It’s been a good week for Florida coach Jim McElwain.
Quite a way to head into Easter weekend.
Here are the top five questions from this week:
What freshmen have impressed so far this spring?
I knew quarterback Feleipe Franks and defensive back Chauncey Gardner would live up to their billing, and both have shown a lot of ability in practice. Gardner doesn’t need as much development as Franks because of the position he plays, so he’ll see the field faster.
But I’ve been really impressed with the other early enrollee at quarterback, Kyle Trask, as well as wide receivers Joshua Hammond and Freddie Swain. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier spoke highly of all three freshmen during his media availability.
“I say this about (Trask) – every time you tried to say, ‘Well, I’m not sure’, he did something that said you are sure,” Nussmeier said. “I can’t say enough about the kid – he’s an Eagle Scout, he’s close to a 4.0 student. If you just turned on the film when he played in the games and looked at his production, it’s pretty darn good now. And you look at the decision making, you look at the size, arm strength and accuracy.
“I see a lot of catches coming (from Hammond and Swain). I can’t say enough about these kids that came in here at the midyear and how well they’ve prepared. You would assume that you’d see a ton of mental mistakes and we’re not getting that from them, which tells you how hard that they work and also tells you they may be past their years of where they’re at in football knowledge. They have really good football instincts.”
What second-year player that didn’t play last season is looking to breakout in 2016?
You won’t see a redshirt freshman necessarily have a “breakout” season this fall, but I do think a few will make some contributions.
McElwain said offensive guards Nick Buchanan and Brandon Sandifer were close to burning their redshirts in 2015, so I’d anticipate them being in the offensive line rotation now.
Jabari Zuniga has slimmed down to 240 pounds and appears to have settled in at defensive end, though his body is still developing physically. He won’t challenge for a starting role because of the players ahead of him, but you’ll see Zuniga make plays this season.
“He’s looking really good,” defensive line coach Chris Rumph said. “It’s good to see guys in the bowl prep that really did a lot of good things, but then you’ve got a break and the season’s over. You get spring ball and you want to see if that guy’s gonna pick up where he’s left off or if he’s going to start all over. He’s been one of the guys who picked up. It’s been really pleasing.”
Why is Marcus Maye at CB during the fastball period? What are the recruiting needs this cycle?
(From @CoBeingCo, DerekBrian27)
I’ve seen Maye line up as the boundary cornerback in a few practices during the fastball period. This is just simply the Gators experimenting to get the best coverage matchups for certain formations.
If UF is playing an offense with an athletic running back that splits out wide, defensive coordinator Geoff Collins probably likes Maye lining up against him in a sub package rather than a linebacker. Collins is also confident the rest of his secondary can handle the personnel change.
The recruiting needs for Florida in the 2017 cycle are running back, tight end, defensive tackle, linebacker and defensive back.
What’s the RB board look like? Also how many DB’s do you think they sign?
(From @DevinLamarr, @briwash4, @great_gator)
UF has handed out more than a dozen offers at running back, a position of need for 2017.
Clearwater’s Adarius Lemons, Florida’s top in-state target, made a surprising commitment Thursday to North Carolina. The Gators will continue to pursue him, but they have other options at the position.
Devan Barrett (Tampa Catholic), C.J. Cotman (Clearwater Central Catholic), A.J. Davis (Lakeland) and Miami commit Bentavious Thompson (Miami Southridge) are all in-state running backs with UF offers who’ve visited the school this spring. Barrett, Cotman and Trey Sermon of Marietta (Ga.) Sprayberry appear some of Florida’s priority targets outside of Lemons. I think the Gators have a great shot at landing Barrett.
I expect UF to sign at least four defensive backs, including a pair of corners.
The Gators are considered the team to beat for cornerbacks Latavious Brini (Hialeah, Fla./Mater) and Marco Wilson (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), and they’re in the running for DeAngelo Gibbs (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) William Poole III (Atlanta, Ga./Hapeville Charter) and Ohio State commit Shaun Wade (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian).
At safety, Florida is trying to make a run at Cyrus Fagan (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland), Alabama commit Xavier McKinney (Roswell, Ga.) and Daniel Wright (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons).
What our chances of landing Trey Blount and Kendarian Handy-Holly?
(From @justiwood, Gene Herring) (James Robinson)
UF received a visit from Blount last month and is definitely in the mix. However, he has several schools after him and a long to go in his recruitment.
He seemed wide open when I spoke to him at The Opening Regional, but he’ll likely end up in the SEC. I think Alabama, Florida and in-state Georgia have the best shot at Blount, who’s from Pace Academy in Atlanta.
Handy-Holly of Jackson (Ala.) landed an offer from the Gators in January and plans to attend the spring game next month. UF quarterback commit Jake Allen has spoken to Handy-Holly and thinks he might pull the trigger on his visit. So be on commitment watch for him.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to leave your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below.