I didn’t get much for the Mail Stack this week, which I assume is because my Tuesday blog on Florida’s offensive line recruiting answered many of your questions and concerns.
I received so many tweets and emails following the loss to LSU that I decided it deserved it’s own story.
Let me reiterate that I don’t think the UF coaches have done a poor job recruiting the position. The examples I used proved the opposite from a rankings perspective. But the Gators just don’t have enough linemen who fit the criteria they want and need to run their offense, and I also don’t see things getting much better in the foreseeable future.
They will have a lot of youth on the roster next season, but most of those players will need time to develop. And as much as they want David Sharpe, the weakest part of his game is pass protection according to scouts who have watched him. That’s exactly where Florida’s offensive line has struggled the most in recent years, so Sharpe may not be able to provide a quick fix.
Nonetheless, UF has to do everything it can land him and 2015 five-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey, who is considered a heavy lean to the Gators.
On to the questions!
Obvious question, but will the coaches rethink their recruiting strategy and grading for offensive linemen? — Joe
I think it’s must. They’ve been able to land a couple highly touted linemen, but the Gators still aren’t where they need to be up front.
In my opinion, one thing they should do is pursue more prospects in the state of Florida. Ira Denson and Denver Kirkland were two guys in the last recruiting cycle who never received offers from UF. Kirkland is starting as a true freshman for Arkansas this year.
I’m sure the coaches had their reasons for not going after them, but they had the room. If you’re signing the likes of Cam Dillard and Octavius Jackson, it’s worth taking a chance on in-state kids of the same caliber who at least have a handful of schools after them and face better competition.
A few that come to mind this year are Miami commit Trevor Darling (Miami Central), Alabama commit Montel McBride (Plant City) and Florida State commit Corey Martinez (Tampa Catholic).
After all, sometimes the fifth or sixth linemen that gets taken in a class ends up being the best of the bunch.
Dalvin Cook is trying to get Trevor Darling to be a Gator. Do you think we have a chance at him if we miss on Sharpe? — Harnish
Well, first Darling has to get offered by Florida, and I don’t know whether that will happen. There was some talk he would visit for Friday Night Lights back in July, but he didn’t make the trip with Cook and 2015 receiver Da’Vante Phillips, who committed to the Gators at the event.
Darling seems pretty solid to the ‘Canes, but maybe an offer and some recruitment from his teammates could get him to consider UF. At this time, however, he doesn’t appear to be in the cards for Florida.
What feedback have you heard from recruits on future UF QB Will Grier? Can he help bring top receivers and offensive linemen who want to play with him? — Lee
He’s already had impact on the next two classes, as Cook, Phillips and Ermon Lane cited Grier as one of the reasons they chose the Gators. He also talks to UF targets on the phone and goes out his way to recruit them when he visits. He was in the ear of both Bryce Dixon and Lorenzo Featherston at the Arkansas game.
In addition to being a personable guy, his play on the field also speaks volumes. Grier set several state and national state records as a junior, and his senior season stats have been just as impressive.
Through seven games, the dual-threat quarterback has thrown for 2,501 yards and 42 touchdowns along with 816 rushing yards and six scores. He’s completing 70 percent of his passes and averaging 13 yards a carry.
Recruits take notice to numbers like that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he helps the coaches pick up a few more commits before signing day.
With the struggles on offense, would UF consider having any of the current or future defensive players switch to offense? — Zack
Florida cornerback commit J.C. Jackson certainly falls into this category. He’s having an outstanding year at wideout for Immokalee and set a school record last week for most receiving yards in a game (237).
He wants to play corner in college and that’s the position UF recruited him for. But most scouts view him as an athlete, and he was previously committed to Florida State as a receiver.
Given how stacked Florida’s secondary is going to be in 2014, Jackson will likely get some reps on offense to give the Gators another weapon in the passing game.
How many players have we had in already for official visits and how many more can we have in between now and signing day? — Roger
Florida has hosted seven official visitors so far in this recruiting cycle: offensive lineman Nolan Kelleher (UF commit), tight ends Bryce Dixon and DeAndre Goolsby, defensive ends Lorenzo Carter and Lorenzo Featherston, linebacker Clifton Garrett and safety Jamal Adams.
The Gators can have no more than 48 recruits officially visit between now and signing day (55 total).
Here are some targets who plan to visit UF in addition to Florida’s 13 commits: running back Bo Scarbrough (Alabama commit), receivers Eric Lauderdale, Speedy Noil and Travis Rudolph, offensive tackle Damian Prince, defensive tackles Thomas Holley and Gerald Willis III, defensive ends Da’Shawn Hand and Cory Thomas, linebacker Raekwon McMillan and Dwight Williams, cornerback Jalen Tabor and athlete Adoree’ Jackson.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to leave your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below.