This week I’m coming to you live from The Jacksonville Landing, enjoying a meal on the St. Johns River.
I’m in town tonight for Jim McElwain’s stop at the Gator Club of Jacksonville. Here’s a recap of the first week of his speaking tour.
This trip will be the first of several for me over the next month and a half, so stay tuned for a ton of great content.
Here are the top five questions from this week:
In order best chances of landing: Trevon Grimes, Donovan Peoples-Jones, James Robinson, Jerry Jeudy?
(From @_swamp_updates, @aman_hyrams, @Chalupa_24)
Of the four receivers, the most likely in order are Grimes, Robinson, Peoples-Jones and Jeudy.
The Gators don’t have much of a shot with Jeudy, at least not right now. I spoke with the him at The Opening Miami Regional and he hardly had anything to say about Florida. I didn’t even do a story from the interview.
Florida’s chances are probably about the same with Peoples-Jones and Robinson, despite Robinson being an in-state recruit. Peoples-Jones is really high on UF and surprisingly grew up a Gators fan in Michigan, but I’m not sure if it will be enough to beat out the Big Ten schools.
Florida secondary coach, and Lakeland area recruiter, Torrian Gray has made a huge difference in the recruitment of Robinson. The Gators got him on campus this spring and started closing the gap on Clemson. In the end, I expect UF to have better luck keeping Robinson close to home as opposed to pulling Peoples-Jones from up north.
But I like where Florida stands with Grimes the most, even though he didn’t make it to the spring game as planned. His teammate, UF quarterback Jake Allen, has turned him onto the Gators, and the opportunity to team up at the next level appeals to Grimes. I also think his mother prefers to stay in the state of Florida rather than move back to their home state of Indiana, which they would do in the event that Grimes attends Ohio State.
Do you think that Florida could land AJ Terrell with William Poole committing to Georgia?
(From @Sebasti14473524, @aman_hyrams)
Anyone who read my story with Poole’s father wasn’t surprised by his pledge to the Bulldogs on Saturday. His dad basically let the cat out of the bag, even though Poole made things interesting by “delaying” his decision after visiting the Gators.
But with him headed to Georgia, that opens the door for Florida to make a move on Terrell. I’d be surprised to see a pair of four-star corners from Atlanta both go to UGA.
Terrell took a trip to UF on April 1 and reunited with Gray. Like most of the cornerbacks on Florida’s board, Terrell built a relationship with Gray when he coached at Virginia Tech and it’s paying dividends now. It appears to be an Auburn-Florida battle heading into the summer.
Terrell is one of several targets for UF at the position, along with the likes of Shaun Wade (Ohio State commit), Deangelo Gibbs, Marco Wilson, Latavious Brini, Chris Henderson (Miami commit), Shawn Davis, Elijah Blades, Deon Jones and Amir Riep. I know, it’s a long list.
The Gators want to sign at least four cornerbacks in this class, and they certainly have enough options. I like their chances with Brini, Davis, Henderson, Terrell and Wilson.
Coach Mac talked about more facilities upgrades in the future. What are recruits looking for that we don’t have?
Despite the new indoor practice facility and other upgrades that have been made at UF, there’s still more work to be done and McElwain knows it. Tight end Jacob Mathis, an Ole Miss signee, told SEC Country he wasn’t impressed with Florida’s facilities during his visit.
“Just going through their past history and stuff, I thought they would’ve had a nicer indoor earlier on,” Mathis said. “Their weight room is shared by all sports. They don’t have just a football weight room.”
Those comments don’t come as a surprise to McElwain, who spoke at length last week about facility upgrades (via Rivals’ Blake Alderman).
“First of all, I think we’ve got to all realize how far behind we are. For whatever reason, what was done seven, eight, nine years ago, whatever that is, it became really at that point everybody else kept moving forward. There’s a lot of things people use against us in recruiting because of that.
In our case, our practice facility was in dire need of an upgrade and we handled that with the fantastic indoor. Our dorms, we’re in the process of re-doing those. … We’ve already answered a lot of the issues down in the training room, obviously doubling our nutrition output and hiring full-time nutritionists that are with them every single day. We can go on and on. The mental conditioning piece that was not here. … We’ve got a long ways to go in our offices, meeting rooms, and training room.”
If Mac keeps putting up solid seasons, maybe a few SEC East championships, when do we finally return to that legit national spotlight?
I don’t think a few division titles or multiple seasons with 10-plus wins will do the trick. It’s going to take an SEC championship, especially a win over Alabama, to signify that Florida is officially back as a football program.
UF made a lot of strides last year, posting a top-10 ranking for several weeks during the regular season and making it to Atlanta for the first time since 2009. But as long as the SEC East continues to be the weaker of the two divisions in the league, the Gators won’t be spotlighted on a consistent, national level until they dethrone Nick Saban and the mighty Crimson Tide.
Alabama is the standard in college football, so you have to reach or top that level to be viewed in the same light.
Which Taylor do you see getting more playing time as a freshman? Or do both look like they’re getting redshirted?
I definitely anticipate safety Jeawon Taylor to see the field as a true freshman. He looks very impressive on film and become a hot commodity at the end of the recruiting cycle, with Georgia’s Kirby Smart and Maryland’s D.J. Durkin offering him. The Gators are in desperate need of depth at safety and Taylor will provide it.
The other Taylor, offensive guard Jawaan Taylor, will need to redshirt in 2016. Florida is not only loaded along the line of scrimmage, but Taylor transformed his body last year by losing 50 pounds and is still in the process of working on his weight. He also needs to improve his stamina and develop physically like all young linemen.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to leave your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below.