Debose was the one Meyer had to have

Andre Debose

I hate to use the term "must have" in recruiting, because rarely is it the case that one prospect can project to and actually make or break a recruiting class. For the Florida Gators who really don't NEED any one particular rookie to succeed next season, wide receiver Andre Debose was that one prospect who could fill an immediate void. Don't call him Percy, but he will play the "Percy Position".

Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer spent a lot of time Wednesday praising his star recruit. It isn't as if Meyer and company lacked star power in the 2009 recruiting class. The Gators may have finished with fewer recruits than most teams, but they finished sixth in the country on Scout.com when it comes to the prospects' star average.

Meyer however, has a very high regard for Andre Debose and maybe a little more than the rest.

"I don't want to single any guy out, but he is as good as there is...I think he is the best player in America," Meyer said of Scout.com's No. 6 rated wide receiver. "Watching him on film, for what we do...our style of offense...what we need right now with the departure of Percy Harvin, that is a critical element. We are not going to change our offense. We will adapt our offense to our personnel."

The comparisons to Percy Harvin are inevitable. First of all, he was being recruited specifically to replace maybe Florida's most dynamic playmaker ever. Second, he looks so much like Harvin when he plays the game. Meyer is going to have to stop himself when comparing the two.

"I have to watch that and that's my fault," Meyer said about laying on the 'next Percy Harvin' comments. "That happens when you show film, that the guy is really good as a player. I don't want to say comparison but you watch the film and you say, ‘Wow.' Whether he likes it or not, there is. That's not a bad thing to be compared to, that's a compliment very much so."

Meyer has become accustomed to other schools recruiting prospects he is after for the same position. The 'Percy Position' as he dubbed it seems to be every team's line to lure prospects to their squad. Other coaches know the prospects want to be and produce like Harvin. Meyer believes he found the perfect replacement for his offense and one that will earn his own name recognition before he leaves the program.

"The ‘Percy Position.'...that's what I hear on the recruiting trail all the time...'We're going to use you like Florida uses him.'," Meyer said. "I think he is perfect...Here's the best thing about Andre, he's got a great family. He has a great mom and a great father. He's also got tremendous speed. With the proper training this spring, he is going to be one of the fastest in the state of Florida."

Debose is really not in favor of the comparisons himself. No lack of respect for Harvin, but Debose doesn't want to be considered the next Percy Harvin, but the first Andre Debose.

"Every other school that was recruiting me used (the Harvin comparisons) against Florida. Why be the next Percy Harvin?," Debose asked. "That's just the way it's going to be. Our playing styles are similar so I guess we're going to be compared.

"I let Coach Meyer know himself that I don't want to be compared to anybody. I'm coming in as Andre Debose and that's who I want to be. I kind of learned to live with that all throughout the recruiting process so it really doesn't bother me. But I'm going to let it be known I'm Andre Debose as soon as I get there.''

Debose isn't concerned with any expectations that might be placed on him by the public. He understands the position he is heading to and just what following such a successful player entails.

"I don't give it too much thought because I don't want to overwhelm myself with the hype," Debose said. "I just know I want to play football. It's going to be a different stage of course. But I'll be ready for it.''

It is that kind of attitude and a tremendous work ethic that eventually had Meyer drawn to Debose. It was something else he saw when Meyer knew for sure Debose was 'the guy'.

Despite all his flash and dash as a player, there was one moment in one game that Debose made a true believer out of Meyer. In a game against DeLand that Meyer was present for, Andre caught a short pass and turned up field. Once he reached a point that he couldn't avoid contact, he didn't shy away from it. He put his shoulders down and went after the defender, earning him a few extra yards. That moment put a big smile on Meyer's face and he knew Debose was a 'must have'.

"The thing that sold me was during a bye week...I went to watch him play a game and he did something Percy Harvin (would do)," Meyer said. "At that position you have to be able to put your foot in the ground and drop your pads on someone. Not dive around him, you have to be able to drop your pads. I saw him drop his pads on someone and that's when I was sold."

Debose has the kind of skills that coaches can't teach. He has the kind of skills that make him an instant game changer and someone that needs to be on the field.

"We have to get him ready, and the best thing is he is not far from here," Meyer said about Debose's residence only being a couple of hours away. "(He will) come up for spring practice and we will try to get him playing."

Debose plans to start getting the mental stuff down soon, the play book will be arriving any day.

"I'll probably start getting into them in a couple of weeks," Debose said. "During the spring I should be traveling (to Gainesville) every other weekend to start really getting into the playbook.''

He also knows he has his work cut out for him. He may be a superstar at the high school level, but he has a lot to prove on a team that has a ton of talent and stars that have already played at colleges highest level of play. Debose is pretty fast, running a 4.38-speed 40-yard dash. But he knows, it isn't speed that is going to set him apart early on at Florida.

"That's pretty slow up there," he quipped about the speed of Florida's receivers already on campus.

And while he is fitting in to the offense, he also knows the importance of a great education. It's among a few other reasons he chose the Gators.

"It was just general, all-around...I felt like I was at home," Debose said of his decision. "I felt like I could get a good education at Florida. Having a degree from Florida, that in itself carries a lot of weight."

And so does the name Andre Debose.

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