Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

July 31, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Michael DiRocco

Michael DiRocco
  (3:59 PM)

Hello everyone. Let's get started.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

When does Training Camp Open For Florida?

Michael DiRocco
  (3:59 PM)

Chris -- The Gators start practice on Friday. Players report tomorrow.

Bobby Boucher (ATL)

Whos is the better LB Prospect out of JAX?? J. Holland or S. Pittman?Can/Will UF take both to keep the pipelines open At Trinity and First Coast for next year??

Michael DiRocco
  (4:00 PM)

Bobby -- Holland has UF as his leader, but Pittman committed to South Carolina on Tuesday night. I think the pipelines are always open, especially with former Gator Guss Scott at Trinity.

Davis (Boston )

if hernandez is found not guilty do you think florida will put his all american brick back?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:01 PM)

Davis -- That's a possibility, but I kind of doubt it. OJ was found not guilty and the stain surrounding him is still so bad that nobody wants to be affiliated with him. I think that would be the same with Hernandez.

Tyler (Tampa)

MD - I've heard a lot from FSU media that they think their secondary matches up with the Gator's. Personally, I think UF will be on a different level this year when compared with FSU. How biased am I??

Michael DiRocco
  (4:02 PM)

Tyler -- Well, UF has two potential first-round draft picks in its secondary so it's not being biased, it's being accurate. The Gators secondary will be very good. I think having Jaylen Watkins and Cody Riggs at safety gives them veteran, smart players who won't make mistakes.

Kyle (228)

Since its mlb trade deadline day: you can deal for a) wr marqise lee b) te Austin seferin-Jenkins c) dt Anthony Barr d) safety Ed Reynolds or e) kicker Cairo santos - which will it be for this years gator squad?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:03 PM)

Kyle -- Lee, without hesitation. The Gators desperately need a playmaker on the edge. He may be the best WR in the country.

Tanner (Bettendorf, IA)

How have the DT's (excluding Easley) developed over the offseason and do you see one of them rising above the others to contribute in a major way this fall? Do you see one of them stepping up much like Omar Hunter last year and anchoring down the middle against the run, or will it be more of a group effort? Thanks Mike.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:04 PM)

Tanner -- Darious Cummings had a great spring and I think he's a guy who will step up like Hunter did last year. Also, Damien Jacobs had a solid debut season and should be a good player this year. Lots of young guys behind those guys (with the exception of Leon Orr) so they'll need to be very good and I think they will be.

Tanner (Bettendorf, IA)

Where is D.J. Humphries right now and where do you see him ending up as this season progresses in regards to his development and place in the pecking order of the SEC's top OT's. Can he approach the level of Kouandjio of Alabama and Matthews of A&M this season? Thanks Mike.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:07 PM)

Tanner -- He's still somewhat raw, and he also needs to continue to put on weight. But he's so agile, quick-footed, and athletic that he can make up for being somewhat undersized. I think he has the potential to develop into an All-SEC tackle, maybe not this season but certainly by 2014. And if he has a great year next year, I can see him leaving early for the NFL.

Mike (Atlanta)

Will all back up quarterbacks get equal number of snaps in the 1st couple of practices while Driskel is out?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:09 PM)

Mike -- I think Murphy and Mornhinweg get the bulk of the snaps. They're the most experienced. The others guys would just bog down the offense.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Mike, the Gators earned a commitment from the top 2015 WR. Can they step it up a notch and close the deal with Ermon Lane? And will Fulwood and/or Robinson ease your pain this season by providing some production on the outside along with Dunbar?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:11 PM)

Tony -- I do think UF lands Lane, which would be HUGE for this signing class. Fulwood and Robinson are the top two candidates to step up and become significant pieces of the WR rotation. I saw Fulwood at FNL and he seems bigger, thicker. That's good. Both guys have the ability to not only make plays downfield, but also to make plays on the ball, out-fight or out-jump DBs for it. That's something the Gators have really missed.

Mike (Atlanta)

Who do you think wins the backup job at QB?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:11 PM)

Mike -- I still think it'll be Murphy.

Craig (Cape Coral, FL)

Will Kelvin Taylor make a big impact this year at RB?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:13 PM)

Craig -- Maybe not a big impact, because Matt Jones is clearly the No. 1 back, but I don't see why he can't finish with 50-75 carries. Remember, he's also behind Mack Brown on the depth chart heading into August.

Gary (Panama City, Florida)

How good is B Cox going to be this year? I think he is going to be a big time difference maker, he had a year to get bigger and stronger. Do you think he is flying under the radar?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:14 PM)

Gary - It's funny you mention Bryan Cox. In my camp preview today, I did a section about guys people aren't thinking about but should be, and he was one of them. He flashed in the spring and I think he's going to be one of the surprise players on defense this year. He'll be behind Bullard but he's going to get reps.

Joey (Tampa)

Vernon Hargreaves III looks to be a future all star. How do you see his role shaping up in his freshman season with such a stacked and experienced secondary already established?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:15 PM)

Joey -- He'll get playing time, and if Purifoy has to play a lot of WR, I wouldn't be surprised to see Hargreaves start in his place. Otherwise, I can see him working as a nickel back and getting a lot of work on special teams.

Mike (Atlanta)

How will Driskel's absence affect play calling for 1st couple of practices?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:16 PM)

Mike -- Murphy and Mornhinweg are familiar with the offense, so I don't think that will be a problem -- other than neither will do any of the QB runs that Driskel did. The problem is both are so inconsistent and aren't very good passers that it'll delay the chemistry the passing game needs to develop until Driskel can get back in there.

Marlon (Birmingham, AL)

Hey Mike. Why are fans obsessed with recruiting year round? I honestly can't believe Jeff Driskel was rated over Brett Hundley, Kevin Hogan, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, and Marcus Mariota in the class of 2011? All redshirted in 2011 except for Bridgewater. True, Hogan and Mariota might have better talent around them, but Driskel doesn't play well in any big game (except against FSU last year).

Michael DiRocco
  (4:18 PM)

Marlon -- I'll say this: Driskel certainly has the worst supporting cast of playmakers around him than all those guys and that's a big factor. Would Teddy Bridgewater have fared better with UF's receivers last year? Probably not. Bridgewater is fantastic, by the way, and I think he's the best of all those QBs. Driskel wasn't ready to play in 2011 and got forced into action and then had to split reps with Brissett. Let's see how he does this year. And as for playing well in big games, he played well vs. LSU and South Carolina.

Regan (Naugatuck, CT)

Do you think a freshman like Marcell Harris has a chance to come in and get quality time?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:19 PM)

Regan -- Absolutely, because UF will try and rotate guys in the secondary. But I think most of his work will come on special teams.

Tanner (Bettendorf, IA)

While you can't compare them just yet because Matt Jones hasn't yet proven it on the field, do you see any similarities between him and Gurley from UGA? I haven't watched Gurley a ton nor obviously seen Jones' ascension during spring ball, but do you see a similar breakout performance this year as possible? Thanks Mike.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:21 PM)

Tanner -- I think Jones will be a 1,200-yard back this year. He'll get the work, and he's a bulldozer at 6-2, 226 pounds. He's hard to tackle and he'll be running behind a bigger, more physical offensive line. He and Gurley are similar runners.

Dan The Gator Fan (Orlando, FL)

What are the odds we see more designed runs and/or rollout pass plays for Driskel in the coming year?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:22 PM)

Dan -- I think we'll see less designed runs because the situation behind Driskel is not good. Murphy and Mornhinweg have struggled and the Gators can't afford for Driskel to be out for any significant length of time. Rollout passes, however, are a different matter. I think Jeff throws pretty well on the run so we'll definitely see some of that.

Dan The Gator Fan (Orlando, FL)

Has there been anymore talk of Patric Young playing some TE for the Gators this season?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:23 PM)

Dan -- Uh, no. That was never a possibility, just a scenario that somehow got legs.

Tanner (Bettendorf, IA)

Purifoy has obviously gotten tons of offseason pub based on him potentially playing both ways and his projected NFL draft stock next year. However, just how much improvement have you seen in his coverage skills and technique, and to what extent have he and Roberson been working and growing together as players? Thanks Mike.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:24 PM)

Tanner -- Roberson has better coverage skills, but Muschamp says Purifoy has gotten better and isn't just relying on his size and physicality. I think he understands routes better and that helps, too. Roberson has gotten better in terms of his physicality, but he still doesn't like to mix it up and will never be a good tackler.

Dan The Gator Fan (Orlando, FL)

Can Matt Jones actually exceed the performance Gilly had last season?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:25 PM)

Dan -- Absolutely. I think he'll surpass 1,200 yards, mainly because he'll get a lot of work with the questions at WR and the fact that the OL is bigger and stronger, especially on the left side.

Tanner (Bettendorf, IA)

Similarly to the question above, did I see Marcell Harris listed at 220lbs coming in this year? And if so, is he just a physical freak for a safety or could he potentially grow into an outside linebacker type as his career at UF progress? Thanks Mike.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:27 PM)

Tanner -- He is a pretty big kid. I'm not sure about whether he eventually moves to linebacker, though. That's a question I'll ask this week, about whether he has the potential to move there. UF needs help at safety because it doesn't look like Showers, Gorman or Maye are going to develop into the players the staff hoped they'd be, so we may see Harris as a starter next year.

CP (CLW)

MD, Are you getting tired yet of hearing about Johnny Football every time you turn on ESPN? Do you think all his off the field BS hurts him this year. I think BAMA embarrasses them at Kyle Field this year.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:30 PM)

CP -- I am. I read Thompson's piece on Manziel and what I took from that is the kid is somewhat spoiled and incredibly immature. It's probably not fair to compare him to Tebow, but I believe the hype and attention Tebow got was just as intense, if not more, than what Manziel is getting. And Tebow handled that incredibly well. He was a mature kid who understood the value of keeping a low profile. I don't know if that stuff will hurt Manziel, but I know if he plays badly then he'll get crucified for it.

Tanner (Bettendorf, IA)

Do you see Easley breaking out in similar fashion to Floyd last season? And what type of leadership ability has he had in helping the younger guys on the line gel and form a cohesive unit? Thanks Mike.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:32 PM)

Tanner -- I do, but in a different way. He's not as big as Floyd but he is quicker and should be disruptive as an inside pass rusher, too. He talked about being a leader to the young guys at SEC media days. Says he's showing them the way things are done and treating them like a family. He said that didn't happen when he was a young guy, but he took the blame and said he wasn't receptive to what the older players were trying to do to help him.

CP (CLW)

Is Morrison's two game suspension final yet or is coach Boom rethinking it down to one? I also love how our boy Urban went from kicking off his best RB to only giving him 3 games. Video clearly shows Hyde assaulting the female involved but since she didn't pursue I guess its all fine and dandy up at OSU.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:33 PM)

CP -- I don't think Morrison is getting his suspension reduced. It's more about him being in that situation after just agreeing to a deferred prosecution agreement than what happened and the charges getting dropped.

David (OCMD)

1. Do you think Demarcus Robinson will see the field this year? 2. What do you think the depth chart will be for the LBs? 3. Gilly wasn't the best blocker. Is Matt Jones a good blocker and if he is do you think that will allow the offense to do some different things than last year?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:35 PM)

David -- Robinson will certainly be heavily involved. The depth chart at LB is OK at the top, but the reserves are just guys. By that I mean, nothing special, former role players, etc. Morrison and McMillian and Powell/Fowler (at SLB) are top-notch. Jones has improved his blocking skills, Pease said, and that will help solve some of the protection issues the Gators has last year. But if the offense is going to improve it's going to depend on how well the WRs play.

Tanner (Bettendorf, IA)

How did Jaylen Watkins play in his switch to safety in spring ball and there afterwards? Is he the type of kid who is just the consummate team player and has little ego in regards to "showcasing his skills" at his more natural position of CB for the NFL scouts? Thanks Mike.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:37 PM)

Tanner - Watkins did fine and had no issues with the move. He just wants to be on the field. I think it'd be in UF's best interest to leave him at safety and pair him with Cody Riggs. That versatility to play CB and S makes him even more valuable at the NFL level.

Andre Debose (Gainesville, FL)

By season's end, who will be the top running back in FL? James Wilder, Duke Johnson, or Matt Jones?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:38 PM)

Andre -- That's a tough call. I think Johnson and Jones will have similar numbers (1,200 yards or so) so I'd go with those two.

Shane (Chicago)

Ok, let's hear it.....how many wins for the Gators this year, who are the losses (if any) to and do they make it to Atlanta?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:39 PM)

Shane -- I think if the WRs step up and there are no significant injuries anywhere, UF can go 10-2. I'd pick them to lose at LSU and probably at South Carolina. The swing game is Georgia. If they win that, they go to Atlanta.

Chris (Pensacola)

What do you think our chances are on landing Lane, Lammons, and Wilson? Are there any other high profile recruits that you think we will land?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:39 PM)

Chris -- I think the chances of landing Lane and Wilson are very good. Not sure as much with Lammons.

Marlon (Birmingham, AL)

I'm impressed by Tim Tebow and Rafael Nadal as people and athletes. Which one has a bigger heart on the court/field, in your opinion? Tebow plays with an unbelievable passion. Nadal plays with a kind of heart I've never seen in any other athlete. It will take 5 hours to beat the guy in a final of a major.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:40 PM)

Marlon -- Probably not fair to pick one over the other here. Not sure how anyone could, either. Both play with tremendous heart. The only thing I'll say is that Nadal has only himself to rely on while Tebow has to deal with 10 other teammates.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Do you feel a little better about the Gator TE situation after witnessing the recent chaos at the position in Tallahassee following the transfer of Christo?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:41 PM)

Tony -- Not really. None of the four have done anything to impress me and I don't think they combine to catch 40 passes this season. It's a mess and someone needs to step up.

Tanner (Bettendorf, IA)

Lots of focus regarding the younger receivers has gone towards Robinson and Fulwood, but is Alvin Bailey another guy who could factor in as a playmaker out of slot or in the return game? Thanks Mike.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:43 PM)

Tanner -- Absolutely. He's a guy who thrives on athleticism and just made plays in high school. It's just that I think Fulwood and Robinson are better equipped to contribute early.

Regan (Naugatuck, CT)

Is Debose ready to step his game up this year at WR?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:43 PM)

Regan -- I doubt it. He's had attitude and work ethic issues for four years now. What are the chances he'd finally fix that after four years of not fixing it?

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Are coaches concerned the Vanderhoes release from his NLI will set a bad precedent moving forward? I know they say it's a family issue, but something smells fishy here?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:45 PM)

Tony -- Not really. Things are taken on a case-by-case basis and the schools have a lot of power here.

Ivo Solis (Jacksonville, FL)

Hey Mike,I read recently that a potential break out player could be TE Colin Tompson. You agree. Thanks again.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:46 PM)

Ivo -- I don't know that I agree. He's more of a blocker than a receiver and he didn't do much while redshirting last year because of his foot surgery. I think he's got a chance to be a breakout guy in 2014 but this year is probably asking a lot. He was so inconsistent in the spring. But someone has to emerge at TE, right?

Jeff (Tampa, FL)

How many potential early entrants does Florida have on the 2013 squad?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:48 PM)

Jeff -- If you mean the 2013 signing class, eight guys enrolled early in January. If you mean the 2014 signing class, I'm not sure. I don't know if that's even something the staff has considered because it's still so early in the process.

Tanner (Bettendorf, IA)

I know that hindsight is 20/20, but it is still a little frustrating to see some of the WR's that have gotten out of the state of Florida and have been huge playmakers right away for other teams (Sammy Watkins, Amari Cooper, etc). However, how encouraging is it to you to see Florida starting to grab some of the top talent in the state like Phillips in 2015 and hopefully Ermon Lane as well?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:49 PM)

Tanner -- To me, it doesn't matter if they come from Florida or Alaska. The big issue is developing them once they get here, and I think Joker Phillips will make a difference there. But to your question, it's better that the elite talent in Florida stay in state, whether it's UF, UM, UCF, USF or FSU. Always good for in state schools to put up a fence and keep the elite in state talent home.

Ivo Solis (Jacksonville, FL)

Hey Mike, kind of a random questions: With the recent addition of Chris Leak as a GA, got me thinking of this; could you envision the day that the great Tim Tebow comes back to UF as a Coach of some capacity capacity? Thanks

Michael DiRocco
  (4:50 PM)

Ivo -- We've banged that idea around, but I really don't think so. He wants to do charity/mission work with kids, and I also think he's intrigued by a possible political career, too. I think coaching would be something he'd consider after that.

David (OCMD)

Last year the Gators were heavily penalized. Including several penalties for substitutions and too many men of the field. Muschamp doesn't strike me as the type of guy that would put up with all that. Do you think we will see a more disciplined team this year or will the penalties continue?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:53 PM)

David -- There was a huge emphasis this offseason on eliminating those kind of discipline/stupid penalties. But it's interesting, if you have a very good team that can overcome penalties, a lot of penalties don't really hurt you. UF's national title teams in 1996 and 2006 were the most-penalized and fourth-most penalized teams in UF history.

Chris (Pensacola)

I haven't heard much about Alex McCalister, I know the coaches were excitied about him.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:54 PM)

Chris -- He's another guy I think people should watch. He's very raw but he's got those freakishly long arms. He'll probably make more of an impact on PAT and FG block teams but he'll get some playing time. The staff believes he can eventually develop into a dominant pass rusher.

Ryan Cornell (Charlotte, NC)

Where do you see Florida landing in the SEC EAST at the end of the season?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:54 PM)

Ryan -- First or second. If they beat Georgia, they win the division. If not, I think they finish second.

Jeff (Tampa, FL)

Sorry, let me clarify, how many draft eligible players could leave Gainesville after this season?

Michael DiRocco
  (4:55 PM)

Jeff -- Ah, draft-eligible. Not counting seniors, I think UF could potentially lose Powell, Purifoy, and Roberson.

Marlon (Birmingham, AL)

Hey Mike. Who'd win between Florida's 1996 and 2008 national chapmpionship teams if they played each other in the Swamp? Could you imagine Wuerffel, Hilliard, Anthony, Taylor, Green, etc. versus Tebow, Harvin, Spikes, Demps, Rainey, etc.

Michael DiRocco
  (4:59 PM)

Marlon - Wow, interesting question. The 1996 team was so dynamic offensively, but Charlie Strong devised a scheme to slow down that amazing OU offense. The 2008 team had Percy Harvin and he would have given the '96 defense nightmares, but the '96 team had a pretty good secondary. I might take the '08 team because of Charlie. But it'd be close.

Tanner (Bettendorf, IA)

There's no denying that UF's schedule is killer this year, but I really see the Miami game in week two as an opportunity much like the A&M and Tennessee games last year to set the tone for the entire season. While I have concerns about Miami's big play ability, I still think the gators can make a big statement and show the Canes what physical SEC football looks like. What are your thoughts on that game and it's potential impact on the season? Thanks Mike.

Michael DiRocco
  (5:01 PM)

Tanner -- It's a HUGE game, especially without Morrison. Going on the road is tough, but it shouldn't really be much of a hostile environment since there's a lot of South Florida Gators. But the linebackers aren't very experienced and that could hurt against Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson. That being said, UF's OL and Matt Jones should be able to be pretty successful. It's a springboard game into the SEC season and a win there should have the Gators 5-0 heading into the LSU game.

Marlon (Birmingham, AL)

What's your take on sponsors' names in bowl games? I like the sponsors have their names as a part of the game, but I don't like it when they have the bowl named entirely after them. I know they pay the money, but I prefer the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl as opposed to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. For the Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl as opposed to the Capital One Bowl.

Michael DiRocco
  (5:02 PM)

Marlon -- As someone who has to type the bowl names, I'm for whatever is shorter :) -- I'd prefer Peach Bowl over Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Bowl.

Sean (Jax Beach )

Hey Mike, when are Lane and Wilson planning to commit? I heard the 10th but I wasn't sure. That is assuming they still decide to attend the same school.

Michael DiRocco
  (5:02 PM)

Sean -- Supposed to be the first week in August, so sometime next week. And Wilson said last week that he and Lane were signing at the same place.

Derrin (Plano, TX)

True or False, Matt Jones will out perform James Wilder and Duke Johnson in their head to head matchups?

Michael DiRocco
  (5:03 PM)

Derrin -- True for Wilder, not sure for Johnson. Not having Morrison hurts UF's run defense.

Michael DiRocco
  (5:03 PM)

OK everyone, that's it for this week. We'll do it again next week, and we'll have camp stuff (finally) to talk about. Have a great week.