Now that Urban Meyer has decided to take a leave of absence instead of just stepping down at Florida, recruiting is … well, still kind of going as planned. On Saturday, I was on the phone with as many recruits as I could talk to and the feeling was that they were still committed, but just confused and dismayed by Meyer’s resignation. Most of the prospects I talked to said that while they are close to Meyer and badly want him as a coach, they are committed to UF, not Meyer.
Sunday, the confusion grew as Meyer decided he would come back … at some point. So, he’s still UF’s coach, but he won’t be around the program for a while as he gets his health under control. That’s what Meyer is saying. That’s what players are saying. And more importantly, that’s what is being said to recruits. Most of them won’t be on campus until the summer, so even if Meyer isn’t around during the spring or part of the summer, these guys are expected to get their coach back before their Gator careers officially start.
As of right now, it looks like all 20 commitments are going to stick. Things got a little hairy when the news of Meyer’s departure first broke. Matt Elam was reportedly very upset and rumors quickly spread that he reneged on his commitment to the Gators and would sign with Florida State. That turned out to not be true, but Elam is still shying away from the media right now. It doesn’t help that Elam will play in an all-star game in early January and can wait another week to decide where to go to school. He has said he plans to enroll early. There’s also a chance he could stay in high school for the rest of his senior year, but that has yet to be confirmed. I should stress that he’s still committed, but anything could happen.
Then came Joshua Shaw. The Palmdale, Calif., cornerback apparently decommitted from the Gators when he got the news about Meyer but then recommitted when Meyer decided to return. So, he’s still a Gator. All of the verbals are, but the thing that will matter is how much Meyer talks with them and what rival coaches decide to say about Meyer and Florida’s situation.
If I’m an opposing coach, the first thing I say to a kid is, “Well, Meyer might come back in a year, but what happens if you commit and he decides in a year that he can’t come back?” This is why naming Steve Addazio as interim coach was so crucial. Despite what fans might say about his coaching, he’s a hell of a recruiter and players love him. Mack Brown said he’s solidly committed to Florida and that Addazio taking over for the moment reaffirmed his commitment.
We still don’t know how much power Addazio will have, but he said his role is “to keep a great program on a great course.” The key thing for him is continuity with recruiting and even with a short time to work on this class, Addazio has developed enough personal relationships with prospects that he won’t have to be the best used car salesman around to keep them comfortable.
“Recruiting is ongoing. It’s going on right now,” Addazio said. “I’m a major part of that and that’s not going to change. We’re going to get right out in front on that to keep this program right where it is.
“Recruiting is constant management and this is, obviously, a big management thing. I think there’s a great plan in place. It’s just the message that we have a great plan in place and everything’s going to be great.”
Luckily for Addazio, it’s a recruiting dead period, which means coaches can only call recruits once a week and can’t visit with them or have them visit. This will give him time to prepare for an important January month of recruiting.
Addazio is saying all the right things and is pretty confident that Florida won’t miss a beat in recruiting.
“We have total belief in (UF’s program remaining stable), so it’s an easy deal,” he said. “The program is going to right where it needs to be and Coach (Meyer) is going to do great.”