Mike Blakely Will Transfer to Auburn

There was talk of a restricted transfer with the rest of the SEC, FSU, and Miami being ruled out. That did not happen. There was talk of a move closer to home to USF. That did not happen. There was even talk of a transfer to a junior college then back to the SEC after a season. That also did not happen. Mike Blakely was granted the ability to transfer from Florida and land wherever he wished. That wish was Auburn and that is where Blakely will head to continue his college football career not longer after it sort of, kind of started.

The Gators know this story all too well. I am not sure how many of you are familiar with the story of Cameron Newton. It is one of legend that happened many moons ago. Newton came to Florida with the potential to be great. He was learning the system behind a star named Tim Tebow and many anticipated a transition to be near seamless. Instead, Newton found himself in trouble with the local authorities and when Sir Timothy decided to return to Florida for his senior year, Newton transferred. The rest is, as we say, history. Newton won a junior college National Championship. Then surfaced at Auburn. A BCS National Championship would come, but not before he also claimed a Heisman Trophy.
I hope you can recognize the sarcastic tone scattered throughout that last paragraph. When Newton left Florida, few were displeased. The Gators were never entirely sure what they had in the quarterback and were mostly behind Newton’s classmate John Brantley. Regardless of what you now think of Newton, he had one of the truly great college football seasons in 2010 and capped it off by becoming the top pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The odds of that happening with Blakely are slim. That is not to discount his ability, but he is a running back and will have less of an impact than Newton did. He may be a star for the Tigers though and that is the fear of a Gators fan. It is the unknown. What happens if Florida faces Auburn in the future and Blakely is the star performer in the game? What if he is the one that knocks the Gators out of SEC Championship, or worse National Championship, contention? Unlikely? Of course. But it could happen. Had Florida actually won the SEC East in 2010, it would have been Newton in the way of a conference trophy. It could be Blakely in the future.
While we would like to wish those who transfer out well (in most cases), it is hard when they end up playing for a team your team faces or could face. Go to USF. Head out to Oregon. Go the FCS route. Do not go somewhere we are very familiar with. Do not go somewhere that could come back to haunt us.
The flip side of that is the “we will show him what he is going to miss” argument. A good one and definitely a good feeling for the rivalry revenge angle. Let us just hope that side pans out. This is not necessarily animosity toward the player leaving; it is just support of your program. It is how we should feel to be honest. Process the transfer and simply say “good luck with that, but enjoy losing to use in a few seasons.” However, we can push our feelings this way as much as we want, but we still will not forget about that Cameron Newton guy.
(Brock Berlin not mentioned in depth on purpose. Try your best to forget about that game.)

Mike Blakely To Transfer From Florida; How You Can React

Florida was bound to lose a player or two with the coaching change. It happens everywhere. We try to fight it and act like every player should sit tight and see where things are going before they jump ship, but that is far from being a realistic approach. For whatever reason, some players feel like they do not fit anymore. It could be the new coaches, it could be new schemes and systems, or it could just be the school in general. So far, it looks like we have hit quite the variety of reasons with the players that have left the Gators since Will Muschamp came aboard.

The latest is running back Mike Blakely. Blakely came to Florida from Manatee (Bradenton, FL) were he became one of the nation’s top backs. He went with the Gators over a number of other schools and stuck by his decision even after the coaching change occurred. Blakely graduated high school early and came to Gainesville for the spring semester to get accustomed to the school and the program. Unfortunately, an injury kept him out of spring practice. In the end, Blakely’s high school position coach – former Gators back Rod Frazier – said Blakely got homesick. Frazier also mentioned that having to miss practice was hard on Blakely who had come in early specifically to train with the team. Blakely himself has come out and said he did not feel comfortable with the new offense.
So Blakely will leave, but be restricted in where he can go. No SEC schools and not FSU or Miami. He could go the junior college route for a year and then go anywhere he wants, or he could transfer to an unrestricted program and sit out for a year. He seems to already be leaning toward coming back to the SEC one day. If he ends up winning a National Championship with Auburn one day, I may jump out a window. But anyway…
When a player leaves (especially one you like…I was a big Blakely fan throughout his recruitment) you have a choice of how to react. There are many options available for you. It is important to pick one early and stick with it. Here a few of those options numbered conveniently, but without meaning.
1. Get angry. This is the reaction of most. It is completely rational to get upset at a (in most cases) teenager for feeling he would fit in elsewhere. After all, you are probably in your 30s and are still upset at your own life decisions. So go Hulk on the situation and become enraged. As I said, there is nothing quite as rational as being angry at a player (a kid) looking to transfer.
2. Play the “we do not need him” card. This is the preferred choice of The Bull Gator. Instead of worrying about why he left or what holes his departure leaves, immediately determine how the player’s transfer actually makes your team better. Does he not fit into the system? GREAT! Was he a trouble maker? YOU WILL NOT MISS HIM! Remember, you only need players that want to be there and that fit into the system you think you have even if you really have no idea what that system is because you never played a day of organized football in your life.
3. The Percy Harvin Approach, also known as the “do not let the door hit you on the way out” option, and affectionately referred to as The Jarred Fayson Corollary. This is similar to the second option, but has more of an “I could not care less” feeling to it. If a player does not want to be part of the program, then he should not be here. It is simple and does make some sense. You want kids on your team that want to be on your team. You typically do not stew over this one for an extended period of time. You simply say “good riddance,” move on, and then laugh when the player struggles elsewhere.
4. Run for the hills because everything is crashing down around you. This is the overreaction reaction. One transfer leads to two transfers which lead to three transfers which lead to a five-loss season. You expect more and even though the player leaving may have touched the ball only 10 times during the upcoming season, his loss is just one of the falling dominoes. If you have come to this point, you may need to find another sport of choice. There is always the NFL. Oh wait.
5. Mourn the loss. Different than option number four because you are truly sad to lose that particular player. You threw around the idea of a “man-crush” for so long. You watched highlights of him tearing up a small private school class 1A defense. You already ordered a jersey with his name and number on it. Your obsession has reached unhealthy levels. And just like that, he is gone. To further the pain, he will end up at a rival and you will remember when you first fell in love. Just remember, he is not coming back and neither is your ex-wife.
6. Total ignorance. You do not follow the roster in the offseason. Why would you? Your concern is what happens on Saturdays and the whiskey-induced haze you are usually under has you unable to remember player names and numbers let alone know where they came from and how good or bad they may be. You are a weekend warrior and the only thing that matters to you is the final score – assuming you remember it – not how you got there.
7. And finally, Tim Tebow. A casual observer may only know one thing about the Florida Gators and that one thing is Tebow. “Who is Mike Blakely? Hey, did you guys see that new Tebow commercial? I need a stay cool shirt!”

Recapping Florida’s Recruiting Class, Twitter Style

We live in a fast-paced world.  A technology-driven society we are, and one that is sure to be taken over by machines like some bad sci-fi movie from the last 30 years.  It will happen, so in the meantime we need to do our best to get information as quickly and efficiently as possible, you know, before we are all destroyed by the robot overlords.  This is where networks such as Facebook and Twitter come in (shameless plug: The Bull Gator is on both Facebook and Twitter; friend us, follow us, love us).  They provide us with information we never thought we’d have at our fingertips and never knew we needed.  We know when a friend’s child has thrown up, we know when you are going grocery stopping, we know how obsessed you are with Farmville, and most importantly we know the moment a recruit makes the decision of his life.

In honor of Jacoby Brissett committing to Florida last night – something most of us found out via Twitter – we give you a recap of the Gators’ 2011 recruiting class, each in 140 characters or less.  Because really, that’s life.  If you believe the way the world is going, you can live your life and biographize yourself in that small a space.  Sad really.  Moving on…
Mike Blakely, RB. Short, but stout. Fast and faster. Cuts are top-notch, adds surprising power. Compact back that can also catch. Man-crush.
Jacoby Brissett, QB. Tall, dominating passer. Can run, but prefers to pass. Good power, velocity, and touch. Competitor. Great addition.
Clay Burton, DE. Brother of Trey, switch positions he just may, lives by the bay, allergic to hay, solid addition okay. Sorry, we had to.
Kyle Christy, K. Rule 1: Have as many kickers/punters as possible on roster.  Rule 2: Sign one of nation’s best. Rule 3: Win special teams.
Jeff Driskel, QB. Nation’s top passer. Pro-style dream. Rocket arm and lightning quick release. Mobile, but doesn’t need to be. Future star.
Jabari Gorman, S. First Will Muschamp commit and hard pushed by the coach. Will look to add bulk and strength to his frame.
Chris Johnson, S. Big hitter. BIG HITTER. Always around the ball. Field intelligence and pursuit speed. And, big hitter.
Tommy Jordan, T. Tall, but needs to add weight. Agile lineman who plays through the whistle and blocks to the second level.
Hunter Joyer, FB. May be most pleased with the offensive change. Nation’s top fullback and absolute mauler. Instant TBG favorite.
A.C. Leonard, TE. Bringing back the tight end.  Wavered, but always came back around. Great size and hands. Can also play slot receiver.
Javares McCoy, WR. We like Lakeland. Speedster with great acceleration and agility. Has the ability to simply outrun the defense.
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB. There’s on-the-field speed and then there’s Purifoy’s on-the-field speed. Great vision on both sides of the ball.
Marcus Roberson, CB. One of the nation’s top CBs. Uses height to his advantage. Ball hawk with great hands and take-it-to-the-house ability.
De’Ante Saunders, S. Pop goes the weasel cause the weasel say pop! Don’t believe the rankings. Saunders is more talented than that.
Valdez Showers, CB. We’re back to that fast thing again. SEC speed is had by many and Showers is one of them. Can stick with anyone.
Graham Stewart, LB. Renamed Steve Lattimer. Find a picture, you’ll see why. Great late addition. Plays much bigger than he actually is.
Ja’Juan Story, WR. Thank you Stan Drayton. Thank you Ohio State for hiring Stan Drayton. Story is a Gator. A tall, receiving Gator.
Trip Thurman, G. A big ‘un. Hard to get off his feet. Great at using his hands to block. Solid pass blocker, can improve run blocking.
Tevin Westbrook, DE. Explosive first step and quick to the ball. Great speed to the outside which he frequently uses to get by linemen.

Mike Blakely Commits to Florida; Bright News for the Gators

After three straight losses, there was little to make Florida happy. Blame flying from every direction and hitting whatever or whoever it landed on. You would be hard-pressed to find a Gator fan looking forward to the rest of the season. And with questions about how the slide would affect recruiting, future seasons as well. Then Florida got good news which was followed up with great news.

The good news came with the commitment of Clay Burton, who just happens to be the younger brother of fan favorite Trey Burton. (Why? WHY do parents insist on giving their children rhyming names???) The younger Burton also comes way of Venice (Venice, FL), but looks to excel on the other side of the ball. He is an outside linebacker who could be considered a pass rush threat.

Burton was originally committed to Notre Dame, but made the switch to Florida only a day after the Gators presented him with a scholarship offer. He always wanted to end up playing in orange and blue, but wasn’t sure that would happen as the offers continued to roll in except for that one he most coveted. Once the linebacker – who has totaled 14 sacks in his two most recent high school seasons – got the offer, the choice was easy. Head elsewhere or follow his brother to Gainesville?

The great news was delivered only a day later on Tuesday when Rivals100 member Mike Blakely became the latest piece of the Gators’ 2011 recruiting class. Florida has long wanted Blakely and his commitment was more than welcome. With a heavy running back rotation, talented newcomers are always on the desired list.

Blakely – from Manatee (Bradenton, FL) – is the nation’s #7 RB and #34 player overall according to Rivals.com. He chose the Gators over Auburn. The 5’9”, 195-pound back had numerous other offers, but many thought Florida to always be the favorite. As the Gators struggled, many got nervous, but Blakely ended up making the choice experts originally thought he would.

The agile back has surprising strength and has put together highlight after highlight during his senior season. He was one of the backs the Gators had at the top of their list and most likely the one they wanted the most. Fans shouldn’t have to wait long to find out how solid Blakely’s commitment is, he’s scheduled to enroll in January.

The news will only get better with a win over Georgia on Saturday. Although the Gators are on a mini-roll when it comes to recruiting, Florida needs to get out of the funk of the last few weeks. Recruits will continue to come and those already committed will stick around if they see the product the Gators put on the field is one they want to be a part of. Burton and Blakely are huge additions. Wins will bring more.

There are plenty of high-ranked, big-name prospects that have expressed their interest in Florida. Some will come regardless of the 2010 win-loss record. Some won’t. What the Gators do in the final five regular season games could be a major determining factor.