Meyer deals with losing recruiter


Published: Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 1:40 a.m.
Urban Meyer's first attempt at recruiting football players to the University of Florida took a hit Tuesday night when recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley decided to become Illinois' offensive coordinator.
But it's not losing the coordinator that bothers the Florida head coach.
"That title a lot of times is just a title," Meyer told The Sun on Wednesday. "It's more the individuals you were on with that coach."
The impact of Locksley's decision could be felt in Meyer's first class. Some recruits - like New Jersey linebacker Jerome Hayes - have indicated they would drop Florida from their lists if Locksley left.
"The ego tells you that it will have some effect," Locksley said Wednesday. "But I think it will be a lot like when (Ron) Zook left. There will be some initial backlash, but then everything will settle down."
The Sun reported in Wednesday's editions that Locksley accepted the job at Illinois. He met with Meyer late Tuesday night.
Meyer said he has several candidates in mind to replace Locksley as the running backs coach and wants to make that hire as soon as possible. Defensive backs coach Chuck Heater, who came to UF from Utah with Meyer, will take over the role of recruiting coordinator. Meyer said that situation would be re-evaluated after the season.
Locksley was known as one of the top recruiters on Zook's staff and kept the connection with many recruits after Zook was fired. He said he will not try to recruit any of Florida's committed players to Illinois, but would talk to some uncommitted players he had been recruiting to Florida.
"That's one of the parameters," Meyer said. "It would be unethical to recruit someone who has committed to us and I believe Mike is an ethical person."
Asked if the loss of Locksley might hurt Florida in the recruiting department, Meyer said, "If it does, it does. Obviously, it's not the best situation but it's also not unique to Florida. When I signed (assistant coach) Doc Holliday from N.C. State, they were in a panic because it was the middle of their recruiting season. Georgia just had its defensive coordinator leave. The coach I hire to be running backs coach will be leaving a program. Losing a coach happens."
Meyer said that because he and his staff got a late start on recruiting to their new school, Florida is unlikely to sign a full load of high school players to scholarships. Meyer said UF has 22 or 23 scholarships available.
"We'll sign much fewer than that," Meyer said. "We're not going to take a bad player."
You can reach sports writer Pat Dooley by e-mail at dooleyp@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5053.

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