Hey Gator Clausers, this is Mike "Mike" McCall, and I'll be filling in for Joe (pictured) while he's out in California snowboarding on a belated honeymoon. Guy spends a week on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale, and now he's in Lake Tahoe. Tough, right?
Anyway, big news from Florida's national championship celebration on Sunday, as quarterback Tim Tebow announced he's coming back for his senior season.
(Here's the story in today's Miami Herald: LINK)
As it stands, the Gators are probably a lock for preseason No. 1, even if linebacker Brandon Spikes and receiver Percy Harvin, the other two juniors considering a jump to the NFL, skip town. They'll have at least 10 starters back on defense, including what might be the nation's best secondary next season, and the d-line has nowhere to go but up with Dan McCarney running the show.
On offense, it won't be easy to absorb the losses of receiver Louis Murphy, running back Kestahn Moore and half of the offensive line, but Jeffery Demps, Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody should combine for a pretty solid rushing attack, and Tebow probably won't have much trouble making David Nelson, Riley Cooper, Deonte Thompson, Carl Moore and Aaron Hernandez a dangerous unit.
Things are looking good for UF to have the best team in the country again, and here's the thing -- they're going to get Spikes back too. Here's why:
Clue 1 - Spikes (left) didn't attend Sunday's ceremony because he's spending time with family. He doesn't get to see his mom often because she lives in North Carolina, so he's enjoying it while he can. If he planned to jump to the NFL later this week (the deadline is Thursday), don't you think he'd want to enjoy the championship festivities before he bails? No, he's chillin' with mom before he has to get back to class.
Clue 2 - Linebacker Ryan Stamper said Spikes told him after the Oklahoma game, and repeatedly throughout the season, that he's coming back. Now, these stories aren't always true (Carlos Dunlap claimed Tebow told him he'd return last week, but Tim said that was false), but there's another reason to believe Spikes is coming back.
Clue 3 - Just like the rest of Gator Nation, Spikes loves him some Tebow. The first time they met was outside then-Alabama coach Mike Shula's office on a recruiting trip, and Spikes immediately told Tebow he would sign wherever the big lefty did. He followed up on that, and after saying this season that Tebow's NFL decision would be a heavy influence, expect him to follow suit again.
If you're wondering, here are some of the reasons why Spikes is considering the NFL: LINK
With Spikes back, that would mean the ENTIRE defensive two-deep will remain in tact, plus safety Dorian Munroe will return from injury. Harvin would be the tougher guy to replace, as there's simply no one even capable of playing his position, but once Tebow and Spikes are in, maybe they can guilt trip Harvin into staying.
And Harvin might not even need that much convincing. He said in a TV interview after the celebration that he's leaning toward coming back. I still find that hard to believe, although Harvin has surprised me plenty of times this season by being more of a team player than I thought, like when he asked coach Urban Meyer before the season if he could help out in the secondary.
THE NEXT HARVIN?
If Harvin does leave, Meyer may have found the next-best thing. Andre Debose, one of the nation's top high school receiver prospects, is committed to play for UF.
Debose has a knack for running with the ball, and he was in Gainesville on Saturday, where he was serenaded by Gators fans during the basketball team's win against Mississippi.
Check out Debose's highlight reel. Not bad.
BLACK TALKS SOME SMACK
If you missed the celebration on TV, here's the best part (besides Tebow's announcement, of course). They did this slightly awkward, forced thing where Mike and Maurkice Pouncey interview teammates, and it was kinda lame until safety Ahmad Black dropped this gem.
Maurkice asked him about his huge interception against the Sooners, when he pulled the ball away from OU's Juaquin Iglesias, and Black's response was pretty brief: "I think Iglesias might have to go get in the weight room a little more."
HEVESY GONE, ADDAZIO NEXT?
It looks like Dan Mullen is going to raid the fridge on his way out of UF to Mississippi State. He has tight ends coach John Hevesy on board to go with him, and he might pull a few recruits too.
Greg Reid, a defensive back from Valdosta, decomitted from UF and is looking around again, and the Bulldogs are on his radar, although people who supposedly know stuff about recruiting say he should still be headed to Gainesville.
More importantly, newly-appointed offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, Mullen's replacement, is a leading candidate for Boston College's open head coaching position, which they inexplicably haven't filled yet with demigod offensive coordinator Steve Logan.
Anyway, Addazio missed the ceremony because he's in the hospital with a knee infection, and Meyer said he should be fine, and that "He's a great coach. [B.C.] should request permission to talk with him."
FUN WITH MEYER
If you find Urban Meyer's personality a little...interesting, as I do, then you might enjoy this, which must have taken entirely too long to put together: LINK