Jacob Eason (6-6, 220, Lake Stevens, WA) did what most of the recruiting gurus thought he would do Tuesday and reaffirmed his commitment to the University of Georgia. This is a far bigger deal for Georgia that it is or would have been for Florida, which finished the runner-up in a recruiting battle that only heated up when Mark Richt was fired.
Georgia had to have Eason to end the perception that the SS Bulldog is taking on water and listing badly. You won’t find all that many folks outside of the Bulldog nation that think Kirby Smart is an upgrade from Mark Richt. Smart has a recruiting class in place that was put together by Richt and his staff and there have been defections. Eason committed to Georgia and Richt long ago, so his reaffirmation to Georgia and Smart was a nice band-aid on a wound that threatened to fester. Had Eason selected Florida, it is entirely possible Smart would have found it extremely difficult to keep the class together.
Adding Eason to a recruiting class that is already ranked #1 nationally by Scout.com would have been more eye candy for Jim McElwain and his Florida staff. The Gators already have two outstanding quarterback prospects coming in – Feleipe Franks (6-6, 220, Crawfordville, FL Wakulla County) and Kyle Trask (6-6, 211, Marvel, TX) – and McElwain revealed Tuesday that Will Grier will be in school in January and will serve out the remaining six games of his punishment for violating an NCAA rule about performance enhancing drugs, which means he will be eligible to play again midseason. Additionally, current starter Treon Harris will be back and while his stats are less than impressive, he has a 2-0 record against Georgia. A number of people who are allowed to watch full practices have leaked information that that redshirt transfer Luke Del Rio spent the fall looking like he should be the starter instead of Grier or Harris. Florida has a full cupboard that will continue to stock up in 2017 when Jake Allen (6-3, 191, Fort Lauderdale, FL St. Thomas Aquinas) enrolls at UF.
So while adding Eason to the class would have added another stud quarterback into the Florida fold, by no means was it a necessity. Eason is a fine prospect, but with or without him in Gainesville the Gators will be as stacked at the quarterback position as they have been in many, many years in terms of both quality and quantity.
Eason is talented enough to start as a true freshman, but his presence could spark more attrition at the game’s most important position where Georgia is already very thin. Greyson Lambert, who was anything but impressive in 2015, is the incumbent for next year. Faton Bauta, who started the Florida game, has already transferred out. Brice Ramsey, who finished the season as the punter, still wants to be the quarterback. Supposedly, Ramsey will graduate in the spring, and if he’s looking at another year of riding the pines, there is every good chance he will hit the transfer button. Bailey Hockman (6-3, 210, Powder Springs, GA McEachern) was scheduled to join Eason in the Georgia recruiting class but he withdrew his commitment on Monday.
So take a look at the quarterback situations at both Florida and Georgia.
Florida will enter 2016 with an incumbent starter (Harris) whose stats might be bad but has a winning record; a returning starter (Grier) at midyear who showed in the first half of 2015 that he’s got star potential; a fourth year guy in Luke Del Rio who knows the offense inside-out and reportedly was UF’s best QB in practices in the fall and two freshman studs in Franks and Trask. If you haven’t already, take a look at the film on these two guys. They more than fit the profile of what McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier are looking for in a quarterback.
Georgia could very well enter the 2016 season with only two scholarship quarterbacks – a very average incumbent who transferred to Georgia from Virginia where he couldn’t win the starting job and Eason.
By a very wide margin.
PINEIRO IS A GATOR
Just call him Thunderfoot. One day after he withdrew his commitment to Alabama, kicker Eddy Pineiro (6-1, 180, North Miami Beach, FL ASA College), who has nailed a 77-yard field goal in practice, committed to the Gators. Piniero is as important a recruit as there is in the 2016 class for Jim McElwain.
Although Austin Hardin had game-winning field goals against Tennessee and Vanderbilt, he also missed on a regular basis and he might have set an unofficial record for most field goals blocked in a single season. Hardin was 5-14 on field goals this year and is a very poor 16-36 for his career. Pineiro has the kind of explosiveness that Florida hasn’t seen in a field goal kicker since Caleb Sturgis graduated.
BOWL GAME INJURY REPORT
The Gators will be without defensive end Alex McCalister and backup placekicker Neil MacInnes for the Citrus Bowl game against Michigan.
GATOR GYMNASTS WILL START SEASON RANKED #2
It’s a bit surprising that Florida’s 3-time NCAA champion gymnastics team will start the season ranked #2 behind Oklahoma. First year coach Jenny Rowland returns five All-Americans including Bridget Sloan, who is the nation’s best, and that powerful lineup is bolstered by the nation’s top freshman class, led by US National Team member Peyton Ernst. The Gators should have started the year #1.
SPORTING NEWS ALL-AMERICAN TEAM
QB: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
RB: Derrick Henry, Alabama; Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
WR: Corey Coleman, Baylor; Josh Doctson, TCU
TE: Hunter Henry, Arkansas
OL: Joshua Garnett, Stanford; Spencer Drango, Baylor; Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame; Jack Conklin, Michigan State; Ryan Kelly, Alabama
PK: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State
KR: Evan Berry, Tennessee
DE: Carl Nassib, Penn State; Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
DT: Adolphus Washington, Ohio State; A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
LB: Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame; Reggie Ragland, Alabama; Eric Striker, Oklahoma
CB: Desmond King, Iowa; VERNON HARGREAVES III, FLORIDA
S: Jeremy Cash, Duke; Von Bell, Ohio State
P: Tom Hackett, Utah
PR: Cameron Sutton, Tennessee
QB: Deshaun Watson, Clemson
RB: Dalvin Cook, Florida State; Leonard Fournette, LSU
WR: Will Fuller, Notre Dame; Juju Smith-Schuster, Southern Cal
TE: Jake Butt, Michigan
OL: Vadal Alexander, LSU; Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas; Taylor Decker, Ohio State; Jason Spriggs, Indiana; Roderick Johnson, Florida State
PK: Ka’lmi Fairbairn, UCLA
KR: Morgan Burns, Kansas State
DE: Joey Bosa, Ohio State; Shaq Lawson, Clemson
DT: JONATHAN BULLARD, FLORIDA; Andrew Billings, Baylor
LB: Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; Tyler Matakevich, Temple; Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
CB: Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma; JALEN TABOR, FLORIDA
S: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan; Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
P: Drew Kasar, Texas A&M
PR: Dante Pettis, Washington
RATING THE COACHING HIRES
3 Very Smart Hires
1. Justin Fuente, Virginia: Things had gotten stale in Blacksburg so a fresh new face was needed. Fuente’s offenses tend to light things up and he’s a lights out recruiter.
2. Mark Richt, Miami: He had better facilities at Georgia and he was in the SEC, but Richt will have some advantages as he rebuilds The U. Richt has energized former players and his hire is resonating strongly in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. If he can put a fence around those three counties, Miami’s roster can be as talented as you’ll find in the country.
3. Clay Helton, Southern Cal: What Southern Cal needs more than anything else is stability. There is so much talent within a 100-mile radius of the campus that anyone with a real clue should be able to coach a national contender. Helton has a clue.
3 Questionable Hires
1. Kirby Smart, Georgia: Georgia got rid of a coach who won 145 games in 15 years in exchange for Kirby Smart, who has no HBC experience. Greg Magarity spent all those years working for Jeremy Foley. Did he learn nothing from the hires of Ron Zook and Will Muschamp?
2. Bronco Mendenhall, Virginia: Mendenhall is a proven HBC, but he did his work at BYU and he brought most of his BYU staff with him. Does Virginia really think this staff is going to be able to recruit Tidewater and metro DC, where Virginia has to succeed?
3. Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina: Montgomery might turn out to be a fine coach, but the people in Greenville and the ECU nation are still stunned that Ruffin McNeal was fired in a year when his first three quarterbacks were hurt and lost for the season back in August.
What were these guys thinking when they took these jobs?
1. Matt Campbell, Iowa State: Campbell did a fine job at Toledo. He could have held out for a better job. I-State is a graveyard.
2. Dino Babers, Syracuse: Dino can coach, no question about that, but he’s in the same ACC division with Florida State and Clemson and Syracuse is the buckle on the snow belt. Good luck getting the kind of kids you need to compete against FSU and Clemson to Syracuse.
3. D.J. Durkin, Maryland: Why would anyone make his first HBC job in the same division with Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State? Durkin could have had a lot of good jobs. This isn’t one of them.
Former Kentucky star John Wall, the point guard of the Washington Wizards, dropped $47,000 at the V Live strip club in Dallas Saturday night per TMZ Sports. My grandmother used to say, “Some people have more money than brains.” I think Wall qualifies. He’s the perfect example of too many professional athletes. A 2009 Sports Illustrated article stated that 78% of all National Football League players are either bankrupt or commit suicide within two years or retirement and around 60% of NBA players are bankrupt within five years of playing their last game in the league.
South Carolina will name its new $14.3 million indoor practice facility after Steve and Jerri Spurrier. There is also a nomination before the South Carolina board of trustees to name the field at Williams-Brice Stadium after Spurrier. South Carolina’s board of trustees have also approved $50 million for a new football operations facility that will include football offices, meeting rooms, weight room, training and locker rooms.
Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche denied a Fox Sports report that his fall from an Atlanta hotel room happened when he was under the influence of synthetic marijuana. In a Tuesday statement, Nkemdiche said, “Contrary to a report by Fox Sports, I do not use synthetic drugs. I realize the dangers of drugs and alcohol and regret the lapse in judgment. This does not reflect the core values that my mother and father instilled in our family. I am a very spiritual person, and drugs have no place in my belief system.”
For the second straight year, Oregon will pin its football hopes on the shoulders of a graduate transfer from D1AA. This year it was Vernon Adams. For 2015, Oregon will go with Montana State transfer Dakota Prukop, who threw for 3,025 yards and 28 TDs in 2015 while running for 797 and 11 TDs. Prukop started two years at Montana State, throwing for 5,584 yards and 46 touchdowns while rushing for 1,743 yards and 24 TDs. Prukop’s runner-up was Alabama. What does that tell you about Nick Saban’s confidence in backup QBs Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and Blake Barnett?
Has there been a more hyped player who turned out to be a total and complete bust in the NFL than former Alabama running back Trent Richardson? Richardson, who hasn’t played in 2015, is currently being worked out by the Denver Broncos this week. For his NFL career, he’s run for 2,032 yards and 17 touchdowns. His per carry average is an extremely weak 3.3 yards. Denver must be in really bad shape to be bringing Trent in for a tryout.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Who is the best head coaching hire and who is the most questionable?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Tuesday I watched an old video of the Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan played that included the introduction music – Alan Parsons Project’s “Eye in the Sky” – before the starting lineup was announced. I haven’t been able to get the music out of my head. Today’s selection is the full album “Eye in the Sky” from 1982. The album reached #7 on the Billboard charts.