J.C. Jackson "grazed" by bullet in shooting"
The month of December has not been kind to J.C. Jackson.
First, Florida's talented redshirting cornerback was a passenger in the car driven by Treon Harris that was pulled over in an incident that produced a citation for Harris and a couple of bags of marijuana that didn't result in charges for Harris, Jackson, or Jalen Tabor.
Then, on Christmas Eve, in his hometown of Immokalee, Jackson was shot — "grazed" in the eyelid by a bullet — in a shooting that sent to the hospital via helicopter after being shot in the face. That, too, happened in a car, with West Virginia wide receiver Jacky Marcellus and his brother, Jackinson (who was airlifted for his injuries).
Jackson was "fine," per Gator Country's Nick de la Torre, as of Christmas Day. It is fair, though, to be worried about him.
Neither of these two recent incidents necessarily means that Jackson was doing anything wrong, or even keeping the wrong company. And being in a car with weed is, frankly, nowhere near as worrisome as being in a car that was shot up.
But Immokalee is a profoundly poor area, with better than a third of its residents living below the federal poverty line as of the 2000 Census; it's a place that gets euphemistically described as "rough." There will be worries about Jackson every time he goes home for a break because of that, and those worries existed in the abstract even before going home for a break resulted in him getting grazed in a shooting.
Jackson will be trying to escape Immokalee by means of playing football well for some time to come, as Edgerrin James, among others, did before him. And this is a potent reminder of why.
On a lighter note: Jackson's recent history of being in cars with two other passengers has been truly awful. Maybe he should mix up the number of passengers? Or walk? Or something?
Jeff Driskel reportedly investigating Duke transfer
One of the worst-kept Florida football secrets of recent times became news over the weekend, with Laura Keeley of the News & Observer reporting that Jeff Driskel has sent Duke a release allowing the school to contact him as he searches for a possible landing spot as a graduate transfer.
Driskel wasn't expected to be part of the Florida program in 2015 from about the moment that Harris usurped him as the Gators' starter, and I'd heard recent chatter about him considering the ACC, and especially Duke, when deciding whether to transfer. A move to Duke would make a ton of sense for Driskel, who graduated from Florida in the summer of 2014, and is thus eligible to transfer as a graduate student: The system Kurt Roper was brought to Florida to run actually does fit his talents well in theory, even if Driskel spent 2014 largely refuting that notion on the field, and David Cutcliffe will be running it whether or not Roper returns to Durham.
And, obviously, the last two Florida quarterbacks to transfer, Jacoby Brissett and Tyler Murphy, had significant successes at ACC schools in 2014. It's possible that, if Driskel transfers to Duke and wins the job for his redshirt senior season in 2015, two consecutive seasons of college football will pass with Florida transfers starting at quarterback at two different ACC schools.
Florida being the ACC middle class's farm team for quarterbacks doesn't make its own lack of success at the position of less painful, though. That much we know.
McElwain's staff should take shape soon
Too much was probably made of comments Jim McElwain made on radio shows early last week about Florida waiting on bowl games and the NFL to build its staff, at least in regards to Florida's thoroughly predictable hiring of Doug Nussmeier as offensive coordinator. There was no bowl game standing in the way of that hire, thanks to Michigan's 5-7 record in 2014, and the NFL never seemed to have a credible offensive coordinator candidate in its ranks.
But bowls and the NFL season are very possibly be the reasons for delays on McElwain filling out the rest of his staff, though, and as they end, the rest of Florida's coaches could be revealed in short order.
The only likely retention candidates on Florida's staff are defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, who is almost certainly McElwain's No. 1 priority, offensive line coach Mike Summers, and defensive line coach Brad Lawing. Of the three, Summers seems the most likely to remain, with Robinson more torn between staying and following Will Muschamp to Auburn and Lawing basically an enigma.
Every other currently employed Gators coach seems likely to depart Florida after the Birmingham Bowl. And McElwain is likely, as 247Sports's Thomas Goldkamp notes ($), to reach for boughs of Nick Saban's Alabama-grown coaching tree like Chicago Bears receivers coach Mike Groh (who is about to be out of a job thanks to the firing of Marc Trestman, in all likelihood) or Alabama receivers coach Billy Napier (who followed McElwain to Colorado State before returning to Alabama), and for star recruiters like West Virginia running backs coach and South Florida Svengali JaJuan Seider, to build his own staff.
There's enough shifting sand under McElwain's feet right now to be unsure of what his staff will look like. But with most credible candidates for open positions likely to be with their 2014 obligations by this time next week, that foundation should firm up very shortly.