By late afternoon Wednesday, Jim McElwain will have completed his second recruiting class at Florida, his first with a full staff working an entire year to reel in players who fit his system on both sides of the ball and special teams. But, it will be another year before McElwain will have a team that’s 90% the players he recruited. More than half his pre-National Signing Day roster is still made up of kids recruited by the previous staff from 2011-14.
During those four years the Gators recruited 87 players of which 20 transferred. In addition, four were dismissed, two took medical hardships, two did not qualify, two quit football with eligibility remaining and 10 players were early entry to the NFL Draft. Another 15 players graduated, leaving 32 players on the roster who were recruited by the previous staff.
Here is a position-by-position look at recruits from 2011-14.
QUARTERBACKS (6): Of the six quarterbacks the Gators recruited from 2011-14, only Treon Harris is still with the team. The other five all transferred out.
Jacoby Brissett (2011, transferred to NC State)
Jeff Driskel (2011, transferred to Louisiana Tech)
Skyler Mornhinweg (2012, transferred to Columbia)
Max Staver (2013, transferred to Houston Baptist)
Treon Harris (2014, junior in 2016)
Will Grier (2014, transferred)
RUNNING BACKS/FULLBACKS (5): The Gators recruited only five running backs from 2011-14. Hunter Joyer played all four years and Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor left early for the NFL. There was one transfer and Brandon Powell remains with the team.
Hunter Joyer, FB (2011, graduated)
Matt Jones, RB (2012, early entry NFL)
Kelvin Taylor, RB (2013, early entry NFL)
Adam Lane, RB (2013, transferred to Eastern Kentucky)
Brandon Powell, RB (2014, junior in 2016)
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS (17): The Gators recruited eight wide receivers and nine tight ends from 2011-14. Two wide receivers and three tight ends transferred out while another tight end signee did not qualify and four graduated.
Valdez Showers, WR (2011, graduated)
Clay Burton, TE (2011, graduated)
Tevin Westbrook, TE (2011, graduated)
AC Leonard, TE (2011, transferred to Tennessee State)
Ja’Juan Story, WR (2011, transferred to TCU)
Latroy Pittman, WR (2012, graduated)
Kent Taylor, TE (2012, transferred to Kansas)
Colin Thompson, TE (2012, transferred to Temple)
Alvin Bailey, WR (2013, redshirt junior in 2016)
Ahmad Fulwood, WR (2013, senior in 2016)
Marqui Hawkins, WR (2013, transferred to Indiana)
Trevon Young, TE (2013, did not qualify)
DeAndre Goolsby, TE (2014, junior in 2016)
C’yontai Lewis, TE (2014, redshirt sophomore in 2016)
Ryan Sousa, WR (2014, redshirt sophomore in 2016)
Moral Stephens, TE (2014, redshirt sophomore in 2016)
C.J. Worton, WR (2014, junior in 2016)
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (16): This position has taken some serious hits. From 2011-14 the Gators recruited 16 O-linemen, but two transferred out, one was dismissed, one quit football altogether and two took medical hardships. Additionally, two others left for the NFL with a year of eligibility remaining and three graduated.
Trip Thurman, G (2011, graduated)
Tommy Jordan, G (2011, transferred to UConn)
D.J. Humphries, T (2012, early entry NFL)
Jessamen Dunker, G (2012, dismissed)
Quinteze Williams, T (2012, transferred to Hutchinson CC)
Max Garcia, G (2013, graduated)
Tyler Moore, T (2013; early entry NFL)
Trenton Brown, T/G (2013, graduated)
Cameron Dillard, C (2013, redshirt junior in 2016)
Antonio Riles, G (2013, redshirt junior in 2016)
Roderick Johnson, T (2013, medical hardship)
Travaris Dorsey, G (2014, redshirt sophomore in 2016)
Andrew Mike, T (2014m redshirt sophomore in 2016)
David Sharpe, T (2014, junior in 2016)
Nolan Kelleher, T (2014, medical hardship)
Drew Savary, T (2014, quit football)
PLACEKICKERS/PUNTERS (3): The Gators recruited only one placekicker and two punters from 2011-14.
Kyle Christy, P (2011, graduated)
Austin Hardin, PK (2012, redshirt senior in 2016)
Johnny Townsend, P (2013, redshirt junior in 2016)
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (16): Although a productive position, the Gators took some hits here, too, as two transferred out, one was dismissed from the team and one did not qualify. Two left early for the NFL.
Damian Jacobs, T (2012, graduated)
Jonathan Bullard, E/T (2012, graduated)
Bryan Cox Jr., E (2012, redshirt senior in 2016)
Dante Fowler Jr., E (2012, early entry NFL)
Alex McCalister, E (2012, early entry NFL)
Jafar Mann, T (transferred to Alabama State)
Dante Phillips, E (did not qualify)
Darious Cummings, T (2012, graduated)
Joey Ivie, T (2012, senior in 2016)
Caleb Brantley, T (2013, redshirt junior in 2016)
Jordan Sherit, E (2013, redshirt junior in 2016)
Jay-Nard Bostwick, T (2013, transferred to West Texas A&M)
Taven Bryan, T (2014, redshirt sophomore in 2016)
Khairi Clark, T (2014, redshirt sophomore in 2016)
Thomas Holley, T (2014, redshirt sophomore in 2016)
Gerald Willis (2014, dismissed, transferred to Miami)
LINEBACKERS (6): Only six linebackers were recruited from 2011-14 and one transferred out.
Graham Stewart (2011, transferred to UConn)
Antonio Morrison (2012, graduated)
Jeremi Powell (2012, quit football)
Alex Anzalone (2013, senior in 2016)
Daniel McMillian (2013, senior in 2016)
Matt Rolin, LB (2013, redshirt junior in 2016)
SECONDARY (18): From 2011-14, the Gators recruited more players in the secondary than any other position. Four left early for the NFL, five transferred out and one was dismissed from the team.
Jabari Gorman, S (2012, graduated)
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB (2011, early entry NFL)
Marcus Roberson, CB (2011, early entry NFL)
Chris Johnson, S (2011, transferred to Duquesne)
DeAunte Saunders, S (2011, transferred to Tennessee State)
Marcus Maye, S (2012, redshirt senior in 2016)
Brian Poole, CB/S (2012, graduated)
Willie Bailey, CB (2012, transferred to Louisville)
Rhaheim Ledbetter, S (2012, transferred to Southern University)
Vernon Hargreaves III, CB (2013, early entry NFL)
Marcel Harris, S (2013, redshirt junior in 2016)
Keanu Neal, S (2013, early entry NFL)
Nick Washington, S (2013, redshirt junior in 2016)
Duke Dawson, S (2014, junior in 2016)
Jalen Tabor, CB (2014, junior in 2016)
Quincy Wilson, CB (2014, junior in 2016)
J.C. Jackson, CB (2014, dismissed, transferred to Riverside CC)
Deiondre Porter, CB (2014, dismissed)
PERFECT ENDING TO A PERFECT WEEKEND
Jeremy Foley got his wish.
Following Florida’s blowout win over West Virginia, I suggested to Foley that this was an athletic director’s dream weekend. Foley responded, “It will be tomorrow if our women’s basketball team beats Kentucky. That will make it perfect.”
The perfect weekend was achieved when freshman point guard Eleanna Christinaki scored the last five points including a critical steal that resulted in a 3-poinnt play with four seconds left to seal an 85-70 win for the Gators (18-4, 6-3 SEC) over 12th-ranked Kentucky (15-5, 4-5 SEC) at the O-Dome.
The weekend began with Florida’s #1-ranked gymnasts using three perfect 10s for their third consecutive win over a top 10 opponent. Alex McMurtry (bars), Bridget Sloan (beam) and Kennedy Baker (floor) all hit their routines perfectly to lead the Gators to a 198.175-197.525 win over #5 Alabama. Florida’s team score was the highest in the nation this year. Sloan, who won her fourth consecutive all-around title, has scored six perfect 10s in her UF career.
Saturday, the Florida men (14-7, 5-3 SEC) played their best game of the season to blow out #9 West Virginia, 88-71. This was the signature win first year coach Mike White has needed. It was Florida’s first win at home over a top 10 opponent since 2006 when UF blew the doors off Ohio State. Dorian Finney-Smith led the Gators with 24 points while KeVaughn Allen added 19.
In Sunday afternoon’s win over Kentucky, the Florida women were led by Simone Westbrook with 20 points and Haley Lorenzon with 18. Christinaki had a sensational 11 assists to go with her 12 points. The difference in the game was the 30 turnovers the Gators forced which were converted into 24 points.
SEC BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS
1. Texas A&M (7-1, 18-3 SEC; #12 RPI): The Aggies are 4-0 against top 25 RPI and 9-3 against top 100. The three toughest games remaining are at Vandy, at LSU and Kentucky at home. So figure they’ll have 25-26 regular season wins, which should make them a top four seed in the big dance. If they held the vote today, Jamal Jones would probably win SEC Player of the Year. This week the Aggies travel to Vanderbilt and play home against South Carolina.
2. Kentucky (16-5 6-2 SEC; #18 RPI): Compared to the last few years, this Kentucky team is really vulnerable. There isn’t nearly the depth on the inside so a zebra with a quick whistle can cripple their ability to defend the rim, and if Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis aren’t hitting 3-pointers, they don’t generate a lot of offense. It’s a bit of a shock that Kentucky is only 7-5 against top100 RPI teams, but it’s Kentucky and once they get to 20 wins, they’re mortal locks for the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats travel to Tennessee and come home to face the Gators this week.
3. FLORIDA (14-7, 5-3 SEC; #21 RPI): The Gators are in good shape for the NCAA Tournament if they can get to 20 regular season wins, then win at least one game in the SEC Tournament. The win over West Virginia was huge, UF’s first over a top 25 RPI team. The Gators have the nation’s #2 strength of schedule. Dorian Finney-Smith is playing as well as any player in the conference right now. The Gators are 2-5 vs. RPI top 50 teams. The Gators are home against Arkansas and on the road to Kentucky this week.
4. South Carolina (19-2, 6-2 SEC; #28 RPI): If the Gamecocks can go 5-5 or 6-4 in their final 10 games, they’re a mortal lock for the NCAA tournament even with so many lightweights on the non-conference (#298 strength of schedule) schedule. This could be a brutal week for the Gamecocks with road games at Georgia and Texas A&M.
5. LSU (13-8, 6-2 SEC; #80 RPI): The announcers love to talk about how unselfish Ben Simmons is and he proves it with his marvelous passing skills, but two things need to happen in the final 10 regular season games: (1) Ben needs to be a bit more selfish and score more points; and (2) his teammates need to get the ball in his hands as often as possible. Because their RPI and non-conference strength of schedule (#180) are so low, the Tigers have to get to 21-22 wins in the regular season and SEC Tournament to go dancing. LSU visits Auburn and plays Mississippi State at home this week.
6. Vanderbilt (12-9, 4-4 SEC; #57 RPI): Whatever hope the Commodores had of knocking off Texas in the Big 12-SEC Challenge screeched to a halt when point guard Wade Baldwin IV left the game with a deep thigh bruise. To make the NCAA Tournament, the Commodores have some work to do in the final 10 games of the regular season since their record vs. top 50 RPI teams (2-7) leaves a lot to be desired. This week the Commodores get Texas A&M at home and Ole Miss on the road.
7. Georgia (11-8, 4-4 SEC; #77 RPI): Georgia is just good enough to make everybody sweat but they have trouble sealing the deal. They are 0-6 vs. top 50 RPI teams. The NCAA is a virtual pipedream but the NIT is a possibility if they can carve out seven wins against a favorable schedule the rest of the way. Homers with South Carolina and Auburn are on this week’s agenda.
8. Arkansas (11-10, 4-4 SEC; #83 RPI): The Razorbacks are formidable at home when they have 19,000 in Bud Walton Arena going nuts but they qualify as road kill when they leave the state. Arkansas is 10-2 at home, 1-8 away. They’re 4-9 against top 100 RPI teams. To make the NIT they’ll need at least seven more wins. This week the Hogs are at Florida and home against Tennessee.
9. Ole Miss (13-8, 3-5 SEC; #96 RPI): Until Sebastian Saiz (surgery for detached retina) comes back, there is no inside game to speak of. When he comes back the Rebels will need a bunch of wins to make up for a bad mark against top 50 RPI (1-5) to back in the NCAA Tournament hunt. This week, the Rebels are at Missouri and home against Vandy.
10. Alabama (11-9, 2-6 SEC; #50 RPI): The Crimson Tide is in a tailspin, having lost six of the last eight games. Bama is only 4-9 against top 100 RPI teams. There are winnable games at Mississippi State and home against Missouri this week. A 1-1 or 0-2 week would seriously damage chances to play in the postseason.
11. Tennessee (10-11, 3-5 SEC; #115 RPI): Since they shocked Florida in early January, the Vols have gone 2-6 and have lost their last two. They have a 2-9 record against RPI top 100 teams and a rough schedule this week with Kentucky in Knoxville and Arkansas on the road.
12. Auburn (9-11, 3-5 SEC; #100 RPI): Auburn has lost three in a row. Cinmeon Bowers was sat for disciplinary reasons in the loss to Oklahoma State. Kareem Canty has a great scoring average (18.5) but he is an indiscriminate shot launcher who never met a shot he didn’t like or wouldn’t take. A break even season or even a win or two above .500 would be an accomplishment. Auburn hosts LSU and travels to Georgia this week.
13. Mississippi State (8-11, 1-6 SEC; #153 RPI): The Bulldogs have won two of their last three games so they’re making progress. If Mississippi State can come close to breaking even this year it will be a big plus moving forward for first year coach Ben Howland. The Bulldogs are at home against Alabama and on the road at LSU this week.
14. Missouri (8-12, 1-6 SEC; #178 RPI): A bad season is going to get even worse the rest of the year. The Tigers lack talent, size and depth. Getting to 12 wins would be an accomplishment. Mizzou is home against Ole Miss and on the road at Alabama this week.
IF THE ALL-SEC VOTE WERE TODAY
This is how I would vote:
First team: Jalen Jones, Texas A&M; Ben Simmons, LSU; Tyler Ulis, Kentucky; Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida; Kevin Punter, Tennessee
Second team: Stefan Moody, Ole Miss; Jamal Murray, Kentucky; Danuel House, Texas A&M; Alex Caruso, Texas A&M; Tyler Harris, Auburn
THE SEC’S FIVE BEST FRESHMEN
1. Ben Simmons, LSU
2. Jamal Murray, Kentucky
3. KeVaughn Allen, Florida
4. Tyler Davis, Texas A&M
5. P.J. Dozier, South Carolina
It’s Super Bowl week. Just thought I would remind you.
Show of hands. How many of you watched the Pro Bowl?
For those of you hoping Ole Miss football gets nailed, expect a slap on the wrist since most of the violations occurred pre-Hugh Freeze and the violations since Freeze arrived are thought to be agent-related.
When Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said no, Southern Miss moved quickly to name Alcorn State’s Jay Hopson as the new HBC.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
When you look at Florida’s recruiting from 2011-14, which positions were most neglected?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Sunday while listening to the 2004 CD “Shangri-La” CD, I heard once again “Song for Sonny Liston,” which is one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite songwriters, Mark Knopfler. The song is the first cut on a live performance from 2007 in Switzerland. I find myself listening to Knopfler and Chris Rea a lot lately for pretty much the same reason – great guitar work, outstanding lyrics and such easy vocal style. They never seem to strain it.