Thoughts of the Day: March 30, 2020

LOOKING AHEAD: THE RECEIVERS WILL BE FINE

Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, Tyrie Cleveland and Joshua Hammond will all earn an NFL paycheck next season. At most places losing for receivers to the NFL would be devastating news. At Florida it will be business as usual. That’s not to say Dan Mullen wouldn’t love to have all four of them back for one more season, but he’s got more than enough returning talent to go with talented newcomers so that the Florida offense isn’t going to miss a beat.


When the preseason magazines come out in a couple of months, the Gators won’t have the top ranked receiving crew in the SEC – that will be reserved for LSU which returns Biletnikoff winner Ja’Marr Chase and Terrence Marshall and Alabama which returns Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle – but Florida’s receivers will take a backseat to very, very few groups anywhere in the country.


Nobody in the league – or the country for all that matters – has a better tight end than Kyle Pitts (54-649, 5 TDs), who is a nightmare matchup and by season’s end we’ll probably be saying the same thing about Trevon Grimes, who is ready to become the go-to guy on the outside after two years of learning to play the position the right way (59-855, 5 TDs). If Kadarius Toney can stay healthy, the Gators have the ultimate make you miss guy in the slot. Jacob Copeland (21-273, 2 TDs) should double his production as well. Will this be the year Rick Wells finally puts it together and shows he can do in games what he does in practice?


If those were all the Gators had in the receiving arsenal, Dan Mullen would have more than enough to put defenses on their heels but sophomore tight end Keon Zipperer (3-31, 1 TD) should get his number called often and Mullen is ever so high on the three redshirt freshmen – Ja’Markis Weston, Trent Whittemore and Dionte Marks – who impressed last year working with the scout team. Texas grad transfer Jordan Pouncey should figure in the plans and it’s expected that Penn State transfer Justin Shorter will get a waiver for immediate eligibility. Incoming freshmen Xzavier Henderson and Ja’Quavian Fraziars have the talent to play immediately. If Leonard Manuel is able to qualify, he will be a final talented addition.


So, if Jefferson, Swain, Cleveland and Hammond could play one more year, UF might have the most stacked corps of receivers in the country, but there is no need to fret. Florida will be just fine.


GATORS IN SEVEN-ROUND CBSSPORTS.COM MOCK DRAFT

Only five Gators go in the seven-round mock draft composed by Josh Edwards of CBSSports.com. This isn’t an impressive body of work, not because only five Gators are drafted but his overall analysis and placement seems a bit off from the evaluations of other experts.

C.J. Henderson: Dallas, first round, pick 17

Jabari Zuniga: Cincinnati, first pick of round three, pick 95 Jonathan Greenard: Tampa Bay, third round, pick 76 Van Jefferson: Philadelphia, third round, pick 103 Lamical Perine: Jacksonville, fifth round, pick 165


FIVE DISAPPOINTING TEAMS FOR 2020 PER COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS

Pete Futiak, the longtime proprietor and analyst from collegefootballnews.com says these five teams will be in for disappointment in 2020 (one from each power conference):


Florida State: “The Noles have to improve one of the nation’s worst pass defenses, the boatload of penalties have to slow down, and the offensive line that was a disaster when Jimbo Fisher left – and Taggart was never able to fix – is still a question mark until the practices finally kick in.” Minnesota: “They have to go to Wisconsin after playing at Maryland, and they get Illinois and Michigan State on the road in back-to-back weeks. Throw in the date at Nebraska, and the home game against Michigan, and forget about another 11-2 run.” Baylor: “The Bears lost six key parts who’ll either be drafted or will play a big role in NFL training camps, and eight starters have to be replaced on defense.”

Southern Cal: “Road games at Stanford – who should be a whole lot better – Utah, Oregon and up the road to UCLA are rough enough, but the Trojans also have to host Arizona State, Cal, Washington and close out the regular season against Notre Dame.”

Georgia: “The Bulldog talent level isn’t a problem after years of phenomenal recruiting, but there’s still a whole lot of work to do with ten players showing off at the NFL Combine and with at least 13 starters expected to be off the Sugar Bowl-winning team. And that’s the problem everyone has to deal with – there’s no spring football to figure out all fo the parts of the puzzle that have to fit.”


SOME SEC BASKETBALL STUFF

Graduate transfer Kevin Marfo (6-8, 250), who led the nation in rebounding last season at Quinnipiac, has committed to Texas A&M. That is a huge pickup for Buzz Williams. The Aggies have also sent out an offer to Ernest Ross (6-9, 205, Alachua, FL Santa Fe), who is one of Florida’s top targets.


Johnny Juzang, last seen nailing some critical shots that helped Kentucky rally to beat Florida at the O-Dome, has put his name in the NCAA transfer portal. Juzang’s father says homesickness (he’s from California) is the reason but it also might have something to do with the fact Kentucky has signed Terrence Clark, B.J. Boston and Cam’Ron Fletcher, all of whom are shooters who play the wing.


Tennessee picked up a big time grad transfer in E.J. Anosike, who averaged 15.7 points and 11.6 rebounds per game last year at Sacred Heart.


Alabama got a commitment from 2021 Canadian wing guard prospect Joshua Primo (6-4, 175, Mississauga, Ontario), who many project as a one-and-done. This might be a dicey signing because there is a very good chance there won’t be a one-and-done rule in place in 2021 and high school players will be eligible to be drafted. Alabama forward Herb Jones will explore the NBA Draft but won’t hire an agent. Unless he’s listening to some true idiots, he will be back next year. Count on it.


Auburn freshman Isaac Okoro has declared for the NBA to no one’s surprise. He’s projected as a lottery pick by most experts. Auburn also got bad news on the recruiting trail when stud center Cliff Omoruyia (6-10, 220, Maplewood, NJ Roselle Catholic) committed to Rutgers. That leaves Auburn without a big man in the 2020 class to replace graduated Austin Wiley.


Georgia’s Rayshaun Hammond is planning to enter the NBA Draft but won’t hire an agent so he can come back if he doesn’t get the news he’s looking for. He’ll be back unless he listens to people who were dropped on their heads too many times as infants. Georgia backup center Rodney Howard (6-11, 250) is transferring to Georgia Tech. Unless they change the transfer rules, he’ll have to sit a year.


Vertically challenged Ole Miss is losing some size. Carlos Curry (6-11, 235) is transferring out. He’s already had a redshirt season and will certainly apply for an NCAA waiver. Expected landing place is UAB, coached by former Ole Miss boss Andy Kennedy.


Vanderbilt took a double hit when both Aaron Nesmith and Saben Lee announced they are leaving for the NBA. Nesmith will hire an agent so there is no turning back for him. Lee hasn’t announced his plans so there is a possibility he could see the light (no one has him on the draft radar) and come back. Vanderbilt grad transfer Matthew Moyer (6-8, 230) has landed at George Washington.


Mississippi State’s stud power forward Reggie Perry has declared for the NBA. He averaged 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game last year. He figures to be a late first to mid-second round selection.

TIGHT SPHINCTERS AT ARIZONA AND LSU

Tomorrow night HBO will be airing its documentary “The Scheme,” which is the tale of how agent/runner Christian Dawkins found himself caught up in a recruiting scheme that involved Adidas and a bunch of high profile college basketball programs. Dawkins was at the epicenter of the college basketball scandal that the FBI investigated and resulted in convictions in federal court trials in New York. When this is aired, there will be some very tight sphincters in Tucson and Baton Rouge, because documentary includes audio exchanges between Arizona HBC Sean Miller and LSU HBC Will Wade. When this audio is presented before the NCAA Committee on Infractions, the result is likely to be nuclear winter at Arizona and LSU.


Per Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated, the NCAA has already delivered a Notice of Allegations to North Carolina State, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Southern Cal, TCU and South Carolina. A Notice of Allegations may have already been received at Creighton and Auburn. Expected to receive their NOAs quite soon are Alabama, Arizona, Louisville and LSU.


RANDOM THOUGHTS: The basketball world is saddened by the loss of Les “Big Game” Hunter, who helped Loyola (Chicago) stun the world in 1963 by beating Cincinnati and preventing the Bearcats from winning a third straight NCAA championship. Hunter averaged 17 points and 11.4 rebounds that season as Loyola became the first team with four black starters to win the NCAA title … Texas has elected to stick with Shaka Smart for one more season. Although AD Chris Del Conte said Texas winning five of the last six games impacted the decision, the corona virus most likely had plenty to do with it since he couldn’t travel to interview anyone … Former Gator Demarcus Robinson agreed to a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs … My friend Gary Parrish is the best basketball writer in the country, but I strongly disagree with his latest NBA mock draft which has the Golden State Warriors taking Lamelo Ball with the first pick in the first round. I don’t doubt that Lamelo is talented, perhaps more talented than older brother Lonzo, just that I can’t see the Warriors putting up with dad LaVar Ball, who is certifiable … ESPN basketball analyst Doris Burke, probably second only in analyzing a game to Hubie Brown, has tested positive for corona virus. The good news is most of the symptoms have gone away and now she’s feeling 100% better … The NCAA may not vote to allow an extra year of eligibility to athletes due to the cancellation of spring sports seasons. The reason? The cost of the scholarships since all spring sports are non-profits. It probably would have little effect on a school like Florida, whose athletic department runs in the black, but would have quite an effect on schools in the non-power five conferences ... Here is what I would like to see golf do if the world seems back to normal by August 1. Schedule all four majors two weeks apart. There is plenty of time to make the plans now so the courses can get ready. I’d go Masters, PGA, US Open and then British Open. Imagine the interest that would be generated if someone got hot and maybe won the first two or even three.

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