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October 27, 2004
3 more top targets weigh in on Zook's dismissal
InsidetheGators.net has been in contact with three more of the top targets on the board to get their reaction to the firing of coach Ron Zook. Of the three, one reports it hasn't affected him much, one is waiting to see who the next coach will be and one has dropped the Gators down his list because of the coaching change.
6-foot, 230 pound Naples (Fla.) linebacker Spencer Adkins said that while the news of coach Zook's firing caught him by surprise because of the timing of it, he wasn't necessarily surprised by the action itself.
"When I first heard it, I was wondering if I should still consider them or not. I figure I'll wait it out and see what happens. They expect a lot of you at Florida. I thought he was going to get more time, but that's the way it works when you're used to winning. You have higher standards to meet."
He has listed Miami, Florida, Florida State and Georgia as his final four for several months. He said that hasn't changed.
"I'm just going to wait and see what happens. I still like the same four teams, nothing has really changed. I talked to coach Wickline today (Tuesday) and he said he's going to continue to recruit me, that I'm one of their top guys. He said he'll keep me informed of what's going on there."
Adkins is listed as the No. 77 overall prospect in the nation by Rivals, the No. 6 outside linebacker.
The last time we talked to Germantown (Md.) quarterback Ike Whitaker he had the Gators firmly in his top five and was scheduled to be in Gainesville for the Homecoming match-up against South Carolina.
Now here we are seven days later with one less head coach on this end - how much has changed on his end?
According to his father Derrick Whitaker, it depends on who the new coach is.
"We heard it on the news. It was a shock to Ike because he really likes the Florida Gators. They are definitely one of his top schools."
The talk was that Florida and Virginia Tech were battling for the top spot on his list. Now with the coaching change do the Gators stand a chance?
"We're still very interested in Florida. We're coming down on the 13th of next month for the Homecoming game. This doesn't eliminate Florida, but it definitely doesn't help. Ike spoke with coach Zook a few times, but he was mostly talking to coach Locksley - he's the one that is close to Ike."
According to the elder Whitaker, Florida's chances hinge squarely on who the next coach will be.
"The main concern is, who is coming in next? Ike feels good about Florida, he knows he's wanted by the current coaches, his concern is what are the new coaches going to think of him? Do they like him as much as the old coaches?
"We're looking to see what kind of coach they hire. Is he going to be an offensive type of coach? What kind of offense does he run? Is he going to throw the ball?"
The Whitaker's have a concern if the Gators bring back former head coach Steve Spurrier.
"I've heard stories. I don't know how true they are, but if it's coach Spurrier we would want to know if he's going to play a black quarterback.
"We know coach Zook was going to keep him there. Look at his record with the quarterbacks he has there now."
Regardless of who the next coach of the Gators is, the Whitaker's want assurance that Ike will remain under center.
"I was proud of the direction Florida was going in (with 3 African-American quarterbacks). I have family in St. Petersburg, Miami and Orlando, you name a town and we probably have some family in it. I was psyched when the Florida Gators showed interest in my son. Even when Miami came up to see Ike, it wasn't as impressive as Florida. The thing is, the concern is, will the new coaches see him as a top candidate to play quarterback? Is the new coach going to be willing to play him at quarterback and not move him. We know the old coaches were, we don't know about the new one.
"We hope that coach Locksley is still going to be around. He is one of the main reasons that Ike likes the Gators."
Whitaker is rated as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the nation.
Until this past Monday, 6-foot-3, 220 pound Mobile (Ala.) Davidson tight end Gabe McKenzie has had Florida and Auburn as the co-leaders for his services.
With the football coaching change at Florida, how much does that change his way of thinking?
"Florida was one of my top two favorites. It was crazy to hear that happened like that. One minute everything is okay and then it's over. It's crazy."
When talking about Florida being a leader, McKenzie used the word 'was' - when asked to followup on it, he replied, "I don't know if I'll say they're out of the mix, but I don't know what's going to happen with them and I don't know if I feel the same way.
"I liked them because they have a great program. They have a good quarterback and they put out good tight ends. I don't know anymore."
While we were talking a Miami coach called, which cut our conversation short.
He ended it by saying, "If they have a new coach by the time I take my visits, they'll get theirs. I don't know how long they're going to take and I'm not sure how long I would wait."
McKenzie is rated as the No. 2 overall player in the state of Alabama.