Updated on Wednesday at 2:50 p.m.
Still missing: wide receivers coach
As was mentioned one week ago in this space, new Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain has been in no rush to fill the last position on his initial coaching staff with Florida still looking for its wide receivers coach 21 days (as of press time) after every other member of the staff was officially announced.
Nevertheless, a source close to the program reaffirmed to OnlyGators.com on Sunday that there is indeed a high level of interest in the position with at least two former Gators players, and one former Florida assistant coach, in the pool of candidates for the job. There are also a couple NFL assistants hoping to get the gig. McElwain has a few front-runners in the aforementioned grouping and will continue interviews this week between recruiting visits and phone calls.
Whether a wide receivers coach is hired in the nine days before National Signing Day (Wednesday, Feb. 4) ultimately remains to be seen, though there is a growing expectation that one could be hired before the week is out.
Update on Tuesday at 4:50 p.m.: According to CoachingSearch.com, former San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant Ronald Curry, who played wideout when McElwain was quarterbacks coach with the Oakland Raiders in 2002, is one of those candidates. The NFL Network‘s Albert Breer reported the same late Tuesday, noting that Curry is also a candidate to be elevated to wide receivers coach with the 49ers.
Josh Newberg of 247 Sports wrote Sunday on Twitter that he was “hearing some buzz” about Miami Dolphins assistant wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan being another possibility.
While OnlyGators.com is unable to report the names of the two former Gators players up for the position at this time due to conditions of a confidential discussion, we have been told that one of the two is expected to interview for the job this week.
Recruiting still slow but impressions being made
OnlyGators.com spoke with three 2015 recruits that visited the Gators over the last week in order to get their general impressions about the staff, find out what Florida is pitching from a recruiting perspective, and attain some insight on how the overall experience has been for the prospects.
» Defensive line coach Terrell Williams, running backs coach Tim Skipper and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier were all singled out as assistants that these players (a) felt immediate connections with and (b) cited as positives during their experience on campus. The staff as a whole got high marks.
» There is an overall confidence that the Gators’ offense will get back on track with the prospects noting that the running backs and wide receivers were openly discussing how productive they could be with McElwain and Nussmeier at Florida.
» The departure of Will Muschamp was a necessity for the Gators, but he and Travaris Robinson surfacing at Auburn – an SEC rival and powerhouse program in its own right – has really hurt Florida in this recruiting cycle as there is a ready-made spot for prospects to join two of their favorite recruiters. Not only are many of the top prospects – once considered Gators leans – now looking elsewhere, the other players that were also attracted to UF still feel uneasy about the three-week-old coaching staff.
» The new indoor practice facility – set to be built by September – has been used by McElwain and Florida’s coaches as a selling point. McElwain is also telling recruits that the Gators have a plan in place to improve the dorms, which are also lagging behind many of the other living facilities for athletes in the SEC.
» Florida is also selling early playing time, of course, and Gators coaches told two of the three prospects (that OnlyGators.com spoke with) that they are not planning to sign a full 2015 class. Florida told these recruits that the offers they have out are to prospects they believe can come in and contribute right away. McElwain does not wish to add bodies just to fill up the class, so the takes will be deserving of their spots.
» Overall, recruits sensed an improved energy in Gainesville. They said the coaches spoke about the 2015 season but also went over their plan for turning around the Gators’ football program in the long term. Florida may not have locked up any top-tier recruits, but it gave a them plenty to think about over the next 10 days.
Not Only Gators: Catching up on the year’s best pictures
Some headway was made watching best picture nominees this week with Birdman and Whiplash the first two I was able to tackle (The Grand Budapest Hotel was seen months ago). In short, both were fantastic. Birdman was a better movie with better acting top-to-bottom, but Whiplash had one of the best ending scenes I can remember in a feature film. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m referencing.
So that’s Grand Budapest, Birdman and Whiplash in the books with Gone Girl and The Judge (not up for best picture but both with a number of nominations for acting awards and such) viewed as well. Rosamund Pike is not getting anywhere near the credit she deserves for Gone Girl. While I enjoyed The Judge very much when I saw it in the theater, checking out Birdman and Whiplash this week made it clear why it was not a nominee; it just could not live up to that level of film-making.
So here’s what’s left, in order of my excitement to watch: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything, Selma, Boyhood. The 87th Academy Awards are still three weeks away, so this is doable, especially after National Signing Day is in the books in early February.
Up this week, most likely, are The Theory of Everything and perhaps Nightcrawler, which I feel like needs to be fit in somewhere.
This Week’s Movie Trailer
The Top 5 List
From the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska…
American professional all-star games/weekends, ranked:
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