Barring transfers, dismissals or unexpected early entrees into the NFL Draft, the Florida Gators have 62 scholarship football players who will be available for the 2017 season. At the moment, that means the Gators can sign a class of 23 for the recruiting class of 2017. The Gators are losing 7 seniors and one from graduate school plus 4 are expected to announce for the NFL.
The way the roster breaks down is 35 scholarship players on offense, 25 on defense and 2 on special teams. The Gators lose only graduate QB Austin Appleby from the offensive unit that started against Alabama. Over on defense, they lose 3 seniors: DT Joey Ivey and LBs Jarrad Davis and Daniel McMillian. The Gators will also lose seniors Bryan Cox Jr. (DE) and Marcus Maye (S), both of whom are out with injuries, and they’re expected to lose corners Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson, LB Alex Anzalone and DT Caleb Brantley to the NFL.
Both placekicker Eddy Pineiro and punter Johnny Townsend will be back.
Here is the current anticipated roster breakdown:
Seniors (7): LB Jarrad Davis; S Marcus Maye; DE Bryan Cox Jr.; LB Joey Ivie; LB Daniel McMillian; WR Ahmad Fulwood; WR Chris Thompson; RB Mark Herndon
Graduate (1): Austin Appleby, QB
Expected early entry NFL (4): CB Jalen Tabor; CB Quincy Wilson; DT Caleb Brantley; Alex Anzalone, LB
OFFENSE (35 scholarship players)
Quarterbacks (3): Luke Del Rio, RJR; Feleipe Franks, RFR; Kyle Trask, RFR
Running backs (4): Mark Thompson, SR; Jordan Scarlett, JR; Jordan Cronkrite, JR; Lamical Perine, SO
Wide receivers (9): Brandon Powell, SR; C.J. Worton, SR; Dre Massey, RJR; Antonio Callaway, JR; Khalif Jackson, RSO; Tyrie Cleveland, SO; Freddie Swain, SO; Josh Hammond, SO; Rick Wells, RFR
Tight ends (4): DeAndre Goolsby, SR; C’yontai Lewis, RJR; Moral Stephens, RJR; Camrin Knight, JR
Tackles (4): David Sharpe, SR; Kavaris Harkless, RJR; Jawaan Taylor, SO; Stone Forsythe, RFR
Guards (8): Antonio Riles, RJR; Andrew Mike, RJR; Tyler Jordan, JR; Martez Ivey, JR; Fred Johnson, JR; Nick Buchanan, RSO; Brandon Sandifer, RSO’ Richard Desir-Jones, RSO
Centers (3): Cameron Dillard, RSR; T.J. McCoy, RSO; Brett Heggie, RFR
DEFENSE (25 scholarship players)
Ends (5): Jordan Sherit, RSR; Justus Reed, RJR; Jabari Zuniga, RSO; Antonneous Clayton, SO; Jordan Smith, RFR
Tackles (5): Khairi Clark, RJR; Taven Bryan, RJR; CeCe Jefferson, JR; Luke Ancrum, RSO; Jachai Polite, RFR
Linebackers (5): Kylan Johnson, RSO; Rayshad Jackson, RSO; David Reese, SO; Vosean Joseph, SO; Jeremiah Moon, SO
Corners/Nickels (6): Duke Dawson, SR; Joseph Putu, SR; Chris Williamson, JR; Chauncey Gardner, SO; McArthur Burnett RFR; C.J. McWilliams, RFR
Safeties (4): Nick Washington, RSR; Marcell Harris, RSR; Jaewon Taylor, SO; Quincy Lenton, RFR;
SPECIAL TEAMS (2 scholarship players)
Placekicker (1): Eddy Pineiro, RJR
Punters (1): Johnny Townsend, RSR
DOES MIKE BELLOTTI KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THE OREGON JOB?
On the Paul Finebaum Show Monday, former Oregon head coach and athletic director Mike Bellotti said the four coaches he would interview for the vacancy at Oregon are Matt Rhule (Temple), Jim McElwain (Florida), Willie Taggart (South Florida) and Dan Mullen (Mississippi State). Is Bellotti speaking about personal preference or is he voicing an opinion based on things he’s heard?
Of those four, Taggart’s name is gaining a lot of traction. McElwain says he’s got a good job and that he’s going to be coaching at Florida next year.
UF BASKETBALL UP TO #21; FACES DUKE IN JIMMY V CLASSIC
Florida (7-1) was rewarded for its third place finish in the Advocare Classic and a win over North Florida by moving up to #21 in both the coaches and AP polls. Now the Gators face their toughest week of the season when they square off with 4th-ranked Duke (8-1) in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden tonight and then travel to Tallahassee to face Florida State (7-1) on Sunday.
Other than Kentucky, Duke is the most talented team the Gators will face this year. The Blue Devils only loss is to third-ranked Kansas in the third game of the season, a game Duke played without stud freshmen Harry Giles (6-10, 250), Marques Bolden (6-11, 250) and Jayson Tatum (6-8, 204). Tatum, who scored 10 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in his first action of the season against Maine back on Saturday, will start tonight with Bolden (7 points, 5 rebounds) coming off the bench. Giles is still recovering from knee surgery.
Stopping the Blue Devils means the Gators have to shut down the perimeter game of Luke Kennard (19.4 points per game) and Grayson Allen (17.1), plus find a way to stop the penetration of freshman guard Frank Jackson (15.4). Allen and Jackson come off the bench. On the inside, Duke’s best player so far has been 5th-year senior Amile Jefferson (6-9, 224), who is averaging 14.7 points and 9.8 rebounds.
The Gators have struggled shooting the ball this year (44% overall and 31.5% from the 3-point line) but they’ve been extremely good on the defensive end, holding opponents to 40.5% overall and 33.3% from the 3-point line.
Keys to the game: (1) John Egbunu (9.1 points, 7.5 rebounds) cannot afford foul trouble; (2) the Gators cannot allow Duke uncontested 3-point shots because the Blue Devils are capable of getting hot and knocking down 6-7 shots in a row; and (3) Florida has to do a better job of distributing the ball to open shooters (UF is averaging only 11.5 assists per game); (4) point guards Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza have to play under control to keep Duke from getting out in transition where they love to bury the 3-ball on the break.
HEISMAN FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
There will be five players on the Heisman podium in New York Saturday night: Louisville QB Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma WR DeDe Westbrook, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson and Michigan LB/S/KR/RB/WR Jabrill Peppers.
Here are the numbers on the finalists:
Jackson: 220-382 passing for 3,390 yards (8.9 per attempt), 30 TDs, 9 INTs; 234-1,538 rushing (6.57 per carry) for 21 TDs. Total offense 4,928 yards (8.0 per play) and 51 TDs responsible.
Mayfield: 235-330 passing (71.2%) for 3,669 yards (11.1 per attempt), 38 TDs, 8 INTs; 74-143 rushing (1.93) for 6 TDs. Total offense 3,812 yards (9.44 per play) and 44 TDs responsible.
Westbrook: 74-1,465 receiving (19.8 per catch) for 16 TDs, 7-84 rushing (12.0 per carry); 4-79 punt returns (19.75 per return) for 1 TD; 8-227 kickoff returns (28.38 per return). Total all-purpose yards 1,855 for 19.9 per play and 17 TDs.
Watson: 329-47 passing (67.6%) for 3,914 yards (8.0 per attempt), 37 TDs, 15 INTs; 129-529 rushing (4.1 per carry) for 6 TDs. Total offense 4,413 yards (7.21 per play), 43 TDs responsible.
Peppers: 71 tackles, 15 tackles for -60 yards in losses, 3.5 sacks for -36 yards; 1 interception for 11 return yards; 27-167 rushing (6.19 per carry) for 3 TDs; 2-3 receiving; 21-310 punt returns (14.76 per return) for 1 TD; 10-260 kickoff returns (26.0 per return).
My predicted order of finish:
1. Watson in an upset
Jeff Brohm is the new head ball coach at Purdue. He signed a 6-year deal worth $20 million and gets a $3.5 million salary pool to hire assistants, an upgrade of $1.3 million from the previous staff. Purdue is also in the midst of a $60 million facilities upgrade. Brohm is 30-10 in three seasons at Western Kentucky with two Conference USA championships.
With Brohm no longer in the Baylor picture, the Bears are turning their attention Blake Anderson (Arkansas State HBC), who is 23-15 with two Sun Belt Conference championships. Sonny Dykes (California HBC) is still considered a possibility.
Brohm was also being considered by Cincinnati. Charlie Strong’s name is being mentioned but it is expected that Strong will take a year away from coaching and devote his time to some issues affecting college football that are near to his heart. If Strong isn’t in the picture, then first right of refusal will go to P.J. Fleck of Western Michigan. Some are saying that Tommy Tuberville wasn’t forced out at Cincinnati, but left on his own volition because he didn’t feel he had the resources to win consistently. If that’s the case, then bet the farm Strong won’t take that job.
Brohm to Purdue is the cause of a major ripple effect. His replacement at Western Kentucky should come from former WKU co-OC/QB coach and now USC QB coachTyson Helton, former Houston HBC and now WKU co-OC Tony Levine, Tennessee Titans QB coach Jason Michael and current WKU DC Nick Holt.
In a move expected long ago, Kent State apparently is in the process of pulling the plug on HBC Paul Haynes. Kent State’s response to the whispers is that Haynes remains under contract through the 2017 season. In other words, we’re working on a deal but haven’t finalized it yet.
Brian Kelly is hiring a new DC at Notre Dame. Kelly made it clear that the new DC will probably bring his own staff of assistants with him.
It is being reported by Paul Finebaum that Houston is putting a huge buyout clause in the contract it is preparing for Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.
With Kiffin expected to take the Houston HBC job and Steve Sarkisian expected to move from support staff to OC at Alabama to replace him, the whispers are growing louder that Coach O is zeroing in on Kentucky’s Eddie Gran to take over as the new offensive coordinator at LSU.
South Florida HBC Willie Taggart, Boise State HBC Bryan Harsin and former Rutgers/Tampa Bay Bucs HBC Greg Schiano, the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, have interviewed for the Oregon job. Expect an announcement in the next couple of days. Smart money is on Taggart.
It’s rare that I make political statements on this forum, but I’ve had it with athletes and celebrities using their status to endorse political candidates or protest an injustice. I make my own decisions without the help of people whose opinions no one would notice if they weren’t tall, fast, athletic or famous. I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks that way as NFL ratings have been in the tank ever since NFL players started taking a knee during the National Anthem. From what I’m hearing, the NBA ratings aren’t anywhere close to healthy, either. All I can say is just shut up and play the game. Entertain me with your skills or your talent. That I find interesting. Your opinions and endorsements annoy me.
Not that anyone should be surprised but Leonard Fournette has announced he will bypass his senior season at LSU to enter the NFL Draft.
Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield will return to Oklahoma for his senior season in 2017.
Before he was replaced by Blaine Gabbert Sunday, San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick was sacked more times (5) for losses (25 yards) than he had combined rushing (20) and passing (4) yards.
Percy Harvin’s migraines have kept him out of action since November 23, necessitating the Buffalo Bills to end his season by placing him on the reserve/non-football illness list.
Here are the graduation rates for the four teams in the college football playoff: Clemson 84%; Alabama 80%; Washington 78%; and Ohio State 74%. Bowl teams Boise State, South Florida, South Carolina, Texas-San Antonio and Stanford have higher graduation rates for football players than for the athletes in other sports at their schools.
Coach O and LSU got DC Dave Aranda to agree to a 3-year extension at approximately $1.9 million per year, which makes him college football’s highest paid assistant.
This is the first season since 2005 that the Southeastern Conference won’t be represented on the Heisman Trophy podium. Since 2005, the SEC has produced four winners – Tim Tebow, Florida (2007), Mark Ingram, Alabama (2009), Cam Newton, Auburn (2010) and Derrick Henry, Alabama (2015).
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Now that the five finalists have been named, what is your predicted order of finish for the Heisman Trophy?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in Sanford, I never got to watch cartoons on television after school. That’s because my older sister felt it was her constitutional duty to watch American Bandstand, which came on every afternoon. I was the only kid at Lake Mary School who knew all the words to “The Great Pretender” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” I listened to an old CD of The Platters while driving today and I really didn’t care if I looked like an idiot singing along as I drove.