Coach Meyer on 2007 Signees Class

QB John Brantley

"I want to say we signed 20 or 23 last year and 27 this year. That is a lot of kids to sign in two years. I can't remember being a part of a staff that has signed so many players and it shows what a good balance we have right now. I think our first class after evaluating was very average and the last two I think were very good. This one remains to be seen.

(Partial quotes from today's press conference; stay tuned for audio...)

"Obviously, last year we saw a lot of production from our freshmen."

"We have taken a new attitude toward recruiting this year that every freshman in my opinion will play next year. Obviously, that won't happen but we are taking that approach. It used to be "Boy I will be able to save this guy," but that's over. If it's in the best interest of the player, then maybe we will redshirt them, but we want to play them. You see that trend across the country with the juniors leaving early; if you are a premier player in college football very rarely do you stay dressed in your third year. So we are going to take a very aggressive approach to have them achieve their academic success and we are able to do that here through summer school and early entry. We have nine early enrollees now and if you go through spring, then both summer A and summer B sessions and then three years, you will be darn close to a degree at Florida and if you are a good student then you probably will have one. This year is the first year that we are really having an aggressive approach in that area to the point where we have it mapped out for them."

"In regards to the class, we are very pleased. The guy that kind of knocked it out of the park for us was Deonte Thompson. He came to us just about an hour and a half ago and that was a must have. We got him out of South Florida, which is a tough place to get guys. So I am very pleased with our recruiting class."

On obtaining recruits from South Florida:

"Every year when deciding where to recruit, we look at the money cost and the time cost. What I did was I took the last 15 years and looked at where they were getting players. Louisiana is tough, for some reason those kids just end up going somewhere else. They are other areas that are also not too good. South Florida falls under the "not good" category in terms of Florida which should not happen when you look at the quality of players down there. In the NFL, they say that is the No. 1 area that the best athletes come from. With the product we have here it should not be the case. We have an excellent recruiter, Doc Holliday, who has been doing it for about 250 years or however long. He knows everybody's aunts and grandpas; he has recruited their grandpa's I think. I have probably met them all. But it has been very poor and we have not got the premier players from South Florida. We have had some guys like Steve Harris who has had great success but he was not a premi! er player. Charlie Strong, Doc and I have looked through every young man that Florida has taken like Johnny Rutledge and Fred Taylor, who were premier players. Since then, we have had some good players, but not the premier ones. Deonte and Major (Wright) were two of the South's best players and we got them this year. Someone showed me an article and it said "Florida is back in Miami" a couple years ago and I thought no, they are not, those players didn't play very much." You want to get the "big dogs" in South Florida and those are the two "big dogs". With Major and Deonte, also include Bo Williams and Moses Jenkins.

On recruiting seven players from Lakeland HS:

"I wouldn't have done that. To be honest, I don't really believe in that but it was when I went to that school and how they develop their players. With the success that they have had, it is arguably one of the best programs in the nation. I watched them practice on many occasions and watched them play and saw they had great respect for their coach, Bill Castle. Together we went through and discussed each kid, and his word is good with me."

On recruiting quarterback John Brantley

"He and Dan Mullen became extremely close and they really never even talked about football. They just became really close and would talk all the time. During the Fall, they played at Williston and I was able to see him play. I watched him manage, I watched him move around in the pocket and dart around the back-side post. He reminded me very much of Alex Smith, quarterback at Utah. He did not want to be recruited in a way with making promises and things like that. It was more just getting to know him and he is such a good person with a great family. So, minimal talk about football until the end when we wanted to figure out a plan and we just wanted to make sure we treated him right. But very early on, it was all just about getting to know him."

On having two quarterbacks from the 2007 class enroll early:

"We had this discussion last spring because we knew that after Chris Leak threw his last pass, we were down to one scholarship quarterback. That quarterback is a guy who likes to run, so he's going to take shots. We didn't want to go into spring practice with one quarterback. We wanted to look for a junior college guy who fit our system, and Bryan Waggener is here and practicing. Cam Newton is a guy who stole the show at Friday Night Lights. We had him in the middle of the road, but after Friday Night Lights his stock elevated to among the best in the country. We'll redshirt at least one quarterback this year, maybe two, so this spring will be critical for both Bryan and Cam."

On what Signing Day is like for a coach:

"It's awful until you get that signature. For a coach, this is the worst day. You have some control over game day. You have no control over what's going on in those high schools and those living rooms."

On the defensive linemen in the 2007 recruiting class:

"Our defensive line was decimated because we lost good players. We signed four defensive ends, and a lot of times schools can't do that because they cancel each other out. We've got four guys that we really like, guys that (defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator) Greg Mattison really pinpointed. We won the national championship because our two defensive ends played their tails off in that game."

On the running backs in the 2007 recruiting class:

"We have some talented guys already on the team at that position, but we were looking to added more guys with a lot of talent. Chris Rainey is going to do a lot of things for us next year. I can't see him not playing because he'll give our offense a new dynamic."

On the nine signees who enrolled at UF early:

"Today we had mat drills at 6 a.m. sharp. One thing you love about the Pounceys is that they tell you exactly what they're thinking, and they told me that it was one of the hardest things they've ever done in their lives. We'll see how they've adjusted at the next mat workouts. I love the guys that are here. Spring is a great time to be a college student for these guys, because the fall is hard on a football player. Their days are gone. They can get acclimated to college life in the spring, and then hit the ground running in the fall, so it's a tremendous advantage."

On signee Jerimy Finch:

"After appraising the top-100 list, I saw that he was ranked highly and I wanted to know where he was going. I knew Warren Central from my days at Notre Dame. I called the coach, and he said, ‘Coach, you'll never believe this, but we just finished talking about Florida.' He played in the Orlando all-star game, and the kid loves Florida. Five minutes later, I was on the phone with (Finch). Without watching one speck of tape on him, I asked him if he wanted to come down for a visit. We thought he was a great kid and a good-looking safety, and his tape just solidified it. We offered him, and he decided to come. It's unbelievable because I didn't go to Indiana once the whole time."

On what areas of need were addressed well by the 2007 recruiting class:

"The area I think we addressed well is the defensive line. Off the top of my head, I'd say our quarterback and defensive line classes are outstanding. We also got a few premier offensive linemen."

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