With the big showdown in Jacksonville Saturday, Urban Meyer will be visiting a part of the state he covets very dearly. Since Meyer’s arrival in 2005, he’s nabbed nine players from the Jacksonville/St. Augustine area, including Mr. Tim Tebow.
That part of the state has been relatively good to Meyer and his staff, but the Gators failed to get anyone from there in last year’s class and have already missed out on a couple of big prospects from there this year.
Georgia offensive line commitment Brent Benedict (Jacksonville, Bolles), Miami defensive line commits Louis Nix (Jacksonville, Raines) and Tavadis Glenn (Jacksonville, Terry Parker), and Florida State defensive line commit Tavaris Barnes (Jacksonville, First Coast) all turned the Gators down.
Ironically, Florida’s opponent Saturday has had more success in Jax this year. Georgia has already snatched two guys out of there.
Despite his recent struggles, Meyer still views Jacksonville as one of his primary recruiting areas in the state.
“We love Jacksonville,” he said.
“Jacksonville’s been great to the Gators. That’s one of our (recruiting areas). Jacksonville, Orlando and south Florida — those are the areas that we just try to hit as hard as we possibility can.”
Reconsidering an early signing period
Meyer’s had his fair share of losses in the recruiting game. Two guys got away on National Signing Day last year, and throughout his time at Florida he’s had to cut ties with some major commits. He’s also done the same to a few other schools (see poor Notre Dame).
It comes with the territory when you can start recruiting kids almost a year before they graduate from high school.
But Meyer has never been one for an early signing period. He likes getting to know guys and getting to see them as much as possible to make sure their commitments are genuine. If there was an early signing period, it would also take away from a lot of official visits to games. That’s when guys can really see the atmosphere and get some royal treatment. Instead, you’d have way too many kids trying to officially visit over the summer, when things are a bit hectic for coaching staffs.
“You’d had 20, 30 kids visiting,” Meyer said.
With a few changes, Meyer could be interested in one.
While he’s not totally down with an early signing period, he likes the idea that an SEC coach had where if a player commits early and decides he doesn’t want to take visits, he should be allowed to sign a letter of intent — binding him to that school. I’m sure some players would be up for it, but you’re missing out on the fun of being courted and getting to travel around the country.
“The minute he visits other schools then I’d say he can’t (sign),” Meyer said.
The one thing an early signing period won’t take away from, Meyer said, is the negative recruiting schools use against other programs.
“Recruiting is recruiting,” he said. “Someone said, ‘Boy, when you talk about your graduation rate compared to another school, that’s negative recruiting.’ You never hear us talk about negative recruiting. We just think everybody goes as hard as they can and they sell their school. I don’t think an early signing period has anything to do with that stuff.”
Kiffin finding recruiting tougher in SEC
Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin’s days at USC were a walk in the park when it came to recruiting as opposed to what he’s going through in the SEC. Sure, he’s had some decent success against Florida and Alabama, but he’s finding that he’s having to work more this time around than when he just had to advertise buxom blondes and the Hollywood atmosphere in Los Angeles. Now, he’s having to compete more inside his conference than he had to when battling Pac-10 schools. His only real competition used to be outside the conference.
“When we got it going at Southern Cal we didn’t have to battle guys in our conference as much as we had to battle Florida, Texas, Alabama, Florida State, the great teams,” Kiffin said.
“The great players that we got, everybody wanted, so we had to go battle those teams. Now, we just happen to run into our conference a lot more.”
Trick or Treat
Trick: Speaking of Kiffin and his early luck, it looks like he’s got Tennessee in the driver’s seat for Port St. Lucie, Treasure Coast linebacker Jeff Luc. After Florida appeared to be out in front, the Vols have reportedly pulled ahead. I say this goes down to the wire in December with these two schools. Will Kiffin’s sweet talk prevail? Staying with the Vols, current Gator defensive back commit Demar Dorsey could be officially visiting UT this weekend. It’s not totally clear if he will, but it could happen. Pahokee receiver — and major Florida target — Chris Dunkley is also expected on campus.
Treat: Running back commit Mack Brown is all Gator. He won’t be in attendance Saturday in Jacksonville, but he’ll be watching and cheering for the Gators. He grew up a big Georgia fan, but that changed when he started rooting for Florida last year in this game. He said this week that he still gets letters and is still contacted by Georgia’s staff, but he remains solid on his UF commitment.
“I love both schools,” Brown said, but I’m committed to Florida, right now, so I have to go with the Gators.”
Treat: Rivals.com is reporting that Philadelphia, George Washington defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is down to Florida and Ohio State. He’s probably the best defensive tackle in the country and officially visited UF early this fall. Why is this a treat? Well, Florida’s owned the Buckeyes in pretty much everything in the past few years, so it’s only natural that I feel Floyd pretty much just said he’ll be signing with UF.
Trick: Back to UT, yeah, I’m sure guys are happy about that. Tampa, Catholic offensive lineman Chaz Green, who was a suspected silent commit to Florida for a while, might be looking at Tennessee a bit harder than originally thought. I still give the Gators the edge in the end, especially with the line issues the Gators have had this year, but Kiffin and his staff has done a great job in less than a year and they are making sure to get into every Gator target — and commitment’s — ear.
Treat: Chaz’s teammate, Christian Green, is going to have a tough decision when it comes to colleges. It’s probably going to come down to Florida and Georgia, and it appears the Bulldogs have pulled up a bit. I’m still convinced that he’s still leaning toward the Gators. The receivers have struggled this year and that’s a major selling point for this year’s class. Plus, he’s been in Gainesville way too many times this year. An official visit could seal it for the Gators.
Treat: I talked to a couple of sources this week and it appears Fort Lauderdale, St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Cody Riggs will probably end up in Gainesville. Florida has like 100 verbals from cornerbacks this year, but if Dorsey decides to go elsewhere, the staff would happily welcome Riggs. He’s visiting for the FSU game and I wouldn’t be surprised if he committed shortly after.
Trick: It’s a shame that the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party — yeah I called it by its REAL name — can’t allow official recruiting visits. Sure it’s a neutral site, but UGA coach Mark Richt said he would like to see the home team be able to invite recruits. Look at that. Not even arguing to have both schools get recruits there. Now, that’s class. It probably won’t happen, though. If the NCAA allows these two schools to do it at a neutral site, then it would have to let every school do it. Visits for the Red River Shootout and when Alabama plays someone in Atlanta. Then you’d have to do it for conference championships and bowl games. Too much paperwork.
Happy Halloween! Be safe! Look both ways before crossing the street. Don’t eat razor blades and don’t worry about the bowl full of intestines and the batch of eye balls. It’s just spaghetti and grapes/olives.
And most importantly. If you can’t laugh at yourselves, who can you laugh at?