Saturday, December 26, 2009
Updated: December 27, 3:57 PM ET
Meyer leaving shocks recruits
By JC Shurburtt
Florida coach Urban Meyer's decision to step away caught everyone by surprise, including the recruits in the Gators' top-ranked recruiting class. Meyer was as involved as any head coach in the country and many recruits who committed to the Gators cited their relationship with Meyer, in addition to the assistants who recruited them, as one of the main reasons.
While every head coaching change sends shock waves in recruiting because suddenly there are questions about the program and instability ruins a recruiting class, it's too early to tell how this will affect the Gators' class. Early reaction from a few of the Gators' commits or players considering Florida is mixed, with some saying it won't matter and others saying they might reopen the process.
But Meyer's decision goes a little deeper than just what this means to a recruiting class. It's a little more personal with some of these recruits because of how involved Meyer was with these players and how quickly they had developed a strong relationship.
"It's very shocking because I was so close to [Meyer]," said Miami Booker T. Washington's Quinton Dunbar, a three-star wide receiver. "He made the decision that was best for him, but I am 100 percent Gator."
Dunbar's teammate and fellow Gators commit Lynden Trail (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) is still locked in with Florida. The three-star defensive end's response to the news was simply, "If you are not a Gator, you are Gator bait."
Under Armour All-American and four-star running back Mack Brown from Martin
Luther King High in Lithonia, Ga., picked Florida over Georgia, Alabama and a host of other
programs earlier this season.
"I am shocked and just confused," he said. "I had a strong relationship with Coach Meyer because he recruited me."
Under Armour All-American and four-star cornerback Cody Riggs from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and St. Thomas Aquinas is taking a cautious approach.
"I will wait to see what happens during the next week at Florida," he said.
Offensive tackle Morgan Moses from Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy made an official visit to Florida before Christmas and the Gators were in the mix to turn him from a commitment to Virginia (which had its own coaching change earlier this year when Mike London replaced Al Groh).
"This does impact my decision quite a bit," Moses said. "But you still have to give a lot of credit to what Coach Meyer did at Florida, stepping in there and rebuilding the program."
JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.