Jordan McPherson/SEC Country
Florida coach Jim McElwain is a supporter of the AFCA's proposed update to the redshirt policy.

How the proposed redshirt rule could have helped Florida football last year

Welcome to another installment of Good Morning, Gators, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering Florida athletics with Florida beat writer Jordan McPherson. Today, we look at burning redshirts, baseball standings, NBA postseason and more.

Looking at the redshirt rule

Let’s play a game of “What if?” here.

As most know, the American Football Coaches Association passed along a proposal to the NCAA that would allow college football student-athletes to play up to 4 games in a season, regardless of when those games occur, and still be eligible for a redshirt season.

Florida coach Jim McElwain, like most college football coaches especially in the SEC, endorses the proposal and would even take it a step further and eliminate the concept of a redshirt season and simply allow players to have 5 years of eligibility.

But what if this rule was already a thing, say, last season?

Let’s take a look.

  • QBs Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask both could have played in Florida’s Outback Bowl win against Iowa — or earlier in the season — with no repercussion on how many years of eligibility they would have had left. This would have given McElwain a glimpse before the Gators’ 2017 opener against Michigan about how his soon-to-be starting quarterback options fared in a live game setting that wasn’t against his own teammates, thus potentially expediting the process of naming a starter.
  • OL Brett Heggie, expected to be a starter for a new-and-improved Florida offensive line, could have seen action late in the year to test his potential. A key time would have been Florida’s 20-7 win against South Carolina on Nov. 12, game in which both David Sharpe and Tyler Jordan were injured mid-game and Cam Dillard was already sidelined.
  • DL Antonneous Clayton could have actually earned a redshirt last year despite actually playing in the heart of the Gators’ SEC schedule. Clayton, a 5-star prospect who underwhelmed in his first year at Florida while he struggled to learn the playbook and bulk up, played in 5 games in 2016 and recorded 3 tackles, 3 quarterback hurries and recovered a fumble before suffering a season-ending injury. If the redshirt rule was enacted last year, McElwain easily could have held him out of one of those games, bringing him to the AFCA-proposed maximum of 4 games.

And so the list goes. With that said, it’s understandable why McElwain — and almost every other coach — would want to give their players a chance late in the year without experiencing much of the payout (i.e. a full year of eligibility) they would have to now.

What they’re saying on Twitter

Former Florida golfer Billy Horschel

SEC Network sideline analyst Cole Cubelic

Former Florida CB and Indianapolis Colts second-round pick Quincy Wilson

Baseball in the polls

The Florida baseball team continues to solidify itself as one of the top teams nationally. The Gators are ranked No. 5 in all four major polls (Baseball America, D1Baseball, USA Today coaches poll, NCBWA) and also boast the No. 5 spot in the RPI. With just a regular-season series against Kentucky — which is No. 7 in the RPI and ranks anywhere from Nos. 6-8 in the polls — and the SEC Tournament remaining, Florida once again seems to be a lock for one of those 8 coveted national seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

Fighting until the end

National college baseball writer Kendall Rogers of pulled out an interesting tidbit about the Gators baseball team on Monday.

So Florida baseball, which is in that very same position this weekend, decided to up the ante with its own numbers.


Gators in the NBA Playoffs

And then there were two.

With the Boston Celtics’ 115-105 over the Washington Wizards in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday night, the Florida Gators have two former players still in the hunt for an NBA title, one on each side of the bracket.

In the East, there’s the Celtics’ Al Horford, a 4-time All-star still looking for his first ring. Horford, a 6-foot-10 center, has been on a tear this postseason. He’s averaging 16.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.

Horford finished Game 7 with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He averaged 16.7 points on a blistering 67.6-percent shooting efficiency in the series.

The Celtics open the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at 8:30 p.m.

In the West, there’s San Antonio Spurs PF David Lee, an 11-year NBA veteran who is providing valuable minutes off the bench. In 13 postseason games so far, Lee is averaging 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game. The Spurs dropped Game 1 of their conference finals to the Golden State Warriors, 113-111, on Sunday.

And while his Wizards were eliminated on Monday, former Gator Bradley Beal had a terrific postseason, averaging 23.8 points and 38.3 minutes in 12 games. He scored 38 points in the Game 7 loss to the Celtics and set career highs in just about every shooting statistic in his fourth year in the pros.

Speaking of the NBA…

While two former Gators are in the running for an NBA title, two others in Justin Leon and Canyon Barry are gearing up give scouts another in-depth look ahead of the NBA Draft.

The duo is part of a group of 22 players that will participate in the Professional Basketball Combine held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., on Tuesday and Wednesday. Those taking part will compete in 3-on-3 games as well as undergo individual drills.

Men’s Golf in NCAAs

The top-seeded Florida men’s golf team struggled in its opening round of NCAA Regional action on Monday, shooting a collective 4-over 292 to land in a tie for fifth after the first of 3 rounds in West Lafayette, Ind. Junior Alejandro Tosti and sophomore Gordon Neale led the way for the Gators by shooting an even-par 72, which ties for 14th best individually.

The top 5 teams in the 13-team field will advance to the NCAA Championships. Florida is 5 strokes out of the team lead heading into Round 2.


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