Thoughts of the Day: May 18, 2021

A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning:

MULLEN, WHITE HAVE DONE WELL IN THE TRANSFER PORTAL

In another couple of weeks, the spring semester will have ended at more than 90 percent of all the Division I schools, which can only mean the transfer portal will heat up even more. In the SEC where Tennessee has lost 34 football players via the transfer route and Georgia has lost nine basketball players, the Florida Gators have actually done quite well.


Dan Mullen has lost eight scholarship players in the football portal. The only ones who figured to play a lot were linebackers James Houston IV, who hasn’t found a transfer destination yet, and Jesiah Pierre, who transferred to Texas Tech. Mullen has signed four transfers, all of whom will play important roles in the fall – running back Demarkcus Bowman (from Clemson), defensive tackles Antonio Shelton (from Penn State) and Daquan Newkirk (from Auburn), both of whom are grad transfers, and placekicker Jace Christmann (from Mississippi State), also a grad transfer who will not be on scholarship. Bowman is a former 5-star back with gamebreaking abilities while Newkirk and Shelton are both strong against the run and capable of collapsing the pocket on the inside. Christmann, who kicked for Mullen at Mississippi State back in 2017, left Starkville as the school’s all-time leader in scoring.


Depending on who is available in the transfer portal in the next two or three weeks, Mullen may add one or two more.


It seemed the sky was falling when Mike White lost Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis to the NBA Draft followed in short order by Noah Locke (to Louisville), Omar Payne (to Illinois), Ques Glover (to Samford) and Osayi Osifo (to Jacksonville) transferring, but the losses have been completely offset. The four transfers White has added could all start in the fall. White picked up three double figures perimeter scorers who all play outstanding defense and a power forward who is as good a shot blocker as Payne and a better offensive player.


Brandon McKissic was a finalist for the Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year and Phlandrous Fleming Jr. won the Big South Defensive Player of the Year twice. McKissic averaged more than 17 per game and Fleming scored 20. Myreon Jones is a superb outside shooter from Penn State who scored more than 15 per game and is a lock down defender. C.J. Felder from Boston College averaged 2.2 blocked shots per game.


Overall, White has upgraded both the offense and the defense through the portal. He has one open scholarship that could be used to add a transfer with multiple years of eligibility or a big man out of high school.


The transfer portal hasn’t been kind to many of the schools in the SEC, but both Florida and Alabama have done the best job of limiting losses while bringing in quality replacements in both sports.


GATORS REMAIN TOP TEN IN BASEBALL POLLS

Although the Gators (35-16, 17-10 SEC) went 2-2 last week, they remained top ten in all four significant college baseball polls. Florida lost a midweek game to unranked Stetson then took two out of three to win their weekend SEC series with Georgia. Florida’s best ranking is seventh in the Collegiate Baseball poll. The Gators are eight in the USA Today Coaches and Baseball America polls and ninth at D1Baseball.com.


The rankings certainly aren’t an exact science, but the fact the Gators are top ten in all the polls does bode well for the NCAA Tournament. The Gators are almost a mortal lock to host a regional, but they will have to be a top eight national seed to host a super regional as well. Winning at least one of the three games in Fayetteville against No. 1 Arkansas this weekend will help since it would give UF 18 wins in SEC play. Scoring at least one win in the SEC Tournament would also be a factor. If there is a negative moving forward it is Florida’s No. 20 RPI.


Key players: Jud Fabian, who had a 2-homer game against Georgia Saturday night, is tied with Florida State’s Matheu Nelson for the NCAA lead with 20 home runs ... Since taking over the closer’s role, Jack Leftwich (7-3, 3.25 ERA) has thrived, picking up three wins and four saves. In 61 innings, Leftwich has allowed only 41 hits while walking only 19 … Kendrick Calilao is 10 for his last 20 with three homers and seven RBI ... Hunter Barco (9-2, 4.13 ERA), who has won six consecutive games since March 28, is tied for third nationally with nine wins.

Collegiate Baseball poll: 1. Arkansas 39-10; 2. Vanderbilt 36-12; 3. Mississippi State 36-13; 4. Texas 38-12; 5. TCU 35-14; 6. Tennessee 39-13; 7. FLORIDA 35-16; 8. Arizona 35-13; 9. Oregon 33-11; 10. Texas Tech 33-12; 11. East Carolina 36-11; 12. Ole Miss 36-15; 13. Notre Dame 26-10; 14. Stanford 28-12; 15. South Carolina 31-18; 16. UCLA 30-16; 17. UC-Irvine 33-15; 18. Louisville 26-18; 19. Gonzaga 30-13; 20. Louisiana Tech 36-14; 21. Oklahoma State 30-16-1; 22. Arizona State 30-16; 23. Michigan 25-13; 24. Charlotte 37-16; 25. North Carolina State 26-14; 26. Georgia Tech 25-20; 27. Fairfield 33-1; 28. Virginia Commonwealth 32-14; 29. Grand Canyon 34-17-1; 30. Florida State 28-19.

USA Today Coaches poll: 1. Arkansas 39-10; 2. Vanderbilt 36-12; 3. Texas 38-12; 4. Tennessee 39-13; 5. Texas Tech 33-12; 6. Mississippi State 36-13; 7. Oregon 33-11; 8. FLORIDA 35-16; 9. Notre Dame 26-10; 10. Arizona 35-13; 11. East Carolina 36-11; 12. Ole Miss 36-15; 13. TCU 35-14; 14. Louisiana Tech 36-14; 15. Stanford 28-12; 16. Florida State 28-19; 17. Southern Miss 35-17; 18. South Carolina 31-18; 19. Charlotte 37-16; 20. Gonzaga 30-13; 21. UCLA 30-16; 22. UC-Irvine 33-15; 23. Louisville 26-18; 24. North Carolina State 26-14; 25. Old Dominion 36-14.

Baseball America poll: 1. Arkansas 39-10; 2. Vanderbilt 36-12; 3. Notre Dame 26-10; 4. Texas 38-12; 5. Tennessee 39-13; 6. Mississippi State 36-13; 7. Texas Tech 33-12; 8. FLORIDA 35-16; 9. Arizona 35-13; 10. East Carolina 36-11; 11. Ole Miss 36-15; 12. Florida State 28-19; 13. Oregon 33-11; 14. TCU 35-14; 15. Louisiana Tech 36-14; 16. Charlotte 37-16; 17. Stanford 28-12; 18. UC-Irvine 33-15; 19. Louisville 26-18; 20. Old Dominion 36-14; 21. South Carolina 31-18; 22. Southern Miss 35-17; 23. Michigan 25-13; 24. North Carolina State 26-14; 25. Gonzaga 30-13. D1Baseball.com poll: 1. Arkansas 36-10; 2. Texas 38-12; 3. Vanderbilt 36-12; 4. Tennessee 39-13; 5. Texas Tech 33-12; 6. Oregon 33-11; 7. Arizona 35-13; 8. Notre Dame 26-10; 9. FLORIDA 35-16; 10. Mississippi State 36-13; 11. East Carolina 36-11; 12. TCU 35-14; 13. Ole Miss 36-15; 14. Louisiana Tech 36-14; 15. Stanford 28-12; 16. Florida State 38-19; 17. Gonzaga 30-13; 18. UCLA 30-16; 19. Southern Miss 35-17; 20. UC-Irvine 33-15; 21. South Carolina 31-18; 22. Charlotte 37-16; 23. North Carolina State 26-14; 24. Michigan 25-13; 25. Arizona State 30-16.


UF SOFTBALL: GATORS NO. 3 RPI

The Gators got the fourth overall seed for the NCAA Tournament on the strength of winning the SEC regular season championship and the No. 3 RPI, giving the Gators host privileges for both the regional and super regional. The SEC wound up with five of the top eight seeds which means those teams will host regionals and super regionals.


The SEC is sending 12 of its 13 teams into the regionals. Only Texas A&M (No. 40) had an RPI outside the top 30.


NCAA RPI 1-30 (SEC teams boldface): 1. UCLA 41-4; 2. Alabama 45-7; 3. FLORIDA 42-9; 4. Oklahoma 45-2; 5. Oklahoma State 42-9; 6. LSU 32-19; 7. Arkansas 40-9; 8. Florida State 39-10; 9. Tennessee 41-13; 10. Texas 39-11; 11. Arizona 36-13; 12. Duke 42-10; 13. Missouri 38-15; 14. Arizona State 32-14; 15. Oregon 37-15; 16. Washington 41-11; 17. Liberty 42-13; 18. Kentucky 39-13; 19. Georgia 29-21; 20. Clemson 42-6; 21. Virginia Tech 33-13; 22. Louisiana 44-10; 23. Delaware 25-9; 24. Wichita State 39-11; 25. Notre Dame 31-13; 26. Villanova 36-13; 27. Ole Miss 34-20; 28. Auburn 27-22; 29. Mississippi State 33-23; 30. James Madison 34-1


UF TENNIS: GATORS ADVANCE TO NCAA QUARTERFINALS

With their 4-0 win over 16th-seeded Illinois (23-3) Monday night, No. 1 Florida (23-2) advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals at Lake Nona. The Gators will face Texas A&M Thursday in the semifinals. Florida owns a 5-2 regular season win over the Aggies and a 4-3 win in the SEC Tournament.


UF GOLF: GATORS IN AN EIGHT-PLACE TIE AT NCAA REGIONAL

The Gators shot even-par 284 as a team, which places them in an eight-place tie with Denver at the NCAA Regional at Cle Elum, Washington, six shots behind leader Wake Forest. The Gators got under-par performances from Ricky Castillo (-3 68, tied for fourth) and Yuxin Lin (-1 70, tied for 15th).


OVER, UNDER, AROUND AND THROUGH THE SEC

Alabama: Trent Richardson, who last played in the NFL in 2016, has played in the CFL and Alliance of American Football in the years since. He will suit up this fall for Chihuahua in a professional league in Mexico … Eight football players have transferred out and three have transferred in. Alabama had zero basketball transfers but two transferred in.

Arkansas: The Hogs have lost 15 football players to the portal while gaining six. Three basketball players transferred out and three transferred in.

Auburn: Auburn has lost 16 football players to transfer while welcoming four via the portal. In basketball, four have transferred out and four have transferred in.

Georgia: K.D. Johnson, who averaged 13.5 points per game last season, will announce his transfer destination on Wednesday ... Nine Georgia basketball players have transferred out while four have transferred in. In football, 12 have transferred out and two have transferred in.

Kentucky: Sahvir Wheeler (5-10, 180), who averaged 14 points while leading the SEC in assists (7.4) last season is transferring to Kentucky. Two UK basketball players have transferred out while four have transferred in. Ten football players have transferred out while six have transferred in.

LSU: LSU will face UCLA in its football season opener in the Rose Bowl on prime time September 4 … Twelve football players have transferred and only one has transferred in. In basketball, three transferred out and four transferred in.

Mississippi State: Abdul Ado (6-11, 255) will play his super senior year elsewhere after placing his name in the NCAA transfer portal Monday. Ado averaged 5.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game last season … The news wasn’t all bad for Mississippi State, however, as point guard Shakeel Moore (6-1, 180) announced he will transfer in from North Carolina State. He averaged 6.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game off the bench as a freshman last season … The football team has lost 21 to the transfer portal while seven have transferred in. In basketball, five transferred out and three transferred in.

Missouri: It has been a revolving door for transfers both for football and basketball. In football, 16 have transferred out and three have transferred in. In basketball, six have transferred out and four have transferred in.

Ole Miss: Maryland transfer Chance Campbell (6-3, 235) is thought to be an immediate impact player for Lane Kiffin’s defense. Campbell averaged 11 tackles per game for the Terps last season, which ranked second in the Big Ten … Eight football players have transferred out while two have transferred in. In basketball, five have transferred out and three have transferred in.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks and North Carolina scheduled two games home and home with UNC playing at Williams-Brice in 2028 and the Gamecocks traveling to Chapel Hill in 2029 … Eleven football players have transferred out while eight have transferred in. In basketball, six transferred out and four transferred in.

Tennessee: Here is the damage report for Tennessee football when it comes to transfers. So far, 34 have transferred out and seven have transferred in. The Vols saw four basketball players transfer out with only one transferring in.

Texas A&M: The Aggies finished the spring with only 11 scholarship offensive linemen. They will pick up three freshmen and Tennessee transfer tackle Jahmir Johnson in the fall … Eighteen football players have departed via transfer while one has transferred in. In basketball, eight have transferred out and five have transferred in.

Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt has seen 20 football players transfer out with only three transferring in. In basketball, seven have transferred out and three have transferred in.


ONE FINAL PITHY THOUGHT: Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports gets it. After a week of slings and arrows being tossed at Urban Meyer for signing Tim Tebow, many by players who are better described as never was than has been, Wetzel wrote Monday, “No. It’s not like Meyer gave him $150 million and said he was Week 1 starter at quarterback. We’re talking about one of the 90 camp invitees for a 1-15 team led by a rookie head coach. The Jags’ tight ends combined to catch two touchdown passes. How many of the angry masses can name one of them, let alone the position depth chart? … This is a low risk gamble.” Tebow will serve his purpose by giving 100 percent effort on every snap. Those who aren’t moved by a 33-year-old who’s never played tight end busting it like that will find themselves on the waiver wire or trade bait. If Tebow makes the team and contributes that will be a plus.

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