September 4th, 2014 12:00pm

Zach’s Mail Stack 9/4

by

Florida’s season opener against Idaho didn’t happen due to weather, but the stars were still out in The Swamp on Saturday night.

The Gators hosted three visitors who are rated five-star prospects — running back Jacques Patrick and defensive ends Byron Cowart and CeCe Jefferson — as well as a handful of other targets and commits (see here). Attendance like that for the first game was a great sign for UF.

Last year’s 4-8 record hasn’t discouraged kids from coming to Gainesville, and there seems to be a level of anticipation and excitement from recruits. They want to see this team play and do well, and Cowart and Jefferson plan to be back at Florida this weekend for the Eastern Michigan matchup.

If the Gators can win these next two games and compete with Alabama (win or lose), their 2015 class will have a ton of momentum heading into October if they land the recruits deciding this month.

On to the questions!

How does fan enthusiasm in last week’s weather delay impact recruits who were also attending? — Travis Tuten

It definitely made an impression. I spoke to Jefferson and Jordan about it, and they were surprised that fans stay in the stands for hours through the rain, thunder and lightning.

It wasn’t just them toughing it out through the storm, but the way they cheered during the game’s only play and the moments leading up to it.  

“On that kick return, the stadium was very, very loud,” Jordan said. “I hadn’t been to a Gator game in a few years and I kind of forgot how loud the fans got. And the stadium wasn’t even half full.”

Added Jefferson, “I’ve been to a bunch of big games in The Swamp and they made just as much noise (Saturday night).”

The fan enthusiasm last weekend may not be the deciding factor for any kids, but it was beneficial for them to see the type of fan support UF has coming off last season.

If DE Byron Cowart commits to Florida, how much of a pull would that have on the other Tampa targets?@DevinLamarr

First of all, it’s looking more and more like Cowart will be picking UF when he makes his decision Sept. 28. He was in Gainesville last weekend for the Idaho game and plans to return again this Saturday for Eastern Michigan. A commitment from him would grab the attention of recruits not only in Tampa but throughout the state.

As a consensus five-star prospect, he would be the most high-profile member in Florida’s class. Great players want to play with other elite talent, and acquiring someone of Cowart’s caliber will certainly help the Gators in recruiting.

He’s well respected in Tampa and has relationships with many top recruits from that area, so he could potentially influence or sway some of those kids Florida’s way if he chooses the school later this month. A rebound season from UF would also help his efforts.

Where do we stand with Te’Von Coney and Jeff Holland? — @Jmapus01Clark 

Right now both linebackers seem to favoring two schools. Florida and Notre Dame for Coney, and Auburn and Florida for Holland.

Coney is taking his official to South Bend this weekend, and it’s a huge visit for the Irish. Coney is an early enrollee and wants to commit this month, so it’s important for them to make their mark.

He’s scheduled to attend the UF-Kentucky game next weekend, so the Gators should get the last crack at him before his decision. However, he plans on taking all five official visits, so his recruitment won’t officially end until then.

Holland named the Tigers his top team recently, but they don’t have much of a lead. He’s been a regular in Gainesville over the past couple months and was at the game last Saturday. He won’t be announcing any time soon, but in my mind, Florida holds the edge for him heading into the fall.

What are the odds of us landing WR Antonio Callaway if we turn up the heat on him? — Jake

I don’t think either party wants to rush things.

Callaway would like to go through his recruiting process and is still gaining interest from new schools. LSU offered him Wednesday.

The Gators should also let their WR board play out. A winning season could open the door for some new options, and they need more.

At this time, the three targets they seem to be in great shape with are all slot receivers (Callaway, Ryan Davis and Javarius Davis). One of their commits at the position, Derrick Dillon, also plays the slot.

Callaway isn’t looking to race through his recruitment, and that’s good news for UF. That being said, Florida’s ace recruiter Travaris Robinson could deliver him to the Gators if and when they turn up the heat.

Do we have any DT targets for 2015? If so, who are they and what’s our chances with them? KyGator, @DustinDub20, @Kylejmclaughin

Defensive tackle isn’t a major need for 2015, but UF would still take another one in addition to Andrew Ivie.

As of now, the top remaining targets are Kendrick Norton and Texas A&M commit Daylon Mack.

Norton, a former Florida State pledge, named Florida as one of his top five schools Sunday in addition to Auburn, LSU, Miami and UCLA. He’s visited Gainesville a few times since his decommitment, and the Gators appear to be his front-runner.

Mack has been committed to the Aggies for almost a year, but UF will host him on an official visit in October for the LSU game. He’s developed a relationship with Brad Lawing and a couple commits, and Florida has a shot at flipping him if he follows through with his trip.

Who are your Top 5 recruits (in order) to look out for committing to Florida soon? — @Duval9oh4

This list could change once prospects start taking visits, but these are the ones who could pick UF in the coming weeks and months.

1. DE Byron Cowart (deciding Sept. 28, finalists are Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Oregon)
2. LB Te’Von Coney (plans to decide this month, finalists are Florida, Miami and Notre Dame)
3. WR Ryan Davis (plans to decide in late September/early October, visited UF three times in August)
4. CB Jeremy McDuffie (plans to decide after taking his official visits, Florida leads Tennessee)
5. OG Jalen Merrick (Florida considered his favorite, planned to decide in September but now wants to take officials first)

That’s all for this week! Be sure to leave your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below.

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Comments

33 Comments

  1. September 4th, 2014 1:42 pm

    How many commits are the coaches looking to get in this class? Taking out current commits, how many open spots does that leave us to fill?

    by KyGator


  2. September 4th, 2014 2:24 pm

    What are the chances we flip George Campbell, assuming he commits to FSU? We were thought to be the favorite, up until a couple of weeks ago.

    by t-bones


  3. September 4th, 2014 4:11 pm

    I am interested if Florida has all but given up on Campbell, Jefferson and others. It seems that CeCe Jefferson’s name is being omitted more often than not lately so I thought i would ask. As for Campbell… I am not sure why he would want to go to FSU, they are loaded with Receivers and they are poised to get a couple more good ones next season.

    Thanks Zack for all your efforts…. GO GATORS!!!

    by Bernard


  4. September 5th, 2014 12:43 am

    What about Martez ivey? Saw a little film on him on ESPN and have a man crush on this kid….

    by Swampie


  5. September 5th, 2014 12:56 am

    Although I was disappointed we didn’t get to perform last weekend, I was ABSOLUTELY ELATED to hear Coach Muschamp’s interview where he said something to the effect of understanding we needed an offensive system in place that ‘attracts elite talent annually’…that omission immediately won me over! I don’t need to see our improved offense/team to know we’re now on the right track. The offense is loaded; my biggest concern is our DL. Kudos Muschamp. LUV UF!

    by TigerCatZeroZero


  6. September 5th, 2014 4:03 pm

    I think we ought to wait until September 20 to say UF is “loaded” on offense. Right now, all we have are words, they’re nice to hear, but every team in the country is saying the same thing abut their team. The fact remains that there is not a single player on Florida’s offense that has done anything on the field to validate the claim that UF is “loaded” on offense. It doesn’t matter how many “stars” they had, no one has come close to being a great player yet. How long has it been since UF had a ALL-SEC player on offense? That should give you pause before saying UF is “loaded.” Sure, you can say UF is loaded compared to the two teams they now open the season with. But compared to the six currently ranked teams on their schedule, I think the term “loaded” doesn’t apply right now. Maybe Driskel will get his act together this year, Robinson will live up to the unending hype, a dominant running back will emerge, etc. The truth is that no one has any idea, and we won’t know until the trip to Tuscaloosa.

    by aux2


  7. September 6th, 2014 12:36 am

    “there is not a single player on Florida’s offense that has done anything to validate the claim that UF is ‘loaded’ on offense”??? Are you kidding me??? How about Jake McGhee who was only a superstar despite the rest of his team not being able to play their way out of a paper sack. Or how about Kelvin Taylor who could only be stopped by dummy Pease taking him out of the game at the worst times. What about Matt Jones who tore it up his freshmen season and was only slowed down last year because of injuries? How about Quinton Dunbar who caught anything that came his way and had 500 yards receiving despite not having any QBs who could consistently get him the ball? How about Jeff Driskel who is 11-3 as a starter, is exceptionally talented, and was on the verge of a huge season before he got injured? Oh wait my bad. You think Driskel sucks, despite not having any proof to back you up and not having anything to say when I actually present you with facts. I think you should stop posting on sites like this until you watch a little more football. Our offense will be just fine. Driskel will be amazing, Summers has the line biiger, better, and stronger than ever before, we have the best backfield in the NATION, and our receivers will be big time for us. Yes there’s a lot of unproven hype at the position, but I count at least 10 guys who COULD step up and be big time for us. Basic odds says that even if it’s not the ones we expect, at least a few will step up for us. That means a v ery good season for us. Will we have the best offense in the league or even the SEC? Probably not. That takes time. But it’s obvious we are loaded with talent. And with a guy like Roper that means we’ll be just fine. Our offense doesn’t have to be the best in the league to win, we just have to be average. And this offense will be far above average. Roper has these boys on track. But you’ll see that tomorrow. Can’t wait to hear what you’re saying at the end of the season! Heck can’t wait to hear you after Bama week! But I have a feeling you’ll mysteriously disappear. Oh well

    by That_UAT_Guy


  8. September 6th, 2014 1:19 am

    aux2,

    You make some good points but let me say: When I use the term loaded I am making reference to the talent level and depth, not media generated accolades. Even with the ill advised offensive system we ‘ran’ in the recent past, how many of our so called talent lacking WRs and OL have made their way onto NFL rosters? In my humble opinion, we are LOADED, loaded to the point where even if Driskel gets his act together, Robinson is living up to the unending hype, and a dominant running back is well established – we are just as dangerous playing the next QB, the next WR or the next RB. Maybe I am misusing the term, but I’d bet T. Harris, A. Fullwood, A. Debose, A. Bailey, L. Pittman, A. Lane, B. Powell, T. Brown and the rest of the squad and staff got it. Enjoy the game and the season…come back September 20th. LUV UF!

    by TigerCatZeroZero


  9. September 6th, 2014 8:54 am

    That_UAT_Guy before you go on about our back field being the best in the nation check Georgia and Alabama. I would agree with your other points being spot on.

    by Ed


  10. September 6th, 2014 10:19 am

    Before you know it that guy will have UF going 11-2 last year instead of 4-8

    by James Fisher


  11. September 6th, 2014 10:24 am

    Cowart is also a silent to Jimbo… Gators please don’t be upset with me. Right now FSU is picking who they want. There are plenty of good ones left though. FSU will battle Bama for the best kids in the nation. It will be like this for a long time. I’m sure UF will win a couple of times in the next 10-15 years but it is what it is. There is no shame in being # 2 in this great state Gator fans

    by James Fisher


  12. September 6th, 2014 10:53 am

    I don’t believe that Cowart is going to FSU. IT may happen if UF is again a bad team, he’s supposed to announce September 28, but I think he’ll delay his annponcement if UF doesn’t win in Tuscaloosa to give the Gators every opportunity to show they are an improved team. His school, Seffner Armwood is a Gator factory, I think he’d have a hard time there if he chose FSU, unless it’s apparent that UF is terrible again this year.
    As for the people who think UF is “loaded”, it’s not based on reality. Jake McGhee wasn’t even an honorable mention All-ACC tight end, I think you need to look up the definition of “superstar.” About Kelvin Taylor, you again use the word “if”, using that word proves that someone is not what you claim them to be, if it was true, there’d be no need to use the word. Driskel? Yes, Florida won 11 games in 2012 with him at the helm, but it wasn’t due to his play. Muschamp has said that he was more of a “caretaker” than anuything else, they didn’t need him to make plays and, instead, relied upon a strong defense and great special teams to win. When they were foolish enough to let Driskel have a chance to be a “real” quarterback in the Sugar Bowl, he failed miserably. Matt Jones has done nothing, 275 yards in his freshman year doesn’t qualify as someone who “tore it up.” Quinton Dunbar is an average receiver at best, like McGhee, he’s not even good enough to be honorable mention All-Conference. Best backfield in the nation? Based on what? Your vivid imagination? No, it’s not “obvious” that UF is loaded with talent, you have to actually do something on the field to earn that distinction, so far no one on Florida’s offense has done that. The number of “stars” they have coming out of high school doesn’t score touchdowns. It’s been four years, or since a guy named Tebow left, that UF has been a good offense, it might have something to do with UF not being “loaded” on offense.

    by aux2


  13. September 6th, 2014 5:59 pm

    Well said Aux

    by James Fisher


  14. September 6th, 2014 8:27 pm

    Zach, I see a recovered fumble by Caleb Brantley and a forced fumble by Brantley, but no points from ESPN for fantasy football, what’s up with that? Haha

    by Allen


  15. September 6th, 2014 11:26 pm

    NICE debut. They were who I thought they were and they did what I thought they’d do. “Loaded” or not, we’re coming and I’ll take it! LUV UF!

    by TigerCatZeroZero


  16. September 7th, 2014 10:32 am

    I bet Treon Harris leads the nation in qb rating. How would like to start out your college career that way 2-2 148 yards and 2 tds. Hate to see McGee go down. Injuries killed the Gators last year. Hopefully they will not have anywhere near as many this year.

    by Gator863


  17. September 7th, 2014 10:39 am

    James Fisher – A few days ago you said Cowart was a silent commit to Auburn. Now you say that he is silently committed to FSU. You have to keep your made up stories straight.

    by Gator863


  18. September 7th, 2014 3:36 pm

    863, it alright if JF can’t keep his lies straight, nobody believes a thing that he spews out anyway…. lmao :~))

    Where was rsFr RB Adam Lane 5-7 222 in the E.Mich game?
    Did he pee in someone’s cornflakes???

    Tough cheese for Jake, but it could have been worse.
    TE C.Burton had 7 receptions, so there’s that to look forward to.
    TE depth, including the FNG’s, is still pretty good.

    by da-muddler


  19. September 7th, 2014 4:13 pm

    Hey Zach,
    Any talk about building an indoor practice facility?

    by G8R AL


  20. September 7th, 2014 9:26 pm

    Hey Aux, anything to say about our offense now. Looked pretty loaded to me. It’s Eastern Michigan, but keep in mind the last time UF had a shut out that big it was 1996. That’s some good company. You don’t do that without being good. Talent level has never been the problem at UF. We’ve always been loaded. Anyone who doubts the talent level of Taylor, Jones, Brown. Powell, Dunbar, Robinson, Fulwood, etc is just an idiot not even worth debating. I can’t wait to hear your excuse at the end of the season after those guys have looked good against the likes of Bama, LSU, Georgia, FSU, etc

    by That_UAT_Guy


  21. September 7th, 2014 9:30 pm

    Ed, no doubt Bama and Georgia both have great backfields. Todd Gurley is obviously the best back in the nation. But there is NO ONE, not even them, who can say they are as deep and talented as we are. Jones and Taylor will be one of the best tandems in the nation, but it doesn’t stop there. Mack brown could start most places, Adam Lane is immensely talented. Brandon Powell is playmaker who is reliable despite his youth. Mark Herndon is dangerous even if he doesn’t get much playing time due to our loaded backfield. Then even Masline yesterday showed he’s got good talent. No one else has that amount of talent. That’s why we’re the best backfield in the nation.

    by That_UAT_Guy


  22. September 7th, 2014 11:23 pm

    by That_UAT_Guy I don’t think you can take anything away from playing an awful team like Eastern Michigan. Arkansas scored 73 on the scrub they played, with two their backs rushing for over 100 yards. They might have a better backfield than Florida with Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. Let’s see what UF does against a good team before bragging about playing awful teams. We’ll see in a couple of weeks if UF is “loaded” on offense. Until September 20, the answer is still the same, UF hasn’t got a single player that has done anything noteworthy on offense. I hope someone does something in Tuscaloosa to merit being called a great offensive player, we’ll just have to wait and see.

    by aux2


  23. September 8th, 2014 12:37 am

    You’re unbelievable. Plenty of teams faced worse scrubs and didn’t look as good! Heck look at FSU vs the Citadel! Playing a lesser opponent doesn’t take away from what we accomplished. The last 2 years we scored a whopping 24 points on lesser teams. I’d say that’s a huge improvement. The last time the gators had a margin fo victory this big was in 08. we won the national championship that year. The last time we had a shutout that large was in 96… when we won the national championship. Pretty good company. Pretty STACKED and TALENTED. Heck not to mention just the eye test of being able to see how TALENTED these guys really are. And still insisting no one has shown they are talented?? How about last year when Kelvin Taylor was UNSTOPPABLE against the likes of LSU and Missouri and was only stopped when Pease was stupid enough to take the only part of his offense out of the game. How about Driskel managing the offense very well and making smart decisions in 2012 while showing off his extraordinary running ability before completing 70% of his passes looking very sharp in 2013 before he got injured. How about Matt Jones who came on at the end of his freshmen season to show OBVIOUS TALENT and then last year when he finally got healthy again showing some more flash of his obvious talent by getting 176 yards against Kentucky? How about Quinton Dunbar, who despite not having a reliable QB most the season, caught everything thrown his way (some very tough catches) and showed a natural playmaking ability. How about Debose who has used his athletic ability and TALENT to tie the SEC record for kick return TDs? How about Mack Brown who showed that while he may not be the most physically gifted back, he’s a reliable weapon who could be every bit as good as Gilly? And that’s not even counting all the younger guys whos showed off yesterday. But yeah there’s no talent there! haha Open your eyes troll. Take off the Muschamp hate glasses. It’s just sad

    by That_UAT_Guy


  24. September 8th, 2014 2:52 am

    My son and I were hoping to see A. Lane make his name known to the fans; heard he had a family issue and missed the game. If that’s the case, I hope he/they are well. I don’t think I saw A. Bailey playing…any insight on that Zach? The play calling was bland (as expected) and still we had guys putting up career numbers…says an abundance about_______. Despite all the doubters, I feel really good about our future and our ability to attract the best prospects in the country. LUV UF!

    by TigerCatZeroZero


  25. September 9th, 2014 7:07 pm

    That guy generally gator fan is cocky and arrogant but the things you are posting is downright delusional . Please go back and read what you have wrote. You are in for another letdown. It might start with powerhouse Kentucky this weekend. Your backfield is not loaded. You don’t have 1 offensive player that would start for the Noles. Maybe not even a backup. The talent level right now between the Noles and Gates is ridiculous .
    So please stop this crazy talk.

    by James Fisher


  26. September 9th, 2014 7:29 pm

    And I’m the delusional one? HAHAHAHAHAHAA Did you see the Okey State game? Did you see the Citadel game??? HAHAHAHAHAHA

    by That_UAT_Guy


  27. September 9th, 2014 10:02 pm

    Yes #1amd 2-0. So what r u talking about ?

    by James Fisher


  28. September 10th, 2014 10:34 am

    At least we made our crappy opponent look terrible. Yall made yalls look good. Not a good sign for the Nolies.

    by That_UAT_Guy


  29. September 10th, 2014 12:35 pm

    Like this has anything to do with the game in Gods Country November?. I look for a Seminole Uprising. Don’t you guys?

    by James Fisher


  30. September 10th, 2014 1:14 pm

    “That guy generally gator fan is cocky and arrogant but the things you are posting is downright delusional . You don’t have 1 offensive player that would start for the Noles. Maybe not even a backup. The talent level right now between the Noles and Gates is ridiculous . So please stop this crazy talk.” — FOS = Little Jimmy Wisher.

    Last 5 Recruit Classes = Current Team – per ESPN Recruiting:
    2014 – 6 UF – 3 FSU, 2013 – 2 UF – 11 FSU, 2012 – 4 UF – 2 FSU, 2011 – 12 UF – 1 FSU, 2010 – 1 UF – 6 FSU — Average Class – 25/5 = 5 UF — 23/5 = 4.6 FSU — Last 6 games W/L UF 3 – 3 FSU – Last 2 games UF 1 – 1 FSU. (Oh BTW, the SEC currently has 8 of the Top 13 ranked classes)

    Gator Rated Five Stars, by at least one ranking service: QB Jeff Driskel 6-4 230 rsJr ***** , QB Will Grier 6-2 190 Fr-EE *****, RB Kelvin Taylor 5-10 209 So *****, WR/KR Andre Debose 6-0 190 rs-rsSr ***** , OT D.J. Humphries 6-5 290 Jr ***** , OT David Sharpe 6-6 336 Fr *****. === CB Brian Poole 5-10 206 Jr *****, CB Vernon Hargreaves III 5-11 194 So ***** , CB Jalen Tabor 6-0 193 Fr ***** , MLB Alex Anzalone 6-3 236 So *****, DE Dante Fowler Jr 6-3 261 Jr ***** (Buck = DE/OLB), DE Gerald Willis 6-2 255 Fr *****, DE-DT – Jonathan Bullard 6-3 270 Jr *****, DT Thomas Holley 6-3 312 Fr *****. === Elite 11 QB’s: QB-DT Jeff Driskel 6-4 230 rsJr (Elite 11 MVP), QB-DT Will Grier 6-2 190 Fr-EE, (2x 4A Champ QB-DT Treon Harris >flipped – fsu & scUM< ain't bad either!). 2015 Recruit Elite 11 Recruit: QB-DT Sheriron Jones 6-3 189 HS === 3 Star, but the #1 ranted FB out of HS Hunter Joyer 6-2 240 Sr, 3 Star, but a Ray Guy Finalist, P Kyle Christy Sr, 3 Star, but a Freshman All SEC Punter Johnny Townsend So, 2 Star, but 3-3 FG, 8-8 x-pts (17 pts) vs EMich K Francisco Velez rsSr, 3 Star, but #1 HS Kicker Austin Hardin rsSo.

    One loser season in the last 34 years, playing mostly Top 10 SoS's.
    (2013 FSU's BCS-NC came against the CRAPPY #69 SoS), Which Florida school plays in the conference that won 9 of 15 BCS-NC's?
    And they did that with 5 DIFFERENT teams winning a BCS-NC?
    (would have been 6 different teams but UGA got jobbed in 2002) What did it take for UF to finally have a loser season? An NCAA record 72 lost starts due to injury against a Top 5 SoS. The Gators lost 4 games by 6 pts or less. Which school has gone an NCAA leading 323 games without being shutout? (hint, it ain't FSUcks in tallycrappy)

    by da-muddler


  31. September 10th, 2014 4:05 pm

    Hahaha! Now you don’t wanna talk about those games!! Because you know like everyone else does that the Seminoles are falling hard! Just ain’t that good. Only beat the Citadel by 25?? Could only muster 37 points?? And you think you can score on our defense?? Let Okey State score 31 on you?? 31??? I can’t wait to play you. We score 31 on you and I guarantee 100 out of 100 times we win that game. Get ready. Cuz you’re about to be Gator Bait again!

    by That_UAT_Guy


  32. September 13th, 2014 4:12 pm

    That guy are u 8 or 9 years of age. Please be honest,

    by James Fisher


  33. September 13th, 2014 8:03 pm

    There you go waiting until you think everyone is gone to try to get the last word? And I’m the 8 year old?

    by That_UAT_Guy


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