Urban Meyer might not be the biggest fan of having a spring game, but it sure does benefit his program – outside of the actual play on the field.
From the press box Saturday, I had a hard time paying attention to John Brantley and Frankie Hammond Jr. embarrassing my choice for spring breakout player, Adrian Bushell, because I was trying to count all the bodies huddled up in the south end zone. That’s the section of the stadium designated for all of Florida’s recruits. By my final count, I believe I had close to 1,000.
OK, maybe not that many, but there was a ridiculous amount of high school kids – and parents – down there.
It didn’t hurt that a reported 65,000 fans showed up to watch a spring game that wasn’t terribly exciting. But hey, that’s Gator fans for you. Trust me, recruits look at that. They probably didn’t know the exact number of fans in the stands, but all they had to do was look around to see the love that the Gator Nation displays for its gridiron gods.
“I want to tell the Gator Nation, that’s something else,” Meyer said of the record-setting spring crowd. “We average more for spring games than most do for a home game.”
Meyer then flashed a smile, looked down and then added, “That’s a recruiting speech.”
Oh baby. That’s golden. And it must have worked because many of the highly touted prospects in attendance on Saturday left with Florida at or near of the top of their lists.
Lithonia, Ga., Martin Luther King running back Mack Brown, who some have labeled as the No. 1 target on the Gators’ board this season, said that Florida has officially taken over as his top school. Brown isn’t planning to commit anywhere right now because he’s looking to take a couple more visits, but look for something toward the end of the summer. Looks like Florida is in great shape at this point.
One guy who had a major slip on how he feels about Florida was Delray Beach, Atlantic wide receiver James Louis. In an interview with Scout.com after Saturday’s game, Louis actually said he’ll be a Gator soon. He didn’t commit, but he said it looks like he will. I’d be careful with this one. He’s a talented prospect, but there are a couple receivers rated higher on Florida’s board. But Louis is a guy who does fit into the offense well.
Kenbrell Thompkins, who is a standout receiver at El Camino College in Torrance, Calif., came away pretty impressed. It wasn’t just what he saw on the field – he was mostly impressed with the fans in general and was amazed by the number that turned out.
The Gators also had a few current 2009 and 2010 commits on hand to woo some of the big fish.
Meyer said in the days leading up to Saturday’s game that he worried about what his fans would see from his mangled team. But the Gator faithful turned out in force and all it did was make the most high-profile program in the country, even more high-profile.
“What did we envision? This is it,” Meyer said. “This is where we wanted to be.”