“Zach’s Mail Stack” is a weekly mailbag with SEC Country reporter Zach Abolverdi, who has covered Florida Gators recruiting since 2010. This week Abolverdi analysis how Florida recruiting could benefit from the on-field struggles of Florida State and LSU.
How are FSU's (relative) struggles affecting UF's recruiting, if at all?
— Eli Marger (@Eli_Marger) October 3, 2017
Abolverdi: Florida and Florida State have had some intense recruiting battles over the last two decades, but not so much in recent years.
The Gators have competed with Alabama, Georgia and Miami more often than FSU, though the in-state rivals still target many of the same prospects.
UF head coach Jim McElwain and his staff just haven’t had many head-to-head battles with Jimbo Fisher & Co. There’s been some, but not a lot.
That’s point No. 1. Secondly, it will take more than a couple losses for the FSU program — and specifically Fisher — to get knocked off the pedestal it has sat on since 2013.
The Seminoles have been the best team in the state for multiple years and Fisher is one of the top 5 coaches in college football. Their 0-2 start was ugly, but there’s two reasons they looked that way.
Alabama and a freshman quarterback. The Gators — and many college football teams –have fell victim to both.
All that being said, Florida could still reap some benefits if the Seminoles have a down year. UF won’t be able to raid Florida State’s commitment list, and the two schools aren’t battling each other for any uncommitted recruits in the state.
But if the Seminoles were to fall apart and finish .500 or worse, the Gators might make another run at 3-star DE Stacy Kirby or one of FSU’s O-line commits. I don’t anticipate that, but I do think Florida could sign a higher-ranked recruiting class if the Seminoles miss on some top targets due to on-field struggles.
That hasn’t happened since 2013.
Which recruits are we likely to flip from the '18 and '19 classes of Tenn and LSU if their downward spiral leads to coaching changes?
— Brian Barry (@briannolanbarry) October 3, 2017
Abolverdi: Florida has already reaped the benefits of LSU’s coaching change, signing their second Louisiana recruit (4-star DB Brad Stewart) since 2001 in the last class and landing a commitment from top-100 WR Ja’Marr Chase in this recruiting cycle.
If the Tigers tank this season, I could see the Gators trying to flip 3-star OL Cameron Wire or one of LSU’s four defensive tackle commits. Florida is already going all in for 5-star OL Kardell Thomas, a 2019 LSU commit who plans to visit UF this weekend for the game.
As for the Volunteers, I don’t think Florida would try to flip any of their current commits if coach Butch Jones gets fired.
what're recruits saying about the offense?
— Co (@CoBeingCo) October 3, 2017
Here’s a roundup after some recent comments from recruits about Florida offense.
4-star WR Anthony Schwartz : “They’re able to move the ball easier. Now that they got the first-game jitters out, a lot of new faces and a new quarterback, I feel like they’re doing a lot better this time. … I just like where the program is going and I like how the offense is improving every game.”
4-star OL Richard Gouraige : “The offense has looked better the last couple weeks. They had a good game against Vandy. Feleipe The offensive line did a great job and Malik (Davis) made a bunch of plays. So they’re starting to make some progress.”
4-star OL William Barnes : “(The O-line) struggled at times, but all offensive lines really do. I think they just kept it together. They didn’t fall apart. They didn’t make too many major mistakes. And other than those, I think they did pretty well.”
Florida WR commit Tyquan Thornton : “I just wanted to see them take the top off a defense and they did that (against Tennessee). They have a lot of guys that can make plays. Tyrie Cleveland and Brandon Powell, those two got my attention. They’re explosive. It was fun to watch.”
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