Thoughts of the Day: April 9, 2020


For the most part, Dan Mullen doesn’t have much to worry about when it comes to his 2020 football roster. Oh, a player or two might transfer out or in and there is always the possibility someone could be dismissed for breaking the rules, but he doesn’t have to worry about the NFL Draft. C.J. Henderson is the only underclassman to declare for the draft and he’s a lock to go in the first round.

Mike White got good news on Monday that Scottie Lewis is coming back instead of declaring for the NBA Draft. White still waits the decisions by Keyontae Johnson and Andrew Nembhard, but if mock drafts are any indicator of things to come, Johnson has a shot at going in the second round but it’s not a particularly good one. Nobody has Nembhard in their mocks and he’s considered more of a prospect for the European leagues than the NBA. Europe will still be waiting for him no matter what choice he makes. Right now, it would seem likely that both Nembhard and Johnson will come back, which means barring an unexpected transfer, White has all 13 scholarships filled for the 2020-21 season.

Consider Mullen and White extremely fortunate, particularly when you take a look at the dilemma Kevin O’Sullivan faces with the UF baseball team. When the season came to an abrupt end in early March, the Gators were ranked #1 in every single poll. In the weeks since then, the NCAA has granted another year of eligibility for all spring sports athletes. That means Florida seniors Kirby McMullen, Austin Langworthy and Nick Blasucci can all come back next year. Having those three returning would be good, but come back or leave is not a real issue. O’Sullivan has some potential problems ahead when Major League Baseball holds its annual draft, right now expected in July instead of the normal slot in June.

It’s a virtual lock that O’Sullivan is going to lose the two aces of his pitching staff – junior righthanders Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich. ranks Mace the #28 prospect in college baseball and Leftwich #48. If that ranking holds when MLB drafts in July, Mace will go in the first round and Leftwich either in the first or second. Since both Mace and Leftwich are proven commodities who have pitched in the Southeastern Conference, a league that the MLB scouts say is the equivalent of a mid-to-high Class A minor league, their draft positions may move higher since the high school season was cut in half in Florida and more than that in most states. Proven pitchers will take priority.

As he does every time MLB holds a draft, O'Sullivan will be sweating the loss of some of the high school pitchers he signed. In his fourth-ranked recruiting class of 2020, O'Sullivan signed seven pitchers: RHP Chase Centala (6-1, 185, Tampa, FL Sickles); RHP LeBarron Johnson (6-4, 200, Jacksonville, FL Paxon); LHP Timmy Manning (6-2, 175, Pompano Beach, FL Cardinal Gibbons); RHP Jackson Nezuh (6-2, 175, St. Cloud, FL TNXL Academy); RHP Carson Pillsbury (6-3, 205, Inverness, FL Seven Rivers Christian Academy); RHP Blake Purnell (6-3, 190, Boynton Beach, FL St. Thomas Aquinas) and RHP Ryan Slater (6-3, 170, Palm Harbor, FL East Lake).

Here is what says about the pitchers:

Centala: Throws in the low 90s. 9.5 rating which means potentially will go in the first 10 rounds. Johnson: Throws low-to-mid 90s. 10 rating which means potentially will go in the first two rounds.

Manning: Throws upper 80s with a great breaking ball. 9.5 rating.

Nezuh: Throws low 90s with a good curve ball. Also middle infielder. 9.0 rating which means potentially first 10 rounds.

Pillsbury: Throws upper 80s to 90. May project more as a catcher/3B. 9.0 rating.

Purnell: No rating given. Also plays outfield.

Slater: No rating given. Throws upper 80s. Also plays 3B/SS.

The rest of the recruiting class consists of: SS Jordan Carrion (6-1, 160, Miami, FL American Heritage); 1B John (TJ) Curd (6-0, 190, Port St. Lucie Treasure Coast); C Mac Guscette (6-0, 193, Nokomis, FL Venice); SS Colby Halter (6-1, 205, Jacksonville, FL Bishop Kenny); 3B Wyatt Langford (6-1, 220, Trenton, FL); 3B Coby Mayo (6-4, 215, Coral Springs, FL Majory Stoneman Douglas); SS Tyler Shelnut (6-1, 175, Lake City, FL Fort White); SS Sterlin Thompson (6-3, 185, Ocala, FL North Marion); and OF Zac Veen (6-4, 195, Port Orange, FL Spruce Creek).

Here is what Perfect Game says about the others:

Carrion: Projects as a shortstop but also pitches with a 92 mph fast ball. 10 rating.

Curd: Lefty who plays first, pitches and outfield. Throws upper 80s. 9.5 rating.

Guscette: Excellent defensive catcher who ha good power in the gaps. 10 rating.

Halter: Shortstop with good power at the plate. Also pitches with a 92 mph fast ball. Gets a 10 rating.

Langford: Plays 3B, 1B, OF and catches. Serious hitter with power. Another 10 rating by Perfect Game.

Mayo: Big time power hitter who is a super corner infielder. Another one with a 10 rating.

Shelnut: Shortstop who also pitches with an upper 80s fast ball. Line drive hitter. Gets a 9.0 rating.

Thompson: Plays the left side of the infield. Puts up big power numbers that will improve when he fills out. Another 10 rating.

Veen: He could be one of the first 5-10 players selected in the MLB Draft. Lefty hitter who hits for average and power. A 10, of course.

When you break down the Florida recruiting class, it’s easy to see that O’Sullivan could lose more than half these guys if they get drafted high enough. If there is an advantage it is in the fact that a late draft doesn’t give the kids much time to negotiate since school will begin in August. Not every kid drafted high will elect to sign. Here are the kids that seem more likely to sign: Veen, Manning, Mayo, Carrion, Halter and Nezuh. But, once again, the lateness of the draft probably means more of a premium on college players and that could drop down some of the highly ranked high school kids nationwide. If that happens, O’Sullivan will have a real dilemma on his hands. The scholarships if McMullen, Langworthy and Blassuci return won’t count against the 11.9 the NCAA allows. With only three seniors on a roster that was dominated by freshmen and sophomores, there will have to be some serious roster management and we could see a number of transfers.


Although the Gators didn’t get a chance to redeem themselves in March for a disappointing regular season, the Gators have a strong enough roster with the additions of three freshmen to go with redshirt transfers Anthony Duruji and Tyree Appleby to field the best roster top to bottom that Mike White has had in his five previous seasons. Jack Woo of Sports Illustrated came out with his all-too-early top 25 for the 2020-21 season with Villanova in the top spot. The Gators rank #18 with Kentucky (6) and Tennessee (12) also in the rankings from the SEC.

Woo’s preseason ranking seems to fit fairly well with what ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi projects. He has the Gators a 6th-seed in the South Regional. Also making it from the SEC in Lunardi’s brackets are Kentucky (1, South), Tennessee (5, Midwest), LSU (7, East), Arkansas (8, East) and South Carolina (11, East).

SI all-too-early top 25

(1) Villanova; (2) Gonzaga; (3) Baylor; (4) Virginia; (5) Creighton; (6) Kentucky; (7) Duke; (8) Iowa; (9) Kansas; (10) Texas Tech; (11) Michigan State; (12) Tennessee; (13) Houston; (14) Wisconsin; (15) Florida State; (16) Ohio State; (17) UCLA; (18) FLORIDA; (19) San Diego State; (20) Michigan; (21) North Carolina; (22) West Virginia; (23) Texas; (24) Rutgers; (25) Richmond

RANDOM THOUGHTS: In a mock NFL Draft by Chris Trapasso of, Florida’s CJ Henderson goes #14 in the first round to the Arizona Cardinals and edge rusher Jonathan Greenard goes to the Baltimore Raven with the 28th pick in the second round (60th overall) … Duke’s roster has taken a hit. Point guard Tre Jones and shooting guard Cassius Stanley have already declared for the NBA Draft with Vernon Carey Jr. expected to leave any day now. Also, shooting guard Alex O’Connell has transferred to Creighton … North Carolina State, which has received a basketball Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, has elected to go through the newly formed independent resolution process, convinced that it can’t get a fair hearing if it goes through the normal process with the Committee on Infractions. In this new process, the hearing is held with a panel of 15 investigators and hearing officers with no ties to the NCAA or member schools. NC State is alleged to have paid as much as $40,000 to sign Dennis Smith Jr., a one-and-done guard … Former Los Angeles Rams Clay Matthews III and Todd Gurley say the Rams owe them money and haven’t paid up … It has been 14,343 days since the last time Georgia won a national championship in football, not that anybody is actually counting or anything.

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