Chat with Mike DiRocco
Welcome to GatorNation! On Wednesday, reporter Mike DiRocco stops by to chat about the state of Florida football.
DiRocco came to ESPN.com in 2011 after spending more than 10 years covering UF for the Florida Times-Union. He lives in Middleburg, Fla., with his wife and two sons.
Send your questions now and join DiRocco Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Michael DiRocco (3:58 PM)
Hello everyone. I'm ready to get started.
who in the 2014 class do you think the gators should get
Michael DiRocco (4:00 PM)
samba -- I think the top two targets should be QB Will Grier (whom the Gators already have a committed) and DE Da;Shawn Hand. Hand has been compared to Clowney and Nkemdiche coming out of high school and would be the elite pass rusher UF needs. UF also needs to go after RB Leonard Fournette out of New Orleans. He's 6-1, 232 pounds -- a big bruising runner who would be perfect for the offensive style Muschamp wants. Those are a few guys.
Where would Grier end up in the rankings top 3 QB's?
Michael DiRocco (4:02 PM)
Joe -- I have no input on those rankings and they're still a ways off, but from what I've been told and from what I've heard, he's got a chance to be the No. 1 QB.
How many commits do Florida get on Saturday there first junior day
Michael DiRocco (4:03 PM)
dw -- That's hard to say, but I expect at least 3 or 4 players to commit this weekend. I wouldn't be surprised if it's more, either. Muschamp likes landing guys early.
The 2012 offensive line was much improved, but fell short against Georgia (75 yards rushing) and South Carolina (89 yards rushing). What are the prospects that the 2013 offensive line will be stronger, deeper, and able to consistently handle the toughest defensive fronts next year (which is essential to winning the SEC)?
Michael DiRocco (4:05 PM)
Brian -- I like the way the line looks in 2013. It should be better with the addition of transfers Max Garcia and Tyler Moore, the continued development of DJ Humphries, and the addition of mammoth OT Trenton Brown. My guess on the starting lineup would be: LT Humphries, LG Garcia, C Harrison, RG Halapio, RT Green/Moore. There's much better depth than last year, although it's unclear right now who would be the backup center.
Who's the next Sharif Floyd (run stopper in the middle) and will he emerge next season?
Michael DiRocco (4:06 PM)
Brian -- It's hard to say someone will be the next Floyd since he's going to be a first-round pick and I don't see anyone on the team right now with that potential (as of now, anyway). I think Caleb Brantley has the chance to develop into a big-time DT, but that's several years down the road. For next year, probably Damien Jacobs. He's got to improve on his interior pass rush, though.
With the departure of Matt Elam, who do you expect to step up and become the leader on defense?
Michael DiRocco (4:10 PM)
Derek -- That's a good question. CBs Jaylen Watkins and Marcus Roberson aren't vocal guys. None of the DL have really done enough to have that kind of cache yet. Maybe it's Antonio Morrison, who was one of the more impressive freshmen last year. He's stepping into a starting spot at LB (possibly in the middle) but we'll have to see.
ramon rodriguez (miami)
mike do you have any news on corey martinez as to whether you expect uf to offer this kid.i am a big fan of corey and we all hope he ends up a cane.any news would be greatly appreciated
Michael DiRocco (4:12 PM)
ramon -- I know Corey likes UF and the coaching staff likes him and should be extending an offer soon. UF needs to add more OL in 2014 and he's one of the top players in the state.
Marlon (Birmingham, AL)
Hey Mike. With DeBose probably handling kickoffs next season, is there a possibility of one of the freshmen returning punts instead of Roberson next year? If so, which freshman could win the job?
Michael DiRocco (4:14 PM)
Marlon -- I don't think it's a lock that Debose handles kickoffs. Remember, he's had trouble with his consistency and I can see the staff getting fed up with his act and benching him. Purifoy can handle kickoffs. Debose is by far the most talented returner, but we have to see if he's willing to finally work hard enough. If I were to guess, I'd say possibly Hargreaves, Neal or Bailey returning punts.
Marlon (Birmingham, AL)
Why did Muschamp add another punter in this year's class? Does Johnny Townsend possess the ability to kickoff and/or kick?
Michael DiRocco (4:16 PM)
Marlon -- I think a little bit of it was to stick one in Urban Meyer's ear. He'll redshirt and then be ready to take over as a redshirt sophomore when Christy leaves. He's a good punter so it made sense to add him as insurance, especially since UF had the room.
Marlon (Birmingham, AL)
Who do you think starts at defensive tackle for Florida? I know Reed was a big pickup depth wise and from an experience standpoint in terms of juco experience, but I'd like to think he and Cummings will start because of the size factor, unless Jacobs packs on more weight.
Michael DiRocco (4:17 PM)
Marlon -- I think Jacobs and Orr will begin spring as the starters, but I'm not sure they will hold onto the jobs. I'm a little leery about JUCO players stepping into starting jobs right away on the OL or DL. There's still an adjustment period. I may be wrong, but I see Reed and Cummings having the same kind of season Jacobs did last year: Contribute in the rotation.
Marlon (Birmingham, AL)
Will Jeremy Brown return for a sixth year next season? He's had a tough break with the injuries, but if he does return, will he factor into the rotation at cornerback?
Michael DiRocco (4:18 PM)
Marlon -- All indications are that Brown will be back, but I'd be surprised if he's anything more than a special teams player.
What 2014 recruits are planning on attending florida junior day this weekend?
Michael DiRocco (4:19 PM)
Tyler -- Derek Tyson, our recruiting guru at GatorNation, will have a story on Friday previewing the guys coming to junior day. I don't want to spoil his story. Check our site Friday morning for the scoop.
Mike--do you see a bit of a parallel with Mushchamp building plan to that of Saban during his 2nd/3rd year at AL? Saban's 1st year was nothing to remember but started stock piling linemen, then skill positions (RB, WR-Yea3) and then a strong QB (Grier). Strong D for the next few years, stable of RB's and even think Driskell can step to another level because of another year with Pease and some new receives (Robertson/Fulwood). Your thoughts?
Michael DiRocco (4:21 PM)
Ron -- There is a little parallel to Saban's early years at Bama, but I think it's a bit different at UF because Muschamp is still transitioning the offense from the spread to the pro style. The OL has got to continue to evolve. And Muschamp was much further behind Bama in terms of lack of weapons at WR. It's embarrassing how bad the Gators have been at that spot for 3 years. The offense should be better in year 2 under Pease, but only if some of the WRs develop.
How many running backs does UF take next year? 2 at the least, right?
Michael DiRocco (4:22 PM)
kendallland1 -- I would expect UF to sign two or more RBs next year. I know they like Leonard Fournette a lot and he's probably the top RB target.
Where is Kendall Swanson heading? JUCO or a smaller FBS/FCS school?
Michael DiRocco (4:25 PM)
kendallland1 -- I'm assuming you mean Kennard Swanson. I think he's heading the JUCO route.
Who starts at the Middle LB spot next season?
Michael DiRocco (4:28 PM)
Chris -- That's a good guess because the Gators have only one true MLB and that's Mike Taylor. But to be honest, I don't think he's the best option. If Antonio Morrison can add enough weight, he would be the best person, in my opinion. He's fast enough to play outside but physical enough to take over for Bostic.
Kyle (San Juan )
Do you think Driskel and the gators wide receiver will have a break out year?
Michael DiRocco (4:29 PM)
Kyle -- Breakout year? No. Will they be better? Yes. To be honest, that'll be a major victory for the offense.
I know this question gets asked a lot, but which incoming freshman do you see having the biggest impact this year?
Michael DiRocco (4:30 PM)
JD -- On offense, I'm picking Kelvin Taylor, Adam Lane, Demarcus Robinson and Ahmad Fulwood. On defense, I'm going with Vernon Hargreaves, Alex Anzalone, Daniel McMillian and Matt Rolin.
What are your thoughts on DE Lorenzo Carter? Do you think he may be the backup plan after Da'Shawn Hand
Michael DiRocco (4:31 PM)
Tyler -- I don't know much about Carter, other than he's the type of player the Gators are looking for at end now. They need quicker, athletic guys. They've got plenty of big beefy ends. Carter and Hand fit the profile of what they want.
Marlon (Birmingham, AL)
What in the world is the music Florida's band plays when the team forces a punt after third down stops? Is this Florida's version of LSU's Chinese Bandits (minus the bowing of the crowd)?
Michael DiRocco (4:33 PM)
Marlon -- I can't remember the music at all, to be honest with you. I'd have to hear it again to be able to answer that. I rarely pay attention to that kind of stuff, though. Sorry.
Do you think that if Powell, Ronald is healthy he will play at SAM to get he and Fowler on the field at the same time?
Michael DiRocco (4:35 PM)
Chris -- Don't think so. He'll play the buck, but UF can still get those guys on the field at the same time. They can line Fowler inside if they want. Put Dominique Easley at one end spot, have a NT, and Fowler at the other spot and rush Powell and Fowler from the same side. Fowler is big enough to handle that. UF can be creative now with the pass rush with Fowler, Bullard and Easley.
What are your thoughts on Michigan and now Texas's recruiting changes? Personally I favor how Muschamp does it, you look, we look.
Michael DiRocco (4:48 PM)
Ross -- I kind of go back and forth on this issue. On one hand, I'm big on following through on a commitment. If you say you're doing to do something, do it. If you say you're going to come to UF, then sign with UF. But I also understand that these are kids who are under a lot of pressure and sometimes they get caught up in the moment. But I also understand the school's point, too. They want to be able to put together a class and they don't want to worry about guys flipping and then missing out on someone else. I don't like the schools saying if you commit you can't take a visit elsewhere. I think the best thing would be an early signing period. That way kids who wanted to commit early could do that and then sign early. Then you'd know, as a coach, what you've got and you can adjust accordingly for the normal signing period.
what are the biggest needs for the 2014 class?
Michael DiRocco (4:57 PM)
seth -- I wrote a story about that today. Here's the highlights: DE, OL, QB. Here's the link to the story: http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/florida/post?id=13390
Michael DiRocco (4:59 PM)
OK everyone, that's it for this week. Look forward to chatting with you again next week.