrie, Buddy Reed next year. I think, you know, you might even put him…put JJ at three just to make sure he hits in the first inning, and, you know, a lineup with Guthrie, Reed and then Schwarz, that’s very good speed at the top and that’s a lot of RBI opportunities for him, and I don’t know how much better his approach at the plate can get because it’s already major league level. The approach that he takes, you know, hitting a home run, if it’s during the super regional, hit a home run, next at-bat, draws a six-pitch walk, third at-bat, stays back on a low fastball, smacks it down the first base line. As a kid and as a baseball player, if I hit a home run my first at-bat, I was kind of screwed rest of the game because now all I was just thinking was, “Hey, I should do that again; I should hit another home run.”You know, and I start swinging like Harrison Bader, trying to hit a ball 700 feet and JJ just doesn’t have that approach. He really…I guess has a way to compartmentalize things and say, “Hey, that first at-bat I got a good pitch to hit; I made a good swing. That’s over and now we’re on a new one.”So…so I really don’t know if he can get any better and I’m not saying that in a bad way, I just don’t know if he needs to get any better. His plate approach, his vision, his patience are not freshman level, they’re not college level, that’s…he’s at a professional level as far as his approach to baseball, his approach at the plate.

 

Andrew: Yeah, I guess I was thinking…I mean, I was going more along the lines of, you know, expecting, you know, coming in expecting curveball first pitch or expecting slider first pitch. You know, just being able to drive the ball and I think that all comes with experience but, you know, I agree with that. Then, as you said, the pitching staff. That’s a nasty pitching staff and we hadn’t even dug into really who comes in as a freshman and comes in and plays. I mean, Kevin O’Sullivan is known for playing freshman. This year one time during the College World Series, I believe five guys on the field were freshman, so you know, you never know with Kevin O’Sullivan and if you don’t throw 90-plus, don’t come to Florida, ‘cause you’re not pitching.

 

Nick: Well I’ll touch on the freshman class real quick, but the other thing that you mentioned with JJ is as far as, you know, now he’s a full year into, you know, the college weight lifting system. He’s going to get stronger, he’s going to get another great experience playing with the collegiate USA team, he’s going to be joined by Logan, by AJ, and I think Dalton Guthrie…I could be wrong, I’m missing…there were four Gators, I’m missing the fourth right now, but that’s going to be a great experience for him and, you know, JJ Schwarz somehow is going to get better going into next year, so-

 

Andrew: Hold on, news flash, news flash: He’s Taylor Schwarz’s sister.

Nick: Oh, in case you weren’t watching the College World Series, they quickly ran out of things to talk about and that was…I think Taylor got as much airtime as anybody that was actually playing baseball.

 

Andrew: Well yeah, give me your thoughts on that freshman class. You know I didn’t…I didn’t dig in to it as much as usual, I’ll be the first to admit that, so I’m not exactly sure. I knew Kyle Tucker, but he’s playing with the Houston Astros now.

 

Nick: Right, well, the big thing that happened, I think, with the…with the draft is that the pitching coming in really got touched a little bit. You know, you’re going to lose obviously Tucker, a big power bat that would’ve, you know, stepped into the lineup right away as a freshman, but we’ve already kind of talked about how they already had, you know, freshmen ready in waiting and the bats aren’t going to be a problem. But as far as the rest of the staff…the rest of the recruiting class goes, it’s going to be, you know, after all the…after everyone signs and they go back and they rate them all, it’s going to be another top five class, and you’ve got kids that are coming in who can make that kind of impact, and Sully, you know, all year, you mentioned in the College World Series they were playing five, but opening weekend of the season they had…on Sunday they started five freshman, so, you know, there’s a middle infielder, Jonathan India, great, great fielder; very good bat; a power bat. An outfielder in Daniel Reyes who’s going to make it to campus. You know there’s a lot of pieces and there’s some guys like Michael Zimmerman, Hunter Bowling, McGregor Hines, Troy Bacon, all pitches who I think will fit in somewhere in the bullpen. And then Sully went through, got some other good infielders, a kid Deacon Liput, Eddy…I’m going to butcher his name…it’s like, Demurias? But a lot of, a lot of good players. I think the two that really stand out to me in the class are going to be Reyes, who’s an outfielder and India, who’s going to play somewhere probably middle infield. And then the one that kind of…the four that I think will definitely leave are, we mentioned Kyle Tucker. A big lefty who’s a very good pitcher in Thomas Szapucki, S-z-a-p-u-c-k-i. My fault for probably butchering that. A big right-handed pitcher in Jacob Woodford and another right handed pitcher in Brady Singer, and those guys were all, you know, 92, 94. They’re going to play pro ball right away and, you know, would’ve loved to see them in orange and blue, but that’s not how it works with the draft, but another great class and it does a lot…it does a lot as far as filling needs along the infield, because you know, you’re losing Richie and you’re losing Josh and you’ve got some guys that are leaving so Kevin O’Sullivan just did another great job. It’s just him, you know, and his staff do a very good job of finding and identifying talent and then getting those kids to Florida.

 

Andrew: Yeah, I agree. Well, you know, let’s kind of put a wrap on the baseball season. It was a great year, I know you had fun covering it like I did with softball. Unfortunately, you didn’t get your ring, so maybe…maybe I’ll bless you with one next year as softball goes for three-peat. I think I say it though for both of us is that, you know, it was a pleasure covering both baseball and softball and Kevin O’Sullivan and Tim Walton are both incredible, incredible coaches and it’s just…it’s a pleasure to watch.

 

Nick: Yeah, it really is, and I know they’re all disappointed, but like I said before, there is a lot of…a lot be proud of, you know, the way that they performed this year and there’s…it’s a bunch of good guys. It was nice to get to know them, there’s a lot of good personalities on that team and looking forward to seeing them again next year.

 

Andrew: Yeah, definitely, well let’s move on to football a little bit, and, you know the topic of conversation all spring was offensive line- they don’t have enough to play, we don’t have enough to play, that’s all you kept hearing, you know. When you talked to the coaching staff, when you talked to the players, they said, you know, “We don’t have enough depth, we don’t have enough depth.”Well now Florida is staring to get some depth. You know, props to Jim McElwain. After the spring, he had six offensive linemen that were participating in practice. Now he’s going to be up to 15 when fall camp starts, you know. And he didn’t just get bodies, he got some guys that could potentially play. He added Mason Halter, the transfer, a big 6’8, 300-pound guy. He added TJ McCoy from NC State, you know. Hopefully his father, former Gator defensive tackle Tony McCoy gets better from his remission from cancer; hopefully everything gets better from there. And then he just added some very good players, and Nick you and I have talked about this a little bit off the air, you know. It is a process and it’s going to take maybe two years to build this depth up, but I think you have to applaud McElwain for getting the numbers up to at least be able to two deep this fall.

 

Nick: Yeah and, you know, I think that is, you know, Florida was in a position where if you were a certain body type, it didn’t matter what the film showed, they needed bodies on campus, so, you know, you get to a point where at the end of spring you don’t even have…you barely have enough people to field a starting five on the offensive line and now you’re in the position where you’re almost at the level you want to be, the numbers you want to be, you know. I’m sure McElwain wants anywhere from 15, 17-20 offensive linemen, so 15’s, you know, not far off of, you know, their ideal number, and we don’t know, you know, what they’re going to look like. Yeah, I’m interested to see what Mason Halter looks like because he was a two-time FCS All-American at Fordham, but how does that play and how does that transition from an FCS school in Fordham, where I’ve even had friends play at Fordham that I went to high school with, but how does that transition from playing offensive line there to then going up and playing offensive line against the monsters in the SEC. TJ McCoy, good kid, freshman, we’ve talked about it before how difficult it is for freshman to come in and play right away on the offensive line and with the way the line is set up you’re already kind of saying to yourself, “Well, Martez Ivey is going to have to play at some point, if not start, he’s going to have to play.”So you’re already in in a position where you’re playing freshman. I still think that the line is a weakness on the offense. The numbers are incredibly better. Hat’s off to McElwain and his staff for being able to get the numbers right, or as close to right as they could, but I’m not buying in, at least until I see it, that, you know, just because the offensive line now is 15, that’s better than six, so now the offensive line is going to be a strength for the team. I’m not buying into that yet.

 

Andrew: No, and I’m not going to say that. I didn’t…I don’t mean it to say that either, I meant it to say it’s impressive that you come in in January or December and you see the talent and you see the numbers are just terrible and then six months later, five months later, however you want to put it, it’s better. I think Mason Halter has the chance to start; I do. I think the talent level of an offensive lineman in FCS to FBS is not as different as it is in maybe quarterback, receiver, that kind of thing. You see a lot of guys in the NFL come from the FCS level playing offensive line, so I don’t think it’s as big as an adjustment for him as it is for some other places as well. Again, do I think TJ McCoy’s going to play this year? Probably not, but I think it’s just impressive to see that McElwain actually understands, “Hey, I have a problem,”and he fixed it and didn’t just say, “We’re going to get it fixed.”And then I think when you start to look, though…when you start to look at the starting lineup I think that’s where it starts to become a question mark. Nick, what are your thoughts, who do you think starts game one at the offensive line?

 

Nick: Well, real quick, I wasn’t really saying you, it’s just kind of, you know, I see, you know, on our message boards and I see on Twitter, “Oh, we have 15, now this is a strength,”and I would just say-

 

Andrew: Cool your horses.

 

Nick: Temper your expectations, yeah. Slow your role a little bit there. You know, numbers don’t equal talent necessarily. You know, we still need to see these guys. You know, I also want to see them play at least in a practice before I say, “Hey we’ve got a bunch of guys now, so now it’s a strength.”As far as what the line looks, and I think this, you know, will even play to our point, or to my point a little bit more, it’s just a lot of inexperience, so I think, you know, at left tackle you’re going to have David Sharpe, who had some playing time last year but then we fall into that same type of category where Xavier Nixon and DJ Humphries were and it was kind of they looked great when they were freshmen. Well, why did they look great? Well, they came in a lot of times in the middle of games or they came in in packages where there were six offensive linemen, and maybe that is why they looked good, ‘cause there’s five other offensive linemen next to them; they had a limited role, they don’t have to think very much. What will he do when he’s the left tackle, starting left tackle, ready to go now. At left guard, I think there’s some options. I think Antonio Riles and Andrew Mike, Trevaris Dorsey and even maybe a freshman in Nick Buchanan, Brandon Sandifer and Richard Desir-Jones. I think all those guys are going to be in the mix for the guard spots. At center, I think you’re going to have Trip Thurman, Cam Dillard, Tyler Jordan, TJ McCoy would probably factor into there at center or one of the two guard spots. And then at right tackle, I think it’s going to be Mason Halter and Martez Ivey and I still don’t think Kavaris Harkless is ready to play, just based on what I saw in the spring. You know, I think he’s still two years away; someone who will contend for a starting spot as a redshirt junior.

 

Andrew: Yeah, you know, I think you pencil Sharpe in as your left tackle. I think you pencil that in right now. My question is, do they figure out a way to put Mason Halter inside and play Martez Ivey at right tackle? That’s…that’s my biggest question. Or do they figure out a way to put Mason Halter at left tackle, put Sharpe inside?

 

Nick: Right.

 

Andrew: You know, because I think when you start to look at your best guys, and I know you’re about to rip my head off for saying Martez Ivey’s one of them- get over it Nick, I’m saying it. Mason Halter, David Sharpe, Trip Thurman, Martez Ivey, and probably Antonio Riles is probably your best five, and when I say, you know, that’s your best five, find a way to get those best five on the field, and that’s not disrespect to Andrew Mike. I think Andrew Mike can play the guard position, but a guys like David Sharpe is a big body already; can he move inside? Can a guy like Mason Halter move inside? Does a guy like Mason Halter want to play inside? You know, you and I have heard from Max Garcia, Jon Halapio, Trenton Brown, all those guys that said the NFL loves it when you can play all the positions on the line, so maybe a guy like Mason Halter wants to slide inside to show he can play that guard and tackle position, so again, it will be interesting to see, you know, and, hey, maybe Nick Buchanan or Desir-Jones or one of those guys comes in. I think Brandon Sandifer needs a year of getting his body in better shape before he’s ready to play, but a guy like Buchanan’s guy that I did hear a lot of praise about that can play. Desir-Jones is a guy that looks like he could possibly play as well, so it will be interesting to see, you know. Again, I think you find a way to get your best five on the field and then go from there, you know. A lot of people of people discount David Sharpe as being a solid left tackle, but, you know, Nick, you and I talked about this, when he played against Alabama, he looked really, really good and that was against some very good players, so I’m not discounting that David Sharpe can’t be a very good player.

 

Nick: Yeah, I mean, we’ll see, and, you know, I think you would have said the same thing about Xavier Nixon after his freshman year. I think you would have said the same thing about, you know, DJ Humphries after his freshman year and they kind of were both-

 

Andrew: Uhhh…I don’t know about that now.

 

Nick: And they were kind of both disappointing after that, so, I think he’s a nice player. I’m a little worried about, you know, his weight jumping up and how he’ll be able to handle his footwork that way. Also he was a guy that as a a run blocker was definitely ready. As a pass blocker had a lot, a lot to do, and a lot what I saw in the spring was him struggling with the smaller guys, him struggling with the quicker guys like Daniel McMillan, like Alex McCalister, so kind of a similar thing you saw Florida struggle with when they’ve played Missouri, when Missouri had the guys like Shane Ray and Michael Sam who were quicker off the ball, not as big as a 4-3 defensive end, they had those smaller, faster guys, that’s where Florida…Florida’s tackles have struggled in the past, kind of keep those players in front of them. They almost cheat to get back so quickly and they they’re susceptible to the guys cutting back inside, get beat now once inside and then you’re not quick enough off the line, you get beat around the corner. So, I’m interested to see how Sharpe can…can progress, because what I saw in the spring as far as him handling a speed rush is not going to get the job done and is going to get a quarterback hurt. So, as a pass blocker, I think he still leaves a lot to be desired and at a point could hamper the team pass blocking if it’s not something he gets better at.

 

Andrew: Well then maybe you put him at guard like we were talking about because then you don’t worry about those big speed rushers and you put Mason Halter at left tackle. Again, I don’t know, you know, it’s interesting to see, you know. Again-

 

Nick: And I think this is proving my point again because we’re still…we’re sitting here and we’re like, “Well,”you know, kind of poking holes and obviously it’s the offseason. We haven’t seen anyone play in any game action so everything we doing right now is prognosticating and we’re just guessing but that’s what the offseason’s for. But I think it’s proving my point, because you can’t really say that the offensive line is a strength and we’re sitting here and we’re already saying, “Well, maybe David Sharpe isn’t my left tackle,”and, you know, that’s probably, that was probably one of the ones where going into the spring he probably was only the penciled in starter on the line, so…I mean, we both said and agree that the staff did a great…the staff did a great job, absolutely; a big step forward in getting the numbers right, because if you go into this season with 10 offensive linemen…football is a game where overgrown human beings run fast and hit each other very hard. Injuries are going to happen. Florida would not have made it through a season…would have had to forfeit games if they had gone into the season with six, seven offensive linemen, they wouldn’t have made it through the season, so to have 15 regardless of ability, to have 15 is absolutely a huge step in the right direction.

 

Andrew: Yeah, again, it will be a think where next year you’re looking and you’re like, “Ok, we have a solid group of guys that have played or have been in the weight room.”And then the next year it’s not even a talk, so again, it’s a positive step forward. I think we all can sit here and say Florida’s not winning the national championship in 2015, so let’s build forward and make a positive stride forward. You know, again, Jim McElwain says he’s not here for a participation ribbon or whatever the crap he says. I think it’s participation ribbon. So, hey, he got offensive linemen. You know, heck of a job, you got that in there and, you know, I can’t…I can’t say enough that he realizes, “I need to do something,”instead of sitting back like the other guy would and be like, “Well, we’ll get it fixed.”But, you know, today, Monday and Tuesday was also arrival dates. The freshmen did arrive on Sunday. Safety Kylan Johnson from Texas and defensive end Jabari Zuniga- my favorite player of the class possibly- both got on to campus and, you know, it looks like everyone is going to make it onto campus except for D’Anfernee McGriff and, you know, it just…everything right now’s pointing that he’s going to go to prep school or JUCO. Everybody’s on his side is kind of like, you know, not talking much over there, so it looks…that doesn’t look positive, so…Nick, I guess, have you heard anything on that and what’s your thoughts? I know the plan is to I think get…Monday is when they start working out with Mike Kent and his staff.

 

Nick: Yeah, I mean, Monday, as soon as they enroll in class they are good to go. They can start working out and getting into the program. I think that, you know, for a while I don’t think either of us have thought…I think, for a time to have your confidence raised that McGriff would get in to campus…or get on to campus. I was never really holding my breath there. I do think that it’s a situation where Florida’s done enough that fans don’t really need to worry about him, you know, as far as going to a prep school and then going somewhere else, you know, which could happen. I think he wants to get into Florida; this isn’t a situation where Florida’s keeping him out.

 

Andrew: Right.

 

Nick: So there’s no really bad will on his part towards Florida, so I think that get him in a prep school or a JUCO, get him back in for next year, and it’s someone that when you watch his highlight tape you can’t help but be excited to watch and to see what McElwain could do with that kind of player in the offense.

 

Andrew: Yeah, agreed, you know, I think it’s a…I think it’s a guy that when you send him to prep school he does get to come in with still his four years of eligibility left. His clock doesn’t start until he gets on here. Hopefully that’s the case, and it’s not that he has to go to JUCO where then his clock starts and then it all gets messed up where you have to wait at least three semesters to get him on there so, yeah, that and…you know, I think we’ve talked about this before, Luke Del Rio is expected to arrive today or tomorrow and arrive for his I guess redshirt year after transferring from Oregon State; that’s nothing new and, you know, I wouldn’t be surprised McElwain didn’t sneak somebody else in. He doesn’t like to talk about that too much and maybe he snuck somebody else in but good of McElwain to get all his guys in and ready to go. Before we sign off on this-

 

Nick: Oh, and my favorite…my favorite player from this class is arriving today and that is St. Thomas Aquinas state champion and alum Jordan Scarlett.

 

Andrew: The monster?

 

Nick: Yeah, he is going to be a monster.

 

Andrew: Well how did that talk go, Nick? You know, I know you wrote your story, you had that all up. Give us some snippets of it. I see it on Twitter where he plays the piano. How does a big guy-

 

Nick: Yeah, actually at University School, where he was before he saw the light and transferred to St. Thomas, at University School he said he took piano classes I think his freshman and his sophomore year, and his favorite song to play on the piano is 2 Chainz’“I’m Different.”

 

Andrew: Wow.

 

Nick: You know what that is?

 

Andrew: I do not.

 

Nick: It’s like a dun-dun, dun-dun-dun-dun. So it’s…I thought when he said that…Once he told me he played the piano I was shocked and then I didn’t know whether to think what he’d be playing on the piano. I think I would have been shocked if, you know, he said he was playing Bach or Beethoven on the piano, but I got a good laugh when he said was playing 2 Chainz on the piano. But yeah, it’s always cool to find out these little things that you don’t even find out or you would never know just from watching someone on a Saturday.

 

Andrew: Yeah, real quick, before we get off this, got to mention it real quick, Thursday is the NBA Draft. You know, I don’t expect any body from Florida to get drafted. I know Michael Frazier has been talked about a little bit on there. Nick, I guess any thoughts on that before we sign off?

 

Nick: I would say maybe Frazier will get drafted, you know, and I like that…I don’t like it…I understand that they said, “We need to protect the college game, protect these high school players and that’s why they have to go to a year of college,”but, you know, you look at a kid like Chris Walker who grew up so…who had such a tough upbringing…he was talked about being a top 10 pick out of high school. That’s millions of dollars, that’s life-changing money and now he’s…after two years of Florida, probably isn’t going to be drafted at all. So, you know…I don’t know, it seems like the NCAA and…seems like the NCAA and these leagues, you know, the NFL and NBA are kind of in cahoots sometimes but I feel bad for someone like Chris Walker who could have an opportunity to make life-changing money to help him, to help his family. Hopefully he’ll find a team and make it in the NBA, but I think really, like you said, the only player I think will be drafted will be Michael Frazier and that would be second round.

 

Andrew: Yeah and Chris Walker will probably go overseas and find a home over there. You know, I guess one question mark for me with Chris Walker is, and this is no disrespect to Chris Walker, is it’s time for him to mature, you know, and he had a tough upbringing but it’s time for him to mature and go on and hopefully he does well. Hopefully my Atlanta Hawks get some players and get some more athleticism on that team. It’s time to get back and beat LeBron James, but, anyway, Nick, we’re running a little long on this, let’s sign off. Any final thoughts before we get off of here?

 

Nick: Just want to let Gator Nation to know to stay classy.

 

Andrew: That’s it. The man has spoken, so that’s it. Gator Country, we appreciate it. Stay tuned. Media days is right around the corner. Nick and I will be there, and, yeah, as Nick said, stay classy.

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