Thoughts of the Day: February 4, 2020


What’s in a recruiting ranking? Not much if you go by the quarterbacks in Super Bowl 54. Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City was a 3-star recruit for Texas Tech in 2014 while San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo was a 2-star in 2010 who went to D1AA Eastern Illinois. Overall, the Chiefs had only three starters who were 5-star recruits while the 49ers had only one.

Monday, Max Olson of The Athletic re-evaluated the recruiting classes of 2016. Florida’s recruiting class of 25 players, the second class brought in by Jim McElwain, earned a 12th-place ranking from 247Sports and a 14th-place ranking from Rivals. The only 5-star recruit – by Rivals – was Antonneous Clayton, an edge rusher from Vienna, Georgia who picked the Gators over Auburn. Of greater interest than Clayton was 4-star quarterback Feleipe Franks, who the Gators flipped from LSU.

Per Olson’s evaluation, that Florida recruiting class was the third best nationally, trailing only Clemson and Alabama. Olson bases his rankings on who does the best job of developing talent, giving five points for All-America/top 50 draft pick; four points for multiyear starter/all-conference; three points for one-year starter/key reserve; two points for career backup; and zero points for left the program/no contributions. Florida’s strong ranking from Olson tells us that McElwain did have a good eye for talent, although the bulk of development came the past two years from Dan Mullen, who took over after McElwain was fired.

Here is a look at Florida’s 25 recruits in 2016:

2020 Seniors (7): Jeremiah Moon, LB, 4-star; Rick Wells, WR, 4-star; Brett Heggie, OG/C, 3-star; Quincy Lenton, S, 3-star; Stone Forsythe, OT, 3-star; Christopher McWilliams, CB, 3-star; Kyle Trask QB, 3-star/2-star Rivals. Comment: Of the seven remaining seniors, Trask probably has the biggest upside, amazing since he was the least regarded of the 25 2016 recruits. Moon, Heggie and Forsythe can play themselves into draft contention with an outstanding 2020.

Graduated (9): Tyrie Cleveland, WR, 4-star; Freddie Swain, WR, 4-star; Mark Thompson, RB, 4-star; Josh Hammond, WR, 4-star; Jaewon Taylor, S, 3-star; David Reese, LB, 3-star; Dre Massey, WR, 3-star/4-star Rivals; Lamical Perine, RB, 3-star/4-star Rivals; Joseph Putu, CB, 3-star/2-star Rivals. Comment: Cleveland, Swain, Hammond, Reese and Perine should find themselves on NFL rosters next fall. Thompson just finished his second year in the NFL.

Left early for the NFL (5): Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, CB, 4-star; Jawaan Taylor, OT, 3-star; Vosean Joseph, LB, 3-star; Eddy Pineiro, PK, 3-star; Jachai Polite, LB/DE, 3-star. Comment: Pineiro was draft eligible after the 2017 season. Everyone expected Gardner-Johnson to leave early while Taylor, Joseph and Polite surprised everyone with their development that led to being selected in the draft.

Transferred out/dismissed (4): Feleipe Franks, QB, 4-star; Antonneous Clayton, DE, 4-star/5-star Rivals; McArthur Burnett, CB, 3-star; Jordan Smith, DE, 4-star. Comment: Franks had one strong season in 2018 but transferred to Arkansas after a 2019 season that was cut short by injury. Clayton transferred to Georgia Tech where he will be a fifth-year senior in 2020.

CUT THE HEAD OFF THE SNAKE Al McGuire described his theory of defense as “cut the head off the snake.” Translated that means take out the other team’s best player and you seriously enhance your chances of winning. For Florida (13-8, 5-3 SEC) to come away with a second straight win Wednesday night at the O-Dome, cutting the head off the snake means doing whatever is necessary to disrupt Georgia (12-9, 2-6 SEC) super freshman Anthony Edwards (6-5, 225), without question the most physical, powerful guard in the Southeastern Conference. Edwards is coming off a 29-point, 15-rebound game in Georgia’s 63-48 win over Texas A&M Saturday night.

Edwards (19.3 points, 5.2 rebounds) is a volume shooter who can get streaky hot so you can’t afford to give him too much room to launch from the outside because despite the low percentages (40.8% overall, 29.5% from the three-point line). Where he’s most dangerous is taking it to the rack where he uses his physical strength to muscle up against big guys. He’s as dangerous an and-one guy as there is anywhere in the country.

Scottie Lewis is probably going to get the initial assignment of dealing with Edwards. He doesn’t have anything close to Edwards’ physical strength, but he has the quickness to cut off Edwards on the drive and force him to pull up and shoot. Lewis is capable of defending Edwards at a high level, but if he gets in foul trouble or when he’s on the bench for a rest, what does Mike White do to keep Edwards from heating up and taking over the game?

A second issue for White is getting Kerry Blackshear Jr. untracked. Blackshear has scored only 54 points in the last five games and is coming off a six-point, seven-rebound game against Vanderbilt. He’s only 17-45 from the field in the last five games and 15-26 from the foul line. Some of Blackshear’s issues have everything to do with opponents doing their own cut the head off the snake defense by doubling down on Blackshear every time he gets the ball in the post. He’s taking a lot of physical pounding but not getting many calls. These are issues he has to work through because for the Gators to win enough games to make the NCAA Tournament, Blackshear is going to have to come out of his funk.

So watch for those two things tomorrow night: (1) Florida finding a way to neutralize Anthony Edwards and (2) getting Kerry Blackshear Jr. the basketball in scoring position to help him break out of his mini-slump.

SEC BASKETBALL Tonight’s games #11 Auburn (19-2, 6-2 SEC) at Arkansas (16-5, 4-4 SEC), SEC Network Tennessee (12-9, 4-4 SEC) at Alabama (12-9, 4-4 SEC), ESPNU Mississippi State (14-7, 5-3 SEC) at #15 Kentucky (16-5, 6-2 SEC), ESPN Missouri (10-11, 2-6 SEC) at Texas A&M (10-10, 4-4 SEC), SEC Network Wednesday’s games Georgia (12-0, 2-6 SEC) at FLORIDA (13-8, 5-3 SEC), ESPNU South Carolina (13-8, 5-3 SEC) at Ole Miss (10-11, 1-7 SEC), SEC Network #18 LSU (17-4, 8-0 SEC) at Vanderbilt (8-13, 0-8 SEC), SEC Network


(1) Just to prove that the more football changes, the more it stays the same, the play that set up Kansas City’s first half touchdown – a 4-yard gain by Damien Williams on fourth-and-one at the San Francisco five – was run out of the Notre Dame Box Formation. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy says he got the thought of the four-man backfield in which everyone shifts before the snap from watching film of the 1948 Rose Bowl game in which Michigan beat Southern Cal, 49-0. Michigan was running the Notre Dame Box with a few tweaks to incorporate more passing.

(2) Patrick Mahomes is 24 years old, already with an NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP. The Kansas City Chiefs are planning to give him a new contract in this offseason. It will be the upset of the century if he isn’t the highest paid player in the history of the NFL.

(3) Until he wins a Super Bowl, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is going to be remembered for two of the biggest collapses in the history of the big game. He was the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons who went conservative in the third quarter of the 2016 Super Bowl with the Falcons leading the New England Patriots 28-3. The Falcons lost in overtime 34-28. The 49ers were up 10 (20-10) on the Kansas City Chiefs with 8:53 to go in the game only to lose 31-20.

(4) For the record, the NCAA has sent out a Notice of Allegations due to the basketball corruption scandal to these give schools: North Carolina State, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Southern Cal and TCU. Creighton may or may not have gotten an NOA but is certainly under investigation along with LSU, Auburn, South Carolina, Louisville, Arizona, Miami, Seton Hall, Maryland, Kentucky and Alabama.

(5) There have been five players in NFL history who won the Super Bowl MVP multiple times: Tom Brady, New England (4), Joe Montana, San Francisco (3), Bart Starr, Green Bay (2), Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh (2) and Eli Manning, New York Giants (2).

(6) The SEC West just got a bit more interesting for 2020. Stanford grad transfer quarterback KJ Costello announced on Instagram that he’s heading to Mississippi State where he will be throwing the ball all over the yard for Mike Leach. Costello was second team All-Pac-12 in 2018 when he threw for 3,540 yards and 29 touchdowns. Due to injuries he played in only five games in 2019, throwing for 1,038 yards and six touchdowns.


In light of revelations that the NCAA might have to deal with widespread football corruption in addition to the basketball scandal that includes a true blueblood like Kansas, I’m reminded of a great quote by the late, great Jerry Tarkanian: “The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky they’re going to give Cleveland State another year of probation.”

From Sports Illustrated, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins on quarterback Patrick Mahomes, MVP of Super Bowl 54: “That’s the golden child, man. My job is easy. My job is to run routes and be in the right place, and let Pat do everything.”

From Michael Rosenberg of Sports Illustrated with his take on the future for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes: “Three years after he turned pro, Mahomes has an NFL MVP award, a Super Bowl win and a Super Bowl MVP. No other quarterback in history accomplished so much, so soon. Mahomes not gets to play the rest of his career without anybody asking when he will win the Super Bowl. He will probably win a second before anybody can cask when he will win a second … We are going to watch Mahomes the way we watched Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for all those years. He will be appointment television, year after year, except Mahomes is just a more visually appealing player. Some things will change. His receivers won’t always be this good. He probably won’t always be quote so gracious with the media. Stardom changes everybody at least a little, and Mahomes is going to be the biggest star in the NFL.”

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Jim Harbaugh’s contract at Michigan is set to expire after the 2021 season. It’s rather interesting that there is no talk of a contract extension … The Boston Red Sox are expected to trade Mookie Betts prior to spring training with all indications that the Los Angeles Dodgers will be his landing spot, quite possibly with lefty David Price part of the deal … Former Clemson QB Chase Brice has transferred to Duke. He graduated from Clemson in two years so he’s immediately eligible and has two years eligibility remaining … With KJ Costello announcing for Mississippi State, that leaves Boston College’s Anthony Brown as the top grad transfer quarterback still available. Brown is a New Jersey native so there is speculation he’ll transfer to Rutgers, where new HBC Greg Schiano landed Sean Gleason as his offensive coordinator. Gleason was the OC at Oklahoma State last year … Sixteen of the teams in the Associated Press Top 25 Basketball Poll have between four and six losses. I can’t remember a first poll in February with so many teams with that many losses ... Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Derrick Nnadi has paid the adoption fees for 91 dogs at a Kansas City animal shelter and will continue to pay for all those dogs until they are adopted. As of Monday afternoon, 20 of those dogs had a home.

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