Belichick and Florida's head coach Urban Meyer have become good friends, at least on a professional level. Each coach has been seen at the other's team practice. Each has spoken to the other's players. It's a recruiting trip - sort of - for Belichick, who will undoubtedly consider the Gators' top prospects in April's Draft.
When Belichick took a trip to Florida to scout some of Meyer's players after the 2006 season, Belichick stopped to meet with Donovan and his players. The Gators mens basketball team went on to win the National Championship in the NCAA tournament. Donovan's success came after Meyer's football team won the National Championship in football. It was the first time in NCAA history that a school had won the championship of both sports in the same academic year. Donovan's team also won the National Championship the season prior, giving them back-to-back titles.
|Florida coach Urban Meyer at Gators practice |
(file photo 8/7/2007 fightingators.com)
Meyer took the job at Florida in 2005, after a successful career at Utah. When he arrived in Gainsville, it wasn't long before Belichick looked him up and proposed a deal to share ideas. Belichick recognized that Meyer's innovative offense could help the Patriots, while New England's continued ability to achieve a sustained level of success was something Meyer appreciated.
In the 2006 NFL Draft, Belichick selected a pair of Meyer's players, WR Chad Jackson in the second round and DE/OLB Jeremy Mincey in the sixth. Belichick also invited a number of Florida players to training camp for a shot at making an NFL roster.
DB, Vernell Brown; OL, Randy Hand and S, Jarvis Herring were some of the Florida rookies in camp that season.
Since Meyer arrived in Florida, the Patriots have been interested in Florida players. Belichick has flown down to personally meet or workout a number of prospects. Last year Reggie Nelson, Brandon Siler and Ray McDonald received attention from Belichick
This year it appears another defender, Derrick Harvey, may be in the mix. Former Patriots wide receiver Reche Caldwell was a Florida player, although he finished at Florida before Meyer arrived. Caldwell's brother Andre could be a possible draft target for New England as well.
The Florida connection continues. Not surprisingly, so do the good things happening for Belichick's offense.
Jon Scott has covered the NFL since 1995, and is a regular contributor to Patriots Insider. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Jon has been a guest analyst on Sporting News Radio, ESPN Radio and other outlets around the web, including other publications on the Scout.com network. You can reach Jon in the forums at PatriotsInsider.com or