What a very, very long commercial for Urban Meyer’s football program. I can just imagine Meyer sitting back in a recliner with his favorite beverage in one hand and his cell phone in the other. Text messages from recruits flowing in and a grin from ear to ear stuck to his face.
Florida had nine players drafted, the most of any school, and what do most high school athletes want from their college football experience? A shot at a professional career. Like Meyer’s outburst at a reporter earlier this spring, this kind of national attention is the stuff recruits eat up. It’s not like ESPN decided before the draft to constantly talk about Florida (although all that Tim Tebow bashing says otherwise). Try as you might to get away from it, the draft was littered with Gators highlights.
“I’m proud of all of our players who now have a chance to fulfill a life-long dream and play in the NFL,” Meyer said. “When we were recruiting them we sat in their living rooms and we talked about graduating, winning championships and going to the NFL. It’s something special to see that happen.”
Meyer’s NFL card isn’t tucked away neatly anymore when he walks into a family’s home trying to sway their son over to the orange and blue. That card is stitched right on every shirt he wears in there. It may be more visible than he is.
Meyer’s 2006 recruiting class, arguably his best all-around class, produced four draft picks this year. Percy Harvin was a part of that class and he was taken in the first round last year and was the NFL Rookie of the Year. His 2007 class produced five draft picks, including offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey, who went in the first round to the Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s 10 from those two classes in the last two years.
Let’s not forget that even with all the negativity surrounding Tebow and the draft, he was selected in the first round by the Denver Broncos. The guy scouts constantly ripped for his mechanics went in the first round. That’s definitely a selling point for the Gators.
What must have brought yet another giddy grin to Meyer’s face was when he looked up at the end of the draft and saw that in-state rivals Florida State and Miami were worlds away from the Gators in the draft. Miami finished with four players drafted (the first came off the board in the third round) and Florida State had three players taken. In 2009 FSU had just one player taken — defensive end Everette Brown in the second round to the Carolina Panthers. Miami had just one selection as well and it came in the sixth round.
As for Florida’s SEC rivals, Tennessee had six players selected and Georgia had five. Alabama, which Florida fans should get accustomed to seeing more often, had seven players taken.
Florida cleaned up in the draft this year and that certain adds a huge element to Florida’s recruiting weaponry. Atmosphere and a state-of-the-art facilities help, but proving that you can be a direct pipeline to the NFL usually becomes the biggest selling point for schools. Florida’s got that last part covered.