After racking up in recruiting, Meyer on for break
Now that he’s locked up the top-rated recruiting class in the
country, Urban Meyer will finally take that break he’s been talking
Florida won the mythical recruiting national championship
Wednesday, earning the top spot in most of the experts’
“The key to recruiting is a lot like the keys to making a great
sale,” said Meyer, who has won two national championships in five
seasons with the Gators. “The first one is having a great product
and we obviously have that here at the University of Florida.”
As usual, national signing day – the first day high school
football players can sign letters of intent – was mostly about the
rich getting richer.
Like Florida, Alabama and Texas, the teams that played for the
BCS title last month, also loaded for future championship runs.
Southern California and Tennessee withstood late coaching changes
to also land highly regarded classes.
But the big winner was Florida, a program that seemed on the
verge of disarray six weeks ago.
A day after Christmas, Meyer resigned to deal with health
problems. The next day he decided instead to take a leave of
absence, which cast a cloud of uncertainty over the program.
“Yes, there were fires to be put out,” Meyer said. “The good
thing is when you go top to bottom in our class, you’re dealing
with intelligent guys and good families. … When you’re dealing
with very intelligent families and people that really understand,
they hear some crazy rumor – and I heard some – you simply pick up
the phone and say, ‘Listen.’ … You can end the rumors like that
because you have a relationship with a kid.”
Meyer’s leave of absence begins Thursday.
At the top of Florida’s class is Ronald Powell, a 240-pound
defensive end rated the No. 1 prospect in the country by
Residing in maybe the most fertile football state in the
country, the Gators always stock up on homegrown talent. Sixteen of
Florida’s 28 signees are from the Sunshine State. But Meyer and his
staff showed off their range, too.
Powell is from Moreno Valley, Calif., near Riverside, and highly
rated defensive back Joshua Shaw came to Florida from Palmdale,
Calif., about 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
The Gators ventured into the Northeast for two of the
most-wanted defensive linemen in Sharrif Floyd of Philadelphia and
Dominique Easley of New York City.
“I think that’s a class people are going to look back a couple
of years from now and say, ‘Wow, this is once-in-a-lifetime type of
class,”’ said Jeremy Crabtree, national recruiting editor for
ESPNU, Scout.com, SuperPrep Magazine and MaxPreps also ranked
Florida No. 1. Rivals had USC No. 1 after a late surge pushed the
Trojans past the Gators.
New USC coach Lane Kiffin got a late start on recruiting for the
Trojans, hired away from Tennessee less than a month before signing
day to replace his former boss at USC, Pete Carroll.
Kiffin and his staff made up for lost time and then some.
“They did a years’ worth of work in about two weeks,” Crabtree
Not only did Kiffin lock up the top prospects who had given
nonbinding verbal commitments to Carroll, but he strengthened the
class by luring a few others that seemed headed elsewhere. Most
notably, Seantrel Henderson, a 330-pound offensive lineman from
Saint Paul, Minn., picked USC over Ohio State, Notre Dame and
Florida on Wednesday.
“Despite the coaching, I always liked USC, period,” Henderson
said. “It’s a great school and great education.”
“As far as football goes, Lane Kiffin recruited me when he was
still at Tennessee.”
Henderson, however, did not make his decision official
Wednesday. He was not included on USC’s official list of players
who had submitted signed letters of intent with the school.
Henderson’s father told The New York Times late Wednesday that his
son would wait until after USC goes before the NCAA infractions
committee later this month to sign his letter of intent.
One particular USC signee will no doubt have Volunteers fans
cussin’ Kiffin – again.
Wide receiver Markeith Ambles from Georgia had committed to the
Vols, but pulled back on that commitment after Kiffin bolted and
ultimately signed with the Trojans.
Kiffin’s departure sent Tennessee fans into a frenzy and caused
a few Volunteers recruits to reconsider their verbal
But much like Kiffin at USC, new Tennessee coach Derek Dooley
made a late save. The Volunteers ended up with a top-15 ranking
from all the notable recruiting services.