GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we break down the first week of Billy Napier's tenure at Florida.
Andrew Spivey and David Soderquist break down the latest coaching hires for Napier as he has several new coaches.
Andrew and David breakdown how recruiting is going for Napier as well as he prepares for early signing day.
David: What’s up folks of Gator Country? This is none other than your boy David Soderquist, along with Andrew Spivey. A plethora of things going on here at the University of Florida as far as decommitments, recommitments, new commitments, transfers, transfer portal, coaching changes, coaches leaving, coaches kind of staying, new coaches coming onto the staff.
I want to go ahead and talk about the big coaching hire that everyone’s been talking about, Corey Raymond coming here to the University of Florida. A guy who spent a lot of time over there at LSU. Go to any kind of profile that’s on 24/7 Sports or Rivals, he’s been responsible for recruiting not only a whole ton of five-star players, but a lot of top 100 four-star players as well. Really good hire here, Spivey. As far as all the other hires that have come, we’ll get into that here soon. What do you think about that Corey Raymond hire, man?
Andrew: I think that was the first big boy move by Billy since he got to Florida, and it was one of those that said, I’m for real. I’m here, wake up. It was one of those that it was heard in Athens. It was heard in Tuscaloosa. It was heard around the SEC in general that things are changing for the good. At first I’d heard the name Corey Raymond, that he was being mentioned for Florida, and I said, that’s another year, another rumor for Corey Raymond. It seems like Corey Raymond’s the hot name every year. Him and T Rob are the two names that you hear the most every year.
Then, when you started to really look into some things and see that Brian Kelly’s tenure at LSU is already not off to a good start. He can’t get an OC, can’t get a DC. He hires Frank Wilson to try to salvage this recruiting class a little bit. Lot of guys are decommitting from that class as well. We’ll get into that more in recruiting here in a second. Then he fires Corey Raymond. Well, doesn’t fire, says he’s not retaining Corey Raymond or Kevin Faulk, two LSU legacy guys there.
I think it was big for Napier, because it was not only a great coaching hire on an on field standpoint, because he has coached some really, really good players, but also off the field in recruiting. He can go into Miami and recruit with Cristobal and those guys. He’s done it before. He knows the power players down in Miami. He also can recruit talented DBs everywhere. When you think about some of the guys he’s pulled from Jacksonville and some of the guys he was recruiting, to not jump ahead, but Kamari Wilson instantly jumped on an unofficial visit to Florida over LSU once him and Jamar Chaney were announced.
That just goes to show you where things are going. You look at it, Derek Stingley was a guy. Now, obviously, it was a little bit easier to get Stingley there. Eli Ricks was another guy. The guy out of Jacksonville a couple years ago in Kevin Tolliver was a big five-star. It was a big hire. I will say this. It brings some instant credibility back to a defensive back room that had lost all credibility under Jules.
David: Yeah. It was getting pretty bad. For Florida to have 20+ years of good defense and known for their defense, it’s kind of drifted off a little bit. It’s starting to look like a really Mac looking defense. Not McElwain. Mac is what I’m talking about. The hire of Corey Raymond really was big. It was huge. It’ll help out in recruiting, since the recruiting hasn’t been that great. We’ve got Jason Marshall, a guy. Kaiir Elam, that’s going to leave here after this year. So, you really need somebody to shore up that corner spot there, the DB spot, and hiring Corey Raymond, especially with the troubles we’ve also had at safety, this was a homerun hire for Florida.
Andrew: Yeah. I think the biggest thing is at that defensive back position. That’s not to knock on anybody, but when you look at outside of Jason Marshall and Kaiir Elam at that corner spot, none of those guys were truly highly talented guys. I mean, highly recruited guys. Avery Helm wasn’t. Jaydon Hill. None of those guys were particularly highly recruited guys. It’s not to say they’re not good players. Avery Helm had a pretty solid year. Did he have a great year? No, but he had a solid year. Jaydon Hill, going into the season there was a lot of promise for him.k Corey Raymond will do that.:
Obviously, I think it’s going to grow, and it’s going to grow a lot. There’s some big names being rumored, and we’ll talk about that here in a second. To get Corey Raymond on board now before Early Signing Day was big. It just shows that coaches buy into what Napier believes in and Napier’s plan.
David: Right. Here’s another stat for you Florida fans, since I’m the stat guy here. Corey Raymond’s average recruit ranking sits at 94.27. That’s a talent rating that’s really elite. He has recruited eight five-star recruits in his career, 10 top 100 four-star recruits, and a total of 12 four-star recruits outside of the top 100 and inside of the top 250. Just singlehandedly, as a coach recruiting at that kind of level, is pretty elite. I think that has to be one of the best guys, especially at that position, at recruiting.
There was obviously some other coaching hires. There was a whole ton. I would say the biggest breaking one, I guess, today was Jamar Chaney announced as defensive analyst now. You got that going on there. You got Patrick Toney coming in over here, serve as the co-defensive coordinator here. Mark Hocke, (hockey). I used to say Hoke, because I was used to Brady Hoke over there at Michigan, but it’s actually Mark Hocke. He’ll be the new strength and conditioning coach. I know a lot of you guys loved Savage and what he was doing and all that, but obviously when a new head coach comes in, he wants to take some of his guys with him. Mark Hocke will be the strength and conditioning coach. Running backs, Jabbar Juluke. I hope I’m saying that right. Is a running back coach there. And offensive analyst Ryan O’Hara will also leave Lafayette for Gainesville as well.
Those are some of the coaching hires. There’s also some other ones. There’s going to be more announced here.
Andrew: Darnell Stapleton is a big one.
David: I’m ready to start lying, Spivey.
Andrew: Darnell Stapleton was the big one. The assistant offensive line coach coming over from Lafayette. A guy who won a Super Bowl. That’s a big one. A lot of people are very high on his coaching future. Being able to play it at that level he’s played it, he’s going to understand how to teach the guys, but he’s also going to understand how to teach their mentality. Offensive line play is all about mentality. I’ve said that. I say that every year. It’s about a mentality. It’s about a will. It’s about a want to be better than the guy in front of you. Darnell Stapleton’s been in the trenches at the highest of levels and won at the highest of levels. Guys should instantly respect him. You listen to Max Starks talk about it on Twitter and stuff, and he’s absolutely pumped about the hire. That’s a big one.
Patrick Toney, I don’t think people understand. He’s a gem. That’s a really good hire by Florida to get Patrick Toney to come over and not be just a DC at Lafayette, to come over and the be co-DC. Many people have him as one of the top five up and coming defensive coordinators. Now, I’ve heard different things that he may or may not call plays. If they can go out and get that big fish for a DC, then I do expect he’ll call the plays, and Toney won’t call the plays. Still, it brings a different perspective, because Toney’s done it before. He’s called plays as well. Whoever it is is another eyes there.
You look at Jamar Chaney, he’s done it before. Not called plays and not be on the field, but he’s played the game at the highest of levels. He’s another eyes out there for it. Corey Raymond’s done a lot. He’s been through a lot of defenses. You bring a lot of different views. You bring a lot of different schemes, familiarity with schemes, to the table to where you can work it out. Toney’s a big one.
Juluke is another guy that I think is slept on a little bit. He’s helped Leonard Fournette and Darius Guise and some of those guys, but he’s also very well known in New Orleans. Used to coach at Warren Easton. A lot of guys respect him. Again, you see Shawn Washington, the Georgia commit, come over for an official visit this weekend, just five days after Florida offered him on Monday. That just kind of shows you the respect. In New Orleans, it’s kind of like Miami. If you’re not known there and respected there, you can give it up getting any player there. That just kind of is the way it is.
Overall, I would say very good hires. Hocke, in my opinion, is a upgrade over Savage. A lot of people have been talking about some of the antics and stuff that Savage allowed on the sidelines and stuff like that. Just different things. The guys have gotten stronger, to some extent, but they still weren’t physical. I think that’s a direct effect of Savage. If your guys are not mentally strong, physically strong, and tough, that goes back on your strength coach.
David: It also goes back on your strength coach when they’re eating like MRE looking bacon when they get out there. I like the hire. Me personally, I don’t really care who Napier brings over as assistants. There are rumored ones out there. We’ll get to that in a second. As far as who he brings over and who he replaces, or who he keeps, I think Christian Robinson is still kind of there, isn’t he? He’s floating around there.
Andrew: Christian Robinson is not staying. He may think he is and whatever, but multiple people have told me Christian Robinson is not staying.
David: There you go. You heard it here first from Spivey. There’s some coaching rumors going around too. One of the coaching rumors that I’m really excited about, the guy’s last name starts with an S and ends in R, and it rhymes with Seider. Can you fill us in a little bit on that one, Spivey? I know you’ve been busy on these VIP boards, man. Fill us in a little bit. I’ve heard some rumors out there that he might be coming. There has been some talks. Fill us in a little bit.
Andrew: Yeah. Ja’Juan Seider’s definitely the name out there to be the tight ends coach. I will say that I think things are definitely trending in the right direction there. There’s still a decision to be made by Ja’Juan Seider. I know people have put out there that he’s asking for OC title. That is the furthest thing from the truth out there. The furthest thing from the truth. I know from direct knowledge from some sources very close to him that that hasn’t been discussed. That’s not been a factor in this whole decision. Now, does Ja’Juan Seider want to come with a title? Sure. OC title, co-OC title, doesn’t mean anything to him. Does he want to be the recruiting coordinator? Maybe.
At the end of the day, Ja’Juan Seider wants to be known as a coach. He knows he’s a great recruiter, but he also wants to be respected for his coaching ability on the field. That’s the big thing for him. I think things are going in the right direction there. That would be a major hire for Florida, if they are able to pull that one off and have him there. The tight ends would be lucky to have him as well, and it would be another very good recruiter with Corey Raymond down in South Florida. Ja’Juan Seider is one of the best recruiters of South Florida football there is. Very well respected, knows everybody down there. You look at what he’s done at IMG. He’s pulled a couple IMG kids as well. Maybe he’s the guy that can help break the curse, if Kamari Wilson doesn’t break the curse here in about three days. That’s a big one.
The other one is Rob Sale, the offensive line coach for the Giants. Feel very confident he’s going to be the guy that’s opposite of Darnell Stapleton there to coach that. Rob Sale is one of the most respected offensive line coaches in the country. Very good recruiter as well. A very intense, expects physicality out of his offensive line. There’s no if, ands, or buts about it. You’re going to be tough, or you’re not going to play for him. That’s what he likes. He likes big offensive linemen that can just lean on people and get them out of the way. Those are two hires that I think, if they’re able to pull off, are major hires.
David: Right. Speaking of big offensive linemen, an offensive lineman had committed to the University of Florida that they were actually seeking out at Louisiana Lafayette when he was there, a guy by the name of Christian Williams. 6’4”, 320 pound offensive lineman for Missouri City, Texas. Already getting these big bodies in there, 320 pounds. It’s something I like to see. I don’t care how many stars it has. If they’re over 300 pounds, I like that. I like that kind of a commitment.
Andrew: The thing for me with Christian, and I was talking to some buddies of mine, Ryan Brauninger that covers Tex Ags, he’s seen seven of Christian Williams’ games this year in person. He said, he doesn’t understand why the kid’s underrated and not picking up offers. The kid doesn’t camp. The kid doesn’t do a lot of visits, and the kid doesn’t do a lot of these so-called events, the Under Armour events and that kind of stuff. Know Texas and Texas A&M were kind of sniffing around there, hoping he would wait until February to sign, so they could slip in there and maybe grab him if they have a spot left. Everybody I talked to said the guy is a technician. The guy is very strong. The guy has all the tools in the bag to do it. Huge hands, which is great for an offensive lineman. Great work ethic, loves football, and is a good student of the game.
They said it’s going to take him a year or so to really finetune his techniques, to understand that I can’t just lean on a guy to block him. There has to be good footwork and that kind of stuff to go along with it. Everybody says this is a major upgrade for Florida on offensive line. I think it kind of shows what Billy wants out of his offensive linemen. He wants some big old man-childs up front, kind of like Alabama offensive line.
David: Billy Napier did say he wanted to win the line of scrimmage, and it is a line of scrimmage league. I do believe that.
Andrew: When you look at who’s on campus this weekend, him, Shawn Washington.
David: That’s a big dude.
Andrew: Those are two massive big old boys that can just eat up some space there. When you look at that, Chris McClellan’s coming in on Sunday, just visited Oklahoma. Florida’s going to have to hang on there. Oklahoma’s coming on strong there. We all know he liked Oklahoma a lot before he committed to Florida. You look at that. He wants some size. Dan Mullen said, I want to win the line of scrimmage. You didn’t want to win no line of scrimmage. You never recruited offense or defensive line. Billy Napier is recruiting. He’s told multiple people, if I only sign a handful of guys in the class on Wednesday for Early Signing Day, and they’re all line of scrimmage guys, he’s okay with it.
David: He’s still got the portal too. There’s a ton of talent going into the portal. You still have kids holding off till National Signing Day as well. Not many do that anymore. Actually, they’re trying to get rid of the Early Signing Day now. We’ll see what happens with that.
Andrew: The thing for me is this, David. I know we’re going off on a different direction with Early Signing Day. The plan was good, but the plan’s been bad. The intentions of it were, David Conner for instance, solid to Florida, not going anywhere. Loves the Gators, knows where he wants to go. Boom, he signs. It wasn’t intended for a guy like Kamari Wilson, who’s still undecided and bouncing between five schools of where he wants to go, to be pushed into a decision in December. That wasn’t where it was supposed to go. It was supposed to ease the coaches from having to use expenses to go visit long-term commits.
Andrew: I don’t know that there’s an answer to make Early Signing Day work, because now with the transfer portal it makes it even tougher. For instance, I can guarantee you on Wednesday or Thursday there’s going to be a slew of assistant coaches leaving schools. It happens every year. They wait until the kids sign on the dotted line, and then they bolt. Now with the transfer portal, the transfer portal’s taken over. I had some coaches at some lower levels tell me, we don’t recruit high school talent hardly anymore. We’re all recruiting transfer portal guys. Then it’s a trickle-down effect to the high school kids. Again, I think it was good intentions, but it just hasn’t worked.
David: Right. As far as the last staff and the transfer portal, obviously in this class you’re going to have to fill holes, because you came in late. It’s a transition class. You’re going to have to dip into the portal to fill holes. That’s not something Billy Napier and his staff want to do, because they want to get these guys out of high school. In a transition class especially, it’s a good year to be in a transition class, with all the things that are going on across the nation. I’ll be interested to see how many guys they do bring out of the portal, if they can’t get some of these guys signed here. I’m ready to start lying with these new staffing hires, and hopefully Kamari Wilson will break good news and not break our hearts coming here in the weekend.
Andrew: I think the thing for me, David, is this. For instance, Saban, Kirby, Clemson, those guys. They go to the portal to find one or two guys that can take them over the top, kind of like a free agency. Every year in free agency a team will go get a guy or two to take them over the top, to get them to that championship level.
David: Like a Jonathan Greenard, like for us. A Jonathan Greenard.
Andrew: Yeah. You look at Bama. Jameson Williams. Jameson Williams really took Bama to that next level. He ended up being one of the best receivers in the country. It replaced a situation where Waddle and Devonte Smith both left. You had some younger guys who haven’t developed this quick, so you were able to get Jameson Williams in there to kind of plug that hole for a year or two, until the younger guys at Bama, Halls, Ja’Corey Brooks, are really able to take that next level. You look at Georgia. They’ve been able to do that a little bit in the secondary with a guy or two.
That’s the point of the portal, not to just fill your class. I don’t know. Maybe this is something the NCAA looks at down the road, limiting how many transfer portal guys you can take. Maybe that’s something they look at. I don’t know. I think everything has to be looked at in a way. Just like in life, every decision has a trickle-down effect, and I think this trickle-down effect is hurting high school recruiting in a way. I think it’s kind of making it to where teams are never going to have a lot of super talented senior teams.
For instance, with Mullen and Mississippi State. He had a couple years where he had some really good senior laden teams. I don’t know that you’re going to have that anymore, because guys are transferring so quick.
David: Right. Since we’re on the topic of the transfer portal. A couple of big names from Florida entering the transfer portal here. Gerald Mincey was the start of the transfer portal guys. Then two big names now. Jacob Copeland, Mohamoud Diabate in the transfer portal. If you were on the Gator Collective Twitter space the other night, Jacob Copeland was very vocal about Billy Napier. He did say something along the lines of this isn’t the Sunbelt, this is the SEC, which I don’t think is fair, because you don’t know exactly. Coaching doesn’t leave, no matter what conference you’re in. Your ability to coach doesn’t leave. I don’t get that.
At the same time, he was kind of vocal a little bit on the Twitter spaces of his displeasure, I guess. You’re very close to Copeland. I know you are, Spivey. Copeland was a guy that always wore his heart on his sleeve. If had something, he would post it. He would put it on Twitter. He’s a very emotional kind of guy. What do you think eventually led to this decommitment? Not decommitment, but led to him going into the transfer portal.
Andrew: I think a lot of things led into it, honestly. Jacob Copeland is a guy who wants people to be honest with him. I’m not saying others aren’t, but some people can’t handle having people lie to you more than others. Some people are able just to sweep it under the rug. Jacob Copeland is kind of like myself, where we just don’t sweep it under the rug a little bit. We always remember it. I think that’s just the situation.
People get hard on Jacob Copeland, and I think it’s unfair. I think it’s unfair. I think people don’t understand everything the young man’s went through growing up and everything else. I think that Jacob Copeland is a fine ballplayer, and I think he is a good person. I think, like you said, he does wear his emotions on his sleeves a little bit. He does. He is vocal about his displeasure at times. I think at the end of the day, Dan Mullen just ruined Jacob Copeland’s mindset for Florida. I hope wherever Jacob goes he’s able to really get the love of football brought back to him from a standpoint that he enjoys it again, and it’s not so much of a job to him. You can tell from some of the things that it’s weighing on him. I hope wherever he goes it just kind of frees him up to go out there and play his game.
Maryland’s an option. Mike Locksley recruited him out of high school. Wouldn’t rule out Central Michigan with Mac and Tim Skipper and those guys. South Carolina I know has contacted him. Several schools have contacted him. I hope the best for the kid. I really do. I hope that wherever it may be he goes he finds what he’s looking for.
With Diabate, there’s so much going on behind the scenes with this past staff and what they’re doing. We’ll see. We’ll see if a new DC can get in there, a new linebacker coach can get in there in and talk to Diabate and get some things straightened out. Get some untruths out of the way and get some truth to the young man.
David: Diabate also one of those guys that you could kind of see in postgame pressers how upset he was with the scheme and the defensive scheme. Obviously, Grantham’s gone. But a guy that obviously has been vocal as well. I hope the best for these kids, no matter where they go anyway. I hope the best for Jacob Copeland. Gerald Mincey, he’s going to Tennessee. It kind of sucks seeing these guys leave, but at the same time, do you really want a kid that’s at the school and he’s not bought in anymore, and he’s just mentally not there? I would rather them transfer and be happy somewhere else, to be honest. I’d rather people that want to be on the team, and that are happy being on the team and can buy in.
Andrew: Some things just don’t work out.
Andrew: It’s not that anybody’s bad or anything else. It’s like a relationship. Some work out, and some don’t. That doesn’t mean either person is a bad person or anything else. You just hope that wherever they go they find what they’re looking for. You look at a guy like Trevon Grimes, for instance. Ohio State just wasn’t a good fit for him. Came to Florida and done some good things.
Hopefully, whatever it may be, they go, and they find what they’re looking for, and they go on to play good ball. Those two guys in particular are really good players. I think Diabate was done a lot of disservice by making him play inside when the guy is an outside linebacker. They kind of went back and forth on where they wanted him to play, what they wanted his weight to be. Kid never got settled in. Hopefully, he’s able to settle in and really just show what he can do at that outside linebacker position. Led the team in tackles. Hopefully he does give Billy Napier and his staff an opportunity to reel him back in.
I know Napier hasn’t really got to talk one on one with a lot of these guys, because he has been out recruiting. Hopefully he is able to do that and get things going there. Want to move on, talk a little bit about recruiting.
David: I was about to say that.
Andrew: Obviously, it’s been a wild decommitment process.
Andrew: Everybody’s wondering what the heck’s going on. Truth of the matter is this. New sheriff in town. The new sheriff in town has a plan, and the new sheriff in town is not taking Plan D, E, and F.
Andrew: Just is what it is.
David: It was a shocker. It really was. Monica Evers was on the Gator Twitter space as well. I think it was the night before Nick Evers decommitted. She sounded really bought in and everything that was going on. Nothing bad that she had ever said. Then I wake up, I went to bed too early, and immediately, I think it happened maybe an hour after the Twitter space. Nick Evers posts his decommitment. I was asleep. I woke up to that news in the morning. I was like, holy crap, what happened?
I had a chance to talk to Monica a little bit in the DMs and all that. A lot of people were giving her crap on Twitter, and I felt bad for her. I just kind of messaged her and said, just ignore it, whatever. She had mentioned it was a decision from Nick. The parents didn’t influence the decision. Nick sat down, and he decided he didn’t want to be part of the University of Florida. The meeting between him and Napier, I guess, their personalities didn’t click, so he decommits. Obviously, a lot of fans were already thinking the sky was falling and everything else when Chandler Smith and Jayden Gibson and all that, and all those guys decommitted.
What I try to tell people is, look, if a quarterback of a class decommits, it’s going to be hard for those skill level guys to want to stay as well. They commit to a quarterback, usually. Most of the time. The wide receivers, the tight ends, they’ll commit to that quarterback. When you see Jayden Gibson, Chandler Smith, all these other guys leaving, that’s going to happen when a quarterback decommits. They might stay, but more than likely those wide receivers, those tight ends, are going to go with him.
That pretty much cleans the class out. I think we’re sitting at seven commits right now? I believe it’s seven commits so far. Our average rating right now is .87. It’ll go up. I’m not worried about the recruiting class. I’m not worried about Nick Evers leading. There are quarterbacks. There’s an Oregon quarterback right now, I believe, a guy that’s committed to Oregon, or he decommitted from Oregon.
David: Yeah. He decommitted from Oregon. Napier’s after that guy. Then there’s talks of Walker, the five-star quarterback over there at LSU, maybe coming over here as well. We’ll see what happens with that.
I’m not too upset about the decommitments. I wouldn’t be. This class is going to be short. Napier already said it’s going to be short. We’re going to have to dip into the portal. We’ll see what happens with that. It was kind of a shocker, I will say, that Nick Evers did decommit. It looked like he was on board. I hope the best for the kid. Looks like he might, I think he’s visiting Oklahoma.
Andrew: Him and Jayden Gibson are.
David: Him and Jayden Gibson. Florida’s class is ranked 79th nationally right now.
Andrew: Don’t mean anything.
David: It don’t mean anything. I’m pretty sure it’ll go up. Transition class, it happens. Whatever. All those guys out there freaking out, don’t freak out. I’m loving the staff hires.
Andrew: Here’s the thing. There’s always a plan. There was a plan when Napier took over from Mullen. This is my thing to everybody. Dan Mullen was fired for a reason. He was fired because he couldn’t recruit, and he wasn’t winning on Saturdays. So what makes you think his judgment on prospects was that good?
Andrew: Let’s always remember this. I like Nick. I think Nick’s a great player. I think Nick’s going to be a heck of a quarterback if he goes to Oklahoma or wherever he goes. Let’s also remember this. He wasn’t Mullen’s first choice. He wasn’t Mullen’s third or fourth or fifth choice. Let’s remember that. You look at some of these guys. Does losing Jayden Gibson hurt? Sure, it does a little bit. At the same time, he doesn’t fit what Billy wants to fit.
Andrew: You look at Chandler Smith, he has a bum knee. You look at Terrence Gibbs, he has a bum knee and has nerve damage in his leg. You look EJ Lightsey. He was tenth on their recruiting board. You look at several of these guys, and you say, it hurts to lose them. Sure, it does. But also at the same time, trust in the new man’s plan. Nick Evers, for instance, there was a question asked. Did you inherit, or did you pick me? That came from the Evers camp. Well, technically Napier inherited him. He didn’t recruit him out of high school at Lafayette. It’s always a situation where there’s a lot of things behind the scenes going on with the past staff getting involved with kids and hurting Napier and them. There’s also the simple thing that they just may not fit what he wants.
I know people have said, this class is going to suck. Probably. Next year is when you judge the man. Also, you only have one chance to build a program from scratch, and that’s right now. You can’t do it in a year or two, because if you do you’re going to get fired, because at Florida you don’t rebuild. You reload. Now, Billy has a chance right now to tear this thing from the top down and clean house, everything else. Recruit guys he wants to recruit. David Conner likes him, recruited him, on campus. Jalen Farmer, went and visited him. He’s coming on campus in January for a visit, signs in February. Jamari Lyons, going to sign on Wednesday. You look at some of these guys that he likes, and he’s recruiting them. Some of these guys he doesn’t like, he’s not recruiting them.
It just is what it is. I don’t get the, well, they were committed, and they were Gators. Sure they were. Thank you. Thank you for being a Gator. At the end of the day, this is a business. Just like it’s a business that these kids can go transfer out. It’s a business that if Napier takes the wrong kids, he gets fired in four years or three years, or whatever it may be. Let him do what he has to do and trust his plan. You trusted Mullen for three years to screw this up. Trust the man for a couple weeks to try to get things fixed.
This program was broken, and I don’t think people understand how broken it was. It’s still broken right now, because Napier hasn’t got all the old people out of the building. You still have old staff members getting in the way of recruiting, and all their job is is to coach a bowl game. This is a broken program that has to be fixed, and it all starts in recruiting, and he’s trying. He really is.
David: Right. Speaking of the bowl game. We got a bowl game coming up against UCF. 7:30 December 23rd. Hopefully we do win that game, because I don’t want to hear it from UCF fans until we play them again.
Andrew: Before we get into that, let’s talk a couple seconds about the Kamari Wilson and Devin Moore coming on campus this weekend. Both of those guys are big-time safeties.
Andrew: Kamari was a guy who had all but eliminated Florida. Well, he did eliminate Florida in his top four. Was supposed to be at LSU this weekend, changed it to come visit Florida. Very close to Jamar Chaney and likes Corey Raymond a lot. That was a big reason he was going to visit LSU still. Florida’s battling Kirby here. This is the first opportunity for Napier to go head to head with his old friend Kirby Smart. Big one there. Then with Devin Moore, battling Notre Dame and Marcus Freeman, who’s up there, who took over and the guy who recruited Devin Moore. We’ve been talking about needing safeties for a while.
Andrew: This is their opportunity to nail two of them.
David: Wouldn’t it be a feather in the cap for Billy Napier his first battle with Kirby Smart over a five-star player for him to come to the University of Florida and not Georgia? Wouldn’t that be just the best thing ever?
Andrew: Don’t think he ain’t thinking about it.
David: Yeah. I know. What’s funny is he don’t even have his whole staff here yet. Just think about that too. When you add Corey Raymond to the mix there, especially, that turns heads. We’ve seen tons of commits with Corey Raymond, LSU commits, LSU players. What the heck happened? I hope. I want to start lying right now, but I can’t start lying until that happens, Spivey. How do I keep lying? Can I lie right now? Can we get Seider here, and I can just keep lying the whole time?
Andrew: Things are definitely turning for the good. Like you said though, bowl game. First sellout ever of the Gasparilla Bowl down in St. Pete. They’re going to have 60,000 in attendance. The most they’d ever had before was 40,000.
David: You think that’s mostly UCF fans or UF fans?
Andrew: Probably UCF fans. I think there’ll be a decent showing for Florida fans. Obviously, Anthony Richardson is out, as he had meniscus surgery. Emory Jones is banged up a little bit. We’ll see how much he goes and how effective he is in the game. You’ll be without Copeland. You’ll be without Diabate. A lot of those portal guys. Khris Bogle.
David: Zachary Carter’s out.
Andrew: Summerall. Zach Carter has opted out, which I don’t blame Zach for that. Good job for him. It does seem like Kaiir Elam is going to play in the game. We’ll see if that continues to go down that road. A lot of distractions for this team. A lot of things changing for this team. UCF is probably the favorite in this game, in my opinion.
David: Actually, they’re not. I think we’re the seven-point favorite.
David: 7.5 right now.
Andrew: I haven’t even looked at it. To me the bowl game is meaningless.
Andrew: If I’m going into that game, I’d be betting on UCF for the simple reason that a lot is going on with Florida, and you got to figure out how they’re going to come out in this game. Big one for Florida though. Like you said, you don’t want to lose that game.
David: You don’t. Then you’re going to have to hear it from UCF fans until they play them in three, four more years. I think.
David: This was the thing that I was looking at too. I looked at UCF. I did some research. I’ll post stats when it becomes game week almost. I ran a bunch of stats. UCF actually, with Gabriel out, their backup quarterback, he’s really not that good. He’s got like a 40 QBR. I don’t think his completion rating is that well either. Did a lot of research. They’re bad at stopping the run. I would just hand the ball off to Dameon Pierce all game. I don’t know if that’s going to happen. I don’t know if they’re going to try to rotate guys. Nay’Quan Wright is out. Do you have any updates on Nay’Quan?
Andrew: No. I don’t. I don’t think he’s going to play.
David: It looked bad.
Andrew: I don’t expect him to play. It’s just about recovery now for him. I think things will be a little bit different at running back. I know Billy Napier and his staff have said they want to play a lot of young guys and see some of those young guys, but obviously it’s Greg Knox’s decision. It’s that coaching staff’s decision. Be interesting to see how much run Pierce gets, and then does Bowman and Lingard get some run, being that they’re the two young guys besides Nay’Quan, with Nay’Quan out.
You also have to do right by your seniors in Malik and Dameon, because those guys deserve this. This is their opportunity to go out with a bang. You kind of have to divvy it up in a way. It’s tough. Again, Dameon and Malik have earned it, but you also want to see what the young guys can get.
David: You probably see it too.
Andrew: Yeah. You will. It’ll be interesting to see how that shapes up more than anything. At receiver, obviously, you can play 10 guys and it won’t be a big deal, because there’s three to four on the field at all times. Tight ends another spot. Do we see an Odom or Elksnis?
David: I actually like Kemore Gamble here lately. Kemore Gamble’s been on fire here lately. He’s had a couple of 100-yard receiving games. He’s been getting open. We’ll see what happens with that. I’m kind of pumped. All the guys that wanted to see what the backups could do, they’re going to be able to see it. Zachary Carter, obviously, opting out for the NFL. I don’t blame him there. Go get your money.
As far as it goes with UCF, UCF is really not a good team. They really aren’t. Florida should be able to win the game. I think they should, but we’ll see. Emory Jones can’t throw five turnovers and expect to win the game. Hopefully he can cut down on the turnovers, play like, I think he only had one game where he had zero turnovers. I can’t remember. It’ll be interesting. That crowd is going to be pumped. UCF is going to play like it’s their Super Bowl. Florida’s got to get their head in the game.
What really sucks is I’m not worried about Florida physically beating UCF, I’m worried about them mentally beating them, with all the coaching changes going on, and then the coaches right now, Greg Knox and all them, those guys are looking for jobs right now. They’re not fully bought in either right now. They want to get out of this bowl game, coach it, and that’s it. Hopefully, Greg Knox, I can be talking about a 3-0 undefeated head coach here in a couple weeks, Spivey. What do you think about that, man?
Andrew: Yeah. It’d be big. I’m like you on this. How do they mentally come into this game? That’s it. How do they mentally come in? It’s a weird kind of setting for them too, because they have finals going on, and then they have to jump on a plane, or jump on a bus and drive to St. Pete for the bowl game. They’ll get done before Christmas, so they’ll be able to go home for Christmas. The younger guys get their mind reset a little bit, as they get ready for hockey and the new program that’ll start in January under Napier.
If you’re a current player, I don’t know how you’re not excited. Things are on the rise. You’re going to be coached better. You’re going to be prepared better. You’re going to have better weightlifting. You’re going to have better nutrition. You’re going to have better mental guidance as far as with a mental coach helping you and that kind of stuff. You’re going to have a lot of different things. The program’s on the rise.
Hopefully everyone buys into it. Noticed guys like Gervon Dexter and Chief Borders and that kind of stuff are really buying in. Chief Borders was helping a lot this weekend in recruiting. It’s an exciting time. I’ve said this before. It’s an exciting time to be a Gator. It’s an exciting time for the future of the program. Just buckle up and enjoy it. Don’t stress about recruiting right now. Enjoy it. Corey Raymond, if Ja’Juan Seider comes, Rob Sale comes, those guys, they’re going to get the guys. Patience. Remember, Saban didn’t make Alabama in one year.
David: No. Actually, I think Saban went 7-5 his first year at Alabama.
Andrew: He got beat by Monroe.
David: If that’s any inclination of what’s to come, as far as next year, I don’t expect to be undefeated or anything. That’s always the hope, but I don’t expect it. Big game coming up. Florida fans should be, I’m excited for the game, because of bragging rights. You know those UCF players and those Florida players aren’t going to want to lose that game. It’s going to be kind of like the Florida State game. Hopefully there’s not a million 15-yard penalties for unnecessary roughness and all that other kind of stuff. We’ll see what happens in that game.
Also, Spivey, what do you got coming up on the VIP boards. You, Ray, and Ethan out there. What you got coming up?
Andrew: Just keeping up with the coaching hires and recruiting. Wednesday is Signing Day, so we’ll be back on Thursday. We can recap some recruiting and Early Signing Day. Obviously, it’s not going to be as big as in the past, but it’ll still be a big day. Obviously, basketball is still going. Had that tough loss last week, but played Maryland as we’re taping this on Sunday. Lot of things going in the right direction there. Coaching hires are still coming out. Kind of wind down here after Wednesday until the new year, and things will pick right back up.
David: That is correct. We will have on Eric Fawcett here in a few discuss basketball, because there’s been some ups, and there’s been some crazy downs as well with that basketball team. Losing to an 0-7 team did not look good, but they got a victory their last game. That helps a little bit, softens the blow a little bit. Nothing is ever going to soften a blow like that. We’ll get into that later on in the podcast to come. If that’s all you got, Spivey, I’m ready to start getting back on Twitter and lying about our coaching staff getting a top five class next year.
Andrew: There you go. Let’s do it, my man.
David: Folks, that’ll wrap it up for this episode of the GatorCountry.com podcast. You can follow me @SoderquistGC on Twitter, and you can follow Andrew Spivey @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter as well. That’ll wrap it up, folks, for this episode of the GatorCountry.com podcast.