Florida Gators: #AskLoogs

#AskLoogs: Instant-impact Gators

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
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In order to answer this question, we are going to assume everyone currently committed will be signing with the Gators come February. With that being said, wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead) is the biggest need position they have right now. He is mentally and physically capable of playing right away and developing throughout the season into a go-to guy. Obviously dual-threat quarterback Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day School) will have every opportunity to contribute and compete for the starting job, but it will be an awfully steep learning curve and he will have to battle and beat out Jeff Driskel. The Gators would love for offensive tackle David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence) to be ready, but for all his athleticism, he is also raw and would need to start out on the right side. Hopefully Florida will be past their injuries up front next season and not have a need for Sharpe just yet. Don’t count out the likes of wide receiver Ryan Sousa (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona) and wide receiver Moral Stephens (Perry, Fla./Taylor County) as options for them, too.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Will Grier is a gun-slinging, instinctive player who has a very nice feel for the game. He is what college coaches want right now -- a passer who is more than athletic enough to be a significant runner within a scheme, but not THE runner within the scheme. What we mean by this is Grier possesses the skill set to buy time, create plays on his own, be a designated runner or run/pass threat on the perimeter, but is clearly a passer first. This allows for him to fit into almost any scheme. He is very similar to former Utah QB Alex Smith in this regard. As far as his place within the offense, it is unlikely Jeff Driskel will be healthy enough to participate in spring ball so he is going to get significant reps this offseason as a mid-year enrollee. Will Muschamp wanted more innovation from the passing game without sacrificing balance and the ability to run the football. This is why Kurt Roper is a nice fit here. It’s very hard to argue against the value of David Cutcliffe’s scheme and Roper has been schooled in it since the late ’90s. While they are not likely to become a heavy zone-read scheme, I would be willing to bet this will be part of the scheme to utilize the athleticism of the QB, which aids both Grier and Driskel. I would warn not to be too awed by the numbers of Grier. They are inflated due to his team’s strength, his skillset and a lack of real competitive field of play. I do not say this to diminish Grier’s ability level, but stats can be very deceiving and create false hype.

Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

I really like it. I have been very outspoken about what I felt Will Muschamp needed to do. More spread, more innovation, more creativity in the passing game -- all traits that had to be involved in his decision. The problem is this philosophy is at odds with everything Muschamp believes in offensively. He wants to run it, then run it some more and play great defense. The reason why this hire fits is because it is the best of both worlds philosophically and schematically. If Kurt Roper’s offensive prowess brings anything to the offense it will be a proven background in the passing game that has been successful at every stop he has made. Having been schooled under David Cutcliffe’s tutelage, this scheme has had success in the SEC and it does not mean you have to abandon the run game or lack of physical style of play. The Gators will still run counter and power and zone, but what comes off of it in the passing game will be a dramatic difference and that difference will be attractive to prospective offensive recruits. The proof is in the pudding and I believe that when Roper lays down the blueprint in front of current and future commits, they will like what they see and hear. There is history in it and a lot of success to point to. This offense will be more diverse and attract QBs as well as there have been quite few players flourish in it. Do the Mannings ring a bell?

Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

We have had mixed feelings on Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School of Nova South) throughout the entire recruiting process. The bottom line is that we just don’t think he is a cornerback at the next level. We have watched him over and over and while he could survive on the perimeter as a press or hard Cover 2 player, we feel he would be exposed in man-to-man situations if matched-up against top flight, speedier and quicker targets. This is why we feel he is a better fit as a safety. He has size, range, good feet and is at his best playing the ball in front of him, not locked up in an off position and asked to mirror and track in coverage. He can do this at the high school level, but this will be an area of concern for him at the next level. We have concerns about his hip and transitional quickness to turn and run or stop, redirect and catch up if on an island. He would be a very nice boundary corner who would be a good matchup advantage against big, physical receiving threats. He could compete in jump ball matchups and be a nice player in the red zone. Just because we don’t feel he is the right fit at corner, does not mean we don’t think he isn’t a good player. He will have a chance to showcase his coverage skills at the Under Armour All-America game.

#AskLoogs: Impact recruits in SEC

November, 15, 2013
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So far, I believe there are several. Let’s start in the SEC West. Offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe), an Alabama pledge, is sure to make an instant impact at one of the two tackle spots. Defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin) is a huge need for the Texas A&M Aggies and should have an immediate role. If Johnny Manziel bolts for the NFL, QB Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) could be thrust into immediate duty. Running back Roc Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) is as big of a need as any for the Auburn Tigers and he is the right style of back.

In the SEC East, it is a little more muddy because there aren't as many immediate needs or impact guys committed just yet. For Tennessee, if Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech Senior) can stay healthy, he will play. In fact, several Vols could see immediate duty and they could also have up to 14 mid-year enrollees. Wide receiver Shaq Davidson (Gaffney, S.C./Gaffney) at South Carolina. Defensive end Denzel Ware (Crestview, Fla./Crestview) at Kentucky. And if Florida can hang on, there is no doubt that WR Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior) and RB Dalvin Cook (Miami/Miami Central) will have roles with the Gators.

#AskLoogs: Impact of South Florida RBs

November, 5, 2013
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Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) and Joseph Yearby (Miami/Miami Central) are actually very similar in both style and talent, which is why they are so close in the ESPN 300 rankings. Michel gets the edge with slightly more size and lower-body power, but has also had more of a history of being dinged up, which is a bit concerning.

The reason why these two are so similar is because they look very much alike in how they run the ball — low to the ground with sudden lateral agility and explosive second gears once they get to the second level.

Dalvin Cook (Miami/Miami Central) is a different type of guy, though. The more we study him, the higher ceiling we believe he has. He reminds us of last year’s Dontre Wilson, now at Ohio State. We make this comparison because Cook is such a dynamic athlete that he could easily be recruited as a receiver or corner, which is what makes him so attractive. This gives coaches options with Cook. He possesses just about every desirable trait you look for in a running back, including ball skills.

As to who makes the biggest impact, that is impossible to determine at this point. So much of that answer is dependent upon who makes the right choices in school, scheme and taking advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself. I do honestly feel all three are capable of making an impact, and early. Dare I say we like Yearby more than Duke Johnson coming out? Yes, we do.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Hmm. This is a tough question to answer without the finality of the 2014 class signing day to give me some concrete options to choose from. I’ll take a stab at a few teams that might fit the bill.

I’d argue that Auburn’s true freshmen have been as impactful as Ole Miss. RB Racean Thomas could continue this trend. Michigan could get significant production from WR Drake Harris, ATH Jabrill Peppers and DT Bryan Mone, and if they get Da'Shawn Hand, that could be big for them. All guys are need positions. Texas A&M, with DE Myles Garrett, QB Kyle Allen, ATH Nick Harvey -- and they could also end up with ATH Speedy Noil, too. If they stay committed, Florida could see a lot of offensive impact with the likes of RB Dalvin Cook (huge need) and WR Ermon Lane, too. Miami could be another on both sides of the ball.

However, if we were sitting here in February and assuming LSU closed like some are expecting with in-state talent, including RB Leonard Fournette, then I think you could see a lot of freshmen making an impact for the Tigers.

#AskLoogs: Gators in the fast Lane

October, 23, 2013
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Strength, speed and a penchant for making big plays. I truly believe that in two years, with the likes of Lane and current Gator Demarcus Robinson in the receiving corps, we will be seeing an entirely different group of athletes at Florida for whoever is the quarterback.

This position has been a thorn in the side of Florida fans since the 2008 season. Lane is capable of being a threat at all three levels of the passing game. He’s quick enough to make the underneath grab and turn a 5-yard catch in to a huge play after the catch, yet also big and physical enough to be a factor on the jump ball and in the red area on contested matchups. Lane adds size, which is something they don’t have too much of right now with the likes of Solomon Patton. Regardless of what Lane brings, the Gators must also decide what they want to be on offense to maximize the skill of the quarterback and thus maximize the ability to create matchups with their perimeter people.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

In my opinion, I would likely take Texas on resources and finances alone, but Florida would be a close second and nose to nose with USC.

Florida edges USC slightly because of the player pool available to them in the states that border Florida. USC does not have this luxury with the states that border California.

Texas is perhaps the biggest national brand in sports there is today. From a resources standpoint, they are the only team that could compete with Alabama when it comes to the ability to get things done when needed as a program. Fan base, alumni, booster support, player pool for recruiting, image, branding, etc., are all at a premier level, and this is why if Texas were to make a change that financially if they wanted to, they could get Nick Saban at Alabama to at least listen.

Texas might be down a bit now, but there is not a coach in America, including those at current top-10 programs, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be the coach at Texas. Yes, Texas is that big.

#AskLoogs: Hand vs. Clowney

September, 27, 2013
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No. On pure ability, we haven’t seen anyone the last eight years with his talent level, not even Robert Nkemdiche although he is a very, very close second. Da’Shawn Hand is a talented prospect, but is not blessed with the same stature or foot speed as Clowney. Hand is a hybrid player dependent upon scheme. If he were to attend Alabama or Florida we don’t feel he’d be a fulltime down lineman, we think he’d be a rush linebacker (Star or Jack) in a multiple 3-man front look. If he were to attend Michigan, we feel he would be a fulltime defensive end. However, he plays the position from a down stance much more like a 5-technique than a 9-technique yet he does not have the physical bulk yet to hold up as a five on an every down basis. Our concern with Hand has always been pad level and hip tightness. He is not an overly flexible lineman. His strengths are power, great hands and the ability to collapse the pocket. He is very strong. At some point he is going to bulk up into a 260-pound guy or more and then he might fit nicely as a 5-technique.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Dalvin Cook is a blend of last year’s Ryan Green at FSU and Dontre Wilson at Ohio State. Cook’s ability to play on both sides of the ball and also exclusively line up as a wide receiver give him so much value. He’s a big-play and exciting playmaker with the ball in his hands. Keep in mind he’s had to share carries with RB Joseph Yearby. He’s a player we feel could have an early role based on talent alone. Ermon Lane has a bit of a Da’Rick Rogers feel to him, only Lane will likely never weigh quite as much. The long, powerful stride, the thick upper body, the strength to break tackles and height to win jump balls in contested matchups make for a fair comparison to Rogers.

Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

As far as Adoree’ Jackson is concerned, I think the question is whether or not he cares about anyone’s depth chart. Knowing his personality and having seen him compete, I would wager that Jackson knows he’s the real deal and isn’t concerned about who else is playing his position. Also, I would be willing to bet the lure of the SEC is playing a big role, too. Florida is still looking to build more depth in the secondary, and we feel Quincy Wilson is going to end up as a safety or boundary corner. Jackson is an entirely different player than Wilson and is more like Vernon Hargreaves in that he is more of an island player. Before long, Loucheiz Purifoy will be gone as well, so if Jackson is looking at the big picture, I don’t think Florida’s recent commits scare him off at all. As far as Ermon Lane is concerned, this is perhaps the biggest pickup in Florida’s class. If the Gators have lacked anything recently, it’s been consistent playmakers with size and speed. With Demarcus Robinson likely starting as a true freshman, the need for someone opposite of him with similar ability really enhances their receiving corps.

#AskLoogs: Crafting the perfect QB

August, 8, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

Sure, we’ll give this a try with QB’s in the current 2014 class with the categories below…

Arm strength: Georgia commit Jacob Park (Stratford/Goose Creek, S.C.). This was close, could have put Alabama commit David Cornwell (Norman North/Norman, Okla.) here as well. The ball jumps out of Park's arm with velocity, power and RPMs to drive the ball vertically and into tight spots.

Accuracy: Stanford commit Keller Chryst (Palo Alto/Palo Alto, Calif.). Chryst shows terrific ball placement and timing with the ability to change ball speeds and drop the ball in over coverage to small windows. His ability to anticipate allows him to throw to a spot before the receiver breaks.

Delivery: Purdue commit David Blough. Is is an uncoachable trait, in my opinion, and one that is highly coveted. Blough pops the ball out of his hand with a lightning quick stroke. It is tight, compact and smooth.

Running ability: Florida commit Will Grier. He is a true dual-threat only when needed. If asked to be an integral part of the running game, Grier can really hurt you with his legs and is not a guy you want to let out of the pocket.

Mental toughness: Chryst. This is where his aptitude and upbringing (his uncle is Pitt coach Paul Chryst) come into play. Chryst is mature and capable of handling the ups and downs of the position having grown up around the game in ways few prospects have.

Competitiveness: LSU commit Brandon Harris. This was close; Texas A&M pledge Kyle Allen also fits the bill. Harris wants to be great and is willing to do what it takes to make it happen. He had received limited exposure and offers in the spring, but proved himself on the camp and combine circuit.

Poise: Clemson commit Deshaun Watson. Calm, cool and collected. Watson has a quiet swagger and calming pocket presence that exudes confidence and control. He weathers the peaks and valleys of the game with an even keel.

Instincts: Oklahoma commit Justice Hansen. Hansen and Grier could swap categories here. Hansen is just one of those guys that knows when to pull the trigger and is at his best when improvising and on the move. He has a sixth sense about where pressure is coming from, can evade defenders and keep plays alive instinctively.

#AskLoogs: Understanding Florida's class

August, 6, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

I would not be concerned at all. We have Florida at No. 13 in our class rankings. Limited numbers means the bulk of their current roster is young and intact which is a good thing. Sometimes fans falsely equate low numbers with a poor class when it’s actually the exact opposite. We think RB Dalvin Cook, the No. 20 prospect in the ESPN 300, is this year’s Ryan Green from the 2013 class. He could be special and a game-breaking type back. The Gators got the QB they wanted all along -- dual-threat quarterback Will Grier -- and got him early which was smart. They have continued to add to the secondary with Duke Dawson and J.C. Jackson which is a position of need for them. More than half of Florida's class is in the ESPN 300 and includes additions at each of the four premium positions -- defensive end, offensive tackle, quarterback and cornerback.


Florida AD Jeremy Foley joins Finebaum
Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley called into The Paul Finebaum Show to discuss the Florida football program, including their new coach.


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