Florida Gators

Offensive Flow

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

During Dan Mullen’s three years as head coach and play caller, Florida has climbed from sixth, to fourth, to third in the SEC total offense.

Also, at this time I’m morally obligated to remind everyone that the 2017 (pre-Mullen) Gator’s offense was ranked 13th in the conference, next to last.

Whether it’s Emory Jones or Anthony Richardson playing quarterback this fall, neither are as accurate as Kyle Trask, nor will they enjoy the luxury of throwing to Kyle Pitts or Kadarius Toney, so it’s imperative the running game is reestablished this season.

Florida has averaged 5+ yards per carry only once in the past 11 years. In 2018, when Lamical Perine, Jordan Scarlett and Dameon Pierce churned out more than 2,000 yards. Mullen was freely deploying quarterback Felipe Franks in the running game.

I think Florida returns to that style of offense this season with Pierce, Malik Davis, Nay’Quan Wright, Lorenzo Lingard and Demarkcus Bowman in a crowded running back room and Jones or Richardson taking 100 plus carries.

If Florida’s offense plays at a similar level as last season, Dan Mullen’s play book will rival Coach Klein’s from the Waterboy. Furthermore, my prediction of Georgia winning the SEC East should be flushed at the Florida Welcome Center on I-75.

It’s not that I think the Gators will stink offensively this year, it’s just that last year’s unit was exceptional, so I’m bracing for descent.

The 7.3 yards per play were the second most in school history behind the 7.4 average in 1995. The 1995 team did not play a SEC only schedule and had the luxury of facing two cupcake schools.

I believe Mullen will field a productive ball control offense. Of course, and as always, the offensive line will ultimately determine the production of this team’s offense.

After two seasons without a quarterback capable of running the ball, Jones and Richardson change the narrative with the verve that Mullen desires.

I’m intrigued to see whether Emory Jones commands the offense, executes the system efficiently, and becomes another of Mullen’s success stories. He’s certainly starting at a point with higher expectations than Kyle Trask.

Because Jones was Mullen’s first quarterback commit, and he has spent 3 years developing ahead of his starting job, I don’t expect Mullen to pull him at the very first sign of trouble.

Jones is such an electric runner with a strong arm that will flourish this fall. Understanding the variations of Mullen’s offense, which changes to fit personnel as well as any in the nation.  Jones has the arm to stretch the field deep and the speed to make plays when things break down in the trenches.

The Gators still have a puncher’s chance of returning to Atlanta, and this year is one of those times, when the SEC crossover scheduling imbalance favors Georgia (Arkansas and Auburn). Plus, there’s the undeniable fact that on paper the Bulldogs are loaded!

Florida has yet to reach the College Football Playoffs through its first seven years and the odds of getting there in 2021 will be daunting.

Florida is currently +4000 odds to win the National Championship.

Extension

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

There are stories out everywhere, on June 1, 2021 the dead-period was lifted.

For those who forgot about COVID-19 already, and all the restrictions around that, it means the return of camps on campus, unofficial/official visits and workouts on campus.

For the first time since January 2020, official visits return to college campuses. For the record, an official visit means the college is able to finance the trip for the recruit. Recruits and their families can take five visits total but only once per school.

The Florida Gators wasted little time getting recruits back in The Swamp, as they had their Summer Kick Off event on June 1st.

With all that pent up recruiting energy ready to be released, the plans for a return to “normal” are anything but, unfortunately. Florida Gators have official visits scheduled for every June weekend. Camps are already planned out and for the first time ever, players can work out for coaches.

Florida coach Dan Mullen said, “it will be waves upon waves upon waves upon waves of kids coming to visit.”

Throw in the transfer portal. And don’t forget the new one-time transfer rule. Did the waves just get larger?

All of it is another example of college football essentially coming down to a simple declarative statement: It’s all about recruiting.

The Gators have camps scheduled the entire month of June: June 7, Skills and Drills Camp; June 9, 16 & 23 7 vs 7 Gator Shootout and OLine/DLine Big man Challenge; June 14 Top Gun QB/WR Camp, In the Trenches Camp and Skills Academy for RB, DB & LB; June 25 Elite Individual Camp.

June 2021 is the biggest recruiting month in the history of recruiting.

Florida administration has been so impressed with the recruiting job; they have given Coach Dan Mullen a three-year contract extension that gives him a significant raise. Under the terms of Mullen’s new contract agreement, he will be the coach at Florida through the 2026 season.

The new extension will also raise Mullen’s annual compensation total to $7.6 million for each year remaining on his deal. With a raise of about $1.5 million per season, the financial breakdown varies by year.

USA Today shows Mullen is now the fourth highest paid coach in 2021.

Gator Grades

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2020 Florida Gators season has concluded and the team is about to go through some significant changes.

The Gators ended the season with an 8-4 record, which included a very disappointing three game skid (LSU, Alabama, and Oklahoma) at the end.

It is hard not to evaluate this season with mixed results.

Going into the season, the final results (ignoring the horrific performance in the bowl game) would most likely be considered a success. Florida beat Tennessee and Georgia and made it to the SEC Championship game.

On the other hand, they had a horrible showing against a terrible LSU team and an embarrassing on and off field showing in the bowl game.

To me this season was another step forward, but not as big of a step as it could have been.

Florida Gators Offense: The Gators ended the season ranked 4th in ESPN SP+ Metric with 509.8 yards per game (ranked 9th in overall yards per game) with 378.6 yards passing per game (ranked #1 in yards per game) and 131.3 yards rushing per game (ranked 97th in yard per game) and scoring an average of 39.8 points per game (ranked 13th in point per game).

It should go without saying, but the accomplishments that Kyle Trask achieved in 2020 is record setting. You see the numbers but what the numbers do not show is that they were achieved without a rushing game and a below average offensive line.

Kyle Trask ended the season with a Passer Rating of 180 and a QBR of 89.1. He threw for 4,283 yards with a completion percentage of 68.8% with 43 touchdowns and 8 picks. Playing 12 games against all Power 5 schools.

Kyle Pitts is a superstar and even with that I think he slightly outperformed expectations.

Pitts played in eight games in 2020. He caught 43 passes for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns. He finished 10th in the Heisman voting (the first tight end to finish in the top 10 in 43 years), won the Mackey Award and unanimous first team All-American.

Kadarius Toney had a phenomenal year. Toney finished 3rd in the SEC in receiving yards (13th in the nation). He had a career high in catches with 62, receiving yards with 831 and all-purpose yards with 1,228.

With respect to the running backs, it can be hard to fully grade them because the offense remained one dimensional.

Not that PFF.com is the absolute data points, the offensive line ranked 76th out of 127 (based on multiple metrics).

When you consider the lack of a rushing game and the lack of clean pockets for Trask, this ranking seems painfully accurate. I’ve said it in the past, ‘stars matter’; the 3.76 average for the line produced an average overall performance.

Overall Offensive Grade: A+

Florida Gators Defense: The Gators ended the season ranked 33rd in ESPN SP+ Metric yielding 404.8 total yards per game (ranked 62nd in total yardage per game), with 258.3 passing yards per game (ranked 99th in yardage), and 146.5 rushing yards per game (ranked 48th).

Florida’s defense had three games where they limited the opposing offense to perform less than their season average (Kentucky, Georgia and Missouri).

Overall, Florida defense struggled with sound tackling, communication issues in the secondary and just getting lined up prior to the snap.

Unfortunately, none of these issues were corrected as the season went on.

Historically, this was the worst Florida defense ever! No matter what position group I reviewed, it was all the same: horrible.

Overall Defensive Grade: F

What started off as a promising season with CFP Playoffs aspirations, suffered a speed bump early with a loss to Texas A&M, but recovered with a major beatdown win over Georgia, only to end with a shocking loss to a very poor LSU squad.

Coach Mullen saw his share of hiccups after the Texas A&M game, a brawl on the field with Missouri, the appearance of Coach Vader and the post LSU shoe tossing comments. Mullens stuck his foot in his mouth more than once this season.

Team Grade: C+  

The All-Time List

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Over the last 20 years, it has become easier to discuss the top five college football teams of the new millennia.

It’s a great time for debates. College football fans are very passionate and love to argue about their favorite teams!

I measured the teams by their on-field dominance, their overall talent level and the success on the gridiron.

Ranking these teams during the past 20 years brought back a lot of memories.

  1. University of Florida 2008:The Gators had a 13-1 record, averaged 43.6 points per game, allowed 12.9 points per game.

The Gators’ defense was led by Consensus All-Americans Brandon Spikes and Joe Haden. Carlos Dunlap and Janoris Jenkins were 1st round draft choices in the NFL.

The offense was led by 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow (2008 Maxwell Award, Manning Award and Wuerffel Trophy) and 2nd team All American Percy Harvin.

The key moment for Florida, was a one point loss to Ole Miss at home. In the post-game press conference, Tebow delivered his famous “Promise Speech”. Love him or hate him, Tebow proved to be one of the best and inspirational college football players in the last 20 years.

Tebow kept his promise! No team came closer than 10 points to the Gators the rest of the season. Florida routed No. 8 Georgia 49-10, pummeled No. 24 South Carolina 56-6 and destroyed No. 23 FSU 45-15.

The 2009 FedEx BCS National Championship Game, Florida defeated NO. 1 Oklahoma 24-14.

  1. Clemson 2016: I think the 2016 Clemson team was Dabo Swinney’s best.

The Tigers finished 14-1, the loss coming to Pitt. The Tigers were led by Deshaun Watson, one of the best college football players never to win a Heisman.

Watson torched Alabama in the postseason to the point where Nick Saban admitted they had no answer for him.

Watson shattered Clemson’s history books with 5,222 total yards from scrimmage and 50 touchdowns (41 passing and nine rushing).

In an instinct classic, Clemson and Alabama came down to the final seconds to decide the winner. Watson found Hunter Renfrow on a rub route to seal the deal and Clemson claimed their first national championship since 1981.

  1. LSU 2019: Just last year many were crowning the Tiger team the greatest of all time, after finishing the season 15-0.

What a truly impressive resume for the Tigers players: Joe Burrow (Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Sporting News Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Manning Award, Broyles Award and SEC Offensive Player of the Year), Ja’Marr Chase (Biletnikoff Award), Grant Delpit (Jim Thorpe Award) and Derek Stingley Jr. (SEC Freshman of the Year and Sporting News Freshman of the Year). LSU had 14 players drafted and 6 undrafted free agents.

The Tigers defeated the defending national champions Clemson 42-25. LSU claimed their fourth national championship in school history, the third undefeated champion in the CFP era, and the second 15-0 season in the modern era.

After their dominant performance against a historically difficult schedule, several talking heads called them the greatest team in college football history.

  1. Alabama 2020: The honor of becoming the greatest football team in Alabama history has to put you in the top tier in my rankings.

It is not an easy statement: the undefeated 2009 team that slapped around Texas in the Rose Bowl, 1992 team that went 13-0 with maybe the most dominant defense in college football history or the 1979, 1966, 1965 or 1964 teams all had great seasons.

Unlike the teams above, the 2020 Tide team showed an offensive firepower rewriting Alabama history books.

Alabama had the best offensive line, wide receiver, running back and quarterback in college football.

After running through the 10 regular season with little to no resistance, the Tide captured the SEC Championship with a 52-46 (the closest contest of the season) over Florida.

Finishing 11-0 in SEC play, playing every game on their schedule during COVID, and the pure dominance the Tide displayed game after game has them at number two.

1.Miami Hurricanes 2001: By the numbers 12-0 record, 512 total points, 42.7 points per game, 9.8 points allowed, 32.9 points average margin of victory, 38 NFL draft picks and 17 first round picks.

The 2001 U was the most dominant all-around team in college football history with Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey and Ken Dorsey on offense and Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma, Phillip Buchanon and Ed Reed on defense (just to name a few).

Six first team Consensus All Americans in Buchanon, Joaquin Gonzalez, Bryant Mckinnie, Shockey, Reed and Todd Sievers.

The U had an absurd amount of talent and played with swagger that established themselves as the best college football team over the past 20 years.

Just outside the top five:  Florida State 2013, Clemson 2018, Ohio State 2002, Auburn 2010, Alabama 2011 and 2012, Southern California 2004 and Texas 2005.  I can make an argument that any of these teams belong in the top five.

Malevolent Mullen

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

“My team is on the floor.”

In a movie full of memorable quotes and scenes (Hoosiers) that line may encapsulate the integrity of Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) more than any other.

In six words he not only holds the one available substitute on his bench accountable for not following his rules, but he shows tremendous support for the four players that did.

Regardless of wins and losses the character does exactly what you want a coach to do, set a good example for the players around him.

If Hoosiers was to be remade into a football movie starring Dan Mullen the line may sound like this- “My team is on the field…except it’s not this year’s team, it’s next years…and you know I could just take them all off the field and not play, right…and by the way, what’s with the lack of a crowd, it’s interfering with my current, but yet not current players…hey, how do you like my Halloween costume?”

If adversity is supposed to expose a person’s true character this past season has shown Mullen to be a narcissistic, excuse-riddled coach, whose post game comments are more of a fit for fan base discussion boards as opposed to press conferences. (Seriously, all those jokes about the SEC only losing bowl games they’re not interested in playing, originally directed at delusional fans, can now add Mullen to their intended list of targets.)

For most of the season it seemed like the best way to handle his rants was the same way you would handle a toddler throwing a fit in the toy aisle at a Target; just let him have his moment and move on.

Of course, as any parent will attest, if you don’t stop the fits early enough, they’ll grow into a full blown tantrum, which is basically what Mullen’s post Cotton Bowl press conference amounted to.

There really isn’t any way an objective person could watch that video and justify what he said as anything other than adult tantrum.

Despite all the ridiculous and frankly disrespectful comments he made his lack of integrity was what really pushed the whole thing over the edge.

As I mentioned above, the one thing we hope a coach will do at a minimum is set a good example for their players, right? I mean, I feel like I’ve heard “shaping boys into men” a few times over my 40 years on this earth.

How did Mullen shape his players this year? I assume they learned if things get tough just throw a bunch of excuses and blame towards others and then make sure they know just how lucky they were that you at least showed up?

Coming into this season I didn’t really have strong feelings towards Mullen, one way or the other. I thought he was a good coach who up to that point seemed like a decent guy.

Obviously, my feelings are a little more pronounced than they were a few months ago.

Look, Mullen may be taking the Dabo Swinney approach by doubling down on his comments because he doesn’t care what people outside of his program’s fan base thinks of him.

However, if he does care about his reputation, and since he’s already admitted he’s moved on to the 2021 season, I know just the perfect movie he can watch to help him on his way.

High Tide

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC Championship Game saw #1 Alabama (10-0) face off against #7 Florida (8-2).

These two programs played in the first SEC Championship Game in 1992. This was a matchup of two historically great programs, but it also determined the Heisman winner.

Mac Jones and Kyle Trask were the two frontrunners to win the Heisman and they did not disappoint.

This was the first real test for the Crimson Tide against a Gators team that would not quit. This is the case of the best player on the best team versus the best player in college football.

Mac Jones threw for 418 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Najee Harris rushed for 178 yards and scored five TD’s. DeVonta Smith caught 15 receptions for 184 yards and two scores. It was enough to win a 52 – 46 shootout in Atlanta.

“Those guys are pretty phenomenal. They have been all year,” Nick Saban said. “They certainly delivered tonight when we needed them to.”

The Gators trailed 35 – 17 at halftime but they scored a couple of third quarter touchdowns and held Alabama scoreless. They scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but Bama scored 17 points.

Kyle Trask threw for 408 yards and 3 touchdowns.

“We were rolling pretty good,” said Trask. “We just ran out of time.”

Harris was the MVP of the game. He had 31 carries for 178 yards, but he also caught 5 passes for 67 receiving yards and turned three of those into scores.

“I’ve been catching the ball since birth,” he quipped. “People don’t expect it because of the running back name, but I can catch.”

Harris set an SEC championship game record with his five touchdowns, breaking the mark of four scored by Auburn’s Tre Mason in 2013. The Alabama senior also broke a couple of school records, setting new standards for career rushing TDs (44) and overall TDs (54).

Kadarius Toney led the Gators with 8 receptions for 153 yards 1 TD. Tight end Kyle Pitts had 7 catches, 129 yards and a touchdown. Florida’s leading rusher only had 2 carries for 24 yards. I think the lack of offensive balance has been a problem all season that came back to haunt them in this game.

“I thought we showed a lot of character,” coach Dan Mullen said. “That was an excellent team we played … give them credit. That’s why they’re ranked No. 1 in the country.”

This win completed an undefeated season for Alabama. They are the clear favorites going into the College Football Playoff.

“This has been a year with a lot of disruptions,” said Saban, who had his own bout with COVID-19. “The resiliency this team has shown this season to win 11 games is pretty phenomenal.”

The only team that I think is capable of beating Alabama is Clemson. The Tigers would not see them until the National Championship, assuming both teams win. They beat #2 Notre Dame 34 – 10 in the ACC Championship Game.

The Flying Shoe

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Last week the Florida Gators had a loss Florida fans never saw coming, a 37-34 shocker against LSU.

UF being a three touchdown favorite and losing won’t be forgotten in Gainesville.

The Gators weren’t a shoe in for the College Football Playoffs with a showdown with mighty Alabama this Saturday night.

This game was a microcosm of the Florida Gators season. Florida’s sloppy and unemotional play by the entire team all came together last Saturday night.

The Gators have been fun to watch this season but they have not yet been a dominant team.

Other than the Georgia game, I can say there hasn’t been one game where the entire team played with the passion and desire to destroy the opponent.

Mistakes through lack of effort by the offense, defense, special teams and coaches cannot go overlooked.

Kyle Trask has brought the Fun & Gun back to Gainesville, but the critics will knock him for the three turnovers.

Trask finished the night making University of Florida history by surpassing Danny Wuerffel’s 1996 single season touchdown record, setting a new high with 40 touchdown passes on the season.

After starting the second half with back-to-back touchdowns drives (nine plays, 156 yards, 3:42 time of possession), the offense followed up with three consecutive three and outs.

Rewatching the game, Florida’s running backs and wide receivers did not help Trask with six drops on the night. The offensive line allowed too much pressure and missed assignments that put the Gators behind the sticks.

The Gator’s defense had been struggling all season. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has been under fire by the media and fans all season.

In the past two games (Tennessee and LSU), Florida’s defense has blown coverages, lined up incorrectly, and made costly penalties.

Florida’s secondary has blown coverages the entire season. I cannot remember one game this season where an opponent’s receiver isn’t running wide open. Majority of the time it ends in a touchdown or a chunk play that sets up a touchdown.

For some reason, Grantham likes to corner blitz. The safeties are on another page and they allow the receivers to run their routes against air.

He called corner blitzes twice in the LSU game, first one led to a 51-yard touchdown and the second one set up LSU’s last touchdown.

The Gator’s defense has struggled to line up correctly due to the play calls getting to players in a timely manner. This has been an issue the entire season and it has reared its head a couple times Saturday night.

The Shoe! No one is ever going to forget about the shoe. Marco Wilson’s boneheaded unsportsmanlike act didn’t lose the game but it helped hammer the nail in the coffin. This blunder won’t be forgotten soon by Gator fans or their rivals.

With all of those miscues, Trask and company got the ball on their own 25-yard line. Three big plays later, Evan McPherson was lining up to try a 51-yard field goal to tie the game.

McPherson is more than capable of drilling a 51 yarder, but there is no denying that McPherson blew the most important field goal of his college career on Saturday night.

Dan Mullen and his staff are not blameless. Mullen’s arrogance was costly, telling the ESPN production crew that he felt the Gators would get into the College Football Playoff even if they lost to LSU as long as they beat Number 1 Alabama. My biggest issue with the statement is his mindset. WHY?

Many believe Kyle Trask’s chances of winning the Heisman Trophy disappeared just like Florida’s College Football Playoff hopes.

That may not be the case. Trask completed 29 of 47 for 474 and 2 touchdowns and 2 rushing touchdowns; good looking stats for an ugly loss.

Whether it’s right or not, Trask’s turnovers will enhance the chance of Alabama’s Mac Jones to win the award.

Everyone please take a moment to pray for Keyontae Johnson.

Striking the Pose

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Heisman race is narrowing down to a two-man race, but it’s tightening up at the same time heading into the final week before conference championship games begin.

Mac Jones and Kyle Trask have separated themselves from the pack, but players like Desmond Ridder, (QB, Cincinnati) Najee Harris, (RB, Alabama) Zach Wilson, (QB, BYU) Trevor Lawrence, (QB, Clemson) Justin Fields, (QB, Ohio State) Jaret Patterson, (RB, Buffalo) and Breece Hall, (RB, Iowa State) have made major impacts in the 2020 season.

The Heisman trophy went to the best player in college football once upon a time. Today, the Heisman goes to the top quarterback on any winning team.

Last year at this time, Joe Burrow was being announced as the 2019 Heisman trophy winner after putting up early-gen PlayStation stats.

Burrow completed 402 passes for 5,617 yards and 60 touchdowns in 15 games. He also threw 44 touchdowns in the regular season.

The two front runners in this year’s Heisman race will have only played 10 regular season games, and only against SEC teams.

The voting deadline has been moved back to December 21st with finalists announced on Christmas Eve.

For the first time, voters will judge a Heisman winner on his conference championship game. That game being the SEC Championship in Atlanta on December 19th.

Mac Jones runs the Alabama offense at an exceptionally high level while putting up crazy numbers in the process. Against LSU, Jones completed 20-28 passes for 385 yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Now that gives the first-year starter over 3,100 yards passing with 27 touchdowns and only three interceptions. It obviously helps having a stacked offense including DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris, but Jones puts throws on the money and is a tough quarterback to stop.

Kyle Trask has brought the Fun & Gun back to Gainesville. Trask has no problem chucking the ball around without much of a running game.

Trask’s ability to make smart decisions and avoid mistakes helps make that a winning formula for the Gators offense.

As absurd as it may sound, Trask is on a better scoring pace and on the same yardage pace as last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Trask ignited the Heisman talk by leading the Gators victory of Georgia Bulldogs 44-28.

Trask was 30-43 for 474 yards passing 4 touchdowns and a pick. Trask’s ability to place the ball where only his teammate can make the catch is amazing.

That’s how good the Gators quarterback has been with over 3,200 yards and 38 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions with the season finale against LSU this Saturday.

The Heisman race might come down to the SEC Championship game in a couple weeks, but barring a complete drop off from Kyle Trask against LSU, it’s hard to imagine Jones catching Trask in this race.

One question to all my readers, if you took both quarterbacks off their respective teams, which team would be affected more?

The Best

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

When Kyle Pitts took a brutal hit from Georgia safety Lewis Cine, many speculated that his football career at Florida was over.

Talking heads in college and pro football stated it was in Pitts best interest to opt out the remainder of the season to prepare for the NFL draft.

The impact from the hit by Cine left Pitts with a fractured nose.

Pitts was cleared to play two weeks ago against Vanderbilt, but Coach Mullen decided not to allow him to travel with the team to Nashville.

Sidelined for two weeks, Pitts made an immediate impact in the contest Saturday against Kentucky.

On the first drive of the game, Pitts twisted Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph into a pretzel for a 56-yard touchdown catch.

Pitts was back in full swing and added a two-yard slant route for his second touchdown. Then capped off the day with a fake slant and out for his third touchdown.

Prior to the game Kelvin Joseph was quoted “I feel like the biggest challenge to Pitts is going to be facing me and my teammates.”

J.J. Weaver stated, “Kyle Pitts is most definitely going to see me this Saturday.  We’ve just got to be more physical than him.”

Pitts wasn’t opting out and he wasn’t going to let Joseph get the last laugh. Pitts rocked the baby and Kentucky’s defense.

Kyle Pitts has become the best tight end and maybe the best offensive weapon in today’s college football.

In six games, Pitts has 29 receptions for 513 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has more touchdown receptions than all of Tennessee and Florida State have touchdown passes.

Pitts is the perfect example of a player utilizing his length and size correctly. He maximizes his build with innate body control, ball tracking ability, high-point timing, and sheer strength at the catching point.

In the red zone against 6 foot 2 cornerback Tyson Campbell (future NFL 1st round pick), it wasn’t just size that made the difference, but the fact that Pitts leaped up for his balls and secured them with total authority.

Coming into the 2020 season, there was a clear-cut top 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft tight ends: Penn State’s Pat Frieermuth, Miami’s Brevin Jordan and Pitts. As of today, Pitts has gained access to this tight end group.

Truthfully, Pitts is an absurd athlete. He stands 6 foot 6, 246 pounds, but he moves with the explosiveness of an outside wide receiver. He has become a defensive coordinator’s nightmare.

Most mock drafts have Pitts going in the top 10 and the first tight end off the board.

Plenty of NFL teams have a need for a player like Pitts, but creative offensive minds would have a field day sifting through the mismatches that Pitts provides.

Before the NFL Draft 2021, Pitts still has a few games left as a Florida Gator. Gator and college football fans can enjoy the Kyle to Kyle combo for just a little longer.

Florida Recruiting Wars

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

With the Early Signing Period less than a month away, I want to look at the Big Three in Florida’s potential recruiting classes for 2021.

The Current ranking for the Miami Hurricanes is 13th in the nation and fourth in the ACC with 21 commits.

The Canes currently have 1 running back, 5 receivers, 3 offensive linemen, 4 defensive linemen, 3 linebackers, 2 defensive backs, 2 athletes and 1 kicker.

Coach Diaz has done an excellent job of keeping the top talent in South Florida to commit to Miami.

Leonard Taylor, the number two player in the state and ninth nationally, is the anchor to an outstanding class. The Canes have commitments for three of the five heralded players from Miami Palmetto (Taylor, Bashard Smith WR, and Savion Collins DE).

Miami has 19 current commits from the State of Florida and 16 of the 19 are from South Florida.

Key players in this class: James Williams 5-star safety, Romello Brinson high 4-star wide receiver and Laurence Seymore 4-star offensive guard.

Miami needs to find a quarterback, two or three more offensive linemen and 3 or 4 more defensive backs.

When the dust settles after the early signing period, I predict the Canes will be in position for a top 10 class.

The Florida State Seminoles are currently ranked 28th and in the ACC with 15 commits.

The Seminoles currently have 1 quarterback, 4 receivers, 3 offensive linemen, 3 defensive linemen, 1 linebacker and 3 defensive backs.

Coach Norvell must think he is still at Memphis with the star power of the current class. FSU (Five Star U) has ZERO five stars in this class, four 4-stars and eleven 3-stars.

The Seminoles only have six recruits from the State of Florida.

The disaster on the field has affected recruiting. If Norvell wants to be competitive on the field it starts with recruiting top players in the States of Florida and Georgia.

Norvell may want to utilize the transfer portal this season to acquire some talented players who are dissatisfied with their current situation. The current roster has six five-stars and a top 10 composite ranking but only two wins on the field.

The Seminoles need to add 4 to 5 offensive linemen, 2 receivers, 3 defensive linemen and 2 defensive backs. Norvell sure looks to have his work cut out for him.

FSU will finish the 2021 with a class ranked around 25th. Maybe FSU fans are wishing they didn’t fire Willie so quickly!

The University of Florida Gators are currently ranked seventh in the nation and fourth in the SEC with 26 commits.

The Gators have 2 quarterbacks, 6 receivers, 5 offensive lineman, 5 defensive linemen, 2 linebackers, 5 defensive backs, and 1 athlete.

When Dan Mullen arrived in Gainesville, he was not known as a top recruiter but he had made smart hires. The Gators will carry over the success on the field into recruiting.

The Gators snagged the two remaining players for Miami Palmetto in Jason Marshall and Corey Collier. The Gators currently have 18 commits from Florida and 3 from Georgia.

Florida may have lost a commitment from 4-star linebacker Chief Borders out of Franklin, GA to Sanford.

Players to watch for commitment are 4-star linebacker Xavian Sorey and 4-star safety Terrion Arnold out of Tallahassee, it’s a Florida – Alabama battle for both players.

The Gators are in good shape to finish with a top 10 class. My prediction is they will have the sixth ranked class in the nation.

Florida is one of the richest recruiting states in the country, and if the Big Three want to stay in the Big Three, they must recruit the State of Florida first.