Ack's Insights: June 23, 2004

What are the options for a recruit that doesn't qualify? What will the schedule be like during summer B for the signees that did make it to campus? Why does Middle Tennessee State make the Florida coaches a little nervous? All that and more in this week's edition of Ack's Insights.

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The Summer B term begins next Monday and with that the influx of freshman football recruits to UF's campus. The Gators will likely be without four from this past year's incoming class. They are defensive back McIntosh Nicolas, receiver Derrick McPhearson, end Mike Mangold and fullback Eric Rutledge. Ron Zook signed an impressive class this season but only a certain amount of freshman will be relied on for immediate help. All of these kids are excellent prospects but I do think each kid with maybe the exception of Rutledge would have redshirted. Nicolas is a talented, athletic kid who possesses great speed. In high school, he ran very generic coverages and was a little raw. He could use a year or two of experience. McPhearson and Mangold are coming into a loaded position where depth is established already.

There are several options for kids who don't qualify academically to play at the University of Florida. First if a kid does not have enough core courses with the GPA and he does not have a qualifying test score but he graduates high school then he is likely headed to a junior college. Sometimes kids have to go to junior college if there test score is "red flagged " by the University and the student athlete must take it over. We have seen instances in the past where kids have the grades but the test score was so high that UF "red flagged " the kid and asked him to take it again. This can be very upsetting to the point some kids end up elsewhere. This happened with Larry Kennedy's cousin (Kennedy a former defensive back at UF in the early 90's), Amp Hill, who decided to go to Michigan State.

If a kid decides to attend junior college he must graduate with his A.A. degree and then he can be admitted to play at Florida. Some guys get their degrees in two years and then have three to play two when they transfer to a school. A test cannot be "red flagged" if you graduate from a junior college.

Prep School is another option for non qualifiers. This is where a kid goes to school after achieving a high enough GPA with his core classes. The only thing missing is his test score in which he can continue to take and if he receives his qualifying score he can be admitted as early as January 2005. UF has had success with kids going to prep school and getting the work done on the test.

The final choice is to not enroll in school anywhere and continue to take the test. Once the kid gets a qualifying test score he then can go through the admissions process. UF does have a "remedial" class schedule in which some kids are admitted to school and must pass the classes to stay eligible. The only problem with these introductory classes is that they do not count when determining if a kid has 24 hours in a year to be eligible for the next season. There is also no guarantee that the kid could pass the class and then he could be taken out of school. Florida has always held it's athletes to the highest possible standards in the SEC and only Vanderbilt is a tougher school to be admitted to as an athlete.

The word is that Nicolas will end up in community college, likely Dodge City, where he will go to get his AA Degree. Mike Mangold and Derrick McPhearson should land in a prep school and could return to campus in January, while Rutledge could continue to take the test or follow the other two scenarios.

Snippets and Tidbits...
Freshman orientation was Tuesday and this year's recruits will begin class and workouts on Monday. Athletes will be mixed in to times that suit their class schedule, but expect most of the rookies to be in the early morning workout group. This also helps with the acclimation of the student athlete to college life. You have to start out at the beginning by getting them up and into the flow of being a student on their own. Many kids struggle with the responsibilities and freedom that come with being an athlete. By getting the kids up and working out they then can get to breakfast and class on time in their first semester. Many kids will use study halls or sessions to get off to a fast start and then the incoming rookies will go out and throw with the veterans three to four nights a week.

All incoming freshman have had DVD's with position specific drills that they should have been working on to get ready for the season. DVD's are also used as playbooks and teaching mechanisms for the athletes to expedite their learning curve. It will be up to Rob Glass and his staff to help make the young pups feel more comfortable with their new home. Athletes will begin to really focus on the conditioning aspect the next six weeks in preparation for fall camp. Fall football drills are expected to start at about the same time for every school in the country because of the return to the eleven game schedule. Look for UF to begin it's five day acclimization period with it's entire roster around August 9th. School begins for the fall term August 23rd.

This and That...
Former Gator Quarterback and Coach Doug Dickey will be enshrined in the college football Hall of Fame in South Bend on August 14th. Other big names being enshrined include Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State, Joe Theismann of Notre Dame and Hayden Fry of Iowa.

Middle Tennessee State is Florida's opening opponent and the familiarity with the two staffs is a concern with UF. Blue Raiders Head Coach Andy McCollum is a tough nosed guys who will have his team fired up to play Florida. If this was a mid season game it might not be as dicey, but with an entire summer to prepare expect Middle to give UF an early fight. The Blue Raiders run a spread offense which is designed to set up the run not the pass and they led the Sun Belt Conference in scoring last season. They lost at Georgia by only a 29-10 score and lost at Missouri in overtime by one point.

The Gators two deep roster on offense and defense currently has eleven seniors listed in forty four spots. Six of those are junior college players that Ron Zook brought in to replenish a talent depleted roster.

Brian Asbury, a top recruit in the state of Florida, has committed to the University of Miami. He is one of the nation's top 100 rising seniors and is 6'6" swingman who averaged 20ppg and 8 rebounds at South Miami.

The NBA Draft is this week and Christian Drejer may be a late second round pick. It's no wonder many of these foreign players are overrated -- just look how many will be selected in the first round and will be big time busts.

A recent study showed that the state of Florida ranked eighth in producing high school athletes in the NBA. California was first with 41 while Florida has 13 to trail Illinois, Texas, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Georgia in that order.

Stat of the Week: 5. The number of kickoff returns for over 30 yds last season. The Gator must double this number to improve the special teams. The longest return was 59 yards by Kelvin Kight at Arkansas.

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