GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators emphasized adding talent and depth at receiver on the recruiting trail and accomplished that by signing five receivers in this year’s class: Demarcus Robinson, Chris Thompson, Alvin Bailey, Ahmad Fullwood and Marqui Hawkins.
I posted a blog earlier today with receivers coach Joker Phillips and offensive coordinator Brent Pease talking about Thompson.
Let’s take a look at the other receivers including Hawkins, a 6-foot-1, 179-pound receiver out of Carver High in Columbus, Ga. Hawkins caught 31 passes for 635 yards and six touchdowns as a junior, elevating his status on the recruiting trail.
He committed to the Gators in May and remained committed despite heavy interest from Clemson and others.
Here is our Q&A with Phillips on Hawkins:
Q: What impresses you about Hawkins?
A: He is just so physical. I got a chance to watch him in the weight room and train at his high school. He is an animal in the weight room. You've got to have toughness at the position and he's a guy who can go in and dig out safeties in the run game. Again, we have to continue to have success in running the ball. If you look around this league, the teams that are having success are running the ball and having success in the play-action passing game. I just think having a guy like him who can go in and dig out safeties will give us a chance to free up our backs in the secondary.
Q: What kind of skill does he bring at catching the ball?
A: He's an athlete. He plays basketball and those things I think all help in playing the position.
Before becoming an offensive coordinator, Pease coached receivers at Boise State.
He is impressed by the overall talent the Gators landed at the position.
Here is a Q&A with Pease on Fullwood:
Q: What impresses you about Ahmad?
A: I’m excited about Ahmad because he’s a kid I think who has strong convictions and understands. I’ve seen him in person. I’ve seen him on film. I’ve been around him when he isn’t on the football field and he is a really, really good character kid. Watching on the field, he played a lot of positions. He played safety, not that he is going to play safety here. He is a very smart football-intelligence kid.
Q: What does he do on the field well?
A: He’s got good range in catching the ball. I think where he’s at, he understands how to run routes and does a good job of catching the ball, of going and getting it, of catching the ball in short routes, intermediate routes. He’s got good hands. He’s willing to block. I like just being around him. All along, I think he has understood the University of Florida is for him and that he can help the University of Florida. He has stuck with us the whole way.
Q: What helped in keeping him committed through the recruiting process?
A: The one thing about him, he and [fellow signee] Nick Washington and a bunch of other kids formed a bond real early and they’ve all been strong with each other on that.
Here is a Q&A with Pease on Robinson:
Q: What sticks out about his ability?
A: On film he shines, a kid with tremendous talent. He has speed and range – he understands how to get open as a receiver. He’s got that knack that you just tell him to run a route and he is going to know how to do it. And he competes. That’s the thing that kind of stands out. As we recruit and try to get the next-level kid, we want to get kids that are just willing to compete. You’ve got to have that kid that has that little edge, that chip on his shoulder. And DeMarcus is one of those guys. He is not going to be denied.
Q: What does his addition do for this class of receivers?
A: This class of receivers, they all have something. DeMarcus and Ahmad are two of the best in the nation. They have proven it. They have been there to the all-star games and they have competed. I think they fit into the profile of the next step of what the University of Florida needs.
Our Q&A with Pease on Bailey:
Q: What makes Alvin a good prospect in your eyes?
A: Alvin has shown that he is a play-maker, he’s got great quickness. Once again, he’ll compete and he is pretty versatile in what he can do. We use people in a lot of positions, so he can do a wildcat spot, he can catch screens and get the additional yardage that you need off it, and he comes from a good program. He is going to be familiar with [sophomore running back] Matt Jones. They went to the same school and they won.
Q: Sounds as if this group has some natural instincts at the position?
A: Especially with Ahmad and DeMarcus, you can see the offenses they come from. They’ve got the abilities to understand route concepts, pass coverage, defensive schemes – some recognition of the other side of the ball that should put them a little farther ahead.
Meanwhile, running backs coach Brian White was also involved in the recruitment of Robinson, an early enrollee from Peach County High in Fort Valley, Ga.
Robinson is 6-2, 195 pounds and based on recruiting analysts is the highest-ranked of Florida’s incoming receivers.
Here is our Q&A with White on Robinson:
Q: What makes him a special talent at this stage of his career?
A: He’s a real athletic guy. He’s got great size and great length. He has a really good catching radius, outstanding body control, ball skills, leaping ability. I’ve seen him play basketball. He was really good. I think he has a lot of talent. He’s smooth in and out of breaks. He can make acrobatic catches. He is going to be fun to work with. I’m glad he’s here this spring. I think he is going to really benefit from it.
Q: Does he have natural receiving skills that should help the learning curve at this level?
A: He does. He’s got a pretty good uncle who has mentored him played for the Chicago Bears, who was an All-Pro, Marcus Robinson. That’s helped him.
Q: What’s his greatest asset at this stage?
A: He’s got great strength but he is really elusive off the line of scrimmage. Usually big receivers have a hard time getting off the line and he doesn’t because he’s got great flexibility. He’s got what I call a high imagination quotient.