With National Signing Day six months away, it’s time to open up the mailbox once again and answer your questions on Florida football recruiting.
I hope you all enjoyed my coverage this summer of Will Muschamp’s football camp, Friday Night Lights and Gridiron Kings, among other things. It was a very eventful time and there was a lot of news to bring to the Gator Prospectus.
Now that football season has arrived and Florida’s 2013 class is nearly full, there won’t be as much content on here as the past two months, which had a couple weeks where I wrote a blog everyday. I still plan to give you guys at least two blogs a week in addition to this one, but Zach’s Mail Stack should serve as one of your main sources of information from now until February.
If you haven’t already, another thing I strongly suggest you do is follow me on twitter (link HERE). I tweet about UF recruiting on a daily basis and stay up-to-date with any news taking place.
On to the questions!
What players are still being pursued? Along with an alternate selection. What is your gut feel on those players? — Gators79
First of all, the Gators can’t add more many prospects as they are already three spots over their scholarship openings for 2013.
Florida currently has 79 scholarship players, six under the NCAA maximum limit of 85. With 13 seniors on the roster, UF only has room for 19 signees right now. But the Gators are expecting to have one-two transfers and lose three-four juniors to the NFL, which would allow them to sign around 24 recruits.
That looks to be the target number for Muschamp, who is heavily pursuing defensive end DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville/Sandalwood) and safety Marcell Harris (Orlando/Dr. Phillips). There are obviously others on the board, but these two are the top targets overall with mutual interest. The ESPN150 members are believed to be favoring Florida and have visited Gainesville numerous times.
Walker, who is scheduled to make an Aug. 24 announcement on ESPNU, has UF in his Top 5 along with Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Tennessee. But his decision will be between the Gators and the Tide. It’s also a two-team race for Harris as Florida and Texas are his front-runners (privately). He’s been to UF more than any other school and will make his third trip to Texas on Sept. 1 for an official visit.
Should Florida miss on Harris and Walker, which I don’t think they will, there isn’t really an alternative selection at those positions. Georgia safety commit Tray Matthews (Newnan, Ga./Newnan) plans on taking an official visit to Florida this season, but the Gators aren’t expected to flip him on the trip. Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) isn’t a realistic option either. He no longer has interest in UF because the coaches basically stopped recruiting him once Nick Washington (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian) committed and they ran out of room. Greg Gilmore (Hope Mills, N.C./South View) is the only viable recruit left for Florida at strongside defensive end, but he’s all-LSU.
Where do we stand with some of the guys listed at the bottom of your Aubrey Hill blog? — Charles and others
This answer addresses many of the prospects you all asked about individually:
Sources have said it’s only matter of time before receiver commit Rodney Adams (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood) gets dropped by UF for his low grades. The coaches could have already replaced Adams with Gainesville WR Chris Thompson and may not take a fourth player at the position. But if they do, Marquez North (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek) and Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete Monee) would be at the top of the board.
Both prospects were supposed to visit Florida in July and didn’t make it in, but they still plan to take an official visit sometime in the fall. However, whether they show or not, it’s very unlikely they join this class.
Alvin Bailey (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) is the replacement that Gator fans want the most. The problem is he has yet to be offered and doesn’t have Florida in his Top 8. Furthermore, Bailey had two chances to camp at UF and refused to come because he felt he didn’t have to prove himself to the coaches. With that kind of attitude and interest level, it appears this ship has sailed. By the way, I’m told the rumors that Muschamp and the Armwood coaching staff have beef over this is not true.
Stacy Coley (Oakland Park, Fla./Northeast) is another receiver who was a fan favorite early on, but he’s been off Florida’s radar since the spring. The Gators offered him and led at the beginning of the year, but his academics and other off-the-field issues caused the coaches to cool on him. They won’t warm up again unless he shows drastic improvement in his areas of concern.
Levonte Whitfield (Orlando, Fla./Jones) and Taj Williams (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) are two more receivers that could be options for the Gators. However, they are not being actively recruited and don’t have committable offers. That could always change down the road, but I doubt it. I think UF is done at the position because of the limited spots left.
Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) is obviously the No. 1 priority in this group, but the Gators are currently No. 3 for his services behind Georgia and Alabama. The Bulldogs, although he won’t say it publicly, have the edge right now and would receive his signature if today were NSD. Despite living a half hour away from Gainesville and growing up a Gator fan, Tunsil quite frankly just doesn’t want to go to Florida. He’s very concerned (again, he won’t say it publicly) about having to compete with D.J. Humphries at left tackle and doesn’t want to play on the right side of the line. Tunsil says Muschamp & Co. are recruiting him harder than any other school, but there’s no thrill-factor for him when he visits UF and it’s hard for the coaches to make a strong impression. This one is still far from over even though things aren’t so promising at the moment. Muschamp will fight for this kid until the end.
Kenny Lacy (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe) is the next target at tackle and has been in constant contact with offensive line coach Tim Davis over the last couple weeks. Lacy has already set up official visits to UCLA, Arkansas, Nebraska, Cal and Oklahoma, but if Florida offers as expected, he will cancel one of those trips and head to Gainesville instead. Like Tunsil, Lacey is planning to announce around NSD, so by then the coaches should know where they stand with both prospects. The situation with offensive tackle commit Rod Johnson will be clear by this time, too.
The Gators are one of three finalists for Joe Fennell (Fort Myers, Fla./South Fort Myers), but they are third place in the race. Fennell wants to play on the defensive side of the ball and Nebraska and South Carolina are recruiting him as a defensive tackle. Florida, on the other hand, wants him as an offensive lineman. Fennell attended Friday Night Lights and will return for another visit, but his desire to play defense could be the deciding factor. Maybe UF can convince him otherwise.
The other linemen I listed — Ander Bodkin (Marianna, Fla./Marianna), Tyrone Crowder (Rockingham, N.C./Richmond County) and DeVondre Seymour (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) — all list Florida among their favorites, but they aren’t in the coaches’ plans at this point.
Is there a possibility of a 2013 version of Fowler? A recruit that surprises and flips at some point? — Brett and James
There is, but I’ve been asked by this player to not release his name, position or future plans (yes, he is scheduled to visit Florida). The only clue I will give is that he’s committed to the same school Dante Fowler once was. Whenever I can give more information, you guys will be the first to know.
Who is our most underrated commit? — James
I have to go with Dade City Pasco defensive lineman Joey Ivie. I love his tape, which you can watch HERE. He plays with a high motor and is very explosive at the snap. I think he can become a productive player for Florida once the coaches find a home for him at tackle or end and get his weight and strength where it needs to be.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to put your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below!