One Eyed Willy is back answering some questions regarding the biggest Florida happenings of the moment.
The Bull Gator: Janoris Jenkins has been dismissed. Right decision made by Will Muschamp? Is he making a statement?
One Eyed Willy: There are conflicting stories as to how the whole Janoris Jenkins dismissal took place. If you believe some of the Gator “insiders,” it is believed that Janoris was offered an opportunity to come back to UF after serving a lengthy suspension (upwards of 6 games) and seeking treatment for his drug problem. The story goes that Janoris didn’t like this offer, tried to negotiate with Muschamp, and was told that this was not a negotiation and they decided to “mutually” part ways. Then there is Jenkins’s version which says that Muschamp basically told him to hit the road as soon as the meeting started.
I am not sure which to believe, and I am not sure that it even matters. In my opinion, Muschamp had to (and certainly did) make a statement with this decision and I personally believe it’s the right one. Over the last five years, we as Gator fans have woken up countless times only to open the paper or turn on the computer to see that another UF football player is in some sort of legal trouble. And as much as I want to win on the field, at some point enough has to be enough.
It seems to me that fans think that you have to have one or the other – a successful football team with character issues or a bunch of choir boys who can’t win on the field. Maybe Muschamp has the same beliefs that I do – that maybe just maybe you can have a high-quality team filled with high-quality players. Sure you are always going to have a problem here and there, but at some point we have to just stop the proverbial bleeding and maybe Muschamp has finally done that.
TBG: Florida lost two wide receivers to transfer last week, leaving the position thin in terms of scholarship numbers. Who steps up? Who is the most important to the offense’s success? How critical has recruiting WRs become?
OEW: You are absolutely right TBG, the WR position at Florida right now is shockingly thin and several unheralded players will need to step up if the offense wants to have a successful passing game this upcoming season.
By my count, the nine true WRs currently on scholarship are Andre Debose, Deonte Thompson, Robert Clark, Omarius Hines, Solomon Patton, Quinton Dunbar, Frankie Hammond Jr., Stephen Alli, and Ja’Juan Story. A quick look at this list and I think it would be easy to say that Debose and Thompson need to step it up and have big 2011 seasons. Unfortunately, I have personally lost a good deal of hope in both of these players. Up until last year I was one of the strongest defenders of Deonte, but his 2010 season yet again showed me just how awful of a pass-catching WR he really is. You cannot teach a person to catch the football at this level. He either can or he can’t and Deonte clearly can’t. As for Debose, between his injuries and his apparent inability to learn the playbook, I am really doubting the chances of seeing #4 play a meaningful role in the upcoming season. Hines and Hammond Jr. definitely showed signs last year that the can be quality WRs and I expect a lot of balls to be thrown their way again this season. But the two guys that I think must really step up are Dunbar and Alli. Dunbar showed throughout spring practice and the O&B game that he has the ability to stretch the field. That is a characteristic we could certainly use going forward. And Alli is just a big target that can be used in the 5- to 15-yard range. At 6’5″ and 220 lbs, any QB (well except maybe John Brantley) should have no problem picking him out of a crowd and delivering a ball where only he can get it.
Finally, although the question asks about WRs, I think we will rely heavily on our TEs (Jordan Reed, A.C. Leonard, and maybe even Josh Postell) to take some pressure off this depleted WR corp.
In terms of recruiting, behind offensive lineman, I think that recruiting numerous quality WRs has to be of the utmost priority to Muschamp and the entire coaching staff.
TBG: Matt McCall, good choice? Is the new Billy Donovan staff one fans should be happy about?
OEW: I am not going to sit here and lie and tell you that I know a lot about Matt McCall because honestly I don’t. What I can tell you is that McCall possess two qualities that I love to see in an assistant coach – he is young and he has UF roots. Kind of like when Aubrey Hill was hired as the WR coach for the Gator football team, I like seeing guys who either played or started their coaching careers in Gainesville come back at a later time. I think these types of coaches have a much deeper passion for the Gators than other assistant coaches and that passion exudes both on the recruiting trail and on the court in this case.
Add the McCall pickup to the pickups of John Pelphrey and Norm Roberts and I think Billy D. got himself one hell of a coaching staff. It can’t be easy to lose all of your assistant coaches within weeks of the season ending, but dare I say that on paper this coaching staff is even more impressive than the previous one. I do dare say! Pelphrey was a phenomenal assistant coach with the Gators in his past life, did a great job at South Alabama as a head coach, and although it didn’t last long, he didn’t do an awful job at Arkansas either. Plus he once again has orange and blue blood and is very close friends with Billy D. which certainly helps. Roberts brings you that head coaching experience and overall basketball knowledge that you need on your team. Roberts will be the old man of the group that the other coaches and players can look to for wisdom about the game and certain in-game situations. He also has great ties to the Northeast which is a hotbed for basketball talent.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the coaches that Billy D. has brought in and hopefully it will pay off come next basketball season and next March!