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Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer to return for spring practice beginning March 17

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer

GAINESVILLE — Florida coach Urban Meyer's indefinite leave of absence now has a definite return date.

Meyer said Saturday night that he will take some mandated time off once recruiting season is over but plans to return in time to begin spring practice March 17.

Meyer, who said Dec. 27 that he planned to take an indefinite leave of absence to devote more time to his failing health and his family, said he's feeling much healthier these days and has gained about 20 pounds in the past few weeks.

"I'm feeling real good," Meyer said during halftime of Saturday night's basketball game between Florida and South Carolina. "I've been working out a lot, and I'm over 200 pounds. I guess that's how they gauge it because I was not good for a while. I'm feeling a lot better."

Meyer, 45, said he'll have a series of medical tests in February but declined to be more specific. He has already been through a battery of tests, including some for his heart and stress, and said "so far the tests are coming back pretty positive."

Meyer has been actively involved in recruiting, his duties limited to phone calls.

"I pulled back," he said. "I'm not traveling as much. I did most of the traveling before the bowl game."

He spent more than a week on the road after the SEC Championship Game, including a trip to California.

Heading into national signing day, Feb. 3, UF has what most recruiting services call the No. 1 class in the nation. He will take a leave from his duties after that, but the extent of that break and what it will entail remains to be seen.

"I have to change some things, I think that's obvious; I just don't know how long," he said. "But I'm excited about our staff, I'm really excited about our team, and recruiting is obviously going well."

The catalyst for Meyer's decision to take a leave was his December hospital trip after he suffered chest pains and his extensive weight loss during the season. But so far, he hasn't figured out exactly how to pull back, or how he'll function for about 1½ months away from football.

"I've been instructed that I have to (take time off) by my bride and my boss, but I'm just not sure what I'm going to do," Meyer said. "I keep hearing about this time off, and people I'm closest to are going to demand I take some time off, but I've tried that already. I tried a day and a half and it didn't work."

After Feb. 3, UF interim head coach Steve Addazio will assume day-to-day operations, Meyer said.

East-West Shrine Game

During the week, Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka didn't get a chance to practice the two-minute drill with his all-star teammates. You never would've known it based on his performance at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Kafka led an 11-play, 55-yard drive capped by a 2-yard touchdown to Penn State's Andrew Quarless with 6 seconds left as the East defeated the West 13-10. The drive took 1 minute, 49 seconds.

That strike came after the West's Max Hall of BYU hit UCLA's Ryan Moya for an 8-yard touchdown with 6:59 left.

USF linebacker Kion Wilson had a solid game with six tackles and a forced fumble. "I just kept playing hard because one of the coaches told me that it's not the things you do good that you get remembered for but the things you do bad," he said.

Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark provided a spark in the first half, entering in the second quarter and leading the East team to consecutive scoring drives.

"It was as entertaining an all-star game as I've ever been a part of," said former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer, who led the West team.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer to return for spring practice beginning March 17 01/23/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 23, 2010 11:28pm]

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