Muschamp speaks on recruiting, Weis, Brantley

New Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp was a guest of Joe Rose on 560 WQAM in Miami, FL on Thursday and spent time with the former Miami Dolphins tight end discussing a number of topics that fans have been waiting to hear him discuss.

Like Urban Meyer before him, Muschamp was likely informed of the importance of having a presence in the South Florida media as the area is a recruiting hotbed and Rose’s show is arguably the most notable sports talk show in the mornings. He frequently talks about high school football and picked Muschamp’s brain on recruiting in the area.

“There’s a lot of young men that are going to sign out of each state. The key is evaluation and taking the right guy,” he said. “There’s a lot of really good football players in South Florida – tremendous. You take Palm [Beach], Broward and Dade County – there’s phenomenal football players. I’d say probably over 200 kids out of those three counties are going to sign Division I scholarships. [You have to] take the right guy that’s going to do a nice job academically for you, is going to represent your university in a first-class manner and play well on the football field.”

He was also asked to describe any notable differences between the recruiting process in the state of Texas and region of South Florida.

“It’s not different. We have an evaluation process that we’re going to go through with each young man. From on and off the field, different critical factors at each position that we look at that we decide that this is a type player we want to have at the University of Florida,” Muschamp said. “Just like I did when I was defensive coordinator at Texas when I ran the defensive [recruiting] board. We’ve got certain things that we’re looking for at each position. It’s about evaluation. It’s about taking the right guy. Not necessarily taking the best player at that position; he might not be the right fit for your football team or your university. That’s a huge part of what we do as coaches, is evaluating and taking the right players because there are a lot of good football players out there.

“I’m not worried about the guys that don’t sign at Florida, I’m worried about the ones that sign at Florida. We need to do a great job of developing those players. A lot of these young men that go other places, I’m going to see them once a year. So I’m not as worried about them as I am the ones we are going to have on our campus.”

Rose noted that Muschamp must be excited about having current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as the biggest name on his staff, something the new head coach felt comfortable enough to open up about.
Continue Reading » Muschamp speaks on recruiting, Weis, Brantley

Florida basketball remains out of Top 25 polls

Florida Gators (10-3)^ completely fell out of the latest ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls two weeks ago after being upset by the Jacksonville Dolphins 71-68 in overtime on Dec. 20. Last week their game against Fairfield was canceled due to travelling conditions for the away team, but Florida did end the Xavier Musketeers‘ 30-game home winning streak with a 71-67 victory on the road.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 7 (1,153)No. 7 (568)-
2W 68-45 vs. William & Mary1-0No. 8 (1,127)No. 7 (560)-
3L 69-67 vs. Miami
W(OT) 61-56 vs. ULM
2-1No. 18 (467)No. 16 (303)-
4L(OT) 65-66 vs. Georgetown
W 56-47 vs. UAB
L 64-75 vs. North Carolina
3-3NR (40)No. 24 (60)-

ESPN/USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Georgetown, Missouri, Purdue, Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Michigan State, Louisville, Central Florida, Memphis, Baylor, Wisconsin, Illinois
+ Florida received 33 votes, good for 32nd overall

This Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Kansas, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Missouri, Connecticut, Purdue, Kentucky, Texas, Georgetown, Brigham Young, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Central Florida, Michigan State, Illinois, Minnesota, Memphis, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati
+ Florida received 9 votes, good for 34th overall

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Duke (65), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Georgetown, MIssouri, Kentucky, Purdue, Texas, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Central Florida, Michigan State, Memphis, Louisville, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Temple
+ Florida received 35 votes, good for 32nd overall

This Week 1-25: Duke (65), Ohio State, Kansas, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Connecticut, Missouri, Kentucky, Purdue, Texas, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Michigan State, Central Florida, Illinois, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Washington, Cincinnati, UNLV
+ Florida received 35 votes, good for 31st overall

^ Record at the time the polls were released.
* Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

Gorman commits to Gators at Under Armour game

After a difficult season and a head coaching change, the Florida Gators and their fans have been hearing some negative recruiting news for the last few weeks. The same was not true Wednesday during the 2011 Under Armour All-American Game as four-star safety Jabari Gorman (Miami, FL) committed to the Gators late in the first quarter.

Gorman, the No. 8 safety (No. 85 overall recruit) according to ESPNU and No. 10 safety (No. 174 overall) according to Rivals, chose Florida over Ohio State and Miami and was one of five Gators commitments who played in the game.

Also participating were five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) and four-stars tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), athlete/S De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL) and wide receiver Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville, FL).

Driskel accounted for one of the highlights of the night when he avoided a pass rush and took off for a 63-yard touchdown run. He finished with a team-high 80 yards on the ground and had a potential 70-yard touchdown pass dropped at the end of the first half. Leonard was instrumental in Driskel’s explosive run by coming up with a huge block on the play; the duo celebrated with Gator Chomps after the score.

The first official commitment under new head coach Will Muschamp, Gorman becomes Florida’s 16th recruit for their growing 2011 class.

Brantley to meet with Weis before deciding

Before he makes a final decision on whether or not he will remain with the Florida Gators for his redshirt senior season, quarterback John Brantley will meet with new offensive coordinator/QB coach Charlie Weis and then consult with his family, according to two reports released Wednesday.

“We hadn’t talked and probably won’t talk until Charlie Weis is here. I hadn’t even talked to him,” his father John Brantley III said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “We want to meet Coach Weis before John does anything. That may not be for a while,” Brantley III related to The Gainesville Sun.

Brantley struggled in his first season Florida’s starter, throwing for only 2,061 yards and nine touchdowns. He also gave up 10 interceptions and appeared to lack the confidence to toss the ball down the field. In a chance to redeem himself in the post-season, Brantley threw a pick on UF’s first offensive play of the 2011 Outback Bowl.

Even though the Gators held a team meeting on Wednesday, Weis was not in attendance as he is still fulfilling his current duties as offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City will face Baltimore on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the first round of the NFL Playoffs.

Known for his proficient offenses and ability to develop quarterbacks, Weis may be just what Brantley needs to turn his career around at Florida.

The Sun reports that Brantley is enrolled in spring classes and attended the meeting. Juniors cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Will Hill, both of whom have decided to but have not officially declared for the 2011 NFL Draft, were not in attendance.

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
 

Will Hill to forgo senior season, enter NFL Draft

Florida Gators junior safety Will Hill has decided to forgo his final season of NCAA eligibility and plans to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft, a source close to the team and a separate source close to the player confirmed to OGGOA on Wednesday.

Hill – a five-star recruit and PARADE All-American who was a consensus top-five high school football player in the country in 2007 – totaled 132 tackles, four interceptions, a forced fumble and a sack in three seasons at Florida.

He was chosen to the SEC All-Freshmen Team in 2008 after leading the Gators with 22 special team tackles including three in the 2009 BCS National Championship. Hill made five starts at safety in 2009 and once again led UF in special teams tackles (13).

As a junior in 2010, Hill caught two interceptions against Georgia including one in overtime that helped lead Florida to victory. (He also grabbed another on a two-point conversion attempt in the same contest.) He was suspended for the first two games of the season (disciplinary reasons) and sat out the beginning of the 2011 Outback Bowl.

OGGOA first reported following the bowl game that Hill left the field immediately after the final whistle and did not celebrate with his teammates or outgoing coaches. Most around the program did not expect him to remain with the team in 2011.

Projected to be a top junior NFL prospect before the season began, Hill was named to the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list but failed to live up to the expectations of both draft analysts and fans. ESPN grades Hill as a 68 in its “draftable defensive backs” projections, eight points below teammate and senior S Ahmad Black (76). His rating could improve significantly with a nice showing at the combine.

Fellow junior, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, is also expected to declare for the draft. The University of Florida will release statements when each player makes his intention to pursue a professional football career official.

UPDATE (1/10/11 at 5 p.m.): Since we first reported this story, Jenkins has decided to remain at UF and will not be entering the draft.

Photo Credit: Stephen Morton/Associated Press

Meyer and Tebow interviewed on the air Tuesday

Former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer and Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow were both interviewed Tuesday, by Rich Eisen of NFL.com and sports talk radio host Dan Patrick, respectively. Below are choice quotes from each interview. Links to the complete audio can be found at the end of the post.

Meyer on if he will ever coach in the NFL: “I think we’ll cross that bridge somewhere down the road. I’ve always loved the NFL and growing up that was always a dream.”

Meyer on his current plans: “I’m going to go out to ESPN to work on the BCS National Championship. Those are great folks out there. I’m going to try that for a little while and then see where I’m headed.”

Meyer on if the opportunity to coach Tebow in Denver is appealing: “Somewhere maybe way down the road. Not now. Absolutely not. Not now.”

Meyer on Tebow’s potential for success in the NFL: “He’s going to be a winner if given the right opportunity.”

Meyer on New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick: “He is the most in-depth person I have ever been around. He comes down [to Gainesville, FL], he meets with every one of our prospects, he works them out himself and he’ll go spend up to an hour on each player with me and our coaches finding out what we think of them. That’s why they rarely make mistakes.”

Meyer on if his conversations with Belichick appear on the field: “Oh yeah, no question. He told me from way back how he was going to utilize Brandon Spikes and how he was going to utilize Aaron Hernandez.”

Meyer on having a one-on-one conversation with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: “I reached out to him at first. Ever since then we’ve been fairly good friends. There’s a lot of great things going on right now in professional and college football. But there are also some things headed in a very destructive direction.”

Meyer on what should be done to fix the problems: “It’s the same thing since the beginning of civilization. If you set a law, you have to have a punishment for it.”

Meyer on if college football should have playoffs: “The system is pretty good for an imperfect system. […] When I was at Utah, I was a big fan of the playoff system. But when you get to a place like Florida, if you had to play one more game after we played Oklahoma, I’m not sure we could have lined up. […] I don’t know if they could ever do a playoff.”

Meyer on if he will ever coach again: “I’m not sure. I’m not ready to answer that yet. I’m anxious to move on with the next chapter.”

Tebow on the weirdest thing he’s been asked to sign: “I have signed a baby – more than once. The forehead’s been asked a few times. It kind of reminds me of Will Ferrell, but it’s pretty funny”

Tebow on Meyer leaving the Gators: “I just congratulated him because I knew it was the right decision for him and his family. I really believe that.”

Tebow on if Meyer will ever coach again: “Give me three years and then ask me again.”

Tebow on if he could see Meyer coaching in the NFL: “No I could not. He likes investing in young men.”

Meyer’s NFL.com interview (at 27:30) | Tebow’s Dan Patrick Show interview

FOUR BITS: Temple, Gorman, Hounshell, Mularkey

1 » New Temple Owls head coach Steve Addazio has made his first hire, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. Addazio has tabbed Florida Gators offensive assistant Justin Frye as his offensive line coach. Frye played under Addazio at Indiana and joined Florida’s staff in 2009.

2 » Four-star safety recruit Jabari Gorman (Miami, FL) plans to announce his commitment on Wednesday at the 2011 Under Armour All-American Game and is expected to choose between the Gators and Ohio State Buckeyes. Florida – which desperately needs safety help in the 2011 class – is considered by recruiting analysts to be the favorite to land Gorman. He is ranked as the No. 8 safety (No. 85 overall recruit) by ESPNU and No. 10 safety (No. 174 overall) by Rivals. OGGOA will update you on Gorman’s decision tomorrow.

Current UF commits also participating include five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) and four-stars tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), athlete/S De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL) and wide receiver Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville, FL).

3 » One Florida commitment who will not be enrolling early next week as originally planned is three-star offensive lineman Chase Hounshell (Kirkland, OH). Hounshell, who remains committed to the Gators, said he will not be graduating early from high school and will instead take his time making his final decision. “I just don’t want to rush the most important decision of my life,” he told the Lake County News-Herald. “I was supposed to be moving down Wednesday, but it looks like I’ll be going back to school.” The only other school Hounshell is considering as of press time is Notre Dame.

4 » Former Florida tight end Mike Mularkey, currently the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, will be interviewing for the head coaching jobs with both the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns at some point this week. Mularkey has served as a position coach and coordinator most of his post-playing career but was head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2004-05.

Jeff Driskel named High School Player of the Year

Florida Gators five-star quarterback commitment Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) was officially named the Maxwell Football Club’s 2010 National High School Player of the Year in a release on Tuesday from club president Ron Jaworski.

“I’m excited to receive this honor,” Driskel said in a Maxwell Club release. “It’s a prestigious award and to be named national player of the year is awesome. There are all kinds of people I’d like to thank who have given me help to get here, from my parents, to the coaches I’ve had, to my teachers, and it’s great to know that all of the hard work that I’ve put in throughout my whole high school career has been recognized. But I think I’m most proud of my team. We never had a winning record, or were even close to a winning record before this year, and this team worked hard all summer to achieve a goal we set.”

Driskel, who will be presented with the award at a banquet on March 4, was previously named the FACA District 9 Class 5A Player of the Year and Gatorade Florida Player of the Year after throwing for 1,819 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 1,333 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior season with Hagerty High School. He also caught two touchdown passes for a total of 138 yards in 2010.

“Jeff’s performance against Lakeland was the greatest single-game performance I have ever seen in my 20-plus years of remembering high school football,” Hagerty head coach Nate Gierke said. “Jeff led our team to the most wins in school history and a playoff appearance in only our fourth year of existence. For what he has done over the past four years, and especially for his performance and what he meant to our success this season, Jeff is the best high school football player I have ever coached or seen in person.”

This marks the second-straight year the award was given to a Gators commitment. Florida freshman defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was the recipient of the Maxwell Club’s Player of the Year honors for 2009.

Photo Credit: Orlando Sentinel

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