Robert Craft

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Florida Grades

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The college football season is over and Alabama has regained the throne.

For the Big Four in the State of Florida, its year-end report card time.

The biggest question when I go to grade these teams is expectations versus on field performance.

Florida State: The buzz surrounding Florida State Football has been steadily building with the arrival of Mike Norvell. The Seminoles kicked off the season against ACC rival Georgia Tech and ended with Duke.

FSU finished with three wins and six losses. The Noles had three games canceled due to COVID. The signature win was against number 5 North Carolina 31-28. Many fans were excited that the program had finally turned the corner and FSU football was back.

But a week later Louisville routed the Seminoles 48-16.

Florida State has long been considered one of the Elite programs in the country, but if last season is a gauge of the program’s direction, it is in big trouble.

Team stats: Passing 159 for 292 for 1,771 yards, ten touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Rushing 352 attempts for 1,799 yards and 19 touchdowns. Receiving 159 catches for 1,771 yards.  Defensively the Seminoles allowed 257 yards passing per game and 199 yards rushing per game.  FSU scored 232 points this season and allowed 324.

The few bright spots from this season were Jordan Travis, Lawrence Toafili, Amari Gainer and Emmett Rice.

Mike Norvell’s first season grade: F

UCF: The Knights entered 2020 with the goal of winning the AAC. That goal was not accomplished.

The Knights blew two big halftime leads to Tulsa and Memphis. That set the tone for the remainder of the season.

Central Florida finished with a 6-4 record but that did not meet the expectations of the program.

Offensively the Knights did put up record breaking numbers led by Sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel and wide receiver Marion Williams.

Gabriel was 248 for 413 for 3570 yards, 32 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.  Williams recorded 71 catches for 1039 yards and ten touchdowns.

UCF was very defensive in 2020. The Knights gave up 299 passing and 192 yards rushing (average per game).

In UCF’s four losses, the Knights allowed Memphis 41 first downs and over 700 yards of total offense, they also allowed Tulsa 23 first downs and over 450 yards of total offense. Cincinnati had 28 first downs and over 500 yards of total offense and BYU had 34 first downs and over 650 yards of total offense.

UCF fans have great expectations but realize that 2017 & 2018 are long in the past.

Josh Heupel’s grade: C+

Miami: The Canes finally had a standout starting quarterback in D’Eriq King and he helped bring some of the swag back to South Florida.

The Hurricanes took strides forward from Manny Diaz changing the culture in Miami.

Miami finished 2020 with eight wins and three losses.

King was a difference maker for the Canes. He was 211 of 329 for 2,686 yards passing, 23 touchdowns, only 5 interceptions, 538 yards rushing, and 4 touchdowns.

The Hurricanes struggled against top tier ACC teams with blow out losses to Clemson (42-17) and North Carolina (62-26).

In these games, Miami was plagued with errors whether it be penalties, missed assignments, drops, or lack of effort.

The offense took a step forward, but Miami’s defense looked unmotivated, porous and undisciplined.

Despite great performances against Duke and Florida State, the defense surrendered too many yards on the ground to North Carolina (554).

They also allowed Oklahoma State’s quarterback to throw for 300 plus yards and four scores.

Manny Diaz grade: B

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.

Striking The Pose

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It’s been 19 years since wide receiver Desmond Howard won the Heisman Trophy, but on Tuesday night DeVonta Smith ended the drought by earning the 2020 Heisman.

Smith joins running back Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015).

Smith received the trophy after 12 games of SEC-only play and rewrote the Alabama and SEC record books. The Amite, LA native caught 105 passes for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns (all three led the nation).

Think about what it takes for a receiver to be recognized as the best player in the game. That player must dominate and make it known immediately and obvious that he’s more responsible for his team’s success than his quarterback.

Smith passed the test. He is the best offensive player on a team loaded with NFL talent at every position.

You could argue that Jones is the guy throwing the ball to Smith and deserves the credit, but Smith gets open play after play, no matter the coverages or routes.

Smith received 447 first place votes and 1,856 total points. Clemson and future Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence was second with 222 first place votes and 1,187 total.

Smith’s teammates Mac Jones and Najee Harris, finished third and fifth and Florida’s Kyle Trask finished fourth.

Smith already had an all-time highlight when, as a freshman, he ran by a Georgia defensive back to catch a Tua Tagovailoa’s 41-yard touchdown pass to win the College Football Playoff Championship.

He will have a chance to score another title Monday when Alabama faces Ohio State for the College Football Playoff Championship in Miami.

Former Heisman winner Steve Spurrier had these thought on DeVonta, “DeVonta, gosh I still remember when he was a true freshman when he caught the touchdown to beat Georgia for the national championship. Nobody knew who he was, he just flew down the sideline and obviously Georgia was in a bad coverage. Some kind of the Cover 2 on that side, which doesn’t make sense but that’s what they were doing.”

Nicknamed the “Slim Reaper,” Smith has already collected plenty of awards for his 2020 efforts, ranging from consensus All American to the Biletnikoff Award to AP College Football Player of the Year (first ever receiver to win), but the Heisman is a completely different class of Hardware.

Smith delivered an inspiring and heartfelt acceptance speech after winning, “To all the young kids out there that’s not the biggest, not the strongest: just keep pushing. I’m not the biggest. I’ve been doubted a lot because of my size and really, it just comes down to if you put your mind to it, you can do it. No job’s too big.”

The experts at SportLine.com have revealed the 2021 Heisman odds: Spencer Rattler QB, Oklahoma is the favorite followed by three ACC quarterbacks D. J. Uiagalelei, Clemson; Sam Howell, North Carolina and D’Eriq King, Miami.

Border Recruiting Wars

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The one thing that Kirby Smart and his staff at the University of Georgia can do is recruit.

The Bulldogs have been recruiting at a very high level since Kirby arrived in Athens. So, at the Early Signing Period conclusion, Georgia added 20 commitments.

This could be the fifth straight year that the Dawgs land a top three class.

The Bulldogs signed 11 players from Georgia, two players from Alabama and two from Florida.

Kirby landed four five-star players during the early period: Amarius Mims (7th rank player in the nation), Brock Vandagriff (14th rank player in the nation), Xavian Sorey (20th rank player in the nation) and Smael Mondon (29th rank player in the nation).

The Bulldogs remained strong in the trenches on offense with Amarius Mims, Micah Morris, Dylan Fairchild and Jared Wilson.

Georgia went out of state to sign three wide receivers in Adonai Mitchell (Tennessee), Jackson Meeks (Alabama) and Brock Bowers (California).

The prize recruit on offense is Brock Vandagriff. Vandagriff is a five-star quarterback from Christian School in Bogart, GA. He is the second ranked quarterback in the 2021 class and should compete for playing time as soon as he steps foot on campus.

The Dawgs hit a home run after home run on the defensive side of the ball. Linebackers Xavian Sorey and Smael Mondon led the class, but players like defensive back Nyland Green, defensive end Jonathan Jefferson, defensive tackle Tyrion Ingram Dawkins and defensive back Kamari Lassiter are just a few of the players that round out an outstanding defensive class.

Fans, want to know why the Dawgs are consistently ranked in the Top 10? Recruiting!  Kirby is one of the top 3 recruiters in the country. I will give the Bulldogs an A+, because they added playmakers on defense, two of the top offensive tackles and one of the most anticipated college quarterbacks in today’s NCAA.

Speaking of, the NCAA issued a statement that the University of Florida football program was found violating recruiting rules.

The Gators were fined $5000, issued a seven day recruiting ban in the Spring of 2021, and were given a three day recruiting ban in January 2021.

How will it affect recruiting in 2021? It won’t.

The Gators landed 25 commitments for the 2021 class during the Early Signing Period.

This will be Dan Mullen’s second top 10 class. Florida signed two quarterbacks, six receivers, five offensive linemen, five defensive linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs.

After going eight years without a five-star player, Mullen landed his second in as many years. Jason Marshall, the number two ranked cornerback in the country signed with the Gators. Marshall will compete for playing time next season barring injury.

Marshall leads a defensive back class that is one of the best in the nation. Marshall, Cory Collier, Dovovan McMillon, Jordan Young and Dakota Mitchell add some much needed athleticism to the Gators Secondary.

Mullen signed multiple quarterbacks this cycle with four-star Carlos Del Rio-Wilson out of Cartersville, GA and three-star Jalen Kitna the (son of NFL’s John Kitna). Adding these two players the quarterback room in Gainesville is shaping up nicely.

The Gators put an emphasis on the defensive line and signed five defensive linemen: two defensive tackles Desmond Watson and Christopher Thomas, two strongside ends Tyreak Sapp and Justus Boone, and one weak side end Jeremiah (Scooby) Williams.

Florida signed three offensive linemen Yousef Mugharbill, Jake Slaughter and Austin Barbar. Look for the Gators to add a couple in February or through the transfer portal.

Overall, the Gators had a solid class, I would give them a B- but with the transfer of five-star 2020 running back Demarkcus Bowman that bumps the grade to a B+.

Recruiting is why Georgia should be the favorite to win the SEC East in 2021 and the Cocktail Party.

Georgia will have either first or second most talented team in the county entering 2021.

To quote the Head Ball Coach “Why is it that during recruiting season (the Georgia Bulldogs) sign all the great players, but when it comes time to play the game, we have all the great players? I don’t understand that. What happens to them?”

Recruiting Wars

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I am handing out grades to the following teams’ recruiting classes following the early Signing Period for the class of 2021.

Considering the challenges all coaches have to deal with while recruiting during the pandemic, there is plenty of praise and blame to go around for Miami, UCF and Florida State.

Recruiting has three periods: Early Signing, National Signing Day, and Transfer Portal. I’ll be looking at the Early Signing Period and Transfer Portal.

Grading any recruiting class is a subjective venture. I determine grades based on the balance of talent level that is brought in, alongside with how the class addresses needs on the roster.

Miami: The Hurricanes earned the signatures of 21 players during the first day of the Early Signing Period. When the dust settled, the Hurricanes had the 11th class in the nation and 2nd class in the ACC.

Miami put a big emphasis on locking down the best players from South Florida (15 of the 21 signees are from Miami-Dade and Broward County).

The keystones of this Hurricane class are five-star defensive tackle Leonard Taylor and safety James Williams.

Miami also flipped four-star quarterback Jake Garcia from USC. The Hurricanes still need to add a couple more offensive linemen and cornerbacks. I’m giving Miami an A-.

UCF: The Knights had 19 players sign and one transfer. The Knights rank 61st Nationally and 4th in the AAC.

UCF focused on the defensive side of the ball with 11 defensive players signing.

Anthony Hundley signed with the Knights after decommitting from LSU.  The Miami native had offers from Florida State, Michigan and Ole’ Miss.

Mikey Keene became the third quarterback to sign with the Knights since Josh Heupel took over. The Arizona native passed for 5,089 yards and 47 touchdowns during his time at Chandler High School.

Former Virginia quarterback RJ Harvey transferred to the Knights; however, he will play at running back.

UCF is a program unlike the others in this article, their recruiting budget is 1/10th that of the other schools. The Knights will add a few more pieces in February and use the Transfer Portal to fill out their class, but the grade for the Knights is C+.

Florida State: The Seminole fans hoping that the football program was going to take a dramatic, positive turn in the first year under new head coach Mike Norvell were in for a rude reality check.

The prized newcomer for the Seminoles won’t be a freshman, but rather, former UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton. If Milton is healthy, this is a talented game changer for Florida State.

This is the first class in modern day FSU history that has not included a five-star player.

In addition, the Seminoles only have one player ranked inside the top 250.

Norvell is very clearly trying to revamp the FSU defense with 10 of their 16 commits on that side of the ball.

Hunter Washington is the Seminole’s highest ranked recruit, and he is a bit undersized at 5 foot 11 and 175 pounds. Hunter Washington, Malik McClain, Shambre Jackson, Omarion Cooper, Rod Orr and Patrick Payton anchor Novell’s second class.

Florida State ranks 22nd Nationally and 4th in the ACC.

The Seminoles have a lot of work ahead of them to raise the talent level of their roster. Norvell must utilize the Transfer Portal. My grade for Florida State would be a D- but the arrival of McKenzie Milton alone raises it to a B-.

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.

The Quarterback Room

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The eighth ranked Florida Gators topped the #5 ranked Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday in the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, taking control of the SEC East at the midway point in the 2020 season.

Florida was led by Senior quarterback Kyle Trask. Trask completed 30 of 43 passes for 474 yards, 4 touchdowns and an interception. Trask became the first quarterback in SEC history to throw for 4 plus touchdowns in 5 consecutive games.

Trask was a low three-star quarterback coming out of Manvel, Texas, where he played behind D’Eriq King. Trask’s composite score was 0.7984 and ranked the 2123rd player in the country.

Georgia’s starting quarterback Stetson Bennett was a high three star with a composite score of 0.8304. Bennett was replaced by four-star quarterback D’Wan Mathis, whose composite score was 0.8992.

After the game on Saturday, whining Bulldog fans were making excuses for the loss.

Some were saying ‘we would have won but we have five players out with injuries and a walk on quarterback’.

Another said I really miss Jake Fromm. I also heard Bennett could not start for Valdosta State University. Injuries are part of the game, but the quarterback position at Georgia is another issue.

Georgia’s quarterback issues started when Justin Fields transferred to Ohio State. The Georgia coaching staff selected Fromm over Fields and the rest is history. Fields is currently the front runner for the Heisman Trophy.

In January, Jamie Newman, the Wake Forest graduate transfer, announced he was transferring to Georgia. On September 2, Georgia’s projected starting quarterback opted out of the 2020 season.

Many speculated that five-star transfer from USC J.T. Daniels would assume the starting job. Daniels has yet to see the field due to medical clearance on his knee. Daniels was the 18th overall in the 2018 class and threw for 2,672 yards as a true freshman in 2018.

D’Wan Mathis started the opening game against Arkansas but was benched in the second half for former walk-on, Stetson Bennett. Bennett has done a very serviceable job for the Bulldogs leading them to victories over Arkansas, Auburn and Kentucky. Bennett gives UGA the best chance to win.

Georgia’s quarterback problems can be traced to a couple factors: coaching, development and offensive systems.

Georgia’s offensive coordinators/quarterback coach under Kirby Smart have been Jim Chaney 2016-18, James Coley 2019 and Todd Monken 2020. Three coordinators in three years, how can a player be developed?

The product on the field in big games prove that UGA quarterbacks are not being developed or coached up to their true strengths.

Kirby Smart has brought in three different coordinators to run a spread offense in Athens, but Smart’s football DNA is to run the ball and play stout defense. The strength of this team is its defense and running the football.

However, it appears offenses have finally caught up to Georgia’s defense. LSU sliced and diced the Dawgs in last season’s SEC Championship Game and Alabama did the same three weeks ago.

Florida handed Georgia their second loss of the season by a score of 44-28.

The defeat also makes it very unlikely for the Bulldogs to claim its fourth straight SEC East title.

It also created questions at the quarterback position moving forward.  Who should start at quarterback: Bennett, Daniels, Mathis or Carson Beck (true freshman for Jacksonville)?

Wait until next year when another five star comes to Athens in Brock Vandagriff.

Bulldog fans, accept your loss to the better team last week and stop making excuses! It is embarrassing!

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