Crowder will make decision about NFL this week

Urban Meyer will have a chance to pull off his first recruiting coup in the next few days, only it won't be going head to head against other college coaches for unproven but potentially great high school players. This battle will be against the National Football League and its potential millions, his foe in the battle to keep All-SEC linebacker Channing Crowder on the University of Florida campus.

Tailback Ciatrick Fason, who has a wife and two children, has already decided to make the jump for the money. Now Crowder has to evaluate his situation and make the choice.

Following the Peach Bowl Friday night, Crowder sounded pretty convincing that he has yet to make up his mind. Apparently, the decision will be based on money and where he is likely to be drafted.

"I have said all week I am going to wait till I get the paper work back from the NFL.on the 4th of the 5th," he said. "Me and my mom will drive down to Gainesville and talk to Coach (Charlie) Strong about it. I will be in class on the 4th."

Until he's certain of what he's going to do, he will make sure his college eligibility remains intact, noting, "I don't want to miss out on any paperwork or whatever."

The choice will only be made once he's got the NFL paperwork in hand that gives a full evaluation of what NFL scouts think of him and where he should be drafted.

"It has a lot to do with what the NFL says," he said. "If I am going to be drafted real late, I think I can come back and win the Butkus or the defensive player of the year. I'm a confident guy and I think I am one of the best players in the nation at linebacker."

He is well aware that the NFL advisory panel has made mistakes in its evaluation of players in the past.

"I have a lot of people that have been in the NFL and have connections and can help me out (with the decision)," he added.

Gator fans hoping that a sour taste left in his mouth from the Peach Bowl defeat would be enough to alter his decision should know that it will not be a factor.

"My first game [as a Gator] we lost to was Miami and the last one was Miami," he said. "It's a bad thing, but it has no bearing on what I am going to do."

What Gator fans know they get from Crowder is full effort on every play. He doesn't take a play off and even the casual fan can sees the intensity he brings to the field. He appreciates that fans notice the high level of energy he brings to each game.

"I'm mad [when I play], and I hate to lose," he said of the Peach Bowl loss. "I played my heart out for the seniors and Coach Strong. Coach Strong is 0-1 as a head coach and that upsets me."

A new regime starts now for the Florida Gators with new coach Urban Meyer coming to Gainesville this week. Meyer's job will be made much easier if his first team linebacker corps has as its starters Crowder, Brandon Siler, and Earl Everett when the Gators square off against Wyoming in the season opener in September as a starting linebacker rotation when the Gators open against Wyoming in 2005. The potential of a big NFL contract for Crowder is the only thing that will prevent this from happening.

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