Ack's Insights

How do the new Gator recruits fit in with the Florida football team? Click here to find out that and more.

Florida embarks on recruiting season and Ron Zook is off to a fast start once again. Last season as the recruiting haul became larger and larger Zook and his staff had to let some players go to other programs. In the end names like DJ Norris and Antonio Cromartie ended up at FSU and UF could have kept a name like Jermaine Moriera. This season, if UF is in a position to get them all, they will take them all. Moreira, from Palm Beach Dwyer, started as a true freshman at Kansas State and made some big catches versus Oklahoma and Ohio State. Look for Zook to get the Gator train really oiled up this coming weekend with names like Cornelius Ingram, Xavier Carter and Josh Johnson coming to town.

Florida received three offensive line commitments already and could get two more before it is all said and done. UF does not have to go the junior college route this season for depth because of the high expectations for both Carlton Medder and Steve Rissler. Combine that with Anthony Guerrero and Billy Griffin from Junior College last season and the Gators now have some solid depth for 2004.

This year's class has at least one prospect who can break the two deep right away in Drew Miller out of Sarasota Riverview. He will probably start at guard in his college career. It's much easier for top lineman to work themselves out on the o-line than inside. Jason Watkins is definitely a tackle and Jim Tartt is an inside guy. Jon Colon's back will play a big role in the spring at what the depth chart looks like. One scenario has him at left tackle and Tavares Washington moving to left guard. There could be a switch for big MO as well. Mo Mitchell who started his career on the offensive line could switch back in the spring. The depth is being built on the defensive front and Mo's athletic ability would be welcomed inside on the offensive line. Mo has to have a good off-season in the weight room and in the classroom.

More on the Recruiting:
Apparently McIntosh Nicolas out of Immokalee is really fast. I mean light speed. I talked to a coach who worked summer camp at UF last year who told me he was the fastest player in Camp. He also told me he out-dashed Xavier Carter in a one-on-one race. We all know how fast the X-Man is and if he comes to UF they could pair up with Chad Jackson and Andre Caldwell to run the 4x100 team for UF. D.J. Hall, who's not as highly regarded by some but coveted by the UF staff, is another wide receiver on the Gators board who has great size at 6'3". I would not be surprised if he ends up a Gator and UF could land as many as six receiver commits this season. Lance Leggett who has committed told me his verbal is solid. He is another receiver who seems to be staying away from the University of Miami. Coaches in Texas told me while his competition was not tremendous he would just dominate opposing defenses by going up and getting the football.

Speaking of recruits from the state of Texas the Gators landed tight end prospect Tate Casey who is also expecting to be drafted by Major League Baseball as a pitcher. One chance UF may be able to lure him to campus is much the way they should get Cornelius Ingram, by allowing Tate to play two sports. If Pat McMahon will welcome Casey to the baseball team he may forego the money to come and play both sports at UF. He is a candidate to redshirt in football right now until he adds some size but UF is thin at the position and he could bulk up and play next fall. One thing is for sure baseball will play a part one way or another in Casey's decision on his future.

Markus Manson is due in this weekend and he is the top running back in Alabama. UF landed Chad Jackson last season and Manson has already publicly committed to the Gators. He is receiving a lot of heat from the locals, but he seems to really want to be a Gator. It will help if he has a good weekend and the bottom line is he is the only running back UF is on right now and has been tops on their list for a long time. He has great size and power and reminds me of a more elusive Dexter McNabb who played fullback and tailback at UF in the early 90's.

Recruiting misfortunes???? Derrick Hamilton the outstanding receiver from Clemson left early for the NFL draft and the Tigers have been hard on First Coast receiver Mike McIntosh. Clemson has always done well in Jacksonville, Florida and have former Ed White High players Jamal Fudge and Eric Sampson. With the Gators gathering steam with some top recruits, the word is McIntosh has pushed the Tigers to the top of his list.

Dawayne Grace, who is also from Jacksonville Ed White, has let FSU into the recruiting mix for his cornerback services. It has been a UF-Miami battle all along and he was going to cancel his visit to FSU, but now it appears he will take it. Once again UF has gotten three defensive back commitments and a couple others are coming in so it may be a situation where Grace wants to take some time and UF is looking to lock up some corners.

Snippetts and Tidbits
Kudos to David Lee for getting SEC player of the week with his two game performance versus South Carolina and Tennessee. He averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds last week in conference play. In the seven games since Lee's 1-12 versus Maryland, he has made 51 of 69 shots and averaged 8 rebounds per game. UF has won six of the last seven versus Tennessee and plays the Vols again in Knoxville January 31st. It certainly was the Gators best defensive performance of the season but the Gators did shoot 64% and it was there fourth game out of the last five in which UF has shot better than 50%. Everything with Donovan's teams starts with made baskets. Chris Richard had a career high 11 versus Tennessee and Matt Walsh has now made 36 of his last 37 free throws. UF travels to Vandy on Saturday then host Mississippi St. and Auburn next week.

For the first time since 1996 UF will not have a player declare early for the NFL draft. However several seniors will take part in some All-Star games.

Gator players Ran Carthon, Kelvin Kight, Carlos Perez and Darrell Lee will all be members of the South Team coached by Mark Richt of Georgia. Lee will also participate this weekend in the Hula Bowl in Hawaii. By the way Jared Lorenzen is the quarterback of the team coached by Richt. Florida will take it's time looking for a defensive back coach and one name that did surface at the convention was Tim Walton from LSU. I talked to a colleague in Miami who said he is Larry Coker's top choice to replace Mark Stoops. One problem is Walton is making $107,000 to coach secondary at National Champion LSU. Seems someone may have to ante up to lure the coach away from Baton Rouge.

Stat of the Week: 7
Florida finished 7th in the country in home attendance with an average of 90,177 fans. This was fourth in the SEC behind Tennessee, Georgia and LSU.


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