Recruits weigh in on Meyer's health


Published: Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 10:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 10:58 p.m.

Urban Meyer's announcement to return for spring practice might have stunned some, but it was hardly a secret to others.

Weeks after Meyer's resignation-turned-indefinite-leave-of-absence saga began, Meyer told members of the media during halftime of Florida's men's basketball game against South Carolina on Jan. 23, that he was planning on coaching this upcoming spring.

But what Meyer told the media for the first time, was nothing new to recruits that have recently seen Florida's coach.

Lithonia, Ga., Martin Luther King running back commit Mack Brown, who officially visited Florida on Jan. 15, was the first player to come out publicly and say that he believed Meyer would we back in August. After seeing Meyer in person, Brown pushed up his return date.

“He'll be back in March,” Brown said. “I hope he's back then because that's when (spring) practice starts, but if he isn't, I expect him to be back by the season in August.”

Brown said it was his trust in Meyer's honesty about his health issues that helped him recently reaffirm his commitment to Florida.

Tight end commit Michael McFarland didn't have to look at Meyer to see his improvement. The Tampa Plant athlete said he could tell Meyer was better because of the amount of time the two spent laughing together when he visited this past weekend. He even went as far to say that he agreed that Meyer was filling out with those 20 pounds he claims to have gained.

“He looked great,” McFarland said. “It was the same old coach Meyer. Same funny guy, same sense of humor

“He hasn't lost a step. It was the same funny coach Meyer that I knew last year around this time that was recruiting me.”

Meyer looked fine on the outside, but there's still an understanding that stepping away from the program for some time will be a good thing.

“You can just see it in his eyes that he doesn't want to step away from the game,” Miami Booker T. Washington defensive end commit Lynden Trail said. “At the same time, he has to do what's best for him and his health. His wife (Shelley) is really going to push the point that he has to take a break.”

Florida commits weren't the only ones impressed with Meyer.

Tampa Catholic receiver Christian Green, who is currently considering Florida State and Georgia, said after his official visit earlier this month that he was unsure what to think about Meyer's health before his visit, but said there was a distinct difference in the coach he saw in January compared to the one he saw last fall.

“He's looking a lot better. In terms of his overall health, he's looking a lot more comfortable than he did (in the fall),” Green said. “He's a lot more laid back, now.”

Meyer may be laid back and having fun with prospects, but if it hadn't had been for some fast acting on both his and some of his recruits' parts, Meyer could be stressing even more over what this class could look like.

Florida currently sits with 25 verbal commitments and the consensus No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

To help, Trail and a few other commitments took it upon themselves to help Florida's recruiting efforts. For all that Meyer has done for the Gators, Trail said, this was a chance for the Gators to do something for him.

“We all didn't want the recruiting job that he's done to go completely down the drain because he might be taking a leave of absence,” he said. “As a recruit, you have to see it from his point of view. He's been there for more than four years, he's been coaching for 24 years and his record at Florida is 57-10. He's been working since he's been there, so if anybody asks me, he deserves a break for a little while.”

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