Ack's Insights

In this edition of Ack's Insights, I talk about what the football coaches are doing now since spring recruiting has ended, cross training of football players, Gator baseball, NFL Gators and more!

This week the Florida football coaches return to the offices to finish up creating and downsizing their lists of potential recruits from the Spring. Some coaches have to take as many as 400 names and shorten their list to 70. Sometimes a lot of good players get left off these lists for various reasons. One is the fact that recruiting coaches only have so much time to get to so many areas and do it right. Second is if the kid has committed to another school or has no interest in Florida and it may require too much time to even get his attention, he could be dropped. The third reason could be academics and the fact that the kid just does not project out to being able to attend the University of Florida. Some kids in this group are worth recruiting if you feel that you can place them at a prep school or junior college for their return to school. Most of this group do not even project to do well at Junior College, so coaches have to narrow down the list without them.

Coaches are still receiving videos and DVD's on potential walk-ons for this coming fall from a lot of kids around the state of Florida. At this particular time UF has a full allotment of kids expected to report to campus in August. If an athlete is already coming to Florida he may be allowed to come out in the fall when school starts if he meets the requirements of the NCAA Clearinghouse and coaches. I was fortunate enough to be invited to fall camp and this was in a time where many more kids could come to fall camp. Today you can only bring 105 and most of the extra 20 guys that are non scholarship usually have been through spring practice. Very few walk-ons come right out of high school to fall camp, but for example Matt Kynes, the quarterback out of Annandale, Virginia, was one from a year ago. The bottom line is coaches need players that have been in the system to maximize fall practice.

Cross Training is something a lot of coaches in college are doing right now. With the lack of upperclassman and the talent pool thin at some colleges, coaches will train a player in two positions. The days are gone where the best 44 players in the two deep are ready to play each and every Saturday and if a guys gets hurt you plug number two in next. Today's college game has taken a hit from the reduction in scholarships several years ago. The more players leaving school early and the higher academic standards for incoming freshman contribute to this problem as well. Most teams are looking to get their best athletes on the field at all times and if you only have seven offensive lineman or four linebackers or even three cornerbacks then you must train your best players at two positions.

Cross Training began in the NFL where roster space is limited and has weeded down to the college ranks, especially on the offensive line. For example, since Ron Zook's arrival Lance Butler has lined up in two positions and can actually play three. Mike Degory, the all-conference candidate at center, has been trained at guard. Steve Rissler who is competing for playing time at right guard with Mo Mitchell has trained at center. This cross training extends to other positions as well. Andre Caldwell is learning both the slot and outside receiver positions. Todd McCullough will most likely be the fourth linebacker in the fall and can play inside or either outside spot for the defense. This is why more and more freshman are getting ready to play in this day of college football because the depth is not there for special teams and certain positions. It would be hard to redshirt this year's incoming secondary class and space them out from the starters because the depth in the secondary is not good enough to help special teams. The fact remains you can take 70 players on a road trip in the SEC so why not acclimate as many guys as possible to the environment of opposing stadiums. A lot was made two years ago of Ciatrick Fason playing little as a true freshman but who evolved quicker for the Gators in the SEC race last year -- him or DeShawn Wynn, who was redshirted the year before. I think you will see the same growth in players like Chad Jackson and Joe Cohen this year for Florida.

Snippets and Tidbits...
The Gator Baseball team has appeared in the SEC tournament more times (25) than any other program. Mississippi St was tied with UF before missing this year's field. The Gators are third in tournament victories although they did not reach Birmingham a season ago. UF did not win the SEC East but they still lead the conference with the most division titles at 17 overall. UF was 3-5 in the last 8 games and all were decided by two runs or less. If UF goes 5-3 or hangs on to a couple of leads they finish up tri-champions of the SEC and champs for the first time since 1998. Justin Hoyman, who received the SEC pitcher of the year honor, has not had his best stuff the last couple of outings. He has grinded his way to a seven inning no-decision and a complete game loss. He cannot afford to not have his best stuff in the tournament if UF is going to hang around for awhile.

Earlier I mentioned coaches cross training players for two positions and with summer A going on many players spend a lot of time in the film room or watching DVS cut-ups of plays at their house. This is the hardest six weeks for a college football player because there is nothing to see in the future with the season still three months away and already removed from Spring practice. Players will throw and catch together in Summer A but only for two maybe three times per week. This keeps the guys from burning out in the Summer and allows them to concentrate on conditioning and academics. When Summer B rolls around the tempo and the interest will raise up a notch for all those going to fall camp. Players will have certain scripts that they will work on from the Spring as directed by the quarterbacks. Most of the time receivers and defensive backs are working man coverages and single receiver plays. Summer B will bring more of a pass skeleton look although most coaches don't like this without supervision and pads on.

NFL Gators...
*Chris Doering continues to impress Steelers coaches in his "quarterback school" (mini-camp) up in Pittsburgh and looks to be locked in as the fourth receiver.

*Shane Mathews who has been talking to the San Francisco Forty-Niners may be ready to hang it up. Mathews, who spent last season backing up John Kitna in Cincinnati, could sign right before training camp with someone but is not actively pursuing a position at this time.

*Ellis Johnson, who has retired several times, is expected to be back with the Atlanta Falcons this fall. Johnson, who has lost interest in training camp before, is penciled in the rotation at defensive tackle.

*Doug Johnson recently ran third team at a quarterback school in Jacksonville for the Jaguars and is becoming more and more comfortable with the offense. David Garrard, who is suffering from Cronin's disease, may miss the start of training camp and Doug could pass former FAMU star Quin Gray as the Jaguars backup to Byron Leftwich.

Food for Thought...
The SEC Media Days, which are July 27-29th in Birmingham, Alabama, will be preceded by the ACC Media Days in Greensboro, North Carolina on July 25-27th. Expect the ACC to try to steal some headlines by announcing the ACC Title Game site in John Swofford's press conference on July 27th. I expect it will be at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.

Stat of the Week: 9. Florida Baseball won nine SEC road games this season and eight SEC games at Home. This after UF won only three road games all last season.

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