TAMPA—All pipe dreams aside, and all criticism placed on hold; there is a sense of urgency among the media to label Urban Meyer's very real, very personal decision, as an opportunity to heap more burdens on the man who is going through what may arguably be one of the most arduous decisions a head coach may ever make.
Meyer was not the biggest waffler on the planet; and his act, in time, will be completely forgivable. We all know his situation pertains to a very real health condition, and anyone can see that he arrived at his decisions with seemingly heavy reluctance.
That being said, there are certainly some immediate impacts to his indefinite vacation from the top spot at the University of Florida, which already looks a bit like an empty cupboard.
With Charlie Strong, Tim Tebow, and Dan Mullen—all large cogs of the 2008 National Championship team now gone, Urban Meyer’s departure could not have come at a worse time—or perhaps a better one, if you’re competing for recruits.
While there have been no words exchanged between Florida recruits and any other teams' coaches, the Gator recruiting-machine will have its hands full with the 20-plus solid commitments who might be tempted to reconsider heading to Gainesville in the coming weeks.
Since team coaches are not permitted to contact recruits until after Jan. 8, right now, the lack of news may simply be the “calm before the storm.”
How Does This Benefit the Seminoles?
Aside from FSU being a prime recruiting school tucked comfortably between talent-laden regions of Southern Georgia, Eastern Alabama, and the entire state of Florida, FSU could make a solid final push for several players who have either committed to, or shown serious interest in, Meyer’s Gators.
Recruiting Coordinator James Coley and Seminoles Head Coach Jimbo Fisher have proven they are capable closers—bringing in a top-10 recruiting class in 2009, while picking up some early commits for 2010 before a single snap was taken in the ’09 season.
Currently there are seven commitments to Florida that had at some point, shown some interest in Florida State.
Below is a list of those recruits, and their respective positions.
DE Lynden Trail—Booker T. Washington HS (Miami, FL)
WR Solomon Patton—S. S. Murphy HS (Mobile, AL)
CB Jaylen Watkins—Cape Coral HS (Cape Coral, FL)
OLB Gideon Ajagbe—Ransom Everglades School (Coconut Grove, FL)
S Jonathan Dowling—Southeast HS (Bradenton, FL)
S Demar Dorsey—Boyd H. Anderson HS (Lauderdale Lakes, FL)
S Matt Elam*—William T. Dwyer HS (Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
While there have been reports that players like Elam (*noted above) may stay in High School another semester rather than enrolling at Florida, it is fair to assume that other recruits have begun soul searching in light of Meyer's recent revelation.
While some commits may be considering de-commiting, most are not FSU recruits. However, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see at least a few Gator recruits open the door to the possibility of heading to Tallahassee.
It is also worth mentioning that there are also several prospects that are still very attainable targets in light of the recent turmoil surrounding the coaching changes, the number of players entering the NFL, and now the uncertainty clouding Urban Meyer's timetable for returning to work.
Among those players are several blue-chip athletes who could easily make Meyer's decision a remarkable advantage for the "school to the west" as Meyer so eloquently dubbed them.
Below is a list of those marquee players, as well as their respective positions and current schools.
DE No. 4 Corey Lemonier—Hialeah Senior HS (Hialeah, FL)
WR No. 7 Chris Dunkley—Pahokee HS (Pahokee, FL)
OT No. 8 Damien Robinson—Olive Branch HS (Olive Branch, MS)
OLB No. 9 Christian Jones—Lake Howell HS (Winter Park, FL)
RB No. 1 Marcus Lattimore—James F Byrnes HS (Duncan, SC)
DT No. 8 Brandon Willis—James F Byrnes HS (Duncan, SC)
WR No. 4 Christian Green—Tampa Catholic HS (Tampa, FL)
OT No. 10 Chaz Green—Tampa Catholic HS (Tampa, FL)
It is interesting to note that many high school teammate connections could work doubly beneficial for schools like Florida State.
Should a top prospect like RB Marcus Lattimore (Byrnes High, SC) or WR Christian Green (Tampa Catholic, FL) decide to make the move from Florida to Florida State, they could play pivotal roles in recruiting away teammates also interested in Florida like Brandon Willis and Chaz Green respectively—adding to the woes of a Gator team with more questions than answers.
FSU recently added Arizona Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops (who incidentally is the younger brother of former Florida Defensive Coordinator and current Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops), as well as Linebackers Coach Greg Hudson (former Defensive Coordinator of ECU) to their staff.
Thus, many defensive players who may not be willing to leave the State of Florida in pursuit of a position under former Florida DC Charlie Strong (Louisville) may take advantage of the opportunity to be part of a stable Defensive succession plan at FSU with Hudson, a more than capable replacement for Stoops should he ever make a move to a head coaching position.
As it is, Florida has a lot of loose ends to tie up, and if Florida's most recent bombshell headline wasn't enough to jar players loose from Florida, then perhaps nothing will be.
One thing is for certain: Unless a miracle occurs, Florida State may become the beneficiary of Meyer's recent waffle—as unfortunate as it may be.
As far as the landscape of the recruiting trail in Florida, look for headlines to begin surfacing on or around Jan. 9 as the no contact period concludes.
It should make for an interesting spring in the state of Florida, to say the least.