Meyer In Jax

In Urban Meyer's previous trips to Jacksonville, the start of fall camp was usually right around the corner. But this year, his visit to the Jacksonville-area Gator Clubs was a few months early. The timing of the gathering, however, didn't dampen the energetic atmosphere that included a sell-out of 1,200 people.

The area has been kind to Meyer over the last few years, producing players like Jamar Hornsby, Brandon James, Kyle Jackson, Ryan Stamper, and Tim Tebow. Plus, several others from the class of 2007 have already made their way to Gainesville or will be in June.

But before Meyer signed autographs and addressed the crowd, he discussed the hottest topic to sweep across college football over the last week. The NCAA announced last week a proposal that would ban coaches from text messaging high school prospects. Meyer has been an advocate for text messaging, using the tool to learn more about prospective players and their families.

"We need to learn as much as we can about these players," Meyer said. "All of sudden, you're not allowed to talk to them. A phone call is not good enough, not when your program is on the line."

Now that text messaging could become part of the past, Meyer will look to his new director of football operations to help him find new ways to learn more about recruits.

"We're researching that right now," he said. "In matter of fact, I just hired a guy, an operations guy, that's helping with that. I'm very concerned about it."

Earlier on Monday, Meyer announced the hiring of Ohio-native Troy Starr as Director of Football Operations. Starr comes to Gainesville after nearly 15 years as head coach and physical education teacher at Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft High School where he coached one of the most successful teams in the Los Angeles area.

But what has Meyer most confused about the situation is that it would not outlaw emailing recruits.

"Email is acceptable, and to be honest, you can email from a BlackBerry," Meyer said. "When something else shows up, I hope we are the first ones to do it."


Reflecting on spring practice, Meyer expressed a high comfort level with the progress of the offense. The Gators return four of five starters on the offensive line, and during his address to the Gator Club, he said that he expects either redshirt freshman Maurice Hurt or one of the Pouncey twins to start at the guard position left vacant by Drew Miller who moved to center.

"I feel very comfortable with where the offense is now," Meyer said. "I think after we solidify the offensive line, the one thing we have is a lot of speed. I'm anxious to see how Tim (Tebow) works with the speed on the outside. Kestahn Moore has solidified himself at running back."

Meyer said it was speed that helped the Gators win the SEC and BCS Championships.

"I think the reason why we had success at the end of last year was because we were faster than them," he said. "There's more to it than just speed, but especially on offense, it's the philosophy."

The defense still remains uncertain. Stressing to the Jacksonville gathering that the Gators return only two starters on defense, he urged that there is talent on the defensive side of the ball, and Gator fans will have the opportunity to watch them develop on the field.

"The d-line is one area that is a little behind," he said. "We are one recruiting class behind on the defensive line. Every position across the board we evaluated at a plus (during the spring) except for the d-line."


With the NFL draft this weekend, Meyer couldn't emphasize enough his feelings about Reggie Nelson. Nelson's stock has slipped in the upcoming draft because of concerns surrounding his size and ability to help stop the run. Despite the concerns, Meyer stuck up for both Nelson and Jarvis Moss.

"(Jacksonville) Coach Jack Del Rio has called me and saw them at pro day and loves them," Meyer said. "My feelings about Reggie are well documented. I've been lucky enough to be around some great players, and he is one of the best if not the best. If Jarvis Moss can get strong enough to hang in there for an entire NFL season, those are two primo first round picks."


Seventy-five percent of the current Gators are underclassmen. With that kind of disparity, Meyer is paying close attention to who the Gators are recruiting. After pulling in two relatively large classes, Meyer said the next class of Gators will be around 16-20.

"We're very slow on offers and we're very slow on taking commitments because we don't want to make a mistake," he said. "We are being very selective."

The Gators had their first commitment last week when Gainesville-native Earl Okine verbally committed to his hometown school.

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