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Gators' assistant coaches weigh in on some 2013 recruits

By Edgar Thompson | Orlando Sentinel

8:45 AM PST, February 6, 2013

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Several Gators assistants discussed some of the newest Gators on the school's athletics Web site Gatorzone.com.

Here's what they had to say:

Gators new WR coach Joker Phillips on Alvin Bailey:

Q: What makes him a good prospect at this stage?

A: He's a great athlete. He's one of those guys who hasn't played a lot of receiver, but he's played quarterback, so I think seeing the position from a quarterback's eyes will be good for him. He'll be one of those guys that I'll probably have to show how to get in a stance since he's been in the quarterback stance a lot in his career. To play quarterback, you have to understand coverages; you have to understand different blocking schemes, so I think that will give him an upper hand on some of the guys in learning coverages.

Q: You worked with a Randall Cobb at Kentucky, a former quarterback turned receiver who is now in the NFL. Any flashbacks in how Bailey compares coming out of high school?

A: Yeah, this guy is similar to Randall. I hate to make comparisons, but this guy is a winner. He's won at the quarterback position. He won a state championship [in 2011]. You want guys who understand what it takes to win. He brings some leadership ability with him and it's exciting to have him.

Philips on WR Demarcus Robinson:

Q: How much did you get to know him before he got here?

A: DeMarcus is a guy who was on the radar but hadn't committed to us. We got a chance to get into his home when we first got here. I was just impressed by the way he handled this recruiting process. It was a tough deal for him. DeMarcus is a guy who wanted to play in the SEC. He had grown up a Gator fan and coming from the same hometown as Jacquez Green. I think that was a huge help for us.

Q: What about him as a prospect?

A: He is a special talent. He's a guy -- some guys further down the field the least chance they have of making plays -- with him the further down the field it gives him the best chance to make a play. His ability to control his body gives him a chance to go up and attack the football. I'm excited about a guy like that, as long and as lean as he is.

Q: What does having him on campus already do for him?

A: That's been a huge help for him in getting prepared for spring ball and the season.

Q: What in the end helped you guys land him?

A: This recruiting deal is about relationships and trying to get them to trust you. I think that's the biggest key. In the end, DeMarcus trusted us, trusted the program that we'll do right by im. I think that was the biggest thing with he and his mom.

Gators DB coach Travaris Robinson on Dr. Phillips S Marcell Harris: "I tell you, Marcel is very, very explosive. A big body. He can cover from sideline to sideline. People look at him and see him and he looks like a linebacker, just his physique. But he moves like a DB. Sometimes they [high school team] even played him at corner. He’s got great coverage ability; he’s got great instincts in the box; he’s got great deep presence. I mean, he’s got all the things you need to be a great safety. He wants to be successful and being successful is important to him."

Q: What got him on your radar?

A: He came to camp. [Running backs coach] Brian White was recruiting him early. When I saw him at camp and then I went in there and watched his tape … you could see him doing it on every level. Different defenses, different styles, different schemes. He can do it all. He’s a fierce hitter now. He is a guy who is going to electrify The Swamp. The guy can really bring it.

Q: How does Marcel take the comparisons to his dad, former Gator Mike Harris (1994-97)?

A: He doesn’t want to be compared to his dad. He wants to make a name for himself. In the recruiting process that was kind of a back-and-forth battle. ‘Do I want to go there?’ Nah, he is going to be his own guy. He is going to do what he needs to do. He is going to be able to do that. His dad can attest to that. Marcel is a really, really good player. It’s hard to compare him to anyone.

Robinson on top CB recruit Vernon Hargreaves III:

Q: Why is Hargreaves III considered such a good prospect?

A: He’s got all the skills we’re looking for. His ball skills are outstanding. He has a great vertical jump. He’s got finish down the field. He played both ways. He played some offense at receiver, so that talks of his ball skills. He’s the best corner coming out. He’s got to come in and learn what to do, but he’s exactly what we’re looking for from an athletic standpoint. He is physical and does all the things we need.

Q: What caught your eye about Vernon the first time you saw him play in person?

A: He’s strong. He’s got really strong hands, he moves very well, and he’s got great lateral quickness as well as vertical speed. When I went to see him play, he made some amazing catches that showed his vertical leap and showed his range.

Q: How does he fit in here defensively?

A: They really played him a lot at safety just so he could play on both sides of the field. When he just found a home at corner, which he did in the Under Armour Game, I thought that was kind of a milestone for him. I told him he was going to have a lot of spotlight on him as the No. 1 [ranked] corner in the country. A lot comes with that. The one thing I wanted to try and see was how when the grand stage is there, how would he respond. He responded very, very, very, very well. He was excited about his performance. I was excited about his performance. I think that speaks volumes about this kid.

Q: As the son of a coach, can you tell he’s got a higher football IQ than some young players?

A: No question. The guy has been around ball his whole life. He kind of got his start when he was at the University of Miami, his dad [was a coach] there for a while. His dad always talked about that and showed him pictures of him backpedaling with the guys … he remembers that. He knew this was something that he wanted to do for a long time. College football is hard, and he knows that because he has seen that – the football part, the academic part, the social part, all of it. He understands the game. He sees it before it happens. That’s what enables him to jump up on routes and do things like that.

Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease on QB Max Staver:

Q: What makes Staver an intriguing prospect?

A: The thing about him is the offense that he’s been in is pretty spread. He is a big kid. I think there are some things he does have to improve on athletically, but he kind of came on at the end. He really started to show up in these Elite 11s. I visited a lot with [former NFL quarterback] Trent Dilfer on the kid, and he really took a liking and thought this kid was going to explode. I think he had a good year. He came here, he competed. He throws the ball extremely well. He’s got a very strong arm and is accurate.

Q: At 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, can he move pretty well for that size?

A: Yeah, he can move well enough. I mean, is he Jeff Driskel? Probably not. There would be a few things we would have to do differently, but he’ll get better and better, especially once he gets into our weight program.

Q: How did he get on your radar?

A: I think he got on our radar through just some film evaluation we got.

Q: How important was adding a quarterback to this class?

A: You try and sign a quarterback every year. I want to get to where this place was kind of like I knew it on the outside. You’ve got two or three guys that are NFL-type guys here, and they compete and earn their time. You don’t want to be quarterback-poor.

New defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin on LB Jarrad Davis:

Q: What can you tell me about Davis as a player?

A: He’s a high-motor guy that loves football, has great energy, enthusiasm and personality. He plays the game really fast and physical – puts his face right on you. We’re thrilled to have him. He’s from a high school [Camden (Ga.) County] where they’ve had great history, a lot of players and great football there. Those coaches there can’t say enough great things about him and they've’ had a lot of great players. His leadership ability, his skills and how he loves the game."

Gators offensive line coach Tim Davis on Octavius Jackson:

Q: What led you to him on the recruiting trail?

A: We saw tape on him first. His tape was really good. We wanted to see how big he was. When he came to our camp and saw that he had great length, which is good for separation issues. He was able to create leverage, a real powerful kid off the lower body. Probably not a tackle; probably a guard down the line, but he could play tackle.

Q: What makes him a good prospect?

A: He is very physical at the point of attack. And then he understands the game. He is also a real self-motivated kid. He wants to be the best. The other thing I like about him was that he wasn’t worried about playing left tackle or right tackle or wherever – ‘I want to play. Put me in.’ – and those kids are valuable. Guys who can play all three inside positions are really valuable. He has a lot of those qualities.

Davis on 350-pound Trenton Brown:

Q: What kind of prospect is he?

A: You need that size. He can really bend for a big guy and really get it off the edge. He’s got great length and great separation. I look for kids who can come off the mark and really help you. When you get one of those big guys in there, it helps your run game, it helps your pass game. He is really nimble for a big kid.

Q: What kind of athlete is he at 6-7, 345 pounds?

A: His dad played basketball and his brother played basketball. He’s got that him in. They are good athletes – not just big, but good. He’s not fat. He’s intelligent and he’s really got a good way about him. He played right and left tackle and can move.

Davis on Michigan lineman Cameron Dillard:

Q: What makes him an intriguing prospect at this stage?

A: When you are looking at the offensive line, you need to bring a center in every year like you bring in a quarterback. He was a logical candidate. He understands offensive line play. He’s got good hips and good explosion, can get to the second level. He really embraces the game, which is one thing for a young guy is hard to find – a guy who knows what everyone is doing, not just him.

Q: What are some intangibles he brings to the table?

A: He is really self-motivated. He works out and has really high goals on being the best lineman. He works out at a place four times a week that does nothing but caters to guys who want to go on [to play at next level]. Besides that, his film was great. He is real physical at the point of attack. He gets to it, has good hips. We need that type of guy who is kind of a leader. You saw all of these things from the guy at a young age.

Q: What put him on the radar for you?

A: We saw some tape and I saw from him … great effort. You watch him from the game and the game is good, not just the highlights. I was really impressed by that. He pressed his finish. He absorbs the game and does it and makes the correct corrections. He’s real tight with the head coach there and lives in the weight room and it shows up on tape. It was really evident that we needed to have this kid.

Davis on American Heritage OL Roderick Johnson:

Q: What stands out to you about Johnson at this stage?

A: A really talented kid – actually the first kid we were really fired up about [on the offensive line]. Great length. Can play tackle, right or left. Real physical. I just like his overall athletic ability with his body size. I just think he is a great in-state kid you need to get.

Q: He’s listed 6-5, 320, so the size is there?

A: You’ve got to refine him a little bit. Put some up here, take some off, coach him. Put him in one spot to start with and then coach him for multiple spots. He’s got real good length and plays very hard. He can handle the speed rusher from outside as well as the run blocking part of it. I think he has a lot of good tools.

Q: What got him on your radar?

A: He was really the first in-state guy that I had an eye on. I was watching him play and was impressed. This kid could punch, he could finish and he was playing at a really high level. I remember they had a scrimmage the night before – a real hard one – and he came out the next day in full pads, and he was busting it for a two-hour practice. He competes at a real high level.’ We started looking at him more.

Gators RB coach Brian White on WR Marqui Hawkins and Demarcus Robinson:

Q: What makes Marqui an intriguing prospect?

A: Marqui is another one that we have tracked for four years. I remember watching him as a freshman; he was a quarterback as a freshman. He’s a big, really strong athlete. He switched positions and he’s got really good ball skills, strong hands, plays on the basketball team. He is a really, really physical kid. He plays safety too. He will run and hit you. It didn’t take long watching him as a young kid to know that he was going to fill in. He’s a big receiver. He’s a 6-2, 205-pound kid right now. He came to camp this year and did a really nice job. He’s got really good ball skills and body control.

Q: Is body control something you can teach or more of a natural gift?

A: It’s hard. I saw him play a game against DeMarcus Robinson this fall and he made just a great touchdown catch. He bodied up the defender, jumped over him and ripped the ball out of the guy’s hands. It was a great catch. DeMarcus had a couple of good catches in that game too and a big punt return. It was a fun game to watch.

Q: When was that game?

A: It was a regular-season game at Peach County, DeMarcus’ school. DeMarcus had an unbelievable one-hand catch on a dig route and a ridiculous 50-yard punt return that was spectacular, so I was watching two pretty good players compete against one another. It was cool.

Q: What got Marqui on your radar?

A: His tape was really good going into his junior year. He always liked us and he came to our camp and did a great job.

White on RB Adam Lane:

Q: What makes Lane a good prospect at running back?

A: He is a really explosive guy. He has great lower body strength and power – in the mold of a Ray Rice, Jacquizz Rodgers. He’s short but he’s really powerful. He’s not a small back by any stretch of the imagination. He’s a big powerful guy. You’re talking about 205, 210 pounds. He runs really well. He jumps really well. He’s got good hands, excellent acceleration and good balance.

Q: Is he a guy who can be versatile out of the backfield with those hands?

A: He’s got good hands. I wouldn’t put them in the great category. His greatest asset is his lower body strength and power.

Q: How did he get on your radar?

A: He came to camp going into his sophomore year and he was really impressive.

Q: What’s something you learned about him from recruiting?

A: He was second in the state in a power-lifting contest. He’s hoping to win the state championship. He’s a really good track run. He’s running 10.6, 10.7 [in the 100-yard dash]. He can run.

 Email Edgar Thompson at egthompson@orlandosentinel.com. Read the Swamp Things blog at www.orlandosentinel.com/swampthings. Follow our UF coverage on Twitter @osgators.