You can step back from the ledge now.
Friday Night Lights has come and gone and Jim McElwain and the Florida staff have proven that the Good Ship Gator is no longer taking on water but readying itself for a rather nice journey into the football future. This was a very good weekend to be a Gator as Mac landed commitments from four 2016 prospects as well as wide receiver Daquon Green (6-1, 185, Tampa, FL Tampa Bay Tech), who, along with quarterback Jake Allen (6-3, 191, Fort Lauderdale, FL St. Thomas Aquinas) who will form a strong foundation for the 2017 class.
The weekend haul of 2016 prospects included the center that Mac has wanted all along in Brett Heggie (6-4, 302, Mount Dora, FL) and out of state studs Jeremiah Moon (6-4, 210, Hoover, AL), a linebacker who can run and arrive at the football in a very nasty mood, and safety Quincy Lenton (6-0, 190, Meridian, MS), a headhunter who can make life miserable for receivers going across the middle. Additionally, Mac got a commitment from Kyle Trask (6-5, 211, Manvel, TX), a late bloomer with a serious arm who should rise dramatically in the rankings this fall.
Add these four to the other commitments the Gators have lined up for their 2016 recruiting class and you see a pattern of pragmatic recruiting. While some of Florida’s commitments don’t have the most stars after their name, McElwain and staff are ensuring that the 2016 class won’t have any holes. There is plenty of time for Florida to rise in the recruiting rankings and you can bet that some of the higher rated prospects will decide they look best in orange and blue in the future. For now, we’ve had a fine weekend that should go a long way toward answering your questions about whether this Florida staff can get the job done on the recruiting trail.
Coker was expected to start when he transferred in from FSU, but he couldn’t beat out Blake Sims and spent 2014 as the #2. Coker threw for 403 yards and four TDs in mop up duty. His hold on the #1 spot heading into August is precarious because redshirt freshman David Cornwell and true freshman Blake Barnett were both impressive in the spring.
Brandon Allen was the SEC’s most improved quarterback last year when he completed 56% of his passes for 2,285 yards and 20 touchdowns (5 INT) while running for two more. Younger brother Austin Allen was 8-16 passing for 153 yards plus he ran for one touchdowns. Peavey and stud freshman Ty Storey suggest a strong future for the Hogs.
Johnson might have the strongest and most accurate arm of any QB in Auburn football history. He has thrown for 828 yards and nine touchdowns in two seasons backing up Nick Marshall, but takes over as the unquestioned starter this year. White ran the scout team last year while Queen participated in spring drills as an early entry.
This is far from unsettled. Grier has better size and throws a better ball but Harris did start six games last year, throwing for 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns while running for 332 and three more scores. Grady is the emergency man. A wild card could emerge if two-time transfer (Alabama to Oregon State to Florida) is granted a waiver by the NCAA.
This will be a three-way battle in August with no clearcut leader. Ramsey had a slight edge over Bauta after the spring. Ramsey was 24-39 passing for 333 yards and two TDs (3 picks) as the #2. Lambert is eligible immediately after graduating from Virginia in three years. He has thrown for 1,972 yards and 11 touchdowns with nine career starts.
Towles and Barker battled it out in the spring with Towles emerging as the slight leader. Towles threw for 2,718 yards and 14 TDs in his first year as a starter last year plus ran for 303 yards and six more TDs. Barker is one of the most heralded QB recruits in Kentucky history. Phillips is a solid #3.
Allen figures to be the starter because of Jennings’ legal difficulties. Allen was horrible (3-14 for 58 yards) in his only start last year but he had a much-improved spring. Jennings completed less than half (48.9%) of his passes last year but finished with 11 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. McMillan is a lefty dual threat QB who had some impressive moments in the spring.
Prescott is 14-6 as a starting QB with career numbers of 5,583 passing yards for 41 touchdowns and 1,913 rushing yards for 31 scores. He should become only the second SEC QB (Tim Tebow was the other) to run for more than 40 TDs and throw for more than 40 in his career. Williams has been Prescott’s caddy the last two years while completing 37-70 passes for 433 yards and three touchdowns and running for one more. Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley are serious talents in waiting.
Mauk is said to be 100% healthy so expectations are he will raise his poor (53.4%) accuracy and throw fewer interceptions (13 last year). Even with his inconsistency, he led Mizzou to a second straight SEC East title and 11 wins. Printz threw one incomplete pass last year. Berkstresser threw for 1,059 yards when pressed into duty as a redshirt freshman in 2012 but has only thrown one incomplete pass since. Ideally, Mizzou redshirt freshman Drew Lock but he might be good enough to climb the depth chart and push Mauk.
This is Kelly’s job providing he can keep his nose clean. He got booted out of Clemson, went to juco where he threw for 47 TDS while leading East Misssisppi to the national title. He got into a bar fight in December but took a plea agreement and did community service. This is Buchanan’s third year in the system. Kincaid is such a good runner he will have a special package of plays.
The last time Steve Spurrier had this little experience at quarterback was 1997 when sophomore Doug Johnson was the starter by default. Mitch is a big-arm pocket passer who threw for 153 touchdowns in his prep career. At South Carolina, he is 2-6 for 19 yards. Orth has thrown two incomplete passes in his career. Nunez reminds everyone of former Gamecock QB Connor Shaw. Mitch is probably going to be the starter but unless he nails it from the beginning, figure Nunez will be getting snaps and perhaps have the chance to take over at some point in the season.
Tennessee’s anemic offense suddenly became explosive when Dobbs took over last year. The Vols went 4-1 and averaged 36.7 points with Dobbs as the starter. He threw for 1,206 yards and nine TDs and ran for 469 and eight more. Behind him are true freshmen Dormady and Jones. Another freshman, Jauan Jennings, would be in the mix except for legal issues that haven’t been resolved.
Allen went 3-2 as a starter after replacing Kenny Hill in game nine. For the season Allen threw for 1,322 yards, 16 touchdowns, 7 picks. He was outstanding in the Aggies’ bowl win over West Virginia when he threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns. Murray was 43-0 as a high school quarterback. His skill set is a clone of Johnny Football.
Desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. Unless McCrary or Freebeck show up big in August, Vandy might have to force feed Shurmur instead of giving him a redshirt. McCrary threw for nine TDs and eight picks last year while Freebreck threw a TD and five picks.
When cost of attendance figures were first released, Alabama’s $2,892 paled in comparison to the figures of $5,666 and $5,586 that were reported at Tennessee and Auburn, which had folks wondering how long before Nick Saban stormed into the offices of the folks that do the calculating to demand a recount. Obviously, not that long. CBSSports.com’s Jon Solomon is reporting that Alabama’s new numbers are $4,172 for in-state athletes and $5,386 for out-of-state athletes.
Alabama contends that the new figure takes into account a raise in tuition and residence hall costs. Of course, tuition and residence hall costs are part of the standard athletic scholarship, so the new numbers serve one basic purpose: to cut into the perception that Auburn pays better and that Alabama is a bottom feeder in the SEC when it comes to cost of attendance.
This won’t be the first SEC school that adjusts its cost of attendance figures. In an era when recruits are swayed by things such as facilities, dorm rooms and nutrition centers, keeping up with the Joneses means spending more money on those things and having a competitive cost of attendance scholarship. Any SEC school that wants to compete at the highest levels is going to have to raise the ante or lose recruits that potentially make the difference in winning and losing to someone with a better package.
Florida 28, Alabama 13; December 4, 1993
This was a rematch of the 1992 SEC Championship Game that Alabama won, 28-21. Both Florida and Alabama came into the game licking their wounds. The Gators lost to FSU, 33-21, at The Swamp the week before while Alabama saw its 32-game winning streak ended by Auburn in The Iron Bowl. Auburn went 11-0 that season but couldn’t compete for the SEC or national titles because of NCAA probation. Ironically, Bama would end up forfeiting 10 wins to officially finish 1-12 for the season when the NCAA ruled that Antonio Langham had received improper benefits. For the Gators, Terry Dean got the start at quarterback because Danny Wuerffel injured his knee against FSU and required arthroscopic surgery. Against Alabama, Dean was superb, throwing for 256 yards and touchdowns of 43 yards to Jack Jackson and 13 yards to Harrison Houston. Dean also ran two yards for another TD and was selected MVP of the game. Florida went on to beat #3 West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl and finished the season ranked #5 in the AP poll.
Jordan Stevenson, the gem of Wisconsin’s 2015 football recruiting class, met NCAA standards but was denied admission to Wisconsin. Smart money says the running back, who has been timed at 4.37 in the 40, winds up at Alabama where he will be eligible to play immediately.
Braxton Miller’s decision to play wide receiver instead of quarterback is pragmatic in a number of ways. First, he wasn’t able to throw for more than a year because of shoulder surgery so it’s questionable that he could make all the throws necessary to run the Ohio State offense. Second, even when his shoulder was healthy he came in third behind Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett in terms of arm strength and accuracy. Moving to wide receiver gives him a chance at an NFL career and gives the Buckeyes an intriguing new offensive option. Imagine Miller on a jet sweep with the option to run, pitch or throw the ball.
The Seattle Seahawks have offered quarterback Russell Wilson a contract worth $21 million a year, which is nice work if you can get it. Wilson hasn’t accepted the offer yet. Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com says if Wilson balks at that contract “he’s nuts.”
Hall of Fame inductee Craig Biggio certainly had the offensive stats to make it to Cooperstown (3,060 hits, 291 homers, 668 doubles) but how many in the hall ever were defensive standouts at three positions – catcher, second base and center field?
Alex Rodriguez hit three tape measure home runs at Target Field against the Minnesota Twins Saturday night. Is it my imagination or is he hitting more home runs and hitting them farther now at age 40 than he was three or four years ago when he was on the juice?
Austin Nichols will transfer to Virginia, just the latest high profile player from Memphis to opt out. He should have followed his heart and signed with the Gators when he had the chance back in November of 2012.
David Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald says the Big Ten has done its homework to evaluate Oklahoma and Kansas as potential members. The Southeastern Conference has done the same thing. One of these two conferences will do a pre-emptive strike if Big 12 commissioner Bruce Bowlsby doesn’t hurry up and expand the league to 12 teams.
With Alabama electing to add at least $1,300 to its in-state cost of attendance stipend and $2,500 to its out-of-state stipend, should Florida follow suit and raise its stipend ($3,320) to a more competitive rate?
One of the most under-appreciated artists during the British Invasion was the late Dusty Springfield, who hit the charts with 10 top 40 singles between 1963-70. Shelby Lynne, who dabbles in country, blues and soul music, made a tribute album to Dusty Springfield in 2008. “Just a Little Lovin’” featured covers of nine Dusty Springfield songs along with a Rascals classic (“How Can I Be Sure?”) and an original (“Pretend”).