Give credit where credit is due. Maybe Will Muschamp didn’t leave an overflowing cupboard of talent when he was fired in 2014, but the former Florida football coach certainly didn’t leave it empty, either. The recently concluded NFL Draft is all the evidence you need – two first round picks and seven drafted overall with three more signing free agent deals.
As you might expect given Muschamp’s preoccupation with defensive recruiting during his four years at UF, the draft was top heavy with defensive players – corner Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa Bay) and safety Keanu Neal (Atlanta) in the first, end/tackle Jonathan Bullard (Chicago) in the third, linebacker Antonio Morrison (Indianapolis) in the fourth and end Alex McCalister (Philadelphia) in the seventh – but wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (Kansas City) was taken in the fourth round and running back Kelvin Taylor (San Francisco) went in the sixth. Tight end Jake McGee (Carolina Panthers), defensive back Brian Poole (Atlanta), and offensive lineman Trip Thurman (Cincinnati Bengals) signed free agent deals.
Muschamp brought all those players to UF so he deserves a measure of credit for what he did but give Jim McElwain his due for winning with the talent left behind. With seven were drafted on his watch, McElwain’s reputation as a developer of NFL talent will precede him on the recruiting trail and that will only help him bring in better talent to UF. If there is one certainty in college football you get a ton of mileage on the recruiting trail when your program is sending players to the pros. Just ask Nick Saban.
The Gators finished in the top five for sending players to the NFL in this year’s draft:
1. Ohio State, 12
2. Clemson, 9
3. UCLA, 8
4. FLORIDA, Alabama, Notre Dame, 7
5. Baylor, 6
Now, just to show how far these players have come and how far they have to go, check out these numbers:
High school football players in the US: 1,086,627
High school football seniors: 310,465
NCAA football players: 70,147
Percentage of high school players to the NCAA: 6.5%
NCAA freshmen playing football: 20,042
NCAA seniors playing football: 15,588
Players scouted by the NFL: 6,500
Players invited to the NFL Combine: 350
Players drafted by the NFL: 256
Rookies making a team (average): 300
Percentage of NCAA players who will play in the NFL: 1.6%
Average number of players who will last 4 years in the NFL: 150
2015 NFL minimum salary: $435,000
Estimated income after taxes: $254,747.73
SPRING SPORTS AT UF
Baseball: The third and deciding game of #1 Florida’s (37-7, 14-6 SEC) series with #5 South Carolina (34-9, 15-5 SEC) was cancelled due to bad weather Sunday. The split of the series leaves South Carolina a half game ahead of the Gators in the SEC East standings with three SEC weekend series remaining. The Gators will host Bethune-Cookman Tuesday night in a non-conference matchup and travel to Tennessee next weekend.
Softball: The #1-ranked Gators (47-4, 17-4 SEC) lost their first game since April 3 Sunday afternoon when they gave up four sixth-inning runs to lose to 18th-ranked Texas A&M (35-16, 7-14 SEC) in College Station. The Gators trailed 6-2 in the top of the seventh but pushed across two runs and had the bases loaded with just one out, but couldn’t deliver the hit they needed to tie or take the lead. The Gators travel to Tallahassee Wednesday where they will complete a game suspended by rain on April 13 and then face Florida State in a regularly scheduled non-conference game.
RANKING THE BEST FOOTBALL COACHING JOBS IN THE SEC
The final category was intangibles – weather, nice campus, location, money, game day atmosphere and how well the fans travel – and that was won by Georgia. Alabama finished second in that category followed by Tennessee, LSU, Auburn and Florida.
As for the final score, Alabama – to no one’s surprise – finishes with the most points (95) and best job in the SEC. Alabama finished first in winning, tradition, coaching, facilities and recruiting and finished second in intangibles and third in stadium to easily outpace second place LSU with 86. After that, the gap is pretty astonishing with Auburn finishing in third (69 points), just ahead of Florida (67), Tennessee (63.5), Texas A&M (62.5) and Georgia.
In ranking the final category, location was scored by the proximity of teams within the divisions since it’s not a round robin schedule. Debt was taken into consideration when ranking money, which is why LSU and Tennessee got middle of the pack marks.
Best coaching job: Intangibles category
1. Georgia, 67: Georgia got a winning score for best campus and best location (this is what happens when I-75, I-85 and I-20 are close by and you’re a 40-minute trek to the Atlanta airport (when you die and go to heaven you will change planes in Atlanta). Location helps plenty when it comes to recruiting. Georgia also got high marks (10 points each) for weather, game day atmosphere and travel.
2. Alabama, 66: This was the only category where Alabama didn’t produce a single winning score, but the Crimson Tide ranked second (13 points each) in game day atmosphere and travel, third (12 points) in money and fourth (11 points) in location.
3. Tennessee, 62: The Vols got a second place (13 points) score for campus and a third place for location (12 points) since four of six East Division rivals are within 263 miles of Knoxville. The Vols score high (11 points each) for game day atmosphere and roadability.
4. LSU, 59: LSU got a first in game day atmosphere. Nobody else has a live Bengal tiger that they drive around the playing field 15 minutes before game time. That only makes a highly inebriated fan base get mean. LSU got a second for weather but scored very low marks for campus, location and money. When the governor is threatening to cancel sports because the state budget is so out of whack there are money problems.
5. Auburn, 58: Auburn travels very well (12 points) and gets high marks (11 points each) for weather and money. The town of Auburn is nice, but the campus is pretty average. Location is good (I-85 makes Atlanta a 2-hour drive) both for game day and recruiting.
6. Florida, 55: Florida scored first for weather (14 points) and had a good (10 points) score for money but location hurt UF (5 points) since four of the six East Division rivals are more than 500 miles from Gainesville. The Gators were middle of the pack for game day atmosphere since fans tend to arrive late and leave early.
7. Texas A&M, 48: The Aggies scored first in money. They paid $475 million in cash to get a completely new stadium in two years. Enough said about that. The Aggies also scored 11 points each on game day atmosphere and roadability. They scored only 4 points for campus and 2 for location since LSU (363.8 miles) is the only West Division opponent less than 500 miles away.
8. Ole Miss, 44: The Ole Miss campus is indeed beautiful and the location (four West Division rivals within 332 miles) is excellent but everything else is on the low end of middle of the pack in the SEC.
9. South Carolina, 38: The weather (12 points) is good and the campus (1 point, last place) is about as boring as it gets. The other four categories score low end of middle of the pack.
10. Arkansas, 36: When your big dollar donors have last names like Walton, Reynolds and Tyson, money is never a problem. Arkansas ranks only behind the Aggies in this category. Location? Well, the closest West Division rival (Ole Miss) is 401 miles away. The campus is charming but everything else is below average.
11. Mississippi State, 34: Two rivals are less than 100 miles away and two others are less than 300 so the Bulldogs score high (13 points) for location. And here some of you thought Starkville was close to the end of the earth.
12. Vanderbilt, 25: Vandy’s campus (third place, 12 points) looks like something out of the Ivy League (that was the plan) and the location is nice (not only reasonably close to three division rivals but it’s Nashville … people like to travel there). Otherwise, it’s still Vandy.
13. Missouri, 22: The campus is beautiful (11 points). There, I said something nice.
14. Kentucky, 16: There is a lot of money at Kentucky. Unfortunately, the priority spending is for basketball, which is why football is the ugly stepchild in Lexington. As for game day atmosphere, when they announce that Midnight Madness tickets are about to go on sale, that always gets the fans riled up.
Final points through seven categories:
1. Alabama, 95
2. LSU, 86
3. Auburn, 69
4. FLORIDA, 67.5
5. Tennessee, 63.5
6. Texas A&M, 62.5
7. Georgia, 60
8. Ole Miss, 56
9. Arkansas, 49
10. Mississippi State, 44
11. South Carolina, 40
12. Kentucky, 20.5
13. Missouri, 17
14. Vanderbilt, 14
THE SEC AND THE NFL DRAFT
Alabama (7): Ryan Kelly, C (Indianapolis, 1); Reggie Ragland, ILB (Buffalo, 2); Derrick Henry, RB (Tennessee, 2); A’Shawn Robinson, DT (Detroit, 2); Jarran Reed, DT (Seattle, 2); Cyrus Jones, CB (New England, 2); Kenyan Drake, RB (Miami, 3);
Arkansas (5): Hunter Henry, TE (San Diego, 2); Jonathan Williams, RB (Buffalo, 5); Alex Collins, RB (Seattle, 5); Sebastian Tretola, OG (Tennessee, 6); Brandon Allen, QB (Jacksonville, 6)
Auburn (3): Shon Coleman, OT (Cleveland, 3); Ricardo Louis, LB (Cleveland, 4); Blake Countess, CB (Philadelphia, 6)
FLORIDA (7): Vernon Hargreaves III, CB (Tampa Bay, 1); Keanu Neal, S (Atlanta, 1); Jonathan Bullard, DT (Chicago, 3); Antonio Morrison, OLB (Indianapolis, 4); Demarcus Robinson, WR (Kansas City, 4); Kelvin Taylor, RB (San Francisco, 6); Alex McCalister, DE (Philadelphia, 7)
Georgia (5): Leonard Floyd, OLB (Chicago, 1); Jordan Jenkins, OLB (NY Jets, 3); Malcolm Mitchell, WR (New England, 4); John Theus, OT (San Francisco, 5); Keith Marshall, RB (Washington, 7)
Kentucky (1): Josh Forrest, ILB (Los Angeles, 6)
LSU (5): Deion Jones, OLB (Atlanta, 2); Jerald Hawkins, OT (Pittsburgh, 4); Rarshard Robinson, CB (San Francisco, 4); Jalen Mills, S (Philadelphia, 7); Vadal Alexander, OG (Oakland, 7)
Mississippi State (3): Chris Jones, DT (Kansas City, 2); Will Redmond, CB (San Francisco, 3); Dak Prescott, QB (Dallas, 4)
Missouri (3): Evan Boehm, C (Arizona, 4); Kentrell Brothers, ILB (Minnesota, 5); Connor McGovern, OG (Denver, 5)
Ole Miss (5): Laremy Tunsil, OT (Miami, 1); Laquon Treadwell, WR (Minnesota, 1); Robert Nkemdiche, DT (Arizona, 1); Fahn Cooper, OT (San Francisco, 5); Cody Core, WR (Cincinnati, 6)
South Carolina (3): Pharoh Cooper, WR (Los Angeles, 4); Brandon Shell, OT (NY Jets, 5); Jerell Adams, TE (NY Giants, 6)
Texas A&M (3): Germain Ifedi, OT (Seattle, 1); Brandon Williams, CB (Arizona, 3); Drew Kaser, P (San Diego, 6)
Vanderbilt (1): Stephen Weatherly, OLB (Minnesota, 7)
Draft picks by conference:
Big Ten: 47
Big 12: 26
Sun Belt: 3
Per Matt Zenitz of Al.com, Bo Davis was forced to resign his position as Alabama’s defensive line coach because he visited players during a dead period and then lied about it when confronted by compliance. It is being reported that this is similar to the situation that forced Joker Phillips out as Florida’s wide receivers coach in 2014.
It is being reported that NFL assistant Karl Dunbar, who worked for Nick Saban as a strength and conditioning assistant at LSU in 2000-01, will be hired to replace Bo Davis at Alabama.
If you’re already looking ahead to the 2017 NFL Draft, here are 10 underclassmen who will be on everybody’s radar: (1) Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU; (2) DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson; (3) Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State; (4) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford; (5) Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M; (6) Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida; (7) Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama; (8) Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State; (9) Malachi Dupree, WR, LSU; and (10) Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina.
Maybe the most intriguing draft pick was the Dallas Cowboys’ choice of Baylor power forward Rico Gathers in the sixth round. Gathers is 6-8 and a chiseled 275 with exceptional speed and huge hands. If he develops into a star, he will follow the footsteps of Tony Gonzalez, Anthony Gates, Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas who were all college basketball players before trying their hand at football in the NFL.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
How do you rate the SEC football coaching jobs from top to bottom?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Other than Elvis Presley, probably the best pure singing voice ever in rock and roll belonged to Freddie Mercury. I saw him perform with Queen at the River Center in Baton Rouge in August of 1980. I went to that concert convinced that Mick Jagger was the greatest front man for a band ever. I left believing Freddie was in a league of his own. Some folks say that the 24-minute performance Queen gave at Wembley Stadium for Live Aid 1985 is the greatest live performance in rock and roll history.