Don’t look for Florida’s coaches to change their recruiting tactics despite the drama surrounding the Gators’ 2010 recruiting class.
Florida has had two transfers from true freshmen and rumors of unhappiness from two of the prizes of this year’s class. Too many egos in one place combating or just the nature of having a hoard of blue chips interacting with one another?
Whatever it is, Florida running backs coach Stan Drayton was emphatic about how this won’t alter how coaches talk to recruits and which prospects they go after.
“No. No, I can’t give you much on that. No, it doesn’t change (how Florida recruits),” Drayton said.
Last week, freshmen Jordan Haden and Adrian Coxson left the team to find more comfortable situations. This week, Mike Pouncey came out and told the media he thinks the freshmen need to “shut their mouths and come play.” A day later, rumors spread that top freshmen defensive linemen Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley missed practice because they were unhappy with how they were being pushed in practice by coaches and veterans.
Coach Urban Meyer squashed any rumblings that either Powell or Easley ever cleaned out their lockers or talked about transferring, but did say that each missed part of Tuesday’s practice. Why? He wouldn’t say. Was there an incident that caused the freshmen to pout their way out of practice? Not sure. Will they be punished for their actions? Meyer says “They’re all good.”
For now, we won’t know what exactly happened — if anything — but it comes as no surprise that freshmen would be upset following training camp. It happens all the time, but when you have a class that is considered not just the best in the country but of all time, egos will get hurt. Especially, when they’re going head-to-head with a team that has such strong senior leadership. High school All-Americas aren’t used to being told what to do and are more accustomed to having things handed to them.
“You have 25 young players that think they’re going to go dominate like they did in high school and they have no idea what’s about to hit them,” Meyer said.
Dealing with egos of 18-year-olds has to get annoying to a certain extent, but it’s a minor price to pay when you are recruiting the best athletes in the country. To build a great team, you need playmakers and the truth is that arrogance and entitlement can cling to players like that. That’s not to say that all top prospects are egotistical nightmares, but it’s naive to think some aren’t.
First, the transfers.
Meyer insists neither had to do with how hard this year’s offseason training camp was. I believe that. Kids know this isn’t high school football summer camp. Meyer and the players both said this was one of the hardest when you combine the heat and the disappointment left from last season.
Haden had to deal with living up to the extremely high standards his brother, Joe, left at Florida. It wasn’t the right fit. Both are completely different players. He might not have been what Florida was expecting and once both parties were on the same page, it was the right move to look at other options.
Coxson, on the other hand, might have had issues with his place on the depth chart. He was never tabbed as the fastest guy coming out of high school and when you’re going up against some of the fastest guys in the country, it can be daunting. He said he wanted a chance to see the field early and it didn’t look like that was going to happen at Florida.
“Kids are smart now a days,” Meyer said. “They look at the guys in front of them and that certainly had to do with one of them.”
As for the “incident” from earlier this week. It could be a while before we know what really happened at Tuesday’s practice, or before that. It wouldn’t be shocking if both were upset, especially a guy like Powell who came in with overwhelming hype. He’s used to being the best. At Florida, he’s going to have to work even harder. That can be quite the wake-up call for these guys.
This might seem insignificant now, because both showed up at practice Wednesday, but it will be another obstacle Florida’s staff will have to hurdle when it comes to recruiting this year and the next. Other schools are going to use it against the Gators. Any sort of unhappiness sensed coming out of Florida’s camp is just ammunition for other college coaches, no matter the situation.
I can hear opposing coaches now — “That stud 2010 Florida class? They’ve got too many bodies, son, and you can tell some are already unhappy. That’s a tough depth chart to crack.”
This is nothing new for Meyer and his coaches. Each year he brings in top classes and each year he has to defend it by telling recruits about the “constant transition of players” at Florida. It’s a never-ending battle for top programs and Meyer understands it’s something he’ll have to live with as long as he recruits the best.
“We’ve had a couple years where we hit the home run on the recruiting class and people use that against us,” he said.
“That’s part of business, so it’s a little harder.”