UF notebook: Gymnastics gets recruiting assist from Meyer
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 11:11 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 11:11 a.m.
Florida gymnastics coach Rhonda Faehn got a little help recruiting two months ago from an unlikely source Urban Meyer.
Before Meyer could sign junior college wide receiver Carl Moore last month, he had to convince Moore's girlfriend former UCLA gymnast Maranda Smith to come to UF.
There was just one problem: Smith didn't think she was good enough to earn a scholarship at UF.
"My boyfriend always wanted to come to Florida," Smith said. "He said, Yeah, we could go together. I was like, 'No, I'm not good enough to go there anymore.
Smith's gymnastics career appeared over before it started. Smith had a rod inserted into her leg after fracturing it as a freshman gymnast at UCLA in 2006. She quit gymnastics and joined Moore at Sierra Community College in her hometown of Placerville, Calif.
Smith wanted to go to Arizona, but her boyfriend was set on Florida, which was recruiting him heavily.
In November, Meyer began calling Smith daily. He knew his ability to sign Moore hinged on whether Smith came with him to Florida. Smith, however, didn't really know much about Meyer at the time.
"I used to talk to him every day back in November when he was recruiting Carl," Smith said. "He kept asking how Carl was doing and wanted me to come here and do gymnastics.
"It was weird. But I really didn't know anything about college football anyway, so it was like I was talking to any other person. Then I started watching TV and I'd see him and I'd say, 'I just talked to him on the phone an hour ago.
Smith finally contacted Faehn, who sent assistant coach Adrian Burde out to California to watch her practice. Luckily, Faehn had a scholarship available, and Smith and Moore were on their way to Gainesville.
"He's more than my boyfriend, he's my best friend," Smith said. "We are so close. I love him to death."
Smith knows she has a lot of work to do to crack the Gators' lineup. She showed glimpses of her potential by scoring a 9.775 on an exhibition routine on bars during Florida's season opener last Friday.
"It's going to be tough to make the lineup but I'm excited for the challenge," she said.
Sinclair named SEC gymnast of week
Florida sophomore Melanie Sinclair earned the SEC's first Gymnast of the Week award of the 2008 season, the league announced Tuesday. This is her second SEC Gymnast of the Week honor of her career.
Sinclair matched her collegiate-best all-around total of 39.525 to win the season-opener last Friday against Illinois-Chicago. That all-around total also shares the nation's high mark of the season.
It was the second all-around win for Sinclair. She also opened the 2007 season by claiming the Super Six Challenge title.
Gardner going back to Arkansas
Susie Gardner spent the last four years as Arkansas head women's basketball coach. On Sunday, Gardner will return, this time as an assistant coach with Florida when the Gators face the Razorbacks.
"I've got some great memories in Fayetteville, I have some great friends there," Gardner said. "I am an emotional person so I am sure there will be certain instances throughout the trip that will trigger that."
It's safe to say this will be the easiest week of scouting Gardner will have this season.
"As I was watching tape, it's probably the easiest scout in terms of player personnel," Gardner said. "Instead of writing numbers down, I was writing names down."
Three Gators headed to U-23 camp
Three Florida soccer players reported this weekend to the U.S. Under-23 National Team Camp at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Junior Ameera Abdullah, senior Stacy Bishop and sophomore Ashlee Elliott are among the 24-players called into camp by head coach Bill Irwin. The U.S. Under-23s will partake in the Nordic Cup this summer, and will look to earn their 10th title at the prestigious tournament.
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