A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning:
TRASK THREW 813 PASSES IN HIS FLORIDA CAREER
If you are the type that gets off on conspiracy theories, omens, UFO sightings over Roswell and Area 51 chatter, then you probably already put two and two together when it came to the Tampa Bay Bucs drafting Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. Trask threw 813 passes in his Florida football career (completed 552 of them for 7,386 yards and 69 touchdowns. Remember the number 813.
Friday night as Trask sat with parents and girlfriend Jade Carraway in Manvel, Texas as the second round of the NFL Draft was moving rapidly to a close, the phone rang. Trask picked it up and saw it was from area code 813. He knew immediately who was calling – the Tampa Bay Bucs, the team he had been hoping all along would draft him. The Bucs had thought seriously about taking Trask with the last pick of the first round, but they elected to roll the dice with the hope he would still be available at pick No. 64 at the end of round two.
As one second round pick after another was announced – none of them quarterbacks – it seemed certain that the draft would go into round three before another QB (five were taken in the first round) was selected, this despite the Mel Kiper Jr.’s seemingly obvious desire to bear a love child for Stanford’s Davis Mills or Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond.
Then came the call from area code 813, a conversation that lasted a little more than a minute and a half and was just finishing up when the announcement was made that the Tampa Bay Bucs had selected Trask with the final pick of the second round. Ahead of Mills. Ahead of Mond. Kiper’s once full hairline seemed to recede another half inch as the announcement was made.
And so Kyle Trask became the third of eight Gators to go in the NFL Draft, perhaps the most unlikely of all when you consider he never started a game in high school and only got his chance at UF when Feleipe Franks suffered a season-ending injury in game three of the 2019 season. Trask took over, never looked back, and played his way into the second round of the NFL Draft, taken by the Super Bowl Champions. Best of all, he’ll get to understudy and learn from the greatest quarterback to ever play the game – Tom Brady.
Oh, and one more omen if you’re into such things. A few weeks ago, Steve Spurrier suggested that the best place for Trask would be the Tampa Bay Bucs. The same Steve Spurrier who won the Heisman Trophy wearing No. 11 at the University of Florida, the same number Kyle Trask wore at UF. The same Steve Spurrier who wore No. 11 as the first quarterback for the Tampa Bay Bucs.
All of this one gigantic coincidence? Not if you’re into omens, conspiracy theories, UFO sightings over Roswell and Area 51 reports.
DRAFTED GATORS Kyle Pitts, TE (Round 1/No. 4 Atlanta): With Julio Jones on one side and Calvin Ridley on the other, Pitts could put up Pro Bowl numbers as a rookie.
Kadarius Toney (Round 1/No. 20 New York Giants): The Human Joystick should be an instant boost to a pedestrian crew of receivers that averaged 10.4 per catch last year.
Kyle Trask (Round 2/No. 64 Tampa Bay): Trask is a sponge. He gets to learn from an offensive genius coach and the greatest QB of all time.
Marco Wilson, CB (Round 4/No. 136 Arizona): Playing time is available from day one if he can keep his head screwed on right.
Evan McPherson, PK (Round 5/No. 149 Cincinnati): Kickers don’t get drafted in the fifth round to sit. He starts from day one.
Shawn Davis, S (Round 5/No. 165 Indianapolis): Special teams will secure his spot on the roster. He’ll have to earn his way into the rotation.
Tedarrell Slaton, DT (Round 5/No. 173 Green Bay): The Packers want a wide body who can play the run. If he shows up in shape, Slaton makes the team.
Stone Forsythe, OT (Round 6/208 Seattle): The Seahawks gave up 46 sacks last year. Forsythe should make the roster and have a chance to supplant 35-year-old Duane Brown.
O’SULLIVAN’S FRIDAY NIGHT GAMBLE PAID OFF
There was method to the madness of Florida baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan as he avoided the temptation of going to his bullpen in the early innings Friday night. Starting pitcher Franco Aleman wasn’t fooling any of the Vanderbilt hitters but O’Sullivan left him in the game for five tortuous innings. The 2nd-ranked Commodores were up 9-1 when O’Sullivan mercifully gave Aleman the hook, turning the game over to Ben Specht, which was like heaving a 50-gallon can of gas onto an already raging fire.
The Gators trailed Vandy 11-4 when Specht was yanked. Ryan Cabarcus, Chase Centala and David Luethje finished out the game for Florida, which lit up the Vandy bullpen for five runs and nine hits over the final four innings after starter Kumar Rocker went to the bench with the game seemingly in control. It turned out that Vandy ended up using up its bullpen Friday night as the Gators made a game of it.
Sticking with Aleman so long, then holding bullpen aces Christian Scott, Trey Van Der Weide and Jack Leftwich for the final two games paid off in a big way as the Gators (30-13, 13-8 SEC East) took an 11-8 win Saturday and a 5-3 win Sunday to take the series. Leftwich got the save in both Florida wins as the Gators moved within a game of SEC East co-leaders Vandy (32-9, 14-7 SEC East) and Tennessee (34-11, 14-7 SEC East).
The Gators launched four homers in the Saturday win, three off Jack Leiter, expected to be the first player taken in the June Major League Baseball Draft. Jud Fabian hit a 3-run homer in the first and added a solo homer two innings later. Kirby McMullen and Kris Armstrong also homered in the game. Leftwich got the save in relief of Tommy Mace (5-0, 4.35 ERA).
Sunday, Sterlin Thompson’s two-run single to center field in the third inning provided the winning run. Hunter Barco (7-2, 4.76 ERA) got the win with 5-1/3 strong innings. Leftwich gave up only one hit in the last 2-2/3 innings to get his second save in as many days.
The Gators will play host to Stetson (23-17) of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tuesday night at the Florida Ballpark. SEC play resumes next weekend when the Gators travel to Lexington to face Kentucky (26-15, 10-11 SEC East).
ADAMS’ 3-RUN HOMER KEEPS UF IN THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT
Hannah Adams came through when the Gators (37-8, 16-5 SEC) needed her most Sunday afternoon in Columbia, hitting a 3-run opposite field home run in the top of the seventh to give the 3rd-ranked Gators a 3-2 win over 15th-ranked Missouri. The Gators won two of three over the weekend to take the series from Mizzou, but to stay in the SEC regular season championship hunt they need 7th-ranked Arkansas (37-7, 18-4 SEC) to lose at least one of two games with 14th-ranked LSU (28-16, 10-9 SEC) today and they will have to sweep Texas A&M (31-17, 8-13 SEC next weekend in Gainesville).
Sunday, the Gators were held hitless until the sixth inning when Kendyl Lindaman singled to left field. Trailing 2-0 in the top of the seventh, Sarah Longley hit a one-out double and Bailey Goddard was hit by a pitch to set the stage for Adams’ heroics.
Katie Chronister (7-2, 1.98 ERA), who gave the Gators 3-1/3 innings of hitless relief, got the win for the Gators, who are idle until the Aggies come to town next weekend.
OVER, UNDER, AROUND AND THROUGH THE SEC
Alabama: Alabama had 10 players drafted, one of which wasn’t named Dylan Moses. That was somewhat of a surprise. He wasn’t expected to go in the first two or three rounds, but to go completely undrafted? He has signed a free agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bet the farm that he makes the team and contributes.
Arkansas: Feleipe Franks went undrafted although he did sign a free agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons. With his arm strength, mobility and the improvement he made in 2020, I thought someone would take a flyer on him in the sixth or seventh rounds. He’s good enough to be on the practice squad for a year or two. After that, he’ll have to show he’s learned enough to get a shot at being on the regular roster.
Auburn: Seth Williams’ freefall to the sixth round came as a real surprise.
Georgia: I’m not surprised Jamie Newman went undrafted. The reason he opted out of the 2020 season had nothing to do with COVID-19 but everything to do with the fact that he was being outperformed in August practice by Stetson Bennett IV and D’Wan Mathis. Were you as amused as I was listening to Mel Kiper Jr. tout Newman as a potential second or third rounder and one of the true sleepers in the draft?
Kentucky: Linebacker Jamin Davis was picked by Washington with the 19th pick in the first round. If you look at the depth charts of last year’s preseason magazines, you won’t find Davis listed as a starter on any one of them. So what gives? Is he just a late bloomer? Better living through chemistry? Did he spend his first three years at Kentucky in the dog house?
LSU: Sitting out 2020 didn’t hurt wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase one little bit. He went fifth in the first round to Cincinnati … One of the value picks of the entire draft is linebacker Jabril Cox, taken in the fourth round by Dallas.
Mississippi State: Some projected running back Kylin Hill to go in either the fourth or fifth round. He barely made it in the draft at all, taken in the seventh with the 256th overall pick by Green Bay.
Missouri: Running back Larry Rountree III wasn’t taken until the sixth round by the Los Angeles Chargers. He dropped that low because no one is sure if he can catch the ball and pass block.
Ole Miss: I was a bit surprised that wide receiver Elijah Moore wasn’t taken in the first round. His productivity in 2020 was off the charts good and the track record of Ole Miss receivers in the NFL has been very good. He’s a steal for the Jets as a second rounder.
South Carolina: The Cincinnati Bengals signed quarterback Collin Hill as a free agent. I can only think of one word here. Why?
Tennessee: Even with his health history I was surprised that O-lineman Trey Smith lasted until the sixth round. I will be very surprised if he isn’t a productive player for several years in Kansas City if he can stay healthy.
Texas A&M: Kellen Mond was taken in the third round by the Minnesota Vikings, whose offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL at protecting a QB last year. Obviously, the Vikes like Mond because they might need a feets don’t fail me now QB.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores didn’t get shut out in the draft. Defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo was taken in the second round by Indianapolis.
ONE FINAL PITHY THOUGHT: In case there are skeptics for whom 11 national championships (Alabama 6, Florida 2, LSU 2, Auburn 1) since 2006 aren’t convincing enough, the NFL Draft should set the record straight. The SEC broke its own record over the weekend with 65 players selected. All 14 SEC schools had at least one player chosen. Take away the 10 who were drafted from Alabama and the SEC still would have blown the competition away. The Big Ten had 44 and the ACC had 42. The last time another conference had more players drafted than the SEC was 2006.