Posted: 3:35 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12, 2013
By Andy Hutchins
When, in the course of Internet events, things get so hectic as to require a single post about Florida football that stands in for what could've been several posts split up, that post shall be called Hot Reads.
Florida began fall practice on August 2, bringing all of the true freshmen onto the field with the returnees from the 11-2 2012 team that was one of the best in the country despite a brutal schedule. And given how good some of those freshmen are, it was probably not unwise to anticipate a good team emerging from that new nucleus.
But Florida might be much better than anticipated. Already.
247Sports' Thomas Goldkamp and Franz Beard got a ton of detail around Florida's Saturday scrimmages and put it into threedifferentposts (all free!) that you should really go read and then bookmark for reading after anything bad that happens in your life in the next few weeks, because they paint the portrait of a very good team that is much further along the development curve than even some of the rosier projections.
Without stealing too much from Goldkamp and Beard, though, here's a brief overview of what they heard:
All of this is exciting, obviously, and I didn't really gloss over a lot of the negatives (special teams is the consistent negative in every practice report I've read), but there's also stuff that is unspoken here: Matt Jones, who has gotten a ton of offseason hype, is not practicing, and defenders Dominique Easley, Loucheiz Purifoy, and Marcus Roberson, probably the most NFL-ready players on this team in some order, aren't even mentioned.
You can read good (Florida's offense looks good without maybe its best player; Easley, Purifoy, and Roberson are all known quantities that don't rate mentions) or bad (we don't know how much Jones's viral infection and weight loss will linger with him; Florida's best defensive players aren't getting mentioned to reporters) into that, but the tenor of the reports and the demeanor of the reporters — I like both Goldkamp and Beard in part because they don't really pump sunshine — make me think it's more the former than the latter.
And we don't need to take their word alone for it, not when there's practice footage (carefully packaged by Florida) out in the wild, including touchdowns from Kelvin Taylor and Robinson:
Cautious optimism might be the way to go with this Florida team. And that cautious bit could get discarded pretty quickly.
Florida got a commitment from Nolan Kelleher on Saturday, and while that was a nice pick-up for the Gators, it's going to pale in comparison to the haul Florida is expected to take this week.
Today is the biggest day of the week for Florida, with South Florida stars Chris Lammons, Ermon Lane, and Quincy Wilson all announcing their college choices. And Florida's in excellent shape to get at least Lane, a wide receiver, and Wilson, a defensive back, announcing together on a Miami radio station tonight at 9 p.m., and to eventually add Lammons, a cornerback, regardless of whether he picks Florida today. Landing any one of the three players would be a good get for most teams, but potentially sweeping all three would be a feat, especially because Florida is plucking them from what should be a Miami stronghold and has been dueling Alabama for Lane.
Lane's the best of the three prospects, a potential go-getter the Gators have lacked in recent years, but Wilson could be a useful piece in the secondary as a safety/corner hybrid, and Lammons has the quickness and ball skills to work very well as a nickel corner. And, frankly, Florida's need for wide receivers is so great and Lane is so good that Lammons and Wilsoncould be pure throw-ins and this would be a major net positive.
But it's not just those three South Florida kids, all of whom played for the South Florida Express Elite 7-on-7 team, who could pop for Florida this week. Georgia defensive end Davonte Lambert is deciding on Tuesday, and while Tennessee is the prediction for Lambert according to his 247Sports Crystal Ball and SB Nation's Bud Elliott, ESPN's Derek Tyson, usually the most plugged-in Florida recruiting reporter, projected Lambert (and Lammons, Lane, and Wilson) would choose Florida in a Sunday tweet.
Four commitments from top-300 prospects, including a borderline five-star prospect in Lane, would be a shot in the arm for Florida's recruiting. Four commitments from top-300 prospects in 24 hours could start a tidal wave.
Last Thursday, Florida freshman Matt Rolin became the second Gator to be lost for the season with a torn ACL over a three-day period. But the differences between his and Andre Debose's ACL tear may actually help him in the long run.
Rolin was an early enrollee this spring, after flipping from South Carolina to Florida in December, but he was limited in the weight room while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in November 2012 his senior season of high school football. And so Rolin was coming into this fall camp mostly recovered from the ACL tear, and certainly cleared to go, but with a spring that wasn't exactly ideal behind him.
Now, despite re-tearing the ligament in the same knee he hurt in high school, Rolin should be able to work back slowly and purposefully, and might well be in position to go at full speed by spring practice. (He's also got a great model for his rehabilitation on his team in the form of Ronald Powell, who tore his ACL in 2012's spring game and re-aggravated the injury last fall while on an aggressive timetable for his return.) He'll redshirt in 2013, obviously, and will become an honorary member of the recruiting class of 2014 despite his scholarship likely eventually counting toward Florida's 2012 class and his enrollment happening in 2013.
But he'll be back. Don't worry.
No fear.. I seen it all, I been here— Matt Rolin (@MattRolin9) August 12, 2013
I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers from everyone. It means a lot to me. No doubt in my mind I'll come back stronger than ever.— Matt Rolin (@MattRolin9) August 10, 2013
Enough with all the sad tweets people. Me and @AndreDeBose4 are good. We'll be back stop worrying about us.— Matt Rolin (@MattRolin9) August 9, 2013