D'Anfernee McGriff going to prep school, calls Florida "my home"
Florida signee D'Anfernee McGriff was always considered an academic risk, dating back to his commitment to the Gators on National Signing Day this February. When news broke in June that McGriff had not reported to Gainesville for the University of Florida's Summer B term, it wasn't exactly surprising — especially because he had previously signed with Eastern Arizona College, a junior college, as a backup plan in case he failed to qualify at Florida.
What is surprising is that plan changing, and McGriff heading to prep school instead:
I am currently at Jireh prep. A 4 month program working my ass off to get back to my dream,my home,my love. THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA— D'anfernee Mcgriff (@Dmcgriff1) August 5, 2015
Jireh Prep is located in North Carolina, and doesn't have much of a rep as a top-tier prep school for football players: While there's not much in the way of prep school recruiting rankings, I've never heard of any of the players from Jireh listed on the 2014 247Sports prep school recruiting rankings, and I can't pick out any prominent names from the school's list of past alumni. It stands to reason that McGriff, who is rooming with Mississippi State signee Dontea Jones, is one of the most prominent players to ever pass through the school.
But the interesting part is Florida attempting to send a signee through this route.
The Gators don't have a ton of luck with signees returning after failing to qualify at Florida. The only Florida football player I can recall doing this exact thing was Dallas Baker, who signed with Florida (and Steve Spurrier) in 2001, failed to qualify, prepped for a year at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, signed with Florida again (this time with Ron Zook) in 2002, and still ended up being just a partial qualifier. (Update: The inestimable 75 South notes that Dee Finley did something similar under Urban Meyer.) If McGriff is trying to make good on a return to Florida in just four months, and aiming to enroll in January for the spring term with eligibility to play in 2016, he will be trying to do more than Baker did.
Of course, Florida basketball signee Chris Walker did essentially this very thing in the fall of 2013, though he was taking courses virtually rather than attending a prep school. And Walker did manage to get enroll for the spring semester; his delayed debut had to do with NCAA issues not related to his academics.
Florida also had a slightly different experience with Reggie Nelson. The safety was one of two Palm Bay High products (Joe Cohen was the other) sign with Florida in 2003, after the Pirates (who also had 2004 LSU signee Xavier Carter) won a second state title in three years, but while Cohen made it to Florida out of high school, Nelson ended up at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. After initially signing with Zook, Nelson was re-recruited by Urban Meyer, transferred to Florida in 2005, and went on to be a cornerstone of Florida's secondary as "The Eraser" for the next two seasons.
But the Florida football program's most recent attempt to get in a player from an alternative school route was far less successful: Not only did 2013 signee Jarran Reed, a JUCO player expected to finish his associate's degree in one year and report to Florida for the 2013 season, not end up in Gainesville, he eventually committed to Alabama — where he played a significant role in 2014, finishing sixth in total tackles and fifth in tackles for loss.
And conventional wisdom has always held that schools tend not to ultimately land the signees they lose to academic reasons. Programs' priorities change, and a player who spends seasons of eligibility elsewhere (or with different advisers in his ear) is typically expected to go elsewhere.
That's not to say that McGriff won't make it to Florida in January. But expecting McGriff to get his grades in order over a semester at a prep school, while different from expecting a player to complete a two-year degree in three semesters, is still hoping for a signficant effort from him — though a player who is as publicly enamored with a school as McGriff seems to be with Florida might just put forth that effort.
Florida coaches' salaries, contracts released
Florida had its Media Day for the fall football season on Wednesday, as you may have noticed — and made work for the reporters prior to that event by releasing its football coaches' salaries and contracts to select outlets.
Here's a rundown of the 2015 salaries in descending order, via Only Gators:
- Head coach Jim McElwain: $3.5 million
- Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins: $590,000
- Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier: $490,000
- Defensive line coach Chris Rumph: $405,000
- Co-defensive coordinator Randy Shannon: $390,000
- Tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Greg Nord: $365,000
- Running backs coach Tim Skipper: $345,000
- Defensive backs coach Kirk Callahan: $290,000
- Wide receivers coach Kerry Dixon, Jr.: $265,000
- Offensive line coach Mike Summers: $190,000
While McElwain obviously has the biggest salary on Florida's staff, and is being paid $750,000 more than Will Muschamp was to be Florida's head coach in 2014, the more interesting note is that Florida's compensation pool for assistants grew by $315,000, about a 10 percent increase, despite the lowest-paid assistant being retained on the same contract (Summers).
And while it looks like Summers, by most estimations the best and by any metric the most experienced non-coordinator position coach on Florida's staff, is grossly underpaid, he was still under contract for the 2015 season after arriving in 2014, and likely didn't have the leverage to get his deal renegotiated after one year. If Florida's line is even approaching average in 2015, there's no doubt he will be in line for an extension and a significant raise.
If I get a chance, I'll write a longer-view piece on Florida coaching contracts in the coming weeks. (Emphasis on if.)
Will Grier adds weight over summer
"If Will Grier's going to be a starter in the ESS EEE CEE," the line of thinking has gone since his commitment to Florida in 2012, "that boy's gonna need to add weight."
Reportedly, he has.
Spent time with Will Grier yesterday. He's much bigger, up to 215 pounds. Lots of zip on his passes. He's preparing to be the Gators starter— Justin Parker (@CitizenJP) July 31, 2015
That tweet, which got traction on Twitter over the weekend, followed one from his father, Davidson Day head coach Chad Grier, which said the same.
If Grier has bulked up to 215 pounds from the 197 pounds he was listed at on Florida's official roster for its spring game, that's probably really, really good news for his chances of being Florida's starter: At that weight, one expects he'll have the strength to get more zip on the ball.
It's also evidence that players really do transform their bodies in college. Grier was listed at just 190 pounds in Florida's media guide last fall, and listed in the high 180s as a recruit. Adding 30 pounds of what appears to be good weight is evidence that Grier has done what strength coaches have told him; hopefully, it will also pay off on the field.
(Note: I don't believe the notes about Grier jumping from 172 pounds to 215, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Charles Kingsbury alleged, sparking a series of other mentions about the same. I can't find any contemporary notes about that weight: Scott Carter mentioned his weight as 181 pounds in January 2014, and Florida listed him at 190 pounds in its official announcement of signees in February 2014. The one mention of Grier being 172 pounds I could find from prior to last week was this report on Grier's commitment from December 2012, in which Student Sports' Brian Stumpf writes that Grier "measured 6-3, 172 pounds at last spring’s Charlotte Nike Camp." Could it maybe be that Grier was actually 172 pounds about 20 months before enrolling at Florida — the camp in question was held in May 2012 — rather than when he arrived at Florida, and that a spate of lazy aggregation is propogating a too-good-to-be-true falsehood? Nah, right? It's the Internet. Everything is true here!)