Black and Meyer Always Had a Strong Bond

Ahmad Black's relationship with Urban Meyer didn't get off to the best start. It actually began with Black walking back to the locker room after the head coach kicked him out of practice. That happened the first day Black stepped foot on Florida's practice field as a freshman.

Ahmad Black said the dispute was over a hamstring injury. He thought that it would be best to sit out practice and rest it. Urban Meyer had other ideas.

"He didn't want me to be hurt," Black said with a grin. "But I was hurt."

Black saw action during his freshman season, with most of it coming on special teams. He played cornerback then because the coaches were concerned about his 5-9 frame at safety.

That changed heading into the 2008 season when the Gators desperately needed bodies at safety. Major Wright was heading into his second season on the Gators after getting significant playing time as a freshman. With Wright's starting spot all but locked up, the Gators needed production out of Black or Will Hill, who was a freshman in 2008.

Black stuck. It didn't take him long to figure out the safety position in college due to his instincts.

All of a sudden, Meyer and Black were back on good terms.

"He talked to me the next year when we won a national championship," Black said with a grin.

The truth is that Black and Meyer have always been close. While some wrote him off as simply a thrown in to get the Pouncey twins, John Brown and Chris Rainey to come to Florida, the coaches saw potential, even if they weren't sure what position it would come from.

More than any athletic ability, Black brought character. He didn't waste time becoming a leader for the Gators on defense.

It wouldn't have happened without the important role Meyer played in his life.

"We got really close from him kicking me out of my first practice as a Gator to me being one of the most important keys in practice," Black said. "It's just been great. There are a lot of things he taught me."

Meyer's decision to step away from his job as the head coach took Black by surprise. The starting safety didn't see any changes from Meyer all season. The two were close throughout the year, and their friendship had as much depth to it as in the past.

"I was a little surprised, but I completely understand where he's coming from," Black said. "Coach is a family guy. His kids are growing up and not getting to see him as much as he would like to."

The postgame speech Saturday is a moment Black knows will be emotional. Multiple players said Wednesday morning that it hadn't sunk in yet that Meyer was leaving because the game preparation was intense.

When Black was asked what that moment after the game will be like, he took a second to think, imagining it in his mind. It's a moment he never thought would come, but it will become a reality Saturday.

"I'll just tell him thank you for everything, on and off the field," Black said. "He's meant a lot to me since I've been here. It'll be odd when I come back and he's not here. I just want to thank him for everything."

There are plenty of rumors about what Meyer might do next. The latest one has him going to ESPN as a college football analyst. Black joked that Meyer would be too aggressive for the job, but he sees it as just another line of rumors about Meyer's future.

"I've heard he's going to coach the Denver Broncos, and that he's going to coach Lakeland High School," Black joked. "For right now, he's going to spend some time with his family.

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