Kiffin says the spread offense may be costing Gators recruits; Urban Meyer says check the facts
Was Lane Kiffin taking a shot or just offering his professional opinion as a former NFL coach?
The Tennessee coach has spent much of this week trying to heap praise on the Gators as the Vols prepare to play Florida in Gainesville this Saturday. He's called them possibly the best team ever, talked about how UT probably should be more than a 28-point underdog, and how good an NFL quarterback Tim Tebow will eventually be.
But mixed in those comments this week was an observation that Kiffin has made before about the Gators: the spread offense is causing the Gators to lose some top-level recruits.“The only time I really see them lose kids is because kids want to play in a pro-style offense,” Kiffin said during his weekly press conference. “It’s such a great place to play and they do such a good job of coaching, but you see some kids that don’t want to play in that system because a lot of times it hurts them going to the next level for their draft status.”
Florida coach Urban Meyer obviously begs to differ. Three of top four wide receivers taken in the 2009 NFL Draft all played in some form of a spread offense.
Asked on Monday if Clearwater wide receiver Riley Cooper could play at the next level, Meyer said without a doubt, and took the opportunity to spotlight other Gators in the NFL - from his spread offense.
"Last year we had two (Louis Murphy, Percy Harvin) and I think they are both starting. C.I. (Cornelius Ingram) would have started and Bubba Caldwell is starting. So we’ve done a good job developing NFL talented (receivers). Billy Gonzales has done a great job developing them.''
There were four former UF receivers active on opening day rosters, three who played for Meyer. Harvin and Murphy combined for 244 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in their first NFL games.
Here's a look at how the four Gator receivers in the NFL fared this past week:
- Tampa's Caldwell (Cincinnati Bengals) – led team with six catches for 54 yards, also had 48 yards on two kickoff returns.
- Jabar Gaffney (Denver Broncos) – started, had three catches for 25 yards in Broncos win
- Percy Harvin (Minnesota Vikings) – totaled 157 all-purpose yards and one touchdown; 3 catches for 36 yards and TD, two rushes for 22 yards, three kickoff returns for 99 yards
- St. Pete native Louis Murphy (Oakland Raiders) – started, had four catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. Murphy's four catches and 87 receiving yards in the season opener was the most among all NFL rookie WRs. Three of his four catches went for first downs and he averaged 21.8 yards per catch.
Also of note: Florida has had six wide receivers selected in the NFL Draft during Meyer's tenure from 2006-09, tied for the most of any school in the nation along with LSU and Ohio State. Southern Cal has had three, Florida State 2, and Miami, Georgia and Tennessee one each.