The Gators also get the high visibility of a nationally rated player making an announcement on ESPN while many other top guys are still trying to decide whether or not to cast their lot with Florida. As was the case with Chris Leak three years ago, that can only help Florida's recruiting class finish as strongly as possible.
But there are other reasons why the big news out of St. Augustine was such a positive for the Gator program.
Urban Got His Guy
From his first day on the UF campus, Urban Meyer knew there was a quarterback less than a hundred miles away that everybody wanted. A new coach needs to protect his backyard. A new coach has to get the best guy at the most important position. A new coach has to get a kid who has a poster of Danny Wuerffel in his room. A new coach has to get a kid whose parents are UF grads and older brother is a UF student. Urban Meyer had to get Tim Tebow for those reasons and more. And he got his man.
When Patricia Portis announced this week that her son Josh was going to transfer it didn't help the Gator program at all. When Josh told the Gainesville Sun he couldn't enjoy his team winning because he wasn't playing, it didn't help reinforce the team-first attitude Meyer is trying to project. When he complained about being told each week about plays and packages that were designed for him only to not see them used did not reinforce the "trust me" mindset that Meyer is trying to instill in his players.
To add to all that the failure to land Tebow would have created issues in Gator Nation. I wouldn't go so far as to say there would be a crisis in confidence in the head coach, but there would be great concern that Florida's future was far from secure.
Instead, Gator Nation is celebrating the addition of a superb young man who looks like Jesse Palmer, conducts himself like Danny Wuerffel, has an arm like Rex Grossman and runs like…. Well like no quarterback Florida's had in my lifetime. As for Portis' departure? What could have made the quarterback position dangerously thin instead makes room for an extra receiver, lineman or linebacker.
There is no "I" in Team
Maybe not, but as far as Josh Portis is concerned, there is definitely "ME". While I was (and remain) critical of Florida's handling of Portis during this past season, the comments he made the other day convince me Florida is better off without him. His references of himself as a great player, his inability to enjoy his teammates successes make you wonder about his priorities. Could he have been a positive factor in 2006 backing up Chris Leak? I sincerely doubt it. Tebow comes across as the selfless kind of guy every team needs, especially in its younger players.
Bottom Line T.B.A.
As everyone moves forward from the announcements of the last two days regarding the Florida quarterback situation, the bottom line to how it will all turn out is a long way from being known. Florida has had high profile recruits that turned out great, none more so than Emmitt Smith. Florida has had high profile recruits that turned out very well, like Leak. And the Gators have had high profile recruits that produced little, if anything like receiver Steve Shipp among many others.
One of the reasons I have backed away from dealing with recruiting is because so much time and effort goes into such a vague process that yields completely unpredictable results. But it is great fun for those who enjoy it, and as far as I'm concerned you should continue to enjoy the vicarious competition between rival schools for the various signatures. Just keep in mind, nobody was ecstatic when Florida signed Shane Matthews or Danny Wuerffel or Rex Grossman. But it sure was a thrill when Bobby Sabelhaus signed, wasn't it?
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