Florida finishes National Signing Day with nation's No. 1 recruiting class
Thirty-eight days after Meyer announced he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence, prompting many to speculate that the Gators' recruiting class would fall apart, Florida finished with the consensus No. 1 class in the nation.
The class includes 15 of the ESPNU Top 150 players and 11 are ranked in the Top 10 nationally at their positions by Scout.com. Florida also has four of ESPN's 12 five-star recruits, and four Parade All-Americans. Eleven of the 28 players are already enrolled at UF.
"It’s a great day for the Gators,'' Meyer said. "It was a tremendous effort by so many people. . . to help put together the No. 1 class in America. It’s a bunch of good players and a bunch of good guys. Through the coaching transition, we lost four coaches, and I just think it’s a tribute to our coaching staff.''
The highly-competitive Meyer admitted that being No. 1 matters to him and the Gators' staff.
"It shouldn't but it does,'' he said when asked if having the top recruiting class matters. "I guess that's the competitive nature of it, but it has no bearing on where you finish. The ego part of it, where you wake up tomorrow morning and it's 'Hey, you guys just had the No. 1 class in America.' That's good for about 24 hours and then you've got to get to work and worry about something else.''
The class includes nine players from South Florida, compared to 11 total players from that area in the previous five classes under Meyer. Twelve players from seven states outside of Florida are on the list. the Gators signed both MVP's from the Under Armour All-America football game - DE Dominique Easley and LB Michael Taylor. Early enrollee Matt Elam was the Gatorade Player of the Year and Florida's Mr. Football.
"Because of the positions that they have kids coming in, every one helps fill a need for the Gators now and in the future,'' said Tom Luginbill, ESPN director of recruiting. "On the defensive front, when you look at Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell, that is a two-person duo along the front four that will be outstanding for years to come. And just as important, they have done a great job looking at what they've lost, as well as projecting losses in the future and they've gone out and secured some top talent at those key defensive spots.''
Meyer said the key to Florida's success is the school, its current players, staff and coaches. The "Florida brand,'' as he calls it.
"We group-recruit at Florida,'' Meyer said. "You take a player like Shariff Floyd, the No. 1 defensive tackle in America, and it wasn’t just one guy. It was coach (Steve) Addazio, Brian White, Dan McCarney and I. There were four people that smothered him. We’re somewhat unique in that, and that’s one of our strengths.’’
As for Meyer's status, his leave begins now. He said Wednesday that interim head coach and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio will take over day-to-day operations, but he has no idea exactly how it all will work.
"I would tell you if I knew,'' he said. "I don't. I have great support from our administration. We'll visit. Steve (Addazio) will be in charge of day-to-day activity for awhile. How long is that while? I'm not sure. I love the University of Florida. I love our administration for giving me that opportunity.''