As we move into the month of December, the Florida coaching staff will face its most crucial weeks of the recruiting season.
Sunday was the first day of the contact period, where college coaches can have in-person contact with prospects on or off campus once a week. Will Muschamp and co. have already hit the ground running.
On Thursday, the coaches will visit with running back Keith Marshall, who will be making his commitment on Dec. 6 at 2:45 p.m.. He has eliminated North Carolina and Notre Dame from consideration and will now choose between Clemson, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. His last in-home visit will be with UGA Sunday, and although he says his mind is not made up yet, I would count on him being Bulldog.
There’s been so much that transpired since the last Mail Stack, so lets get right into your questions!
Any positive news to report from the recruits that were at The Swamp Saturday night? — TampaGator
I don’t think there’s one bit of negative news to report — not even the 21-7 loss to Florida State.
All the recruits in attendance had a blast at the game and saw the atmosphere they were looking for.
Tight end commit Colin Thompson made the trip from Warminster, Pa., and had a chance to bond with his future teammates.
“It was awesome,” he said of the visit. “I got to meet the other guys committed and we had a great time. I spent a lot of time with Kent Taylor, Austin Hardin, Mike Davis and Jafar Mann. We just hung out and recruited everyone who was at the game. It couldn’t have gone better.”
Thompson said the prospects that got the most attention were Avery Young, Jonathan Bullard and Jenkins. Young and Jenkins sat with the commits during the game and also met at length with the coaches, which may put have put the Gators atop their leaderboard.
As expected, Bullard has gone quiet since his visit, but all indications are that it went very well and UF solidified itself with Clemson as the finalists. It’s hard for me to say where he’s leaning because I haven’t spoke with him, but last week Rhaheim Ledbetter predicted Florida would be the favorite if Bullard was blown away in Gainesville. Maybe the silent treatment is a telling sign? We shall see soon enough.
The Gators also built a solid foundation with many 2013 kids. They, like the prospects in this year’s class, see that there’s playing time for the taking and are excited about the opportunity. Some of the commitments that are coming down the road will be a direct result of last weekend’s success.
What is the projected impact of the return of Urban Meyer to college football coaching and do you think players on our roster will bolt to OSU? With all the contacts Meyer has in Florida will he be able to raid Florida for alot of recruits? — rku4uf/Paul
I was hoping to avoid any Urban Meyer questions, but they can’t be ignored.
The former UF coach is quickly working the phones and has contacted a couple guys on Florida’s radar.
On Tuesday, Meyer called defensive ends Fowler and Noah Spence.
After one phone conversation with the new Buckeye coach, Spence named Ohio State his leader on twitter.
“Just got off the phone with (Urban),” Spence tweeted. “(OSU is) definitly at the top of the list for now.”
Fowler always had a close relationship with Meyer and was a Gator-lean prior to his resignation.
“When he was at Florida, me and him had real good chemistry,” said Fowler, an FSU commit. “So it was good to talk to him again. He’s been a winner at every program he went to.”
Now Meyer wants Fowler to help him win at Ohio State and he’s already convinced the five-star to come check it out.
“He said that he wants me real bad and asked me to come up for a visit,” Fowler said. “Usually he’d tell me to come to Gainesville but now I gotta leave the state to go see him, so it’s kind of weird. But I’m definitely gonna go up there and see what it’s like.”
Earlier in the day, Latroy Pittman told ESPN that he’s not sure what he would do if Meyer contacted him. He clarified those comments with me hours later.
“If he does (call) I will hear what he’s got to say because he was the guy I committed to,” Pittman said. “I’m not saying I would decommit because I’m 100 percent to Florida, but I would listen to him. I couldn’t tell you what I would say because it hasn’t happened. He’s a good coach and if he calls me I would be appreciative of it.”
Ultimately, I don’t expect Meyer to have much of an impact on Florida’s current class. Despite what Pittman said, he wants to be close to home and I can’t imagine him changing his mind before he enrolls at Florida on Jan. 9.
But in years to come, Meyer will have some success in the southeast region. He’s built a lot of connections like you said and he just has a way with recruits. However, Muschamp will win the majority of the recruiting battles because, as Meyer once said, “it’s Florida.”
As far as current players bolting for OSU, the only guys I can see doing that (if things go sour at UF) would be the Burton brothers and/or Ja’Jaun Story, who had the Buckeyes as his second choice.
How big of an impact will Mark Pantoni’s departure for Ohio State have? It seems like many of the recruits really liked him and were highly dissappointed in him leaving. — Seth
For those who don’t know, Mark Pantoni has been UF’s director of football administration for the last five years and he’s one of the best in the business. He schedules all the visits, interacts with the prospects and their families on campus and is one of the most important relationships that recruits build at the school.
As soon as the news broke, two of Florida’s targets took to twitter to express their feelings.
“Pls tell me its not true,” said Tyric McCord, who visited UF this past weekend.
Five-star offensive tackle and UGA commit John Theus tweeted: “Just learned that UF has got rid of their recruiting coordinator Mark Pantoni. He was definitely one of the best I dealt with. Big loss for UF.”
Pantoni called Pittman on Monday night to inform him that he’s officially off the staff.
“It shocked me,” he said. “Pantoni was one of the guys that I really liked. I knew him for awhile and felt comfortable with him. He really loved his five years at Florida. He didn’t say anything but good things about the school and he wished the best for me.”
As upset as Pittman was, he said Pantoni’s departure doesn’t change his commitment to Florida and he’s not sure how it will affect other recruits.
“It all depends on the relationship that they have with Pantoni,” he said. “I know it hit me hard because I thought he would be there for my four years. But for other recruits, it’s all about their feeling toward Pantoni and if he was a reason that they even chose Florida.”
Fortunately for the coaches, the contact period allows them to do some of things Pantoni did and that should comfort the recruits concerned over his leave. If Muschamp can find a replacement before Christmas, I don’t see this hurting UF significantly.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to put your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below!