I felt like chopped liver last week after only getting a few questions for the Mail Stack, but you all came through this week.
It’s probably because you’re trying to get your mind off the Miami loss, and I’m here to help.
On the recruiting trail, Florida coaches are scheduled to see commits such as Will Grier, Dalvin Cook, Da’Vante Phillips, Khairi Clark and Chris Lammons at their games this week. Five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan will have UF defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin at his game tonight per Kipp Adams of 247Sports.
On to the questions!
Zach, does the loss to Miami affect any of our commits from South Florida? — GaGator02, ChoppaStyle, Ivo
When UF lost at Miami 10 years ago, there’s no question it hurt the Gators’ in-state recruiting efforts. Both football programs had experienced similar success in the past decade with several conference and national championships between them. So the 2003 game carried a lot of weight in the eyes of prospects, particularly the South Florida products.
But that’s not the case in 2013. The Gators are coming off an 11-2 season, a record the Hurricanes haven’t seen since the last time the two teams met in Miami. More importantly, Florida defensive backs coach and Miami native Travaris Robinson has built strong relationships with high school players and coaches in the area.
Seven of UF’s 14 commitments for 2014 are from South Florida, and Robinson was their lead recruiter. Despite Saturday’s loss, all of them say they remain solid to the Gators.
What’s the plan for the offensive line if the coaches were willing to let Benjamin Knox drop so easily? — Joe, Jerome, Jimmy, Levy, Tamayo, Bob, Gabe
In case you missed it, DeLand offensive tackle Benjamin Knox decommitted from Florida on Tuesday. He said the staff hadn’t contacted him in over a month. Since the Evaluation Period started Sept. 1, it’s safe to say UF moved on.
Four offensive linemen are currently committed — tackles Dontae Angus and Taven Bryan and guards Travaris Dorsey and Nollan Kelleher. The Gators want one more, and at this point, it might be David Sharpe or bust for the final spot.
The Jacksonville Providence prospect appeared to be favoring Florida in the summer, but recent visits to Clemson and Georgia have made his recruitment more competitive. UF needs to get him on campus again before he nears his decision, which will be in the coming months.
The Gators have developed depth along the offensive line, so Sharpe won’t make or break the class. But they have missed on a nearby five-star offensive tackle in the past two recruiting cycles (John Theus in 2012 and Laremy Tunsil in 2013), and that doesn’t need to happen for a third year in a row.
With Florida having a shortage of star receivers at the moment, why aren’t we hearing more about the Gators trying to recruit guys like Johnnie Dixon, Travis Rudolph, Moral Stephens, Adly Enoicy, Trevon Lee and Ryeshene Bronson. Are the Gators not interested or are they not interested in the Gators? — Jimmy
For one, they brought in five receivers in the last class and don’t have the scholarship room to sign more than three for 2014. Florida has already landed a commitment from Ermon Lane, the nation’s No. 2 wideout according to most services.
The coaches are certainly high on Dixon, but he just doesn’t have heavy interest in UF. The Gators would like to add Rudolph and either Adoree’ Jackson or Speedy Noil for the slot position, and I think they should be able to land two of those targets.
The latter four you mentioned are not in the staff’s plans, including former commit Bronson who is now pledged to South Florida.
Since Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson can’t get on the field despite Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook being awful, shouldn’t UF go after another TE? — Ben
It should, and Derby (Kan.) tight end DeAndre Goolsby is the one to watch out for. He named UF in his Top 5 last month and will officially visit this fall. He’s hard to get a read on as far as who has the edge for him, but the Gators are believed to be a serious contender.
Some other names on the board are Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure), Montez Sweat (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson) and JUCO prospect Josh McNeil (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western C.C.).
Who do you believe will be the biggest “get” on signing day and who will be the biggest decommit for the 2014 class? — Connor
The recruitment of five-star Norcross (Ga.) defensive end Lorenzo Carter is far from over, but Florida was publicly named his front-runner and has a great chance of getting him on signing day. He will officially visit for the Tennessee game next weekend and plans to return to Gainesville following his senior season for an additional trip.
The biggest decommitment has already happened, in my opinion. Losing linebacker Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) in May was a huge blow for the Gators because they don’t have many options at the position. He has committed to Alabama and will be hard to sway back despite his close relationship with UF assistant Brad Lawing.
What number of signees is Florida looking to sign in this next recruiting class and which current players will declare early (or leave the program) for the NFL creating room for more recruits to be signed. — Deep in the swamp
With 10 graduating seniors and 80 scholarship players excluding walk-ons (who won’t count against recruiting next year), Florida currently has room for 15 signees in the 2014 class before attrition.
Linebacker Ronald Powell and cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Robinson are three juniors who could be gone after this season. Quarterback Skyler Morhinweg, fullback Rhaheim Ledbetter, receiver Latroy Pittman and offensive tackle Quinteze Williams are some guys I could see transferring due to lack of playing time.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to put your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below!