Since 2010, the Florida Gators have recruited 10 tight ends and one fullback. Their total production is 41 catches for 557 yards and 5 touchdowns with DeAndre Goolsby’s 2015 (17-277, 1 TD) the most productive years of any of the new recruits. To put that in better perspective, Arkansas All-American tight end Hunter Henry had 51 catches for 739 yards and 3 TDs – and that was just last year.
For further perspective consider the fact that six of the 11 recruits at those two positions transferred out.
Now there has been some productivity at the position. Jordan Reed, who was recruited as a QB in 2009, split time between QB and TE in 2010 before permanently moving to TE in 2011. In 2011-12, he caught 73 passes for 876 yards and 5 TDs. Converted defensive ends Clay Burton (21-180, 1 TD) and Tevin Westbrook (11-111, 2 TD) gave some productivity in 202-14. And there was Jake McGee, a graduate transfer from Virginia who missed all of 2014 but got a sixth year from the NCAA. He caught 41 passes for 381 yards and 4 TDs in 2015.
While it’s nice that there were guys who were able to change positions and a productive transfer, it still doesn’t make up for the lack of efficiency in recruiting. When all five of your tight end recruits from 2010-12 transfer out and then you oh-fer in recruiting tight ends in 2013, you have a serious problem on your hands. That’s the bad news in looking back. The good news is looking forward because Jim McElwain thinks of tight ends as more than simply an extra offensive tackle to help with the blocking. The Gators have four very good looking tight end prospects from the 2014-15 recruiting classes so things are really looking up.
Gerald Christian: Christian played in nine games in 2010 but didn’t register a catch. Just when it seemed Christian was on his way to being a star in his sophomore season, he abruptly announced he was leaving the team. Later he transferred to Louisville where he caught 60 passes for 810 yards and 9 touchdowns in two seasons. He was taken by the Arizona Cardinals in the 7th round of the 2014 draft.
Michael McFarland: Redshirted in 2011. Transferred to South Florida where he was granted a waiver to play immediately. He played four years at USF, catching 50 passes for 603 yards and 2 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons. Was on the practice squad of the Indianapolis Colts in 2015 and is signed for 2016.
Assessment: Within a year and a half, two tight ends who are now in the NFL transferred out and the total production was 4 catches for 72 yards and 1 TD. What other grade can you give but an F?
A.C. Leonard: In six games as a freshman in 2011, Leonard caught 8 passes for 99 yards but he was arrested and charged with domestic battery in the spring. Suspended from the UF team, Leonard transferred to Tennessee State after his freshman year and caught 85 passes for 1,174 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons. He declared early for the NFL Draft and signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Since then he’s played indoor football and in the CFL. Currently, he plays with the Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena League.
Hunter Joyer: Coming out of Tampa Catholic, Joyer was the #1 ranked fullback in the country. As a freshman he looked like a guy who was going to be a steady and solid contributor after he carried 18 times for 82 yards and 2 TDs but he rarely saw the ball after that. He finished his career with 23 carries for 101 yards and 2 TDs, 6 catches for 29 yards and 1 TD.
Assessment: Although Joyer rarely saw the football after his freshman year, he was a very good blocker. Leonard had star written all over him but the domestic battery charge torpedoed his career. Only because Joyer stuck it out four years do we give this a D- grade.
Kent Taylor: Taylor was considered the nation’s #1 tight end out of high school. He played six games as a true freshman, caught 2 passes for 5 yards and a touchdown. After a 2013 when he saw no game action, he elected to transfer to Kansas. After sitting out 2014, he caught 15 passes for 179 yards and a TD in 2015. He will be a senior this year.
Colin Thompson: Coming out of high school he was rated just behind Taylor. He was a medical redshirt in 2012. In 2013 he played in three games at tight end and special teams. He transferred to Temple in the spring of 2014 and got a waiver to play immediately. In two seasons he has caught 16 passes for 165 yards. He will be a senior in 2016.
Assessment: Two catches, 5 yards and a TD with both guys transferring out after two years gets you a big fat F.
Moral Stephens: Took a redshirt in 2014, played in seven games in 2015 but accumulated no stats.
DeAndre Goolsby: He played in seven games as a freshman without making a catch. As a sophomore, he played in all 14 games while earning seven starts with 17 catches for 277 yards and 1 TD.
C’yontai Lewis: Redshirted in 2014, played in nine games as a sophomore, catching 4 passes for 72 yards and 2 TDs.
Assessment: Both Goolsby and Lewis are going to see the ball a lot in 2016. Stephens had a nice spring and seems on track to get some playing time as well. Score this one a B+ based on productivity and potential.
Daniel Imatorbhebhe: He early enrolled in the spring of 2015 and transferred to Southern Cal in the summer. He will be a redshirt freshman at USC this fall.
Camrin Knight: Redshirted in 2015.
Assessment: Since Imatorbhebhe didn’t stick around, we’ll just give an Incomplete for this position in 2015.
FINAL ASSESSMENT OF TIGHT ENDS/FULLBACKS: When six of the 11 guys you sign from 2010-15 transfer out, that’s a sign of some very bad recruiting, especially when you add in the lack of overall productivity. There is reason to hope moving forward, however. McElwain likes to incorporate the tight end into his offense and he’s got some guys who can catch the ball and know what to do after they get the ball in their hands.
SOFTBALL SENIORS GO OUT WITH A BANG
The Gators (52-4, 20-4 SEC) clinched their second consecutive SEC championship and third in the last four years on Saturday when they blanked Arkansas, 4-0, on Senior Day. Sunday’s 8-0 walkoff win featured a 10-strikeout no-hitter by Kelly Barnhill. It was the third shutout of the weekend for UF, which outhit the Razorbacks, 25-5, and outscored them, 21-0, in the three games.
Hitting star of the weekend was senior Kirsti Merritt, who had 2 homers and 4 RBI. Aleshia Ocasio pitched a 3-hitter with 5 strikeouts Friday and that was followed up by Delanie Gourley’s 2-hitter with 16 strikeouts on Saturday.
The three shutouts raised the Gators’ total to 27 on the season. Ocasio is 19-1 with an 0.71 ERA while Gourley is 18-3 with an 0.76 and Barnhill is 15-0 with a 1.32 ERA. As a team, the Gators have an 0.89 ERA, which is best in the nation.
The Gators won’t play in the SEC Tournament until Thursday when they face the winner of Wednesday’s first round matchup between 8th seed Georgia and 9th seed Ole Miss.
GATORS WIN WEEKEND SERIES AT UT, TIE FOR SEC LEAD
The #1-ranked Gators (40-8, 16-7 SEC) rode the pitching of Alex Faedo, who gave up 5 hits and struck out 10, and the hitting of Mike Rivera (single, homer, 4 RBI) to a 9-3 win over Tennessee (25-23, 7-17 SEC) to clinch their weekend series in Knoxville. The Gators took the Friday night opener, 7-2, behind 6 strong innings from starter Logan Shore (9-0) and homers by Rivera and Jonathan India. Tennessee won Saturday’s second game, 5-2.
The combination of UF taking its series with the Vols and South Carolina dropping two of three to Kentucky in Lexington created a logjam at the top of the SEC standings. UF and South Carolina lead the East with 16-7 league records and Texas A&M leads with West with a 16-8 mark.
The Gators will play host to USF (21-26, 6-12 American) Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium before 5th-ranked Vanderbilt (36-10, 14-10 SEC) comes to town Friday for a critical 3-game SEC series.
UF LACROSSE WINS BIG EAST TITLE
After capturing their second consecutive Big East Conference Tournament championship, the 2nd-ranked Gators (18-1) got their NCAA Tournament seeding and assignment. The Gators stomped Temple, 16-4, Saturday then got a #2 national seed from the NCAA on Sunday. Florida earned a first round bye and will face the winner of Penn State and Winthrop next Sunday in Gainesville. Maryland is the overall #1 seed followed by the Gators, North Carolina and Syracuse. Florida beat both North Carolina and Syracuse during the retular season and suffered its only loss to Maryland.
What a rally by Florida’s women’s golf team Saturday at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. Florida came into Saturday’s third and final round trailing South Carolina by 13 shots but behind Karolina Vickova’s 65 and Maria Torres’ 69, Florida posted a -11 Saturday while South Carolina went +2, allowing the Gators to finish in a first place tie. Next up for the Gators is the NCAA Championship in Eugene, Oregon from May 20-25.
BRYCE HARPER SETS MLB RECORD
Chicago Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon was not going to let Bryce Harper beat him so Sunday he walked the Washington Nationals’ slugger six times, three times intentionally. Two of the three intentional walks loaded the bases. The Cubs won the game, 4-3, despite the Major League record six walks for Harper. But was this the smart thing to do?
Through 30 games this season, Harper has hit 10 home runs in 98 at bats, which means he’s got a 1 in 9.8 chance of homering at his current pace. He’s also struck out 25 times so that means there is a 1 in 4 chance if you pitch to him he goes down swinging.
Now, Harper is a fine talent and he’s only 23 years old. He’s already hit 107 home runs. He has also struck out 474 times in 1,928 at bats so he’s pretty consistent throughout his career – 1 strikeout per 4 at bats.
Just for the sake of comparison, take a look at the careers of a couple of famed hitters from years past.
Joe DiMaggio played 13 years in the big leagues, hit 361 home runs and finished his career with a .325 average. In 6,821 career at bats, Joe D struck out 369 times. The year he compiled his 57-game hitting streak, DiMaggio struck out only 13 times.
Ted Williams hit .344 and 521 home runs in a career in which he lost four seasons flying planes during war time. He never had a 100-strikeout season – he went down 64 times as a rookie in 1939 – and finished his career with only 709 strikeouts in 7,706 at bats. When he won the triple crown in 1942 (36 homers, 137 RBI and .356 batting average), Teddy Ballgame struck out only 51 times. He never struck out 50 times in a season again.
Just for the heck of it, Alex Rodriguez is the active leader in MLB for home runs with 692. He has struck out 2,240 times in his career, which entails 10,413 at bats.
Did Billy Donovan just outcoach Greg Popovich or what? Donovan’s Oklahoma Thunder whacked the San Antonio Spurs, 111-97, Sunday night to tie that series at 2-2. Donovan made the adjustments that got the Thunder out of their first quarter funk and they absolutely controlled the game from that point. Kevin Durant scored 41 points but the stat that will be overlooked is points/rebound production from the center position. If Billy can get Steven Adams (16/11) and Enes Kanter (11/8) to give him that kind of production in the middle the Thunder could spring the upset and win this series.
Howard Garfinkel died Saturday, age 86. He’s one of the biggest reasons that college basketball has become the sport it is today. Howie started the first basketball scouting service and his Five-Star Camp was the predecessor of every big summer camp for high school basketball players in business today. During the 1970s, before the NCAA banned it, high school kids could get instructions from college coaches at Five-Star. Not only did high school kids hope to get noticed, so did assistant coaches. Just ask guys like John Calipari and Bill Self what Five-Star did for their careers. Howie will be missed greatly.
What did Joe Paterno know and when did he know it? Just when we were thinking that maybe Joe Pa really didn’t know the extent of the child abuse by Jerry Sandusky, CNN is reporting that Paterno knew the details of a 15-year-old boy allegedly raped in 1971. The report is that Paterno encouraged the boy to drop the rape charges.
FSU running back Mario Pender was arrested Saturday and charged by the Tallahassee Police Department with domestic battery with strangulation and resisting an officer with violence. For that, FSH announced Pender had been dismissed. It only figures that FSU would boot Pender. He’s not a Heisman Trophy QB, after all.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Is the dismissal of Mario Pender a sign that Florida State is serious about changing the image of its football program or is this something that wouldn’t have happened if Pender was a starter and necessary for the Seminoles to win football games?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Chaka Kahn may be 62 years old but she is still the “Queen of Funk.” She’s one of the most talented and entertaining singers of the past 50 years and recorded music doesn’t do her justice. She has to be seen live to be appreciated. Today’s music is her 2015 concert at the Java Jazz Festival backed up by the British acid jazz band Incognito.