Notebook: Reed to tight end opens spot for QB

Published: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 9:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 7:54 p.m.

When Florida coaches decided two weeks ago to move redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Reed to tight end, it meant having to go back and beat the recruiting trail to find another quarterback.

They found one in a little-known prospect named Tyler Murphy, a two-star prospect from Wethersfield, Conn.

Florida coach Urban Meyer said Murphy kind of jumped off the screen at them when they were watching tape.

"We tried to find the best dual athlete we could find," Meyer said. "We watched 15 (on tape), one after the other. We saw him and said, 'Ooh, run that one back.' All of a sudden we got a little feel for him as a player."

With Reed moving to tight end, it leaves UF with only two scholarship quarterbacks for the spring, junior John Brantley and true freshman Trey Burton, an early enrollee.

Murphy has a chance to compete for that No. 2 spot in the fall.

"He's kind of freakish with the ball in his hands," Meyer said. "And he can throw it."

UF recruiting goes national

The Gators signed the top player in four different states — California, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. Despite the national scope this year, Meyer says he does not want UF to become known as a national recruiting school.

"I want to be known as a regional recruiting school," he said. "However, when you start flipping (cornerback) Josh Shaw in the video and he comes in (from California) and visits and loves it. ... And Ronald Powell comes here (from California) and you see he's the best player in the country (you try to sign them)."

Meyer said he challenged assistant coach Brian White, who has California connections, to sign Shaw and Powell.

"I said to him, 'Can you really get this done?' " Meyer said. "He took it as a challenge."

White signed both players.

"We're going to continue to cherry pick across the country (in the future)," Meyer said.

Gators find success in south Florida

When Meyer arrived at UF five years ago, he made south Florida a recruiting priority. It's been a tough pull, but the effort is starting to yield results.

The Gators signed four players from Dade County and nine overall from south Florida on Wednesday.

"(Former secondary coach) Vance Bedford did a heck of a job going in there and stirring that up," Meyer said. "We had been shut out down there for a while. We made a concerted effort.

"We kind of hit one early with (linebacker) Gideon Ajagbe and started getting a little momentum going. We signed nine, which is a lot. The key is these guys have to have some success up here because everybody (in south Florida) is watching."

One player everyone definitely will be watching is five-star recruit Matt Elam, a safety from Palm Beach Dwyer.

Elam committed and decommitted during the process, but eventually came back to the Gators in early January and now is enrolled in school.

"Matt is a young man like a lot of young men. He likes a little publicity," Meyer said. "He's a great kid. The great thing is he's on our campus and coach (Mickey) Marotti is getting some of that out of him in the weight room right now."

Meyer said Elam could see playing time on both sides of the ball.

"He could be a wildcat player (on offense) because he's tremendous with the ball in his hand," Meyer said. "We talked to him about that, but his future is at safety."

Green the last one on board

Standout Tampa Catholic offensive tackle Chaz Green was the last player in the class to announce for Florida on Wednesday. He committed to the coaches a week or so ago (and sent his letter of intent in earlier in the day Wednesday), but this is one the Gators had to sweat out for the longest time.

Meyer said at one point in the recruiting process, Green stopped returning his calls.

"When communication ceases, you have a problem," Meyer said.

Meyer credits defensive line coach Dan McCarney for sticking with Green and eventually selling him on Florida.

"He's relentless. He stayed on him," Meyer said. "Coach McCarney stayed alive with it. When (Green) told us he was coming, that was a great day for us."

Meyer said offensive coordinator Steve Addazio identified Green as one of the nation's top offensive tackle prospects a year ago. The Gators signed the top two offensive linemen on their board — Green and Ian Silberman, an early enrollee.

Gators have room for Kitchens

Homestead coach Bobby McCray Sr., the father of former UF defensive end Bobby McCray, was instrumental in linebacker Darrin Kitchens ending up in the UF class.

"Bobby McCray's father is a close friend of mine," Meyer said. "He was telling me about Kitchens for a long time. He's going to run a sub 11-second (100-meter dash this spring). That's good for a linebacker and a special teams player. He came up for a visit (a few weeks ago) and kind of stole our hearts. He's just a tremendous young man."

This and that

Meyer said redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose is doing fine after undergoing surgery on a torn hamstring last fall. Meyer said Debose is jumping on a trampoline and working out to get ready for spring practice, which begins March 17 (the spring game is April 10). ... Dee Finley, who is making the move from safety to linebacker, recently underwent surgery on his groin and his status is uncertain for the start of the spring. ... Meyer said Mack Brown is the highest-rated running back the Gators have signed since he's been at UF. "He's tremendous. He's got a chance to be a 210-pound back," Meyer said.

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