Tag Archives: Florida Gators

Wright on time

The 2022 season couldn’t have started out any better for Vanderbilt quarterback Mike Wright. After ending the prior season with respectable performances against Missouri, Ole Miss and even Tennessee, Wright was named a team captain prior to the year.

His foot speed, decision-making and improved passing fundamentals all stood out during the team’s summer training camp. It was during that time that he held off a strong push from former starter Ken Seals and highly-touted incoming freshman A.J. Swann.

In Vandy’s season opener, Wright accounted for four total touchdowns, with two coming on the ground and two via the airwaves. He led the team’s postgame celebration and it was on to the next week against Elon. In that contest, he delivered with a career-best four touchdown passes to go along with two more on the ground. Perhaps most encouraging was the touch he showed on a 75-yard touchdown pass to true freshman speedster Jayden McGowan in a 245-yard passing performance.

At the time the Commodores were beginning to pick up steam as a much-improved offense with Wake Forest coming to town. On a wet, rainy afternoon, Wright struggled in the first half with turnovers and inaccuracy throwing the ball. He was benched in the second half and his number was called sporadically over the next five weeks as Swann (who threw two touchdown passes in the second half vs. Wake Forest) held onto quarterbacking duties.

Down 17 points against Missouri, Wright came off the bench for an injured Swann to lead one touchdown drive in a three-point loss.

He also came off the bench for an injured Swann against South Carolina, throwing for 145 yards and one score.

Fast forward to the contest versus the 24th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats just a couple of weeks ago.

Swann was no longer in the lineup due to the aforementioned injuries and Wright got the start.

Reminiscent of the rainy afternoon versus Wake Forest -although much colder overall- and Wright had a chance to erase any memories from that early season outing. He led the team to a game-winning drive with just 32 seconds remaining and finished it off with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Will Sheppard. His most impressive throw on the drive may have been an incomplete corner route to Sheppard versus man coverage on a third down. He came back on the subsequent fourth down (4th and 11) to make a clutch downfield 40-yard throw to wide receiver Quincy Skinner, Jr.

Wright also found time to rush for 126 yards in this contest, which included a 59-yard touchdown scamper in the first half. On that run, the 21.8 200-meter sprinter’s speed brought back memories of his 87-yard jaunt against Hawaii in the team’s opener.

Last weekend, he helped author an upset versus the Florida Gators on the strength of three touchdown passes.

In back-to-back weeks, he battled two potential NFL quarterbacks in Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

Despite not starting for much of the season, the Georgia product has thrown 12 touchdowns to just four interceptions. In addition, he has averaged 7.4 yards per rush on 63 carries (5 TDs).

His 17 total touchdowns are the most from a Vanderbilt quarterback since 2018.

In a day and age where the transfer portal is often the fastest option for many collegians, the speedy Wright decided to slow down and play the long game. When a second opportunity arose, he sprinted through the finish line with an unabated confidence and calm.

As a result, the Commodores captain has a chance to accomplish something only six other quarterbacks (Whit Taylor, Chris Nickson, Mackenzi Adams, Jordan Rodgers, Larry Smith, Kyle Shurmur) have had a hand in over the last 40 years…lead the team to a bowl game.

Two of those bowl teams (2008, 2011) had quarterbacks share time during the year.

Perhaps this team will be the third.

And he will operate against another backup quarterback in former Michigan signal-caller and new Tennessee starter Joe Milton III.

Or did Wright ever think he was the backup?

After the team’s opening victory versus Hawaii, Wright said, ““Winning is hard,” he explained. “That’s what we want to be this year, and we just took a growing step today.” (https://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/vanderbilt-football/mike-wright-on-vandys-blowout-win-over-hawaii-thats-just-vanderbilt-football-this-year/).

The next step could very well lead to a bowl game if he can find a way to lead his team to another ” hard” victory over the nation’s 10th-ranked team in the Tennessee Volunteers.

In any case, his insertion back into the team’s starting lineup has come Wright on time for the Commodores.

Cory Acton 2B-Atlanta Braves: 2022 MLB Draft, 9th Rd, 275th overall

Acton starred for the Florida Gators before transferring to Georgia in 2021. The former Bulldog finished with 95 assists in the field and produced with his bat down the stretch. An original draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2019 (39th round, 2018 MLB Draft), Acton started nearly 60 games (58) for the Gators as a freshman.

Cory Acton 2B-Atlanta Braves
Acton (seen diving for a ball in the 2019 SEC Tournament) started a host of games for both Georgia and Florida in the SEC.

Tommy Mace 6’6 205 RHP-Florida: 2021 MLB Draft

While Mace took over the Friday night starting role for the Gators in 2019 en route to eight wins, it wasn’t until 2020 that he really began to take off as the team’s ace. In four starts that season, he posted a 1.67 ERA with three victories. The 6-foot-6-inch right-handed pitcher has a repertoire that includes an 87 MPH slider and deft curve ball. The former Cincinnati Reds 2017 12th-round pick increased his draft stock while at Florida and has a chance to hear his name called in the first two rounds of the 2021 MLB Draft.

In 2020, Mace allowed just five earned runs in his four starts. Along the way, he notched 26 strikeouts in 27 innings of work.

In 2021, Mace has pitched over 75 innings and allowed about a hit per inning with his ERA hovering around the 4.4 mark. Thus far, he has posted one save in relief. Most importantly, he has failed to lose a game (5-0) in 13 appearances. The Gators head into this weekend’s series against the top-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks on a roll, having notched 15 victories in their last 20 games. Mace opens up the weekend series in his Friday night role versus Arkansas left-hander Patrick Wicklander on Thursday night.

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Devin Vassell 6’6 180 SG/SF- Florida State

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Long arms. Stride covers ground. Has the frame to add more muscle. Plays stronger than he looks at first glance. Solid offensive rebounder. Effective slasher going to the rim (Florida ‘19). Most effective in the corners, where he can back cut to the basket or be the recipient of a drive and kick for jumpers. Defensively, he’s long enough that he doesn’t have to jump on a ball fake to contest a shot (Louisville ‘20). Uses his length to disrupt passing angles. Can also front the big in the post. 

Weaknesses:  What more can he add to his offensive arsenal? Vassell wasn’t a high volume scorer at FSU, nor was he asked to be, but as a projected high pick, he might be asked to cover more of the offensive burden in the NBA. He averaged just four points in his freshman season and 12.7 in his sophomore campaign. Release on his jumper is slow and a bit elongated. Could improve his free throw shooting. 

Other Notes: Attended Peachtree Ridge High School (Ga.) • Father, Andrew, played college basketball at Stony Brook • 2018-2019 (33 games, 0 sts): 4.5 PPG, 44% FG,  42% 3-PT, 68 % FT,  1.5 RPG,  0.6 APG,  0.5 STL, 0.3 BPG • 2019-2020 (30 games, 30 sts, 2nd Team All-ACC): 12.7 PPG, 49% FG, 42% 3-PT, 73% FT, 5.1 RPG,  1.6 APG,  1.4 STL, 1.0 BPG • Career stats: 8.4 PPG, 48% FG, 42% 3-PT, 72% FT,  3.2 RPG,  1.1 APG, 1.0 STL, 0.6 BPG

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Vassell’s frame and unorthodox jump shot is reminiscent of former Wizards first round draft pick, Otto Porter. Like Porter, Vassell’s best fit will be in offense that pre-defines his role. Spurs head coach and team president Gregg Popovich has had success taking players with length who can operate in the corners of an offensive set. Vassell would fit the mold and provides some positional versatility for a team with aging wings such as Rudy Gay and Marco Belinelli.

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Patrick Williams 6’8 225 F- Florida State

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Carries an NBA frame. Moves his feet well on the perimeter when playing defense and can also serve as a rim protector (Florida ‘19).  Has a lethal second jump that make up for his lack of ideal height. Provides some lineup flexibility. Can defend both of the forward positions. Shot 32-percent from the three- point line in limited attempts. Excellent free throw shooter.  Drives to the hoop with both hands.

Weaknesses: Williams didn’t start a game for FSU this past season and averaged just 22 minutes a game. The Seminoles were talent-laden and didn’t ask for Williams to ever be a focal point in the offense. What will be his offensive niche at the next level? This is a player who scouts will have to make a projection on in the future rather than rely on game film. 

Other Notes:

  • Attended West Charlotte High School (NC) and played in the Jordan Brand Classic Game in 2019
  • Named the 2019-20 ACC Sixth Man of the Year and earned ACC All-Freshman honors
  • The third one-and-done in the school’s history: Malik Beasley and Jonathan Isaac were the others
  • Both parents, Janie and Eddie, played basketball at Johnson C. Smith University
  • 2019-2020 (29 games, 0 sts): 9.2 PPG, 46% FG, 84% FT, 4.0 RPG,  1.0 APG, 1.0 BPG, 1.0 SPG

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary):

Williams plays with a nastiness and a competitive spirit that allows him to overcome his match ups with taller players. In an ideal world, the freshman forward would have played more minutes than he did as a Seminole. Williams’ willingness to crash the glass and his above average shooting mechanics should serve him well early in his career as he carves out a role in an NBA rotation. 

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Cassius Winston 6’1 185 PG- Michigan State

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Winston plays the game at his own pace and doesn’t have a clear comparison in today’s NBA. His ability to weave in and out of traffic, command the game in transition and keep his dribble is remenicist of former NBA MVP, Steve Nash.

Coach Speak:  “Quite honestly, there are not a lot of players in the country that play (with) that high level of basketball IQ,” Miami head coach Jim Larranaga  said before MSU played the Hurricanes in the NCAA Tournament during Winston’s freshman season. “So we used an old NBA player, now retired, named Steve Nash, because he could find the open man with brilliance. And we find Cassius Winston to be that kind of point guard.”

Worth noting, his shooting splits also compare favorably to Nash when he starred at Santa Clara University. Winston is a gifted passer, who had a 6.4 assist to 2.7 turnover ratio. In his latter years in East Lansing, he showed he could bail the offense out of bad sets with creativity off the dribble as well as pull up from three in transition (43% from the three point line).

Weaknesses: Has the point guard position evolved too much athletically for Winston to find a role in today’s NBA? Conditioning was a problem early on in his junior season when the MSU point guard was asked to shoulder heavy minutes as the Spartans looked for scoring punch (Florida ‘18). Winston is also 22 years old, does he have any upside? 

Other Notes:

  • Attended University of Detroit Jesuit High School (Mi.) and was named the state’s Mr. Basketball.
  • All time assists leader in Big Ten history (890 total) and named Big Ten Player of the Year (2019).
  • 2016-2017 (35 games, 5 sts): 6.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 5.2 AST, 42% FG, 38% FG3, 77% FT
  • 2017-2018 (35 games, 34 sts): 12.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 6.9 AST, 50% FG, 49% FG3, 90% FT
  • 2018-2019 (39 games, 30 sts): 18.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 7.5 AST, 46% FG, 40% FG3, 84% FT
  • 2019-2020 (30 games, 30 sts): 18.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.9 AST, 45% FG, 43% FG3, 85% FT
  • Career:  14.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 6.4 AST, 46% FG, 43% FG3, 84% FT

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary):

Winston has potential as a second round draft pick if he finds a coach that believes in his skill sets. In recent memory, former undersized Spartans like Draymond Green (35th overall pick ) and Bryn Forbes (undrafted)  have been able to latch on in the league despite their low draft position. Winston, who is more decorated than the previously named Spartans, has the intangibles to serve as a quality backup point guard to start his career if he can overcome his physical limitations.

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Tyrese Maxey 6’3 198 G-Kentucky

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): The lightning quickness in the lane jumps out when watching video on Maxey. His slender frame and ball handling abilities allows him to get to places that other guards can’t get to on the floor. Uses screens to get open off the ball (1st half, Michigan State ‘18).  Big game player. In games versus top-ranked Michigan State and the third-ranked Louisville Cardinals this past season, Maxey had his two best scoring games against those opponents (26 and 27 points respectively). Despite a subpar shooting percentage from beyond the arc during his freshman season, Maxey does show NBA range and strong shooting mechanics (83% free throw percentage). The Kentucky guard  is listed at 6’3″ but isn’t incredibly long despite being a willing rebounder (4.3 per game). 

Weaknesses: Size and position fit are the major question marks with Maxey. Can he guard opposing shooting guards at the next level? If he is asked to play point guard full time, he will have to improve his 3:2 turnover/assist ratio. Evidenced by his shooting numbers, Maxey settles from time-to-time and would be better served tweaking his shot selection. 

Maxey -a second-team All-SEC selection- shot 83.3% from the free throw line in 2019-20.

Other Notes:

  • Attended South Garland High School (Tx.).  He was rated as a top 15 recruit by ESPN, Rivals and 247 Sports. 
  • Father, Tyrone, played basketball at Washington State and previously served as the Director of Player Development at Southern Methodist University. 
  • Was named Texas Mr. Basketball in 2019 and played in the McDonald’s All-American game, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit.
  • 2019-2020 (31 gms, 28 sts): 14.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.2 AST, 43% FG,  29% 3FG, 83% FT

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): When it was crunch time, Kentucky head coach John Calipari entrusted Maxey to make plays. Scouts will rave about his late game heroics but how will he hold up defensively at the next level? We believe Maxey would enjoy the most success if paired with a taller guard like Dallas’ Luka Doncic or Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons. Look for the Kentucky guard to start his career as a spark plug off the bench, who can get opposing guards in foul trouble. At 6-foot-3, can Maxey play the shooting guard position? Teams will question his ability to play the point guard spot, but he showed himself well at the position during his final regular season game against Florida (at that position). In that contest, Maxey finished with seven assists and just one turnover. 

Houston Texans DE-OLB Jonathan Greenard: 2020 NFL Draft, 3rd round, 90th overall

Former Florida and Louisville DE-OLB Jonathan Greenard was the Houston Texans third round selection (90th overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft. Greenard finished his career with 19.5 quarterback sacks, 38.5 tackles for losses, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery (TD), two interceptions and seven pass breakups.

Michigan State vs. Florida, 12-8-18: In-game report

Michigan State outlasted Florida on the hardwood in a sloppy game on Saturday.  Despite turning over the ball 15 times, MSU defeated Florida in Gainesville, 63-59, in the out of conference matchup.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

5 Cassius Winston (6’0 185) Michigan State PG-Junior

Winston is in his third season as the starting point guard for the Spartans.  The junior has been asked to shoulder the scoring load left behind by NBA first round draft picks Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson.  Against the Gators, Winston finished with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting, six assists and two turnovers.  The Spartans currently lack a backup point guard, which has forced Winston into heavy minutes. The junior point guard is averaging 31 minutes per game this season and played 36 minutes against Florida. 

“Cassius is the guy I’m worried about because we’re kind of playing him into the ground right now, so he was tired,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said in advance of the matchup with Florida.  “I mean, him and Josh (Langford) have played a lot of minutes.”

It will be interesting to see how Izzo manages the minutes of Winston as the young season continues on. 

44 Nick Ward (6’8 245) Michigan State center-Junior 

Nick Ward is also in his junior season and -like Winston- is being asked to do more.  The center decided to rescind his name from 2018 NBA Draft consideration and returned to East Lansing this past offseason. F oul trouble and conditioning have been a problem for Ward in the past but this season, he looks quicker and has done a better job of moving his feet defensively, especially on ball screens. Against Florida, Ward finished with 13 points and five rebounds.  On the season, he is averaging 15 points and five rebounds per game on 21 minutes of action.  The junior could garner NBA consideration as a second round draft pick because of his long arms (7’2” wingspan) and efficiency around the basket (64-percent field goal percentage). 

11 Keyontae Johnson (6’5 225) Florida SF-Freshman 

Oak Hill Academy (Virginia) has produced top NBA talent in the past and names like Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Jennings come to mind.  Keyontae Johnson could be the next in line.  The Norfolk, Virginia, native is still trying to find his comfort zone on offense but the physical tools are there. Johnson is averaging six points and four rebounds per game during his 17 minutes of play. At 6’5”, 225, Johnson has good size for an NBA wing and despite his low scoring output, he has been efficient, shooting 53 percent from the field.   The freshman won’t be a one-and-done, but this time next season look for Johnson to surface on the radars of NBA teams. 

5 KeVaughn Allen (6’2 193) Florida  PG-Senior

Allen is the experienced leader of the Gators.  The four-year starter is a scoring machine, who can handle the ball but will be better served as a shooting guard at the next level.  The senior finished 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting against the Spartans but he also had three turnovers.  Allen is undersized for the shooting guard position and his ability to create for others is lacking. Look for the Gators point guard to spend some time in the G League or overseas after he leaves Florida. 

2018 Season Preview: Florida Gators

Season outlook

The Florida Gators poached new head coach, Dan Mullen, from conference foe, Mississippi State, during the offseason. The Gators hope Mullen, who amassed a 69-46 overall record and 33-39 conference record, can bring a level of consistently to Gainesville. Mullen previously served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coached during Florida’s heyday between 2005-2008. The Gators head coach will have to choose between three underclassmen to take  the command at quarterback.  Sophomores Feleipe Franks (6’5, 227) and Kyle Trask (6’5, 239) will battle freshman Emory Jones (6’2, 192) for the starting role. Whoever is under center, will have junior wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (6’2, 205)to depend on. Cleveland finished last season with 410 receiving yards and two touchdowns.  Cleveland should be able to stretch defenses with the deep ball.  Defensively, the Gators project to be further ahead of the curve than the offense.  The Gators have playmakers at each level on defense.  Senior defensive end Cece Jefferson (6’1, 242) has totaled 28.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks over his three years in Gainesville. Jefferson, pictured left,  plays with strong leverage and can set the edge.  In the middle, junior inside linebacker David Reese leads the defensive huddle and junior defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (6’0, 207) patrols the back end, playing on the outside and in the nickel. Gardner-Johnson has five career interceptions. The Gators aren’t expected to contend for a national championship like they were during Mullen’s first stint at Florida, but defensively look for marked improvement.

Troy’s player to watch

33 David Reese 6’1 248 LB- Junior
After missing the entire 2017 offseason recovering from wrist surgery, Reese came back with a vengeance, leading the Gators in tackles with 102 and finishing second on the team with 10 tackles for loss. The junior linebacker also totaled 1.5 sacks and an interception. The Farmington, Michigan native will be tasked with leading the defense from his middle linebacker position. Reese, a solid tackler, is as dependable as they come in the middle of a defense.

Game of the season

September 29th against Mississippi State
Head coach Dan Mullen will return to Starkville to face his former team during the fifth week of the season. The Bulldogs finished 9-4 last season in Mullen’s ninth and final season as Mississippi State’s head coach. The storylines will be plentiful and the two teams should be evenly matched. The Gators are looking to get back to a bowl game and beating a conference foe will be crucial.

 

Prediction: 7-5

Draftnasty’s Troy Jefferson is predicting a 7-5 record and a bowl game appearance for the Florida Gators. Mullen’s crew will fall to some of the upper echeloncompetition in the SEC including LSU, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. The Gators will also fall to in-state rival Florida State but will win enough games to inspire confidence in the new head coach.