UF's Urban Meyer Speaks on 2009 Recruiting Class

Here's how the Florida Gators Head football coach Urban Meyer spoke after national signing day came to an end for the reigning National Champs:

OPENING STATEMENT
It’s a great day for Florida football. We have some real quality
young people that are going to join our program. This is really an
evaluation friendly business we’re in. It may seem like there are a
lot of things in which you have to rely upon faith but really you can
evaluate it and really look at all things. What that means is that there
is statistical analysis of everything that you do in athletics.

First of all, you qualify and get to campus. That’s something that we
look at. When you look at our last four signing classes, one thing that
they must see is our ability to get kids on campus. And that is not as
easy as most people think. Our coaches do a great job and I want to say we’re at about a 90 percent ratio when it comes to that. When we go out and recruit a young man, with the exception of one or two, our
history is to make sure that these guys make it to campus.

Number two, is that they play and contribute and become a member of the team. A member of the team is not someone who wears a hat on the sideline. He’s a guy who steps on the field and makes plays and helps you win games. I know all of this is rather obvious but sometimes it’s not.

Number three is that you win championships with the people that you
recruit. Then if they graduate and are blessed enough to move on to the NFL. Those are the five areas of how we judge and evaluate a recruiting class. I am proud to say that there is a group of young men who just left our program that basically hit it right on the dot. As far as
graduating they are one hundred percent, they won two National
Championships, two SEC Championships. They played 44 games in the last three years, which is the best in America. Several players will be
selected in the draft. That is just our evaluation.

I am very proud of our presentation here at Florida. It took a while,
but with the help of our administration, and with the help of our
support staff, and our assistant coaches, our presentation here at
Florida is tremendous. What I mean by that is since we are in such an
evaluation friendly business, we evaluate academics. And most people
say academics are really important, and at Florida they are very
important. Our graduation rates are the highest in the SEC and are the
highest they’ve been in awhile. And this past year we had a one
hundred percent graduation rate, and that is why our presentation is
tremendous.

Our facilities have become elite. They are some of the finest in
America. You walk into this facility and you see the All-American
bricks and then you see the trophy cases and all of our national awards
and most importantly the championship presentation is tremendous. And the third part of our presentation is the development of the players.
You walk into our weight room and you know that it maximizes our players production.

We addressed what we look for in a player. We are very proud of the
guys that we brought in here. Number one, we look for high character
people and then, competitors. We had a little bit of a tough deal
because we had 22 players coming back on defense; 22, not 11, not nine, not four. We’ve got our top 22 players coming back. And I have to
really take my hat off to some of those young guys who stepped up. The Jelani Jenkins of the world, just a great football player who had many many choices, who’s put on a Florida hat and is going be a Gator. He didn’t ask how many linebackers we had, he just said ‘I want to play.’ Sort of a lot like when Tim Tebow was recruited. I don’t
remember him saying ‘How many quarterbacks do you have?’ He
didn’t really care. Percy Harvin and Spikes, those guys are a big
part of the conversation.

We’ve done a great job recruiting. Our staff has done phenomenal.
We had a few obstacles, even when you win a National Championship.
However, the ones that we brought in are tremendous. Andre Debose, I
don’t want to single any guy out, but he is as good as there is. I
think he is the best player in America. Watching him on film, for what
we do, for our style of offense, for what we need right now, with the
departure of Percy Harvin, that is a critical element, because we are
not going to change our offense. We will adapt our offense to our
personnel.

On how WR Andre Debose fits into the Gator offense:
The ‘Percy Position.’ That’s what I hear on the recruiting trail
all the time. ‘We’re going to use you like Florida uses him.’ I
think he is perfect. I don’t want to put too much pressure on him and
I have a history of doing that. Here’s the best thing about Andre,
he’s got a great family. He has a great mom and a great father.
He’s also got tremendous speed. With the proper training this
spring, he is going to be one of the fastest in the state of Florida.
The thing that sold me was during a bye week, I went to watch him play a game and he did something Percy Harvin [would do]. At that position you have to be able to put your foot in the ground and drop your pads on someone. Not dive around him, you have to be able to drop your pads. I saw him drop his pads on someone and that’s when I was sold. We have to get him ready, and the best thing is he is not far from here. [He will] come up for spring practice and we will try to get him playing.

On securing LB Jelani Jenkins:
He told us a while back, probably a week ago. It was a great day for
us. He is a 4-point student, he will be a captain. I will be
disappointed if he is not a captain for us someday. He comes from an
unbelievable family and he is exactly what we are looking for.

On the amount of de-commitments in the past month & his position on
early signing period:
What it also makes me rethink is they have basically taken the head
coach out of recruiting. I always like to recruit the back half because
I knew the players through text messages from spring recruiting.
Basically a head coach, now, is not allowed to spring recruit and not
allowed to text message and basically gets one phone call a week. Its
hard to develop relationships that way. I am going to fight like crazy
to get them on campus even more so in the spring. You don’t get that
relationship with a high school coach and you certainly don’t get it
with a player. When a head coach goes out, you’re seeing seven schools and you never get to just sit down like an area coach does. I have thought about that early signing, I’m not as opposed to it as I used
to be.

On the possibility of adding more players to the commitment list:
Oh yeah, there sure is. There is one that has not yet signed today, I
guess. There is a possibility.

On recruiting for the offensively line:
The way we break this recruiting down is that everyone has an area.
Each guy is a general manager. I have been on staffs before where a guy complains he doesn’t have enough players. There is none of that at
Florida because your job is to go get the players. With Steve [Addazio],
you look at who he’s brought in here since he’s been the offensively
line coach. It is sole evaluation. There is no, ‘who do you think.’
Our offensively line is probably the best in the Southeastern
Conference, probably one of the top two in America, I think the number
one in America. We’re going to have two tackles leave and then you
have some other good players who have potential to play in the National
Football League. So, we had to bring in five, because we had some
injuries there. Brining five players with one grouping, that’s hard
because they usually cancel each other out. You can’t sign four
linebackers because they aren’t going to want to compete with one of
them. So with the offensive line we addressed the tackle issue, the
guard issue and the center issue. That is one of the best recruiting
jobs I think were going to have. To say you are going to try to get five
and actually get quality players is impressive.

On being able to sell either playing time or the success of a program:
[Selling playing time] means you’re not very good. That doesn’t sit
well with the stomach and the lifestyle of a coach’s label here. To
have a good football team, it is hard. There are some players where
that’s the number one thing they are looking for, playing time.
Playing time isn’t guaranteed at Florida much anymore. One thing that
we do guarantee is that we don’t redshirt you. There is no such thing
as a redshirt at Florida anymore. We try to make that real clear. If
you’re playing, you’re going. Now, if you don’t play, you have an
extra year. But there is no redshirt policy at Florida. We eliminated
that about two years ago. Every freshman comes in and plays. Now, if
you’re not good enough to play, they won’t play. We sell that. I
would much rather be in a position where you have some good players. A couple of years ago [though], we could tell them they would start. But, [how we are now] should be the way at Florida.

On OG Jon Halapio:
Well, he is one of my favorite cultures. He is Polynesian. I am very
experienced with Polynesians, 25 percent of my team at Utah was
Polynesian. We wish there were more Polynesians in the state of Florida because I would recruit them. I love their work ethic, but most
importantly, I love their family. The way that they are all together. He
comes from a brilliant family, a bunch of great people. He is 305-pounds
and looks like he is 260-pounds. He is a guy that will compete for
playing time this year, that’s how confident I am. He will be a
325-pound player before you know it.

On DT Gary Brown:
He was a little more difficult. Obviously he is in the shadows of our
rival. A lot of our guys, Chuck Heater and Dan McCarney, worked very
hard and that was not a final deal until it was a final deal. He had
some work to do in the classroom and next thing you know, he stole our
hearts at camp and played very well in the Under Armor All-American
Bowl. He solidified his status with us as far as wanting him here. It
wasn’t an easy battle, I’m glad we got that signature. He is a big
dude and the sooner he gets ready to play, he has the talent to play
real fast here.

On WR Andre Dubose saying he did not wanting to be compared to WR Percy
Harvin:
I have to watch that and that’s my fault. That happens when you show
film, that the guy is really good as a player. I don’t want to say
comparison but you watch the film and you say, ‘Wow.’ Whether he
likes it or not, there is. That’s not a bad thing to be compared to,
that’s a compliment very much so.

On 6-3, 225-pound QB Jordan Reed:
We run a unique style of offense here. However, we adapted to whoever we have. He came to camp and was kind of an under-the-radar guy and dominated our camp.

On recruit Jon Bostic:
Jon is already on campus and our strength coach says he is already one of the best looking players on our team. He has a great family and
he’s high character person. The one area we have in depth is
linebacker so to say he is going to come and play right away, I don't
know that. He is going to have to beat some people out. You just look at
him physically and you watch him on video and you see that he has
potential, he just has to learn what to do. The advantage is that he is
here for spring ball. He is one of the best looking players we have as
far as physically speaking.

On Jelani Jenkins' decision to sign without Florida without worrying
about playing time:
The correlation between him and being a big time player is pretty high.
There are guys who are always concerned about second-team this, and what about this, and can I have a written contract. Whereas Jelani Jenkins simply says this is the best academic school, it has the best facilities and the best group of coaches, and I want to be apart of Florida. He didn't ask me about weakside linebacker, strongside linebacker, middle linebacker and all this other stuff and it is very clear that he is confident in his abilities.

On recruit Xavier Nixon:
There is a great story on Xavier Nixon in today's paper. His father is
in Afghanistan and I actually had a conference call with him and
Xavier's mother. They are high character people and their morale is
high; it humbled me. I sat down with a Colonel and he briefed me on the
status of our country; think about that for a minute while we are
sitting here talking. It was an unbelievable experience for me. Then I
watched Xavier play basketball that night and he is also an excellent
student, a very high character guy and it is going to be a challenge
keeping him off of the field. He just has to get bigger and stronger. He
is a long-armed guy and for those kind of guys it’s harder to get
stronger. His only issue is going to be his strength and putting a
little bit more weight on him because he is 275 (pounds) right now. I
watched him dunk in his basketball game last night, so we are good
there.

On recruit Mike Gillislee:
Mike was one of our first commits. He is a guy that we fell in love
with last spring. He is from the Orlando area, which is a really strong
area for Coach Strong. His coach, Kevin Pettis, did a great job and he
got a lot of action near the end because it is not like we have a heavy
stable of running backs here, they are all young. I admire him because
he also wasn't a guy who was too worried about [playing time]. He is
going to come in and play and the reason I say this is because it does
come up quite often with Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, Emmanuel Moody and Brandon James. He will be able to give us a little bigger back. I have
great respect for him and he will certainly have an impact on special
teams and he catches the ball very well.

On recruiting outside of the state of Florida:
I sometimes concern myself with stepping over three or four players to
go and get another guy but our track record is pretty good; Carlos
Dunlap, Brandon Spikes, and all the New Jersey kids are all playing for
us. Josh Evans is another one. Connecticut has been a place where we have done some good recruiting. We recruit Florida, Georgia, Texas, and now Connecticut. All of those guys have been having great success so we only go if there is a connection or if there is a need. We don't mass recruit. We don't send a guy out and say go saturate an area, we do very good in the Virginia area, we have a good reputation in D.C. and also in New Jersey.

On not having the need to sign too many recruits:
It is easier because that is all we have number wise. It is much more
difficult to sign 28 quality players. In our first year, we started
signing 28 and six of them are gone within a couple of years just
because you have stockpiled a couple of positions. It has to be spaced
out. At some point in our careers, Florida will sign 16, 18, 21, 18 and
20 players. University of Southern Cal does a nice job with that. You
never see them with 37 signees. We want to be between 18 and 21 every year and if we are doing a good job and don't have a mass exit of
juniors into the NFL, we should be right around there. We are right
where we need to be. If someone asks where I want to be four years into the program, this is where. We have 17 signees and we already have 22 players returning on defense.

On the difficulty to recruit players from the Miami area:
That question comes up every year and the answer is yes, it is
difficult to get players from Miami. We haven’t had a player from
there in a while. Dorian Munroe is a guy who will be playing for us.
Broward County and Palm Beach have obviously been very good to us. Miami has been a bit harder, but we are doing ok where we are now.

On the difficulty of recruiting after so much success:
We see it here all of the time. One thing you find out is when every
school is comparing themselves to you (Florida), they take a shot at
your academics, at your coaching staff, win and loss record, offense,
defense and that we don't run the ball. We certainly do run the ball and
we do it very well. You hear things and just kind of sit back and say
‘wow.’ It is a good place to be though, a place that people are
trying to catch right now. The problem is and the thing we can't let
happen is to let them go out there and catch us. They are out there
trying and there are a bunch of guys working their tails off with a
bull’s eye on the Orange and Blue. It was really bad this year. I
don't want to say it is all negative, it is just that guys are trying to
steal our guys and I'm convinced a couple of guys were recruited by some schools just because they said yes to Florida. I take that as a
compliment. When we first got to Florida, we did that. I knew who was
good in this league, where they were being recruited, how they were
being recruited, and I went after them. It happened in 1996 after we won the National Championship. The Gators were the target, it was ‘go get the Gators’ and they caught them. We can't let them catch us.

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