New coaches bolster UF's recruiting efforts

Stan Drayton, the recently hired running backs coach for the Florida football team, speaks at a press conference last Wednesday.

Rob C. Witzel/Staff photographer
Published: Monday, February 22, 2010 at 4:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 22, 2010 at 4:50 p.m.

Most of Florida's recruiting responsibilities have been put in the hands of an old friend.

After spending a year at Tennessee and then Syracuse, Stan Drayton returns to Gainesville as not only running backs coach but recruiting coordinator. A job previously held by former assistant Billy Gonzales.

In 2007, Drayton was named one of the nation's top-25 recruiters for his involvement in a Florida class that was considered one of the best in the country. That year, Drayton assisted in the recruitment of the seven Lakeland players who signed with Florida. He also helped get five-star prospects in Seffner Armwood defensive tackle Torrey Davis and Atlanta Westlake quarterback Cameron Newton.

Drayton also recruited former Gator standouts Riley Cooper and Jermaine Cunningham.

During Drayton's first stint with Florida from 2005-07, most of his recruiting was based in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Dade counties and the Orlando area. Drayton now has the responsibility of handling duties in the Orlando area, including Polk County, and Dade County.

"Those have been very fertile grounds for us in the past," Drayton said.

Drayton doesn't think it will being difficult to regain his recruiting touch in the state.

"The one thing that never changed was that I still had a piece of Florida," he said. "I was still a Florida recruiter with the two schools that I went to after (Florida). I never really had to get myself re-established. I always did a fair job by those coaches in this state. I always kept it straightforward and honest with them and they appreciate that from a coach, no matter what color their shirt is or what school they're coming from. That made it easier for me to get back into this thing here in the state of Florida with no issues."

D.J. Durkin, who expects to coach linebackers and assist in special teams, and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin are easing into Florida's recruiting world.

Durkin has been with Florida for more than a month and said his only recruiting objectives were to meet recruited linebackers, watch their film and make sure the class closed right.

To his credit, Durkin assisted in getting Westlake linebacker Michael Taylor and Homestead linebacker Darrin Kitchens.

Durkin helped put together a couple of solid classes at Stanford and doesn't anticipate his recruiting style will change now that he's at a more high-profile school like Florida.

"Recruiting, although it has its differences in every place, it's very similar at every place where it's about hard work and building relationships and staying after it every single day," Durkin said. "You might be recruiting a different type of athlete at a certain place, but it all comes back to the same common ground."

Recruiting for Durkin and Drayton was relatively easy since their arrival. With such a talented group already committed, and coach Urban Meyer's health issues being dealt with, Drayton said recruiting talks were almost effortless.

"There wasn't a whole lot of conversation about (Meyer's health)," he said. "The moment you walk out of that house, you can guarantee 20 minutes later Urban Meyer was on the phone with them.

"I really didn't see any unstable feels from guys who signed (with) us at all."

As for Austin, Florida's 2010 class is a mere sheet of paper. Austin said last week he hasn't had much communication with any incoming players and has yet to involve himself in the 2011 plan.

He will, however, man the Atlanta area and could head other areas if needed.

With 12 years of collegiate experience as an assistant, Austin said he's behind now, but should have no problem rediscovering his recruiting abilities.

"I'd like to think that when I was in college I was a pretty good recruiter and I don't think that will change," he said.

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