When Urban Meyer was finally coronated at Ohio State last month, ripples quickly went out across the great sea of recruiting. “How many players will he grab from Florida?”
The new Buckeye and old Gator coach said at his initial presser that he would mainly focus on landing good ol’ Ohio boys for the scarlet and gray, but anyone with a noggin knows that Meyer will attempt to catch a few top prospects from the Sunshine State each year. After all, interim coach Luke Fickell has admitted as much this week: “Outside of our 250-mile radius, (Florida’s) the next probably largest area (we recruit). It’s great anytime we can just get exposure down here. Obviously, you want to play well and do well.”
For Florida, that’s become awfully important, too. Not only do the Gators need to show the local recruits that there’s hope under Will Muschamp, but they also need to make it clear to the state’s 17- and 18-year-old blue chippers that their program isn’t going to get lapped by Meyer at OSU.
Recruiting guru Tom Lemming spoke with Rachel George of The Orlando Sentinel regarding the threat Meyer poses for UF:
“Urban Meyer was the biggest name in Florida. Everyone there knows him. He’s won two national titles, so the kids that followed him at Florida, some of them will follow him to Ohio State, especially if he has a good showing now and hasn’t lost his magic.”
Certainly, it will be Meyer’s program on the field Monday in Jacksonville, but the coach himself will not be in attendance. And that’s probably a safe move on the part of Meyer.
Recruiting his first class for Ohio State — and doing so at the last minute — Meyer can still make the case to Florida prospects that the Buckeyes are going to win at big levels once again, very soon. But if he coached in the Gator Bowl and lost head-to-head to Will Muschamp and a 6-6 UF team, his message might not be as believable.
Especially to teenagers who tend to view the world through black-or-white lenses.