Happy New Year everyone!
I know 2013 couldn’t have started any worse for Gator Nation, but there’s still a bright future ahead for the Florida football program.
First of all, Wednesday’s loss shouldn’t have much of negative impact in recruiting. Most of the verbal commitments chose UF prior to the season, so they didn’t base their decision on the 2011 results and won’t change their mind because of a bowl loss. Besides, the Gators still had a great year at 11-2 and exceeded everyone’s expectations, including those of recruits.
On another positive note, UF is expected to land receiver Demarcus Robinson at Saturday’s Army All-American Bowl and flip defensive end DeMarcus Walker during or immediately after his unofficial visit this weekend (assuming he takes the trip as planned). The pair of early enrollees would fill two of the biggest remaining needs in Florida’s 2013 class, which should jump to No. 1 on several recruiting websites if both jump on board.
With the returning starters, amount of young talent on the roster and 24 incoming recruits, the Gators will be loaded for years to come if Florida coach Will Muschamp and his staff can the develop players.
Almost every question this week was about defensive tackles, so let’s get to it!
Defensive tackle situation — Alec, Brandon, BJ, Chentee’, Cody, C-Slim, Devin, Justin, Kaleb, Ken, Kevin, Richard, TheWooDaddy
National Signing Day can’t come soon enough.
Caleb Brantley decommitted from the Gators on Wednesday because of his desire to take official visits, among other factors.
Then tonight, Florida cornerback commit Vernon Hargreaves III tweeted that Brantley is “coming back to UF.” When I asked Brantley if he recommitted to the Gators, “No comment” was his reply.
Brantley publicly became a soft verbal to Florida in May and then solidified his commitment following the UF-FSU game. But the truth is that he’s always been unsure about what he wants to do. He’s just that type of teenager.
Brantley has a lot of factors tying him to Florida, but at the same time he likes the idea of visiting other schools and enjoying the recruiting process. Regardless of what he does over the next few weeks, his recruitment will not be over until he signs his NLI on Feb. 6.
The Gators haven’t been eliminated and are still the favorite to land him. However, if continues to be wishy-washy with his decision, don’t be surprised if Muschamp moves on.
As much as he needs Brantley, he is not going to bend over backwards for him and put up with his drama. Remember what he told Yahoo! Sports on Dec. 3.
“I’ll turn my back on a five-star guy if he isn’t a good guy. I have zero reservations about that. ZERO reservations,” Muschamp said, raising his voice. “I’m the recruiting coordinator here. You’re not a good guy, you go somewhere else. We’ll play you. We’ll beat you.”
Muschamp has been actively recruiting other defensive tackles and will turn up the heat even more after Brantley’s latest episode. Montravius Adams and JUCO Ole Miss commit Jarran Reed are officially visiting this weekend, and Florida gets Jaynard Bostwick’s last visit on Feb. 1. Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, also plans to visit UF this month. But don’t get your hopes up, Gator fans. He ain’t comin’.
Brantley, Bostwick and Reed are the most likely candidates to join Darious Cummings, Damien Jacobs, Leon Orr and Dominique Easley if he stays. Defensive linemen commits Joey Ivie and Antonio Riles will play both end and tackle next year, but they could end up inside on a permanent basis once they add weight.
With the way that this offense has seemingly gone from bad to worse, what impact it is having on offensive recruits? If I am a receiver, do I really want to come play for this offense? — Ryan, Aaron, Ivo
I think most offensive recruits view Florida’s offensive struggles as an opportunity to play right away, and that’s how the UF coaches are selling it. Receivers recognize that the Gators are a running team and have a strong stable of backs for the future, but Florida doesn’t have enough threats at wideout to be effective through the air.
That’s one of the main reasons Ahmad Fulwood & Co. committed to UF and why someone as dynamic as Robinson could make the most immediate impact out of the whole freshmen class. There are some like Marquez North who are turned off by Florida’s passing game (or lack thereof) and want to play in an already productive system. But the majority of kids are intrigued by what offensive coordinator Brent Pease brings to the table and believe they are missing piece to the puzzle.
After the juniors decide and transfers take place, how many do you think we can take in this class and who do we add? — Kevin
With Sharrif Floyd and Matt Elam entering the NFL Draft, Florida now has 26 scholarship openings for the 2013 class. I expect that number to reach 30 with Easley staying, tight end Jordan Reed leaving and about three more players to transferring.
I think the Gators close with Robinson, Walker, two more defensive tackles, another cornerback (Mackensie Alexander or USC commit Jalen Ramsey) and either running back Alex Collins, fullback Kennard Swanson or tight end Durham Smythe.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to put your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below!