A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning:
WILL TRASK BE THE SIXTH QB TAKEN IN THE FIRST ROUND?
You won’t find a single mock draft out there that has Florida quarterback Kyle Trask selected in the first round of next week’s NFL Draft. Mel Kiper of ESPN, considered by most the foremost expert on the draft rates Trask as his 6th-ranked QB but the folks who do the mock drafts tend to disagree with that assessment.
Dane Brugler of The Athletic gives Trask a fourth-round grade and has Stanford’s Davis Mills, who threw 18 touchdown passes in two seasons (Trask threw 66 including 41 last year) rated higher. Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports has Trask going to the New Orleans Saints at the end of the third round in a compensatory pick (No. 98 overall), 46 spots lower than Mills. Jason Risdom of something called Real GM has Trask going in the fifth or sixth round.
Peter King, who spent 29 years with Sports Illustrated before moving over to NBC Sports, is as well connected with NFL owners, executives, coaches and scouts as anyone in the country. King agrees that Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Zach Wilson (BYU), Justin Fields (Ohio State), Mac Jones (Alabama) and Trey Lance (North Dakota State) are mortal locks for the first round, but he’s hearing that Trask has a chance to be the sixth QB taken, something that hasn’t happened since 1983 when the six selections were John Elway, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Ken O’Brien, Todd Blackledge and Tony Eason.
The knock on Trask is that he doesn’t have elite arm strength, but he threw only 15 interceptions in 813 passes during his UF career and had a 67.9 completion percentage. Pro Football Focus, King points out, gave Trask a 71.1 rating when throwing under duress, one of the higher ratings. Trask isn’t going to beat people with his legs, but he moves in the pocket very well and tends to throw the football where only his receivers can catch it.
King believes Trask would be a good first round fit with the New Orleans Saints where the veteran QBs on the roster are Taysom Hill, who was often injured during his college days at BYU and has thrown for 1,047 yards and four TDs in his pro career, and Jameis Winston, who completed 30 passes to the other team in his final year at Tampa Bay. If the Saints are thinking long term solution that doesn’t have to play immediately, Trask might be the perfect fit. It’s interesting also that Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported that the Saints seemed quite enamored with Trask at Florida’s Pro Day.
The first round might be a longshot, but I can see Trask in the second without a lot of trouble and I would almost bet the farm he goes before the likes of Shane Buechele (SMU) and Georgia’s NHTW (Near Heisman Trophy Winner) Jamie Newman, who Risdom ranks higher.
GATORS MOVE UP IN BASEBALL POLLS
A 4-0 week that saw the Gators (25-11, 9-6 SEC) get a walk-off win over Florida State and a 3-game sweep over Missouri paid off at the polls. The Gators moved up in all four of the major college baseball polls, advancing as high as No. 12 in the poll run by Collegiate Baseball. The Gators travel to Jacksonville (7-22) tonight in a non-conference matchup and resume SEC play this weekend at Auburn (14-18, 2-13 SEC). Freshman lefty Timmy Manning (0-0, 4.50 ERA) is expected to get the start for UF.
Collegiate Baseball poll: 1. Arkansas 30-6; 2. Vanderbilt 28-6; 3. Texas 30-8; 4. Mississippi State 27-8; 5. TCU 26-9; 6. Tennessee 29-8; 7. South Carolina 24-10; 8. Louisville 22-11; 9. Ole Miss 26-10; 11. East Carolina 26-5; 12. FLORIDA 25-11; 13. Stanford 22-7; 14. Notre Dame 18-7; 15. Oregon 22-8; 16. Arizona 23-11; 17. Michigan 18-7; 18. Pittsburgh 20-11; 19. UCLA 21-11; 20. Oklahoma State 21-10-1; 21. Georgia 23-12; 22. Oregon State 24-10; 23. Arizona State 19-11; 24. UC-Irvine 22-11; 25. UC-Santa Barbara 24-10; 26. Stony Brook 19-8; 27. Miami 21-11; 28. Nebraska 18-6; 29. Charlotte 25-10; 30. Old Dominion 27-7.
USA Today Coaches poll: 1. Arkansas 30-6; 2. Vanderbilt 28-6; 3. Texas 30-8; 4. Mississippi State 27-8; 5. Tennessee 29-8; 6. Texas Tech 26-8; 7. TCU 26-9; 8. East Carolina 26-5; 9. Louisville 22-11; 10. Ole Miss 26-10; 11. South Carolina 24-10; 12. Notre Dame 18-7; 13. Oregon 22-8; 14. FLORIDA 25-11; 15. Louisiana Tech 26-9; 16. Stanford 22-7; 17. Arizona 23-11; 18. Pittsburgh 20-11; 19. Oklahoma State 21-10-1; 20. Old Dominion 27-7; 21. Charlotte 25-10; 22. Virginia Tech 20-12; 23. Michigan 18-7; 24. Indiana State 20-8; 25. Miami 21-11.
D1Baseball.com poll: 1. Arkansas 30-6; 2. Vanderbilt 28-6; 3. Texas 30-8; 4. Mississippi State 27-8; 5. Texas Tech 26-8; 6. Tennessee 29-8; 7. Louisville 22-11; 8. TCU 26-9; 9. East Carolina 26-5; 10. Notre Dame 18-7; 11. South Carolina; 12. Ole Miss 26-10; 13. Oregon 22-8; 14. Louisiana Tech 26-9; 15. FLORIDA 25-11; 16. Pittsburgh 20-11; 17. Stanford 22-7; 18. Arizona 23-11; 19. Charlotte 25-10; 20. Old Dominion 27-7; 21. Indiana State 20-8; 22. Virginia Tech 20-12; 23. Michigan 18-7; 24. Oklahoma State 21-10-1; 25. Florida State 18-14.
Baseball America poll: 1. Arkansas 30-6; 2. Mississippi State 27-8; 3. Vanderbilt 28-6; 4. Louisville 22-11; 5. Texas 30-8; 6. Notre Dame 18-7; 7. Tennessee 29-8; 8. East Carolina 26-5; 9. South Carolina 24-10; 10. Texas Tech 26-8; 11. TCU 26-9; 12. Ole Miss 26-10; 13. Arizona 23-11; 14. Oregon 22-8; 15. Virginia Tech 20-12; 16. Pittsburgh 20-11; 17. Florida State 18-12; 18. FLORIDA 25-11; 19. Louisiana Tech 26-9; 20. Georgia Tech 17-14; 21. Stanford 22-7; 22. Oregon State 24-10; 23. Michigan 18-7; 24. Indiana State 20-8; 25. Old Dominion 27-7.
GATORS JUMP ALABAMA IN SOFTBALL POLL
The Gators (32-6, 12-3 SEC) moved up one spot to third in the most recent softball poll after taking two out of three from then 3rd-ranked Alabama. The Gators will travel to Florida Gulf Coast Wednesday and will play host to
D1Softball.com poll: 1. Oklahoma 33-0; 2. UCLA 25-2; 3. FLORIDA 32-6; 4. Washington 34-6; 5. Alabama 33-7; 6. Florida State 31-6; 7. Arkansas 36-5; 8. Oregon 28-8; 9. Oklahoma State 35-5; 10. Arizona State 28-11; Arizona 27-8; 12. LSU 26-14; 13. Virginia Tech 28-7; 14. Texas 31-6; 16. Missouri 32-10; 18. Clemson 32-4; 19. Tennessee 32-7; 20. Wichita State 32-5-1; 21. Minnesota 22-6; 22. Michigan 21-4; 23. Duke 30-10; 24. Ole Miss 28-15; 25. UCF 30-12-1.
GATORS FALL TO NO. 1 WISCONSIN IN NCAA VOLLEYBALL QUARTERFINALS
The curtain came down on Florida’s volleyball season Monday evening in Omaha when the Gators (21-4) gave No. 1 seed Wisconsin all it could handle before falling in the fifth and deciding set of the NCAA quarterfinals. The Gators dominated the fourth set behind Thayer Hall to take a 25-18 win, forcing Wisconsin into a fifth set for the first time all season. Florida held a 9-6 lead in the fifth set before Wisconsin rallied to take the set and the match.
OVER, UNDER, AROUND AND THROUGH THE SEC (FOOTBALL/HOOPS)
Alabama: One of the big surprises this spring has been last year’s fourth string running back Roydell Williams, who ran for 43 yards and caught passes for 65 on A-Day.
Arkansas: HBC Sam Pittman, who didn’t have a spring practice last year, says, “I think we could have a special team. I’m not saying we’ll go 12-0 but we should be able to compete in every single game on our schedule.”
Auburn: Wide receiver Elijah Canion made a huge move during spring practice. During the A-Day game he caught a game-high six passes for 51 yards and a TD. No other receiver caught more than two passes.
Georgia: Paul Finebaum says Georgia is a legitimate championship contender but the issues are the same as they were last year. “I think it’s fairly similar, I mean this is what Kirby Smart does,” Finebaum said on WJOX. “He recruits elite athletes. This is one of the four or five top programs in the country, can they win the right games for us to say they’re going to the playoffs. Simple as that.”
Kentucky: Kentucky is expected to make a big play for Iowa transfer C.J. Fredrick, a Covington Catholic product who shot 47.4 percent from the 3-point line last season.
LSU: New offensive coordinator Jake Peetz was brought in to dial up an offense similar to the one LSU used to go unbeaten and win the 2019 national championship. After watching what Peetz has done in the LSU spring game, Coach O said, “Great job of bringing back the Joe Brady offense and spreading the ball around.”
Mississippi State: Ben Howland landed his second big time transfer in the last three days when D.J. Jeffries (6-7, 225) announced he is leaving Memphis to play for Mississippi State.
Missouri: Despite losing nine players including six transfers, basketball coach Cuonzo Martin says he’s not concerned. “If they want to go somewhere else and play and be successful, have fun, whatever it is they're looking for, give them the right to do that,” Martin said. “So it wasn't a problem for me at all."Ole Miss: The defense was the big story for Ole Miss at its Saturday scrimmage, quite the contrast from 2020 when the Rebels gave up 38.3 points and 519 yards per game.
South Carolina: A.J. Lawson has declared for the NBA Draft and will hire an agent. Lawson averaged 16.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last season ... South Carolina baseball has increased capacity to 50 percent at Founders Park.
Tennessee: Former Michigan quarterback Joe Milton has transferred to Tennessee. Milton threw for 1,077 yards and four touchdowns in six games last year.
Texas A&M: The exit sign remains well lit in Aggieland. Freshman forward Jaxson Robinson (6-7, 193) and LaDamien Bradford (6-4, 223) became the seventh and eighth players to transfer out. Robinson averaged 2.1 points and 1.1 rebounds while Bradford scored four total points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Vanderbilt: Jerry Stackhouse scored big on the transfer trail with commitments from Rodney Chatman (6-1, 180, SR, from Dayton) and Terren Frank (6-8, 235, FR, from TCU). Chatman averaged 7.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 12 games in an injury-shortened season. Frank averaged 1.9 points and 0.9 rebounds.
ALEX SMITH RETIRES
Without Alex Smith, the Florida Gators might not have won the 2006 and 2008 national championships. Smith, it turned out, was the perfect fit for what was then a highly experimental spread option offense run by Urban Meyer. Prior to Meyer’s arrival at Utah in 2003, Smith ran for -11 yards and completed 2-4 passes for four yards. In 2003, he threw for 2,247 yards and 15 TDs while running for 452 and five more to lead the Utes to a 10-2 season. In 2004, Smith was brilliant, throwing for 2,952 yards and 32 touchdowns with 631 rushing yards and 10 more as Utah went unbeaten. Those two seasons made Meyer the hottest coaching property in the country, which led to Florida hiring him to replace Ron Zook. The rest is history.
Smith had a good but not great pro career in which he led 23 comebacks and 19 game winning drives. He retired Monday having thrown 199 touchdown passes over 14 seasons. He missed the 2008 season with an injured shoulder and suffered a horrendous knee/leg injury in 2018 while playing with Washington. He missed all of 2019 and then made an amazing comeback in 2020 in which he started six games.
ONE FINAL PITHY THOUGHT: Some people, I guess, have never heard about Matt Corral, the Ole Miss quarterback who only threw for 3,337 yards while averaging 10.2 per pass attempt and completed 70.9 percent of his passes while throwing for 29 touchdowns last year. He also ran for 506 yards and four touchdowns. This was with a brand new head coach, brand new offense and no spring football. He has 10 games as a starter and now a spring football under his belt plus an offensive line that returns four starters. JT Daniels played in four games at Georgia and while he did very well in those four games it’s not like he played anyone special (I don’t consider Cincinnati special, sorry Group of Five). He had an entire seven games to get ready for his first start, which begs the question, if he was that good – and lest we forget CLEARED to play medically in September – then why didn’t he start against Florida or at least come into the game when Stetson Bennett IV struggled against the WORST defense in Florida history? So someone tell me please why Barrett Sallee of CBSSports.com writes “Georgia will enter 2021 with the best quarterback in the SEC (JT Daniels) … “? Must be the Kool-Aid.