Meyer decision has immediate effect on recruiting
Published: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 4:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 5:49 p.m.
The news of Urban Meyer's second resignation in the last year will no doubt send ripples through the college football landscape, but it will also impact Florida's 2011 recruiting class.
Last year, Meyer's decision to return not only saved but improved Florida's historic class, making it the top overall class in 2010.
Now, Meyer's decision to walk away could have a profound effect, says Rivals.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell, especially if the right coach isn't hired.
"I think this will be like last year — everyone will wait and see," Farrell said of the recruits' reaction to Meyer's departure.
Florida's 2011 class currently has 17 verbal commitments and the Gators' coaches were set to have a monstrous recruiting weekend with as many as 21 official visitors expected in Gainesville this weekend.
That list will shrink, as Rivals.com reported Wednesday that Tampa Alonso defensive end Anthony Chickillo won't be making his expected official visit to UF this weekend after hearing the news of Meyer's resignation.
In a phone interview with Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Thomasville, Ga., Thomas County defensive end Ray Drew said he was "shocked" that Meyer resigned for a second time. Drew recently said Florida was a part of his final six schools.
"That’s just shocking. Wow," Drew said. "I never would have thought. After he came back after that last time I was assuming he’d he there for a while. I don’t know what to think or what to do.
"I'm somewhat disappointed that it happened this late in the process. I’m not going to say it X’s them out but that’s a problem. That’s a big problem."
Drew will take an official visit to Georgia this weekend.
As far as early decommits go, Farrell said that with a class primarily made up of Southeastern prospects, he doesn't anticipate a lot of immediate defections.
Florida cornerback commit Nick Waisome (Groveland South Lake) told The Sun Wednesday that he's unsure of what he will do, but will meet with his family before he makes any decision as it pertains to his college future.
"I'm not in the position to make any statements right now," Waisome said. "I'll be meeting with my family and advisers to talk about it."
Two other 2011 commitments will also take their time and see what Florida does.
Plantation linebacker Ryan Shazier said he is "undecided" on what he will do. He plans to officially visit Florida this weekend and said he is staying committed to the Gators. He will, however, explore other schools.
"Me and my family have decided that we will look at other options and visit other schools," Shazier said.
Kirkland, Ohio, Lake Catholic offensive lineman commit Chase Hounshell didn't answer his phone Wednesday, but he did make his commitment status well known on Twitter.
"For every reporter out there trying to call me," Hounshell tweeted. "Right now, im all gator!"
Lakeland wide receiver Javares McRoy told the Lakeland Ledger he plans to reopen is recruitment now that Meyer has stepped down.
"I don’t know what will happen," McRoy said.
Florida's 2012 wide receiver commit Latroy Pittman (Citra North Marion) was shaken by the news of Meyer's resignation, but said he'll remain committed to Florida.
"I was shocked. Didn't know what happened," Pittman said, "I'll sit back and see what happens with what they do with the coaching staff.
"I wasn't happy about it. I wasn't upset, just shocked."
McRoy also said that Florida running backs coach Stan Drayton was in Lakeland on Tuesday to talk about McRoy’s timetable for enrolling at UF early and that there was no indication Meyer would be leaving.
"It surprised me," he said.
McRoy was originally committed to Texas Tech with his brother, Ben, but switched to the Gators in June, saying then that Meyer’s offense "best fit my style."
Pittman, who still has more than a year before he'll enroll in college, said he would talk with quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler about his future.
To Farrell, making the right hire will be key to keeping Florida's class together. With a team — and class — primarily made up of spread-offense athletes, Farrell said Meyer's departure will have a bigger effect on offensive prospects than defensive ones. He expects those players to stick for now and wait for Florida's hire.
Two players Farrell said could be affected the most are Oviedo Hagerty quarterback commit Jeff Driskel and Bradenton Manatee running back Mike Blakely. Driskel is a dual-threat quarterback who might prefer to play in a spread-style offense, while Blakely could fit into either a spread or pro-style system.
Farrell said it would be a "no-brainer" for Auburn to go after Blakely, who chose Florida over Auburn in October.
As for Driskel, Farrell said it could be harder for him to look around, considering he's an early enrollee. His only other top school was Auburn, which currently has a verbal commitment from Kiehl Frazier, whom Rivals ranks as the fourth-best dual-threat quarterback in the country.
To Farrell, making a hire with a coach who runs the spread should keep Florida's class together, and the most obvious choice would be Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, Florida's offensive coordinator from 2005-2008.
"I think if it's Dan Mullen, nothing will change," Farrell said. "If it's someone else, everything will be shook up."