The Super Bowl Giveth, The Super Bowl Taketh Away

Tomorrow, the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will compete in the Super Bowl. Once the game is over, so will be football.

Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks

For some of us, that may be a good thing. The Florida Gators posted a record of 4-8 during the 2013 regular season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won as many games despite having four more chance to add to their victory total. That’s eight combined wins for the teams I consider myself a fan of. Eight total wins and 20 losses. The end of the current football season can’t come soon enough for me.

I will miss it of course. I’m not completely dead inside. I will miss the victories, though few and far between recently. I will miss the anticipation and hope. I will miss those that stuck together in all kinds of weather. But there is plenty I won’t miss.

I won’t miss poor offensive play, and poor is a nice way to put it. I won’t miss injuries. I won’t miss coaching hot seats. I won’t miss the fan 20 years my senior that hates Jeff Driskel with a passion reserved for, well, I can’t really imagine where you find that kind of hate within you. I won’t miss losing two or three times as many games as you win.

Luckily, football never really comes to an end. Mere days after the Super Bowl is National Signing Day–a recruiting fan’s dream date. Following NSD, we gear up for the NFL Draft. During the summer, we talk recruiting and anticipation and hope begins to build again. All along, if you’re so inclined, you can bet on the upcoming season (find the latest odds online with Betfair). The games may end, but football doesn’t.

Tomorrow, the final game of the 2013 season is played. For us Gators, we have Percy Harvin and Andre Caldwell and Jeremy Mincey to cheer for. One team will be wearing orange and blue, even if their quarterback could never beat Florida. We have 60 minutes of game time left. 60 minutes before the offseason truly begins and hope returns.

Do Five-Star Recruits Become Five-Star Performers?

This time of year the college football world goes into a recruiting frenzy.  The season has ended.  Spring games are still months away.  Fall practice seems like it may never get here.  So every fan (at least every diehard) focuses on recruiting.
If you’re like the rest of us fanatics, you want to know anything and everything about the recruits your school is after.  And if you cheer for a big program, five-star prospects offer bragging rights.  Remember that movie with Shaq?  No, not Kazaam.  That other one in which he played (and it was a stretch) a basketball player?  Blue Chips.  That’s what the five-star recruits are.  Blue chips.  They are considered the cream of the crop.  And you want as many of them as scholarships your school has available.
For Florida, the Army All-American Game was a big moment.  Huge in the recruiting world.  The Gators went from having not one five-star prospect committed to have three (according to Rivals.com) in only a matter of a few hours.  And if the Under Armour All-American Game the week before was a barometer of those who may get that elusive fifth star in the coming weeks, Florida may end up with five or six when all is said and done.
Since 2002 (and not including the current recruiting class), Florida has signed 22 five-star prospects.  Looking back over the 22, you can see some definite success stories and some definite misses.  Due to this, a few friends (One Eyed Willy, KP, and Vanilla Bear) and I decided to perform a little exercise and rate each player from one to five stars based on how they played or the potential they now present.  In the end, we only rated 19 of the 22, leaving off the three from the 2009 recruiting class (Gary Brown, Andre Debose, and Jelani Jenkins) due to redshirting and lack of anything to accurately rate them on.  Our goal was to determine who lived up to the hype and who went in the other direction.  And here are the results:
5.00 Stars – Derrick Harvey, Percy Harvin, Jarvis Moss, Brandon Spikes, Tim Tebow – These are the guys that met the hype head on, ran it over, and never looked back.  It was unanimous that each one of them lived up to their five-star status.  It’s no coincidence the three of the five that have been drafted all went in the first-round and the remaining two most likely will.  These were definitely the men among boys.
4.75-4.50 Stars – Andre Caldwell, Carlos Dunlap, Chad Jackson – Two receivers that came in together and a stud defensive lineman.  Caldwell left Florida as the career leader in receptions and Jackson left with the single-season record.  Dunlap will test the NFL waters after a dominant junior year.
4.25-4.00 Stars – Ciatrick Fason, Will Hill, Matt Patchan – Fason might have had a chance at a place higher in the rankings had he not left after his junior year and Hill and Patchan are still fighting hard to realize greatness.  Hill’s only knock is having to split playing time, but five-star status may be in sight as he gets on the field more in 2010.  If Patchan is left at one position, he could still blossom into a star.
3.75-3.50 Stars – Omar Hunter, Dee Webb – Realistically, Hunter gets an incomplete at this stage in his career.  With years still ahead of him, he will have plenty of chances to shine.  Webb was another one of those that could have cashed in on greatness with one more year.  As it was, he was consistent, but rarely spectacular for three seasons.
3.25-3.00 Stars – Joe Cohen, Carl Johnson – There was talk for a while at trying Cohen out as a power back, so that may have slowed his development, but in the end he was an important part of the defense, just never a true star.  Johnson has one final year to pull it all together.  He’s been good, but not great just yet.
2.75-2.50 Stars – Torrey Davis – Davis probably gets more credit than he deserves for one spectacular play.  In the end, he left Florida after never becoming the player he was expected to be and spending most of his time in the doghouse.
2.25-2.00 Stars – Carl Moore, Cameron Newton, James Wilson – Moore and Wilson still have a chance to prove themselves, but they may not become more than solid athletes.  Newton on the other hand still has a chance to be great, but if he does, it will be while wearing the orange and blue of a different SEC school.
 

Florida Coaching Carousel Continues; Billy Gonzales to LSU

Billy Gonzales long-standing run with Urban Meyer has come to an end.  After being coached by Meyer when Gonzales was a wide receiver at Colorado State to joining him on the staffs at Bowling Green, Utah, and Florida, the Gator recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach will head to SEC rival LSU.  It doesn’t appear to be official yet what exactly his position will be, but it looks like Gonzales will be the Tigers’ pass-game coordinator and coach the receivers.
Although the receiving corps at Florida had its struggles throughout the 2009 season, Gonzales can’t shoulder all of the blame.  After all, he isn’t the one dropping passes in games.  Looking back over his career and you’ll see a number of successes he coached at the position, including the player that tied the single-season reception record (Chad Jackson), the player that broke the career reception record (Andre Caldwell), and perhaps the most dynamic player to ever wear orange and blue (Percy Harvin).
As LSU, Gonzales will have just as much talent to work with.  The Tigers consistently pull in some of the nation’s top recruiting classes and wide receiver is definitely a position at which they excel.  Add Gonzales’ expertise and recruiting skills to the mix and LSU may have become more dangerous than they already were.  While I’d like to wish Gonzales luck, it’s never good to lose someone like him to a rival.