September 02, 2008

RECRUITING: If the Gators can land Patchan they can land anyone

Today's UF-related links from The Miami Herald ...
LINK: UF football hopes to make strong impression with recruits
LINK: UF's Hicks proves to be a special player
LINK: Aubrey Hill, once a Gator, thriving as UM receivers coach

GAINESVILLE -- UF defensive lineman Matt Patchan grew up a Miami Hurricanes fan. His dad played for the 'Canes and so did his uncle. Why, then, did Patchan end up a Florida Gator? Maybe it had something to do with Miami's embarrassing 48-0 loss to Virginia last season in the Hurricanes' last game at the Orange Bowl.

I bring this up only to supplement my story in today's Miami Herald about how the Gators plan on impressing recruits from South Florida this weekend when the football team hosts Miami. Most recruits will tell you that when they attend a game as a guest of the home team, it doesn't matter if the team wins or loses. Guess what, folks? That's bologna!

About a dozen high-profile recruits from South Florida are attending Saturday's game as guests of the Florida Gators. You better believe it matters who wins and who loses. A Florida blowout WILL sway recruits. A Miami upset WILL sway recruits.

Florida coach Urban Meyer refers to the recruitment of Patchan as one of the most intense battles of his career. Patchan was such a Miami Hurricanes fan that it pained him to watch the 'Canes get blanked by Virginia last season. Everyone remembers these quote, right?

"There's too many guys that it doesn't bother them that they lost the game," Patchan told the Internet fan website, canesport.com. "There's too many guys now at the U that [say], `It's OK we lost. Well, what am I going to do tonight?' Like it doesn't mean anything. They need to get rid of those types of guys. Half those guys in Miami uniforms shouldn't be there -- they physically don't cut it.''

With that in mind, landing Patchan would have helped the 'Canes. The Gators' coaching staff is in love with the kid and his effort level. Patchan played more than 20 snaps in the Gators' season opener and Meyer said on Monday that Patchan deserves even more playing time against the 'Canes. Besides that, Meyer said that Patchan is "out of his mind" with emotion this week to play Miami.

Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney didn't help recruit Patchan but he certainly appreciates him. McCarney is one of the guys who helped morph South Florida defensive end George Selvie into one of the best players in the country. McCarney thinks he can do the same with Patchan.

“If we could bring four Matt Patchans into the program every year, if I’m guaranteed four Patchans, then I’ll promise you we will be making a run at the national championship on the defensive line,” McCarney said.

If Florida can successfully recruit the Matt Patchans of the world, then why can't Florida make a dent in UM coach Randy Shannon's recruiting monopoly in Miami-Dade County? A shutout on Saturday certainly would help the cause. Miami is starting a freshman quarterback with no experience. It could happen.

And you can go ahead and mark down a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration if Patchan sacks Robert Marve.

-jo-

Here's a list of South Florida recruits who are expected to attend Saturday's game, according to Rivals.com recruiting expert Adam Gorney: Denard Robinson (senior quarterback, Deerfield Beach), Jared Wheeler (senior offensive tackle, Plantation American Heritage), Jaamal Berry (senior running back, Miami Palmetto), Eugene Smith (senior quarterback, Miramar), Antwan Lowery (senior defensive tackle, Miami Columbus), Michael Carter (senior cornerback, Pompano Beach Blanche Ely), Rantavious Wooten (junior receiver, Belle Glade), Korvin Lamb (junior running back, Miami Northwestern), Todd Chandler (junior defensive tackle, Miami Northwestern), Eduardo Clements (junior receiver, Miami Booker T. Washington), Frankie Telfort (senior linebacker, Miami Gulliver Prep).

August 28, 2008

Meyer: Patchan could get a starting nod

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer said on Thursday evening that true freshman defensive lineman Matt Patchan could get the starting nod on Saturday. Seriously, Coach?

PatchanAccording to Meyer, Patchan [PICTURED, GREAT HAIR] is one of three players who could start at defensive tackle against Hawaii. The others are redshirt sophomores Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders.

Even if Patchan doesn't start, it's still quite a compliment for the kid to be considered worthy of a start in a season opener as a true freshman. And, considering Patchan's offseason, he must be one heck of a player. Defensive line coach Dan McCarney praised Patchan after Wednesday's practice. Gator Clause can't wait to watch this kid go. Sounds like he has the potential to be pretty special.

Patchan enrolled at UF for the spring semester and had a great spring practice despite some nagging injuries. Then, over the summer, Patchan was the victim of a seemingly random shooting near his hometown of Seffner. Patchan says he was lucky to walk away with his life. If that setback wasn't enough to discourage the freshman, he then strained his chest muscle while working out later in the summer.

The strained chest muscle limited Patchan's progression during the entire fall camp. He was only cleared for full contact drills on Monday. If you're counting, that means he has only practiced at full speed four times since the spring.

BACK-UP QUARTERBACKS
Meyer still won't name a back-up quarterback to Tebow. Can't damage the egos of reserve QBs Cam Newton and Jon Brantley, we suppose.

"We haven't settled on a back-up quarterback," Meyer said. "They're both fairly even and we hope to get them both in the game."

Get them BOTH in the game!?! This can only mean one thing: Florida must plan on beating Hawaii by at least 60 points.

-jo- 

August 04, 2008

Live from practice...Ronnie Wilson looks good; So does Frankie Hammond Jr.; And guess who's a safety now...

Really upset with Krispy Kreme. The doughnuts are not fresh...Here's a link to my story in today's Miami Herald! Gators Hope To Blaze Trail to National Title. Here's a public-service link: Miami Heat dance team tryouts photo gallery! Sorry if the picture quality in this blog post isn't up to snuff. Deal, folks. I used my BlackBerry.

(If you noticed any typos earlier this morning it's because I wrote this blog on the BlackBerry as fast as possible...It has since been edited.)

GAINESVILLE -- The sun isn't up yet and already I've been at practice for 35 minutes. Freshmen and walk-ons are the only players practicing this fine morning. A few quick notes...

-T.J. Lawrence appears to be the Gators' latest safety convert. Lawrence, who was recruited as a receiver, is wearing a white practice jersey (meaning he's a defender; offense is in blue) and learning how to backpedal and defend. Safeties coach Chuck Heater is correcting his mistakes every five seconds. Yep, he's a safety now. Now Urban is actually working one-on-one with Lawrence.

Ronniewilson-Ronnie Wilson [PICTURED] of Pompano Beach Blanche Ely is practicing at defensive tackle. Wilson was kicked off the team last year for firing an assault rifle into the air near a downtown nightclub. Notice how there's no stripe on Ronnie's helmet. Guess that means he's already a part of the team. (For those who don't know what I'm talking about, incoming freshmen at UF have thin stripes on their helmets during preseason camp. When coaches take the stripe off, it signifies that you're officially a member of the team. Major Wright was the first player to be de-striped last season. Percy Harvin had the honor the year before that. I'm calling for Jeffrey Demps to lose his stripe first this season.)

Adrian-Texas cornerback Adrian Bushell [PICTURED] is in street clothes. Guess he hasn't made it through the NCAA Clearinghouse yet. Bushell didn't practice but he was still up early with the rest of the freshman. He was reading a sheet of paper throughout practice and following around cornerback's coach Vance Bedford. Assuming the paper was some kind of practice schedule or tip sheet.

-Jeffrey Demps is a strong freshman. He's bigger than Chris Rainey. (Well, that's not saying much.)

-Omar Hunter is a beast. He doesn't look out of shape to me. This guy is already bigger than John Brown.

-Matt Patchan is participating in drills but D-line coach Dan McCarney is telling him to take it easy. Patchan is looking good.

-John Brown and Brandon Hicks are practicing with the freshmen. Punishment? The probably have to take tests this afternoon, says UF's people. Summer B isn't over yet.

-Staying with the defensive line theme: Hoover, Ala., defensive end William Green is tall and lean. This guy is really fast. He could play linebacker. Speaking of speed, Matt Patchan is pretty fast. He looks to weigh about 250 pounds. Green appears to be about 225 at the most.

-Defensive backs coach Vance Bedford's metaphorical coaching technique: "You're a cat. You're hungry and you want to eat."

Corners Janoris Jenkins and Jeremy Brown are apparently hungry and sleepy.

-Bedford is a crowd pleaser. He just called himself "gangsta.'"

Now he's dancing and talking about "Bullet" Bob Hayes. Hysterical.

Frankie-Hallandale native Frankie Hammond Jr. [PICTURED] appears to have put on some muscle over the offseason. He looks good and just made an impressive diving catch near the sideline. Wow! Another great catch by Frankie Hammond Jr. He is definitely the highlight of the first practice. He caught a pass in traffic and then cut to the outside and blew past three defenders.

-More Bedford, as he walks off the field to fans: "Y'all got no life but you love football." I love this Bedford guy.

OK, that's it. Check back around 5 p.m. for a live blog from today's second practice. Will try to snap a picture or two of Tebow.

RecruithatOh, a final picture to share with y'all. A lot of people have been asking me to post a recent picture of myself up on the blog. I snapped this photo yesterday in the dog park. That's my new hat. (That's Guinness, my dog, behind my head.) I'm wearing the hat every day to practice (and maybe games) this season. (My offering of sarcasm to the ridiculousness of the recruiting craze.) I'm a six-star recruit. I write stories in 4.19 seconds.

-jo-

August 03, 2008

CAMP COUNTDOWN: Seven strengths in seven days...No.1: Experience, of course

Less than 24 hours until fall camp. Hope everyone enjoyed our CAMP COUNTDOWN. Posted below are individual links to the series...

7: TIGHT ENDS
6: SPECIAL TEAMS
5: BRANDON SPIKES
4: OFFENSIVE LINE
3: WIDE RECEIVERS
2: QUARTERBACKS
1: And the No.1 team strength entering fall camp is ... experience.

GAINESVILLE -- Last season was more about learning than it was about winning for the Florida Gators. The team that won a national championship in 2006 and the team that returned for 2007 were entirely different. From Tim Tebow to Urban Meyer, everyone had something to learn. Experience came in different forms.

061201_meyer_hmed_5phmediumFor Meyer, 2007 was the first time he had ever been a third-year head coach with a team. There were signs of inexperience. A number of Gators were arrested in the offseason following the national championship. The experience led to some in-house changes this offseason, including the hiring of full-time player mentor Terry Jackson. Distractions were limited this offseason. (Jamar Hornsby was dismissed from the team but that was addition by subtraction. Just my opinion.)

For Tebow, 2007 was about learning how to lead. He cried after losing to Georgia. The quarterback displayed a much different emotion after the Michigan defeat. He was just plain angry and admitted that his team lacked focus leading up to the bowl game.

Brandon Spikes wasn't in top form last August when the 2007 fall camp began. The experience helped him prepare his body correctly this offseason. Now, UF strength coach Mickey Marotti says Spikes is one of the Gators' most physically fit players.

Ncf_g_haden2_195One of the Gators' starting cornerbacks was a true freshman last season and the other was still learning how to play football. As a result, Florida's secondary was the worst in the Southeastern Conference. Joe Haden [PICTURED] and Wondy Pierre-Louis begin this season as preseason all-SEC defenders.

Those are just a few examples of how the Gators begin fall camp on Monday with the experience needed to vie for a conference and national championship. All told, the Gators return 17 starters. Depth and team speed are two of the Gators' greatest team strengths this season but experience might be the most important.

"With guys leaving early now -- and our championship year we had four guys on defense leave as juniors; last year we lost Derrick Harvey as a junior -- I think the shift of leadership has to go from the young players," Meyer said. "That's a big point of discussion with our group, and already has been, that just because you're a senior, that's not entitlement. We had some issues a year ago that weren't very good for our outfit. (Tony Joiner/Kyle Jackson?) If you're a sophomore, you walk the walk, talk the talk, do everything the right way, then you're a leader."

OK, with the countdown done and fall camp set to begin. Let's have some fun and predict the two-deep depth chart for offense and defense.

OFFENSE
LT: Phil Trautwein; Matt Patchan
LG: Jim Tartt; Carl Johnson
C: Maurkice Pouncey; Mike Pouncey
RG: Mike Pouncey; James Wilson
RT: Jason Watkins; Marcus Gilbert
TE: Cornelius Ingram; Aaron Hernandez
WR: Percy Harvin; Deonte Thompson
WR: Louis Murphy; Justin Williams
WR: Carl Moore; David Nelson
RB: Kestahn Moore; Emmanuel Moody
QB: Tim Tebow; Cameron Newton

DEFENSE
DE: Jermaine Cunningham; Carlos Dunlap
DT: Javier Estopinan; Torrey Davis
DT: Terron Sanders; John Brown
DE: Justin Trattou; Duke Lemmens
SLB: A.J. Jones; Ryan Stamper
MLB: Brandon Spikes; Lorenzo Edwards
WLB: Dustin Doe; Brandon Hicks
SS: Ahmad Black; Will Hill
FS: Major Wright; Will Hill
CB: Joe Haden; Markihe Anderson
CB: Wondy Pierre-Louis; Jacques Rickerson

SPECIALISTS
K: Caleb Sturgis; Jonathan Phillips
P: Chas Henry; Caleb Sturgis
PR: Brandon James; Chris Rainey
KR: Brandon James; Chris Rainey

FRIENDLY REMINDER: Free doughnuts!!!

-jo-

June 29, 2008

Top Five Newcomers: No.1 Emmanuel Moody

If you're reading this blog for the first time today, then you've already missed our five-part blog series on the football team's top five newcomers. Don't worry. You can catch up. Just click on the names of the previous "Top Five Newcomers" right here:

NO.2 OMAR HUNTER, NO.3 CARL MOORE, NO.4 WILL HILL, NO.5 MATT PATCHAN

GAINESVILLE -- No.1 on our list of top newcomers is USC transfer running back Emmanuel Moody. We here at Gator Clause don't necessarily think Moody is the best addition to the Gators' roster, but we do believe that Moody's potential impact is greater than any newcomer.

Ncf_moody_200Why, exactly? Well, the Gators start and stop with the success and health of Tim Tebow and Moody, if he's productive, might be the guy that keeps Tebow out of the trainer's room this season and on the field. That's right. The more Moody carries the ball the less likely the Gators' superstar quarterback gets injured.

Tebow didn't miss a game last season but that doesn't mean he didn't sustain injury. Tim received shots of a painkiller in his right (none throwing) shoulder for much of the season. He then broke his non-throwing hand against Florida State.

Even more than a better defense, a healthy Tebow is what the Gators need to win a national championship. Moody, the USC transfer who redshirted last season, might be the key. Moody showed glimpses of his potential his freshman season at USC. He had several solid games before being limited by injuries.

A digression here: I'm still scratching my head as to why, exactly, Moody transferred to Florida. He says he left USC to become a featured running back but a featured back is one thing Urban Meyer's and Dan Mullen's offense does not produce. Moody might be the first, who knows? But I doubt it.

0817moody_2Moody probably should have gone to North Carolina if he wanted 20+ carries a game. Why do we mention all of this? We're wondering if Moody will become a distraction if he doesn't get the amount of carries he needs to feel like a major contributor. Moody could have stayed at USC if he wanted a chance to win a national title. He wants to run the ball and the guy isn't afraid to speak his mind, something most UF players do not do.

We'll keep an eye on Moody's morale during preseason practice and two-a-days. If you believe Urban Meyer (which I don't in this case), then the starting running back position isn't even Moody's right now. According to Meyer, Kestahn Moore is still the starter. Meyer swears by Moore. This is strange because if Meyer went back and watched at few game films from last season, then he would be swearing at the fumbles Moore coughed up in close games. Our guess: Meyer is just playing head games with Moody. Meyer got on Moody's case after he fumbled in the end zone during the spring game. It seems like flawed logic that Meyer would berate Moody publicly Si_2007for one fumble in a spring game but still allow Moore to be on the team after the costly fumbles last season. (A side note to this Moody-Moore situation. The two Texans played against each other in little league football.)

OK, digression over. Back on topic...Moody, more than any newcomer, is the key to the Gators' success in 2008. When Moody first showed up last season, all Meyer would say to him when they ran into each other in the football facility was, "I sure hope you're good." There was a reason for that.

[Check out this SI cover from 2007. That's Moody on the left. Instead of splitting time at USC last year, he decided to transfer to UF and sit out a season. Wonder if Moody will make the 2008 SI college football preview cover as a Gator this time around?]

-jo-


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