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Gators LB Polite great example of Combine overemphasis

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

It happens inevitably every year at the NFL Scouting Combine at the end of February. There’s a player or two or several, that either don’t work out well, don’t interview well, and don’t come off as a great draft prospect. And, then suddenly, teams begin to question his draft stock?

Gators linebacker / Edge rusher Jachai Polite is the latest classic example of this. Polite has an outstanding resume coming out of the University of Florida a year early for this year’s draft.

However, to read and watch everything being said about Polite from this weekend about his interview process with the media, individual teams and lackluster workout in the drills, you would think Polite was now no longer a number one pick prospect but instead, now a mid-round selection.

An example from Pro Football Talk coming off the weekend here:

PFT is relaying what Polite said to a couple of media members about the team’s interviewing him and “bashing him.” PFT furthers writes about his 4.84 40-yard dash this weekend a concern, too.

Look, if you are Polite or his representatives, you want the NFL teams to come away from conversations with you being at least impressed and not disappointed or questioning you. The same with turning them off with your so-so involvement in the drills in Indy.

However, that should not, at least for the smart organizations that consistently draft well and win games on Sundays in the fall/winter, matter much.

What should matter much is: what Polite did on the field in 2018 in the best conference in college football. That’s when the Daytona Beach native blossomed into one of the best defensive players in the SEC.

On a team  with a new head coach, Dan Mullen, and new defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, Florida’s defense excelled. And Polite specifically, led them with 17.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and an NCAA leading 6 forced fumbles, too.

There is no combine interview or “shuttle run” or vertical leap test that takes away from having 28.5 tackles in the backfield against the best of the best in college football week in and week out like what Polite did on the gridiron.

Polite was tabbed first team All-SEC, which again, is very significant. And, also, was a second-team AP All-American.

That’s what teams should be most interested in.

You cannot simply just wipe those things away because the interview process didn’t go as well, as he or you wanted in Indianapolis.

The Gators will have a Pro Day coming up, where Polite will work out again in a much more conducive environment for he and his teammates. Individual teams that are interested in drafting him will not only be there, but can also schedule separate interviews and conversations with him to evaluate him later in March/April.

And look, there’s no guarantee that Polite is going to be an NFL star or make a huge impact. There are plenty of guys who are exceptional college players, but it doesn’t translate to the Pros.

All we F.F.I. are writing on a Monday morning in March is: don’t make the mistake of ignoring the guys tape and his play on the field against a great number of other NFL prospects in the SEC.

That’s a bigger mistake then anything Polite did or didn’t say or did and didn’t do in the Combine workout this weekend

Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.

The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:

A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.

With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.

As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.

Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.

It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.

Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.

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Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.

The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of  former DB C.J. Henderson.

Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.

The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.

Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?

Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.

The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.

Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.

Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.

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