Who’s ready for some SEC football?!
Sure there’s been games going on since Week 1, but Florida final starts its conference schedule this Saturday versus the Vols.
As anticipated, a who’s who list of recruits will be on hand for the rivalry game. With no other marquee matchups in Gainesville until the regular season finale against Florida State, this weekend is a big one for the Gators.
Check out my preview story on GatorSports.com later tonight.
On to the questions!
Will Florida land another running back in this class? — Connor, Tamayo
Looking at the limited scholarship numbers for 2014, Florida might have trouble signing a second tailback. However, it appears the UF coaches are trying to make it happen.
Two running backs are planning to attend the Tennessee game — five-star Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) and Alabama commit Bo Scarbrough (Bradenton IMG Academy). Mixon is scheduled to be in town on an official visit, but there are reports his trip may be pushed back to the weekend of the Florida State game (UPDATE: Mixon’s trip has been postponed).
Despite already being pledged to a school, the Gators have a better shot with Scarbrough than they do Mixon, who most feel will stay on the West Coast for college.
Florida tight end commit C’yontai Lewis is Scarbrough’s cousin and close friend. The two were teammates at Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Northridge before transferring to separate schools this past summer. They visited UF together in June and will both return Saturday.
Scarbrough’s move to Bradenton has also taken him away from the pressure of attending the hometown school and made it easier to visit Gainesville, and vice versa. UF running backs coach Brian White was at his game Friday.
Florida’s top priority is keeping Dalvin Cook in the fold. But if Scarbrough makes multiple trips this fall and the Gators can make room for him, there’s definitely a chance he flips.
With De’Shawn Hand switching his visit dates, is that good or bad for the Gators? — Mark
Due to his SAT exam Oct. 5, the nation’s No. 1 defensive end out of Woodbridge (Va.) Senior was forced to reschedule the last two official visits he had planned. He will now take his trip to Alabama on Oct. 26 against Tennessee instead of its Nov. 9 showdown with LSU, and he will visit Florida on Nov. 9 for its homecoming game with Vanderbilt rather than Oct. 5 against Arkansas.
This is good news and bad news for UF. The good news is Hand was willing to miss Alabama’s biggest home game just to see Florida, and now the Gators get his final visit. The bad news? That trip comes just five days before Nov. 14 decision, and he won’t have a lot of time to process what he experiences in Gainesville. Hand basically has to fall in love with the place. With Michigan being his presumed leader for so long, can a last-minute visit to Florida change his mind? That’s the million-dollar question.
Cory Thomas has good size at 6’6, 270. What’s are chance to pull him out of Alabama? — Tom
His Top 5 in order is Mississippi State, Tennessee, Florida, Clemson and Florida State, so pulling him out of Alabama won’t be an issue. The Gators are third on his leaderboard, and Hand is the top priority at the strongside defensive end position.
However, Thomas will attend UF’s game against the Vols and then return for an official visit on Nov. 30 (FSU). So the Gators have a chance to make up ground this weekend, and they will also know Hand’s destination before Thomas takes his official.
His recruitment will be one to watch moving forward, but some factors need to change if Florida is to become a serious contender.
What do you think the odds of Florida landing Adoree’ Jackson are? Many recruiting sites show USC in the lead but recruits seem to be put off by them at the moment. — Jake, Christopher, Tamayo
Florida’s odds are outstanding, and I think the Gators currently lead for the two-sport athlete from Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra. As I reported after Friday Night Lights, UF track coach Mike Holloway is a major player in Jackson’s recruitment and has already given the five-star prospect personal workouts. Holloway is the only track coach Jackson speaks with — or at least he was for a while — and he appears to be closest with the football coaches at Florida.
The success of both sports at UF coupled with Southern Cal’s disastrous start to the season only bodes well for the Gators. The Trojans are believed to be the biggest threat, but Jackson could be cooling on them with Lane Kiffin on the hot seat. Jackson is also originally from Illinois, so the prospect of staying in Cali probably isn’t a big factor for him.
Do you think Jeff Driskel’s lack of development into a star QB has any impact on recruits? If so any specifically in this year’s class? — Ky Gator
The only recruits it might impact are quarterbacks. Some might feel like Florida is unable to develop their skills. However, I can tell you those concerns aren’t there for QB commit Will Grier. He and his father/high school head coach, Chad, have all the confidence in offensive coordinator Brent Pease.
Prospects at other positions just don’t really care about the juniors and seniors on Florida’s current team. Those won’t be the guys they play with for the next four years, and that’s who they’re worried about. Grier and his potential — not Driskel and his struggles — played a huge factor in landing receiver Ermon Lane.
Does Florida only recruit players from the large high schools or will they take a look at players from small schools? Wondering how the UF coaches determine if a player at a small high school (or lower class) can compete at UF. — Mason
They recruit both, and Grier is a perfect example. His high school, Davidson (N.C.) Day, faces terrible competition. Florida freshman running back Kelvin Taylor played against Class 1A, 1B and 2A teams at Glades Day.
That’s why UF has these kids come to camp so they can see what their talent level is and how they respond to coaching. If the staff determines a quarterback or skill player has what they’re looking for, that matters more than their competition level in high school.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to put your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below!