“Zach’s Mail Stack” is a weekly mailbag with SEC Country reporter Zach Abolverdi, who has covered Florida recruiting since 2010. This week Abolverdi looks at the Gators’ chances with their QB targets and addresses the recent run of de-commitments.
Out of all the qbs Mullen is going after. What qb has the best chance to flip to the gators?
— Irvin Thompson (@Thompsoni97) December 6, 2017
Abolverdi: If new Florida coach Dan Mullen lands another quarterback, it may not be a flip.
He has reached out to Georgia commit Justin Fields, Auburn commit Joey Gatewood, Mississippi State commit Jalen Mayden and Tennessee commit Michael Penix to gauge their interest in the Gators. But at this time, Terry Wilson is the name to keep an eye on.
He is the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat JUCO quarterback and received an offer on Tuesday after being evaluated by Florida. The former Oregon QB is uncommitted and the Gators have to beat out Kentucky and Nebraska for his services.
That’s a much better recipe for success than trying to flip a QB from one of the SEC division champs. Wilson is expected to visit Florida next week. He will transfer to the school of his choice next month with three years of eligibility remaining.
Florida QB commit Matt Corral and a few more prep passers in this recruiting cycle have the talent to play as true freshmen, but it may behoove UF to bring in a JUCO quarterback with some college experience and a skill set that suits Mullen’s offense.
I think the Gators have a better shot with Wilson than their other options at the position, but QB recruiting is a fluid situation right now.
Looks like this class is being turned upside down, what difference is his vision of players vs Mac's? I see a lot of JUCO kids being offered is that to help with the suspended players?
— Jeremy (@jwhite3175) December 6, 2017
Abolverdi: This comes with the territory when you have a change in coaches and schematics.
With a spread offense and a 3-4 scheme, Florida coach Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will recruit differently than Jim McElwain and Randy Shannon. We’ve already seen the new coaches target players the previous staff didn’t pursue, either because they didn’t fit and/or there wasn’t mutual interest between parties.
With that in mind, I would advise fans not to overreact to the de-commitments. The Gators have lost a total of eight recruits since Mullen was hired, but I’ll just say that not all of them were losses. Some of the 2019 de-commits were definitely big blows, but the staff has plenty of time to rebound and find new recruits for next year’s class.
As for the junior college trend, that’s something I expected from Mullen. He had success in the JUCO ranks at Mississippi State and the Gators are lacking depth and experience at quarterback, wide receiver, defensive line and linebacker. Some of those needs are a result of the suspensions, but Mullen doesn’t have a lot of options for those positions at the high school level. That’s why you’re seeing the push for more junior college transfers.
Assess the linebacker situation. How many still on the roster that fit, how many need to be recruited in this cycle?
— Anonymous (@Revolucion722) December 6, 2017
Abolverdi: The hiring of Grantham makes linebacker an even bigger priority in the 2018 cycle.
It was already a position of need due to the suspensions and shortcomings in recruiting, but now it’s critical for the Gators to load up on linebacker in this class with Grantham’s 3-4 scheme coming to town. They have a commitment from 4-star prospect David Reese, who is ranked the nation’s No. 20 OLB and has decided to stick with his pledge.
Channing Tindall has been Florida’s top target throughout the cycle, but South Carolina and Georgia are in the driver’s seat. UF is now making a run at 4-star LB Nik Bonitto, Kentucky commit Xavier Peters and JUCO linebacker Chauncey Manac, who signed with Georgia out of high school.
The Gators will return nine linebackers next season if the suspended players are able to rejoin the team, but six of those nine players have little to no experience. If Ventrell Miller and James Houston indeed come back, I think Florida needs to sign at least three recruits at the position.