Meyer and the Gators are on a roll

It just keeps getting greater and greater to be a Florida Gator. Already on a roll with winning two national championships in three years, the Florida Gators had about as much draft success as could be expected this past weekend. This Gator program is proving it's pundits wrong time and time again by winning, graduating players, and now putting big time prospects into the NFL.

When Percy Harvin was selected in the first round of the NFL draft on Saturday, another barrier was knocked down on the perceived issues with Urban Meyer's football program and his ability to put offensive players into the league. Never mind that he already had receivers Chad Jackson and Andre Caldwell drafted in the second and third rounds respectively, a first rounder, in the eyes of some, gives the program validity.

Personally, I think it is all a bunch of nonsense.

The 2009 draft marks the first time Meyer had "his" players drafted, meaning players he recruited and signed. Of course Reggie Nelson could fall into that group, but he was a junior college signee that went first round on defense.

If anything, Meyer and his staff have proven time and time again that they will get done what he wants done. That includes graduating his players and getting them contracts in the NFL. Florida had eight draft eligible players this year and two of them are not able to perform because of previous injuries, so technically six draft eligibles. All six will sign NFL contracts when training camps roll around. Four of the six were recruited by Meyer.

Having three receivers drafted has to bring a smile to offensive staff's faces. The underclassman Harvin in the first, Louis Murphy in the fourth, and tight end Cornelius Ingram in the fifth probably went where they should have in the draft, despite the ill-informed media that wanted to blame the Florida offense for their "slide" down a round or two when Murphy and Ingram were drafted.

Think about the two for a minute. Murphy was a three-star receiver coming out of high school. His favorite team, Florida State, didn't even offer him. He caught two balls total in his freshman and sophomore years at Florida. He worked hard and became a force in his junior and senior year, he earned a spot in the draft, but probably right where he was drafted.

Ingram came to Florida as a quarterback where he played for two seasons. In his redshirt sophomore year he converted to tight end. He himself only had two years of catching the ball where he amassed almost 900 yards and eight touchdowns. Pretty good numbers, but an ACL tear as a senior certainly hurt his stock. Again, where he was drafted probably makes sense in this day and age of trying to be safe with money.

Both should flourish in the NFL because of anything they have shown the work ethic necessary to get better and make something of themselves from a drastic change when they originally signed with Florida.

For Harvin, it was kind of the same scenario. Teams had to overcome a lot of shortcomings in order to take him. The one thing he had going for him is his dynamic play making. Still, he had injury issues, off the field issues, and the fact he is not quite six feet tall. Harvin is the only first rounder and one of six of the 34 receivers drafted that are under five feet tall. In the eyes of the teams drafting, that was a lot to overcome.

Anyway you slice it, this has to be considered a successful draft and signing week for the Gators. Senior offensive tackles Jason Watkins and Phil Trautwein were picked up within hours of the end of the draft. Senior running back Kestahn Moore was picked up as a free agent the next day. Every single senior Gator healthy enough to make a camp roster did so.

The beauty is that every senior graduated. The only junior, Harvin, is on track to graduate and vows to do so as soon as he can. The Gators 100 percent graduation rate for seniors is a big sales pitch to mothers and fathers in recruiting as it should be. These are guys that are going to be making money playing football, yet had it in them enough to go to class and get their degree while performing on the football field at Florida. How proud must Urban Meyer and these assistants be of that feat?

The pundits have always been there about Meyer and the way he does things. His offense can't win in the SEC? Well, he has two conference and national championships to prove that wrong. His offense can't produce NFL players. Well, he has four receivers drafted in his four years at Florida. Meyer and his staff are on a roll.

It should only get worse for Meyer's adversaries. Of note should be the fact that Harvin, Murphy, Ingram, and even Watkins were all Florida State fans growing up. Meyer was able to recruit them or coach them all up to make NFL rosters. This in a year when FSU only had one player drafted with 13 draftable seniors and junior Everette Brown who did go in the second round.

The Noles will be without the services of seven 4-star prospects and two 5-star prospects from when they were recruited in the 2009 season that played in the 2008 season. A presumable large drop off in talent.

At Miami, they had 20 draftable seniors and had one drafted. Florida doesn't play Miami, but this should send a little bit of a notice out to prospects looking at the three programs. The one supposedly running the system not conducive to pro football, is the one churning out the most prospects, even with fewer numbers eligible for the draft and free agency.

The Gators are looking to repeat their national championship and have a crop of seniors and juniors in 2009 that will all be watched carefully by the NFL. Pete Fiutak writes for College Football News and has already made a mock 2010 draft. In it, he lists 11 Gators in his seven round draft. Of the 11, only three are seniors. Fiutak has all three of Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes, and Jermaine Cunningham, going in the first round.

To contrast for a second straight season, Florida State has two listed in junior Rodney Hudson and senior Patrick Robinson. Miami has one listed linebacker Darryl Sharpton.

The Gators have six senior starters in 2009 and 14 total seniors that will play a big part on this team. If they can convince the juniors to stay in 2010, we can have this same exact discussion a year from now.

The Gators are on a roll.


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