Jerome Miron/ USA TODAY Sports

Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; Dec. 21

A few thoughts to jump start your Wednesday morning...

GRADING THE DEFENSIVE TACKLES

We are grading the 2016 Gators position by position. Today, a look at the defensive tackles.

Joey Ivie: When he was healthy (missed two full games with injuries and played hurt in others), he was quite productive. Showed great ability to split double teams and get off blocks to bring pressure up the middle. He played well enough the last two seasons that he’ll play on Sundays. Regular season stats: 21 tackles, 2.5 sacks for -11 yards, 6 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble, 1 blocked kick

Caleb Brantley: He came back for a fourth year to improve his draft stock and succeeded. He missed a couple of games with injuries and played hurt in 2-3 other games. Showed a lot of toughness and the ability to stand his ground and clog up the middle. For three steps in either direction he can be completely disruptive. Regular season stats: 28 tackles, 8.5 tackles for -28 yards in losses, 1.5 sacks for -12 yards, 3 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble.

Khairi Clark: Played in all 12 games in 2016 after playing in all 14 as a redshirt freshman in 2015. He has the size (6-2, 319) and decent mobility but that hasn’t translated into either consistency or productivity. He needs to step it up and become the guy at nose tackle who commands a double team next season. Regular season stats: 13 tackles, 1 sack for -5 yards.

Taven Bryan: Of the tackles who will return for 2017, he is the one who could turn into a full-fledged star. He has exceptional mobility for 6-5, 293 and that might bode well for the future on Sundays where he could play both inside and outside. He’s got the ability to bring pressure on the QB from the inside but has to do a better job when it’s a downhill run straight at him.  Regular season stats: 15 tackles, 2 tackles for -8 yards in losses, 1 sack for -7 yards, 1 pass broken up, 2 QB hurries, 2 forced fumbles.

Luke Ancrum: Played in six games with very limited productivity. The offseason is going to be so important for him to gain the weight and the upper body strength he’s going to need to right it out in the SEC trenches. Regular season stats: 3 tackles.

Jachai Polite: Although a true freshman and undersized at his listed 6-2, 271, Polite played in 11 games and showed great potential. Still needs to gain weightand strength but he has good instincts for the ball and he has excellent quickness. Regular season stats: 9 tackles, 3.5 for -12 yards forloss, 2 sacks for -9 yards, 1 QB hurry, 1 forced fumble.

Grade A-: The grade would be higher except that injuries curtailed production and the depth wasn’t really adequate. When everyone was healthy, Florida’s DTs played at an incredibly high level. Brantley certainly made the right choice to come back for one more year. He’ll be rewarded quite handsomely when the NFL drafts. Ivie has played himself into a second day guy when the NFL drafts. He’s good enough to make a roster and stick around awhile. Clark needs to make a quantum leap next season while Bryan shows an incredible motor. He could have a breakout season in 2017. Ancrum and Polite have to get their bodies built up to an SEC level.

FINALLY, A HOME GAME

It will be a reunion of sorts tonight when the Gators (8-3) conclude their pre-Christmas schedule tonight with their first home game since the March 1, 2016 Senior Day encounter with Kentucky. Little Rock native KeVaughn Allen will certainly be going against a lot of familiar faces from his home town as UF takes on Arkansas-Little Rock (9-3), a 63-48 loser Monday night to Oral Roberts in the first game in the newly renovated O-Dome. The Gators come into the game averaging 77.7 per game and giving up only 65.6. The visiting Spartans average 74.7 and give up 65.9.

The Gators have three players scoring in double figures – KeVaughn Allen (13.1), Devin Robinson (11.6) and Canyon Barry (11.4).

The Gators’ next game will be December 29 when they open their SEC schedule at Arkansas.

13 THAT GOT AWAY

When you consider Florida’s offensive woes since 2011, imagine what might have been if the Gators had landed a few of the following 13 recruits from the state of Florida who went somewhere other than UF:

Paxton Lynch, QB, 2012 (Deltona Trinity Christian): Went to Memphis where he threw 59 career TDPs and 8,863 yards. First round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2016.

Amari Cooper, WR, 2012 (Miami Northwestern): Went to Alabama where he caught 228 passes for 3,563 yards and 31 TDs. First round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2015.

Nelson Agholor, WR, 2012 (Tampa Berkeley Prep): Went to Southern Cal where he caught 179 passes for 2,571 yards and 20 TDs. First round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015.

Derrick Henry, RB, 2013 (Yulee): Won the Heisman in 2015. Ran for 3,591 yards and 42 TDs in three years at Alabama. Second round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2016.

Brandon Radcliff, RB, 2013 (Miami ): Went to Louisville where he has run for 2,339 yards and 26 touchdowns in four years.

Jordan Leggett, TE, 2013 (Navarre): Went to Clemson where he has caught 104 passes for 1,499 yards and 18 TDs.

Marlon Mack, RB, 2013 (Sarasota Booker): Went to South Florida where he has run for 3,559 yards and 32 TDs in three seasons.

Quinton Flowers, QB, 2014 (Miami Jackson): Went to South Florida where he has passed for 4,958 yards and 44 TDs and run for 2,389 yards and 27 TDs in three seasons.

Dalvin Cook, RB, 2014 (Miami Central): Went to Florida State where he has run for 4,319 yards and 45 TDs in three years.

Travis Rudolph, WR, 2014 (West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman): Went to Florida State where he has caught 150 passes for 2,278 yards and 18 TDs.

Ralph Webb, RB, 2014 (Gainesville): Went to Vanderbilt where he has run for 3,231 yards and 21 TDs in three seasons.

Artavis Scott, WR, 2014 (Tarpon Springs East Lake): Went to Clemson where he

Calvin Ridley, WR, 2015 (Coconut Creek Monarch): Went to Alabama where he has caught 155 passes for 1,772 yards and 14 TDs in two seasons.

Lamar Jackson, QB, 2015 (Deerfield Beach): Won the Heisman in 2016. Went to Louisville where he has passed for 5,230 yards and 42 TDS and run for 2,498 yards and 32 TDs in two seasons.

AROUND THE SEC

Alabama: While everyone has been wowed by the play of true freshman QB Jalen Hurts, Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com writes that freshman starting RT Jonah Williams graded higher than LT Cam Robinson, who is expected to be taken in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Arkansas: Three freshman offensive linemen (Kirby Adcock, Shane Clenin and Dalton Wagner) who will enroll early will be practicing with the Razorbacks as they prepare for their Belk Bowl encounter with Virginia Tech. The Razorbacks have six high school players and three jucos who will enroll in January.

Auburn: Former Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham is already practicing with the Tigers. He will be simulating Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield during preparation for the Sugar Bowl matchup with the Sooners.

Georgia: There is a little bit of controversy regarding former Georgia commit, RB Toneil Carter, who decommitted Georgia and then committed to Texas. Carter’s brother and legal guardian told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Georgia had “a numbers issue” per running backs coach Dell McGee. Georgia HBC Kirby Smart disputed that, saying, “First of all, I’m not allowed ot talk about his situation at all but I will say that our philosophy has always been that we’re not going to drop kids in recruiting. We may defer enrollment or we may say you can enroll at a later date.” Whatever that means. Carter is going to be a Longhorn.

Kentucky: The Wildcats have the advantage of the 15 bowl practice days to prep for Georgia Tech’s funky triple option offense. “It’s something they’re not used to seeing,” UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. “We’ve had some good practices. We’re getting some good looks from our scout team and I’m pleased with our progress.”

LSU: Wide receiver Malachi Dupre is still undecided whether to join fellow juniors Leonard Fournette and Jamal Adams in the NFL Draft. Although he’s considered a top 10 wide receiver prospect, Dupre could certainly improve his stock is new offensive coordinator Matt Canada substantially improves LSU’s passing game.

Mississippi State: Mississippi State’s 2017 recruiting class currently has 22 commitments. That includes nine junior college players who have already signed.

Missouri: Missouri is still waiting to hear from the NCAA, which continues to investigate academic fraud allegations made a few months ago by former athletic department tutor Yolanda Kumar. Said Mizzou AD Jim Sterk, “Everyone’s involved: the SEC, the NCAA. We’re communicating with them. We’re working with them. I don’t’ know how long it will be. That will be dictated by the NCAA. I do know they’ve been impressed with the work our staff has done. So I think we’re in as good a place as we can be. How long will it be? I don’t know?”

Ole Miss: New offensive coordinator Phil Longo comes from the Mike Leach school of offense. At Sam Houston State in 2016, Longo’s offense averaged 179 rushing yards, 368.3 passing yards and 49.5 points per game. In 2015, the Bearkats averaged 254.5 rushing yards, 277.2 passing yards and 41.1 points per game.

South Carolina: D-lineman MJ Webb graduated high school last week. This week he is already making an impression on South Carolina’s coaching staff as he’s practicing with the team during its preparations for the Birmingham Bowl game with South Florida. “I don’t remember who he was going against but he destroyed them,” DE Darius English said after watching Webb in a one-on-one drill. “He stuck the block, got off the block, made the tackle and got everybody excited. A lot of guys didn’t expect that to happen. I believe he is going to make a big impact for the future.”

Tennessee: The Vols already thin O-line took another hit Tuesday when it was announced that redshirt freshman Venzell Boulware, who started UT’s last two games of the regular season at right guard, has been declared academically ineligible for the Music City Bowl game with Nebraska.

Texas A&M: Wide receiver Speedy Noil posted $2,000 bond and was released after his arrest for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. Noil was suspended for the Aggies’ Texas Bowl game with Kansas State.

Vanderbilt: First team All-America linebacker Zach Cunningham and running back Ralph Webb will meet with pro scouts today to determine if they’re leaving for the NFL or coming back for their senior seasons. Cunningham had 119 tackles including 16.5 for losses, 3 pass breakups, 1 QB hurry, 2 forced fumbles and a blocked kick. Webb ran for 1,172 yard and 12 TDs and caught 19 passes for 153 yards.

BOWLING FOR DOLLARS

Tuesday’s results: Western Kentucky 51, Memphis 31

Stars of the day: Western Kentucky QB Mike White, a Fort Lauderdale University High alum who spent 2013-14 at South Florida, threw for 336 yards and 3 TDs, finishing the season with 4,383 yards and 37 touchdowns. WKU running back Anthony Wales ran for 245 yards and 3 TDs and caught 4 passes for 84 yards.

Today’s game: BYU vs. Wyoming in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Leonard Fournette answered critics questioning why he’s skipping LSU’s bowl game with a photo of his 2-year-old daughter Lyric with these words “Only person I owe something to.” Fournette could command a contract worth $15-20 million if he’s not damaged goods on NFL Draft day.

Super agent Drew Rosenhaus weighed in on players skipping the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Rosenhaus said, “If a player asked me as a player agent I would recommend they play their last game.”

Rutgers just got served a notice of allegations by the men in blue suits. The allegations were all committed when Kyle Flood was the football coach and the incompetent Julie Hermann was the athletic director.

James Madison, which will play Youngstown State for the D1AA championship, has suspended seven players for the January 7 title game.

Kendal Briles is likely to join Lane Kiffin’s staff at Florida Atlantic as the offensive coordinator.

The latest high profile player to elect to sit out the bowl game is Baylor running back Shock Linwood, who ran for 4,213 yards and 36 TDs in his career in Waco.

Dallas rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were voted to the Pro Bowl. Former Gators Reggie Nelson (Oakland Raiders S), Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers C), Jordan Reed (Washington Redskins TE) and Janoris Jenkins (New York Giants CB) also were voted into the Pro Bowl.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

What are the three teams you absolutely despise in college sports? Why?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Former members of The Candymen and Classics IV formed the studio band at Studio One in 1970. A year later they merged into the Atlanta Rhythm Section, which had a nice 10-year run as one of the standard bearers of Southern rock and roll. Their best work was the 1978 release “Champagne Jam.” Today’s music is the greatest hits album by ARS.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khOmWh5UUow


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