Long answers to great questions this week, so no need to run my mouth up here.
On to the questions!
So Ed, you wrote that last week’s loss won’t hurt recruiting that much. How about this week’s loss? How could any recruit, there or not, think there is so much depth that they can’t play if they are good enough? I am sooo frustrated with this team!!! Also, have you heard any recruits talking about Coach Meyer and him losing his fire?
I did think that the Alabama loss wouldn’t do much to recruiting. But I think the LSU loss could influence some of that negativity to seep into Florida’s recruiting plans. It’s not so much the loss, but how the Gators lost. They had barely any sort of offensive identity at all. The Gators couldn’t pass or run against the Tigers, and offensive recruits saw it. A couple of guys I talked to weren’t too impressed with what Florida had to offer offensively.
Florida’s 2012 wide receiver commit Latroy Pittman couldn’t have been more honest when talking about Florida’s offense. He said he’s starting to get a little worried about how the Gators look on offense. He thinks quarterback John Brantley is holding himself back and seems stressed in the pocket. Not to worry, Pittman said, he’s still committed to Florida and actually thinks he’ll be able to come in and help early.
Belle Glade Glades Central receiver Kelvin Benjamin was on the same page as Pittman. He wasn’t happy Florida lost and wasn’t impressed at all with the offense. However, he also thinks he can come in and compete early because he’s that bigger receiver the Gators are lacking.
On defense, guys weren’t that fazed by how the offense looked or the outcome. Florida’s front seven was gutted by a below-average SEC offense and high school seniors are taking that to mean they could come in early and play, especially linebackers. Wadesboro, N.C., Anson linebacker Stephone Anthony and Danville, Kent., Boyle County linebacker Lamar Dawson both reportedly came away from their trips to The Swamp thinking they could help out very early in Gainesville.
What a lot of people have been concerned about is the affect the boos might have had on recruits. Honestly, they don’t care, and Pittman even said he understands why the fans booed. Recruits seemed to be more impressed by the passion Gator fans showed showed through the booing and cheering that alternated on the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. While some fans might be upset by the booing, it’s not something recruits really cared about.
In the end, I think this game could start to get offensive players more concerned with what Florida’s offense is becoming and how defenses are starting to pick up on the spread/pro/whatever Florida is running. For defensive players, they see a team that lacks playmakers on that side of the ball and it’s an opportunity for guys to come in and play early.
I wouldn’t say people should start giving up on this recruiting class, but if the offense continues to sputter, it could be hard for Florida to reel in much-needed, top talent.
W/ the Noles rolling in recruits, is the changing of Florida a perennial spot for top recruits from FL changing?
While poorly worded, I think I know where you are going with this question. I think that Florida State is finally giving Urban Meyer a run for his money when it comes to recruiting. It all started last year when coach Jimbo Fisher cashed in nicely at the end of the recruiting season. At first, I wasn’t too impressed with the class FSU first started putting together, but the more I look at it the more I like it.
The Seminoles grabbed commitments from Tampa Plant athlete James Wilder Jr., who will be a solid linebacker at the next level. FSU likes both defensive ends the ‘Noles grabbed in Giorgio Newberry (Fort Pierce Central) and Terrance Smith (Decatur, Ga., Southwest Dekalb). Both are extremely athletic and pretty lanky. I saw Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas wide receiver Rashad Greene at Gridiron Kings, and while I think he’s tremendously undersized, he’s got great speed and instincts. Greene’s teammate, offensive lineman Bobby Hart, is also a pretty solid addition to FSU’s class. But of all the guys they’ve landed, I am most impressed with Davenport Ridge safety Karlos Williams. He was the MVP at Gridiron Kings and he is hands-down one of the best prospects I’ve seen this year.
I still think Florida’s commit list might be a tad bit better because the Gators have more athletic recruits, but FSU is in the mix for a ton of top guys still uncommitted. West Palm Beach Dwyer tight end Nick O’Leary has been linked to FSU lately and so has defensive end teammate Curt Maggitt. St. Augustine Pedro Menendez linebacker Tony Steward will probably end up in Tallahassee when everything is over, giving FSU one of the best classes in the country.
FSU is also on the short list for a lot of top 2012 recruits as well and already has two verbals for next year. Seminoles recruiting is back, and it appears Florida and FSU are easily the top recruiting schools in the state.
I get the feeling that Florida is going after more so-called 3- and 4-star recruits this season, which is fine with me. Is that accurate? Do you have any sense that the Gators are beginning to look at players who might be flying under the radar a little bit, as opposed to going after a lot of 5-star recruits? Would that be a fundamental change in philosophy? Thanks.
— Doug Whittle
Stars really don’t mean anything to coaches. Sure, they look at the web sites, but they don’t chase guys because of how many stars are behind their names. What I think Florida’s coaches like to do is find guys who might have a little more athletic ability and speed than some of those blue-chippers but don’t have the technique. Technique is something that can be taught and developed. Speed can’t.
I think that’s exactly what is happening with Florida in this year’s class. Guys like Chris Johnson, De’Ante Saunders and Valdez Showers are all very talented defensive backs, but Rivals.com rates them all as three-star prospects. They have great speed and can play with the best of them, but each also plays on offense as well. I think that can sometimes take away from your technique at your primary position. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but these guys have work to do from a mechanical standpoint.
Fullback Hunter Joyer is rated a three-star because he’s a fullback. Not much love for them in recruiting, but I’ve seen him work out and he’s a beast. The only player I’d have to question is offensive lineman Tommy Jordan. I’ve talked to a couple of people who have seen him play and they say he can play stiff at times. I haven’t seen him, so I can’t comment on his ability, but from what I’ve heard, he’s got a lot of work to do. The same can be said about o-Lineman Chase Hounshell. While he’s not necessarily stiff, he plays both offense and defense, and guys that I’ve talked to aren’t sure about his technique at left tackle because of all the time he spends on the defensive side. That’s something he’ll have to learn at the next level.
Guys are sometimes recruited because of potential and “upside.” Sometimes that means they don’t have 10 stars next to their name, but I don’t think coaches really care about that. What they care about is finding guys who have the tools needed to fit their system.
The only recruits I’ve questioned Florida getting in the past couple of classes are tight ends Michael McFarland and Desmond Parks. Seeing them at camps, I was never really sure what position they were playing. Neither had great size and their route-running skills were questionable. Maybe the coaches saw something I didn’t, but I was never really sure how either fit in Florida’s offensive system. Of course, I’m no coach, so my opinion probably means absolutely nothing. Both were also rated as three-star prospects.
Hey Ed, thank for all the info. I look forward to your weekly articles. I see that we just got a verbal from Chris Johnson out of Ocala. I wonder how good this secondary class is shaping up to be, in relation to other classes we’ve seen. In addition to Johnson, we already have Nick Waisome, Louchiez Purifoy, Saunders, and Showers. In recent memory, we seem to always have good secondaries, but this incoming class could be the best we’ve seen. Is it possible that Florida is becoming known as a destination for top DBs? There sure are worse things to be known for.
I wouldn’t call it the destination for defensive backs, but Florida is doing a pretty good job of getting solid secondary players to come to Gainesville. I like all of the defensive backs Florida has in this class, and I think Nick Waisome might be the most talented of all of the them. Florida has done a great job of collecting good defensive backs who might not get a ton of national recognition, but the coaches have also done a great job developing most of them. Joe Haden was a quarterback in high school and was then was a top-10 draft pick. Janoris Jenkins was highly touted coming out of the state of Florida, but guys like Patrick Peterson (LSU), Brandon Harris (Miami) and D.J. Monroe (Texas) were all rated higher than him by recruiting web sites. Now, if he can get over last week’s poor performance, he could be a top-10 pick as well. Jeremy Brown is another guy who got some attention in-state, but wasn’t highly recruited out of the Southeast. Now, he’s turning into a pretty solid corner and has great technique.
With that said, Florida did an execellent job recruiting in the secondary last year. Jonathan Dowling from last year is a tremendous athlete, no matter where he lines up on the field. Matt Elam was a two-way guy in high school and is now contributing more than any of the other defensive freshman and looks like he’ll be an impact player from here on out. Josh Shaw was one of the top cornerback prospects in the country last year and Florida was able to snag him from California. He’s not progressing like I thought he would this fall, but he’s got the tools to be a big-time corner for Florida. Then you have Jaylen Watkins and Cody Riggs, who are both seeing good time, especially Riggs, who I said would be hampered by his size. His size has yet to be an issue so far.
With the way Florida develops its secondary, I don’t see UF falling off anytime soon in how it recruits safeties and corners.
Who is the #1 target that the #Gators MUST, without a doubt, have?
Well, since it looks like Godzilla will be staying close to home in Japan (follow me on Twitter), I’ll have to go with Lake City Columbia defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. I don’t know how many times I’ve said his name this year, but every time I talk about recruiting, his name comes up. He’s a tremendous talent on the defensive line and he’s way too close to Gainesville for Urban Meyer and his staff to let get away. He grew up a Gators fan and each time I’ve talked to him he’s always had great things to say about the program. However, teams like Florida State, Alabama and LSU are closing in fast and will only get more interest from Jernigan the more they recruit him. Everyone feels like Florida is the favorite, but those schools aren’t backing down.
Jernigan is also at a position of great need for the Gators. A presence up the middle has been almost nonexistent since SEC play began and he’s a guy who would have to come in and contribute very early. If he can shake some of his lazy ways on the field, he could make a similar impact as Sharrif Floyd.