Welcome to the first December addition of “Ask Aschoff.” We here at the most popular Gators recruiting mailbag want to thank you for all the questions we’ve received this week. We had so many that it actually took me a while to figure out which five would make the cut. Keep them coming! Obviously, comment questions are the norm, but don’t forget to submit questions via Twitter (@EdAschoffGSUN).
We’ve got a lot to get into today. The fact that it’s December is huge in itself. First, I’m sure most of you out there didn’t think anyone would get through that disaster of a season the Gators had. But, hey, everyone made it out alive and we can all concentrate on getting those Christmas decorations in order. We can also concentrate on the next few months of recruiting. These are crucial months for every team, but Florida coach Urban Meyer said these will be two of the most crucial months for Florida recruiting. There are plenty of holes this team needs to fill and these next couple of months will go a long way to making that happen.
So, sit back with that cup of hot cocoa, turn on some John Legend and lets get on to the questions!
Ask Aschoff, we desperately need a dominant DE. Where do we go from here? Ray Drew? Any chance at Jadeveon Clowney?
Unfortunately for Florida, there aren’t a ton of top-flight defensive ends left out there that haven’t already been snatched up. Also, it hurts that defensive line coach Dan McCarney is gone. All of these guys will be impacted by McCarney’s departure because they don’t know who will be coaching them if they were to go to Florida. Ray Drew (Thomasville, Ga., Thomas County Central) is one of the top defensive linemen in the country, and Florida has been making a major push lately. Last weekend, I was told tight ends coach Brian White went up to Thomasville to check in on Drew. It’s only about 20 minutes away from Tallahassee, so the trip to see him made sense. Drew recently cut his list to his final six and Florida made the cut. The surprise was the fact that Florida State didn’t make his list. He plans to commit to one of the schools listed in his final six and the Gators are sitting in good position, but I still really like Georgia and Auburn here. Georgia has always been near the top, and Auburn has done a great job recruiting him. This one is far from over, but Florida will have to make up some ground on those other schools. Remember, there was a rumor that it was Drew that Meyer was giving that Gator chomp to after the Georgia game.
Jadeveon Clowney was never really recruited much by Florida. He said very early that with Ronald Powell at Florida, he didn’t have much interest in heading to Gainesville. South Carolina could be the school for him in the end, but Alabama and Clemson are pushing hard.
The guy Meyer is now personally recruiting is Tampa Alonso’s Anthony Chickillo. He’s currently committed to Miami, but is upset with the firing of coach Randy Shannon. If Miami brings in a big name, I don’t see things really changing with him, but Florida has always been in the picture. He’s a Miami legacy, but if he’s not comfortable with the new UM coach, Florida has a great shot here. Chickillo is one of those blue-collar guys whom Meyer loves. Unfortunately for Florida, Chickillo and McCarney had a very good relationship.
Guys like Ishaq Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y., Abraham Lincoln), Xzavier Dickson (Griffin, Ga.) and Todd Barr (Lakewood, Calif.) are all guys on Florida’s radar. Barr has already been in for an official visit and he’s someone who could play both inside or outside on the line. It looks like the West Coast schools have the edge right now for Barr, though. Williams was supposed to visit Florida over the summer a couple of times and never made it in. I’m not expecting to see him make a trip to Gainesville any time soon. Dickson is someone to keep an eye on. He’s expressed interest in Florida, but there are other schools higher on his list. Still a long time until National Signing Day.
So after two visits to Florida last weekend, and spending tons of time with the staff, what’s the news on Timmy Jernigan? Do you think him leaving Florida out of his top 4 was more of negative recruiting than how he really feels about the Gators?
— Simply Wess
From what I know about Jernigan’s recruitment, Florida isn’t out of it by any means. He has a very close relationship with Meyer, but he also was really close to McCarney. That could hurt Florida, but I think Meyer taking over his recruitment will help.
Jernigan is all about seeing what is the best fit and seeing what’s out there for him. He’s got so many ties to Gainesville and UF, that if he were to be a Gator, not much would really change for him. There’s nothing wrong with that. He has to be happy with where he really wants to go. Too many times there are kids who go to schools they really don’t want to attend and things never really pan out. It’s happened at Florida a few times recently.
Alabama, FSU, Michigan and LSU are the favorites he’s listed, but he told me at his U.S. Army All-American Game ceremony that he could go to a school not listed in his top four. He’s going through the recruiting process and trying to find out what’s best for him. That’s always a good thing for kids. Actually taking the time to THINK is what some kids lack in recruiting.
On Florida’s end, there have been questions about Jernigan’s work ethic at times. That’s actually on everyone’s end, really. Wherever he goes, he’ll have to improve that and his playing shape immediately.
What do you think would be the impact on recruiting if there is a change in the offensive coordinator position? Thanks.
It really depends on who Florida gets. Remember, while fans may despise Steve Addazio’s play-calling, he’s an excellent recruiter. A lot of Florida’s commitments have developed strong relationships with him. His impact at Florida goes beyond the offense. He was the guy who kept last year’s recruiting class and the team together during the whole Meyer saga.
With that said, there are some recruits who are really unsure what Florida is going to do, and that is hurting UF. It’s never good when recruits don’t know who will be coaching them when they arrive. If Florida is going to make a change, that change needs to come sooner rather than later. Florida needs to give its recruits time to think about and adjust to the new coach. The later it is in the recruiting process, the harder it is for kids to feel comfortable.
Everyone knows how awful Florida was on the offense this year, but it wasn’t all on Addazio. The players fumbled, threw interceptions, ran poor routes, dropped balls, had penalties called on them and had no idea what they were doing on the field, not Addazio. Recruits see the problems with Florida and not all are sold on it being Addazio. If Florida were to make a change and made a big splash with a hire who blows recruits away, then of course things would probably go pretty well with Florida. Finding someone known for having an explosive SPREAD offense is the key if a hire is going to be made.
To me, the biggest thing right now is the uncertainty surrounding Florida’s program. Kids don’t know who will be coaching on this staff next year. That is the biggest impact at this point.
Where do you see Jeoffrey Pagan ending up along with the Serra boys?
Well, I’ll start with the easy one. By Serra boys, I assume you mean wide receiver George Farmer and athlete Marqise Lee. I’d be shocked if both didn’t end up at USC. That’s the school that has been out in front for both guys since the beginning, but both insist all the school they’re interested in are even. Yeah, whatever. The only other school I think could pull those guys away from USC is Oregon. Both had good visits to Florida, but it was almost like a tease for the coaches and fans.
As for Jeoffrey Pagan, this one could be pretty exciting. He’s been very iffy on his Florida commitment for a while, but the loss of McCarney was one of the reasons he decided to cut ties. While linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin was pretty big in his recruitment to Florida, not having a defensive line coach didn’t feel right with Pagan. The school I’ve heard the most about concerning him since his decommitment is Clemson. He’s always liked Clemson and the Tigers have never stopped recruiting him. It’s very close to home as well. One source said Clemson is the presumed new favorite for Pagan. Alabama and Tennessee are also schools I think will get a lot of interest from him.
Still, there is still a lot of time for Florida to find a new defensive line coach and for NSD to get here. He’ll still probably visit Florida for an official and by then a new coach could be added. My opinion is that if he doesn’t end up back in Florida’s class, he’ll end up at Clemson.
Ed, I was wondering if you have watched ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 film documenting Marcus Dupree? I have often thought that the recruiting process these days is nothing but a clown show. It probably is, but after watching this it made me realize that recruiting 30 years ago was even worse. There just was not the coverage and access to all that took place. I have watched many of these films and this was one of their best so far. In your lifetime who would you say is the best overall recruit that you have watched?
Man, you couldn’t have summed up recruiting any better. It really is a clown show. It’s fun to cover and follow, but man you have to wade through so many egos from all directions. Also, I’m ashamed to say that even as a Mississippi boy, I haven’t seen that “30 for 30” episode. I went to tape it and my DVR messed up. If anyone knows how I can watch that one PLEASE let me know!
The best recruit I’ve ever seen? OK, that’s pretty tough because I’ve only seen a few guys live, but I’ve seen plenty of guys on video or during all-star games. I’ll just divide this thing up in three ways for you.
Jeff Driskel — I know. I know. I’m only feeding the hype monster, but in my short time covering recruiting, he’s the most exciting player I’ve ever seen live. Lakeland running back Steward Butler would have taken his spot, but when you watch a quarterback take three hits from the blind side and turn them into runs that go 15, 65 and 91 yards, I’m sorry but there is no getting past that. Plus, he had such command over his team during the game. He was a true leader that night. Oh, and he showed off a cannon for an arm.
Noel Devine — I think I had his video playing in my dorm for hours at a time when he first surfaced on YouTube. Well, maybe not hours, but it was pretty sweet to watch. I’ve never seen someone with so many cuts and speed. Percy Harvin had pretty impressive tape, but Devine was the best I’ve ever seen on video. Yes, better than Reggie Bush’s video. Let the bashing begin.
Ronald Powell — He was pretty fun to watch in last year’s U.S. Army All-American Game. He scored a touchdown as a tight end, had a sack and returned a blocked extra point for two points. He was a no-brainer for MVP in that game.