Over the last two years, Urban Meyer and his staff have proven to be quite the recruiters, hauling in top-tier talent by the dozens.
The same holds true for this year, as the Gators have churned out at least a top five spot—and probably higher—after signing bruising nose tackle Omar Hunter, a five-star recruit who was once committed to Notre Dame.
The list of players is far too long to list, but here is the short version:
Urban Meyer is sending a message to his defense.
The Gator staff obtained seven top-10 positional prospects on defense, including five in the top five. Florida connected on every area of defense, nabbing highly sought after linemen, linebackers, corners, and safeties.
Meyer also collected a few new offensive tools—and, of course, protection for those playmakers as well.
But many people around the country are starting to wonder: Is Meyer playing by the rules?
Not long ago, the Gators landed the top JuCo player in the country, six-four wide receiver Carl Moore, from Sierra Community College. Described as a “physical freak” by recruiting analysts, Moore would contribute immediately to an already stout wide receiving corps.
What we didn’t know at the time of the signing was that Moore’s girlfriend, Maranda Smith, also a former Sierra Community College athlete, was being recruited by Florida’s gymnastics team—allegedly by Urban Meyer also.
Moore and Smith are currently enrolled at UF, and Smith has already competed in an SEC gymnastics event.
The rub came when Smith went on record saying that Meyer began calling her “every day” about her coming to Florida—and asking about his prized recruit, Carl Moore, as well.
If that is the case, Meyer is wrong on two accounts: recruiting a player outside of his sport and making phone calls in excess of the allowed amount.
In response, University of Florida officials have begun a self-imposed investigation into the matter. Phone records will be checked and Meyer will likely be subject to questions no head coach wants to answer.
On a much smaller level, but adding to the investigation, Florida officials are “reviewing tape” of the recent Kentucky-Florida basketball game, in which a recruit was shown on camera, also a violation of recruiting. The recruit was shown doing a Gator chomp with Tim Tebow’s helpful assistance.
What we do know about Meyer is that he is a stand-up coach—and sometimes his brutal honesty can be interpreted as mean-spirited or even careless. But while Meyer does have some old-school Woody Hayes in him (he is an Ohio guy, after all), Meyer also preaches family and team unity.
Families of coaches are invited to practices, players eat with the wives and children of the coaches, and Meyer holds meals and functions at his home during every holiday.
As a result, Meyer’s players have bought into his system—and they often preach the importance of Meyer’s family motto.
Despite this, Meyer’s image has clearly taken a hit.
Until we have some resolution to the situation at hand, rival SEC fans will continue to trump the “Meyer is dirty” card all day long, evidenced by the recent MySpace page that was created with the sole purpose of defaming and slandering Meyer’s character.
Some might say where there is smoke, there is fire. But if we’ve learned anything from the Rich Rodriguez situation, it’s that we should allow this to ride out before we start judging Urban Meyer or his staff.