Stan Drayton certainly has to like the chances of having a dynamic running back situation compared to the one he had on his previous stint at Florida. This time around, Drayton has speed, some size, and a whole lot of playmaking ability in a group that is far more athletic than the one he had just two years ago. It was enough to make the man want to come back and coach them up.
Stan Drayton had a smile on his face when he was talking to the media Wednesday about the talent he has on hand for the 2010 season at the position he coaches. He understands that each of the individuals has the dynamic ability to score from anywhere on the field.
“They are extremely explosive,” Drayton said. “There is a world class sprinter in that group (Jeff Demps). There is a man in Emmanuel Moody who is starting to grow hair on his chest a little bit, starting to play behind his pads. Then you have a young man like Mike Gillislee who brings a combination of the two...a little power and a lot of explosion to the table.”
“Compared to when I was here before this is a very explosive group. It's a group that any time the ball is in their hands we can get a home run. On top of that, they are all really great kids. Football is important to them and what we are doing with them as far as development as people is really important to them and because of that they are going to be really good football players as well as really good people in society.”
One name left out of the group above is Chris Rainey. The junior is going to spend most of his time this spring as a slot receiver and learning a different role so he can utilize his talents as an open space threat in the offense.
“Chris is going to be that hybrid,” Drayton said. “He is going to be playing for me and Coach Azzanni. When he comes in the backfield he will be playing for me and when he is in the slot, he will be coached by Azzanni. How can you not take advantage of what Chris Rainey can do all over the field? We are definitely going to tap into that.”
Drayton has a great deal of respect for Rainey and understands the young man has grown up a great deal since his arrival in 2007.
“His passion for football has not changed,” Drayton said. “He has really grown up a lot from a maturity stand point and the decisions he is making off the field. When he talks to you he stands up and looks you in the eye. He tries to handle his business and be accountable off the football field.”
“All those things were not his deal coming out of high school. But, he has never been a kid that you felt threatened about...never felt that he was going to make a decision that was going to hurt his family or this program. Now there is just a lot more maturity about the kid. The first thing he said to me when I was back was, 'I'm not the same Chris Rainey, I've grown up a little bit coach'.”
“I kept contact with a lot of these young men over the two years I wasn't here, because I fall in love with these kids,” Drayton said. “It wasn't a surprise to me, what he said because I could hear it on the phone. We had conversations about things that he was a little more concerned about...getting a degree, making the right decisions, being an accountable guy...he has really grown up a lot.”
Drayton actually recruited Rainey, Moody, and Demps to Florida. He also coached Gillislee in camp in between his sophomore and junior years at DeLand High School.
“There are some guys I don't know, but I do know a lot of the guys on this team,” he said. “I was involved in recruiting all of the backs on this team. Even Mike Gillislee, in camp. I know the backgrounds and where these kids came from, so I am really coming into a good situation.”
“Moody and I were both excited to reunite. He came here because he was interested in developing a relationship with his position coach. When I walked out the door that was a really tough transition that he went through. Kenny Carter did a great job while he was here. Moody and I got really close in the recruiting process and I think there is a great level of comfortability between the both of us right now that we are reunited.”
In June, Drayton will add another to his group. Freshman Mack Brown will enroll in the Summer B semester and Drayton believes Brown is a tremendous player and person. It all starts with character and Drayton could see that character through the recruiting process through a lot of Florida's recruits but maybe especially Brown.
“Coach Meyer did a phenomenal job of establishing a relationship with Mack Brown,” Drayton said. “When I came through the door, you could really see and feel from our recruits even through some things that were being said from some recruits and what was being portrayed in the media. Our recruits really held on solid ground, which goes to the credit of the coaches that were here prior to me coming back.”
“They really did a great job of establishing a comfortable relationship with those guys and they didn't flinch. Mack Brown didn't flinch, however he was getting very anxious in getting to know who his coach was going to be. Developing that relationship with the coach that is going to coach him, and any time we bring a running back into this University, it is going to be very important to me to establish that relationship. I know exactly what kind of chocolate he is in that box.”
“He is a phenomenal young man that comes from a great foundation at home with both mom and dad. It is a great loving family and a bunch of coaches who raised him right on the football field coming out of high school. He is coming in here with the right mind set and it is not going to be hard to establish a relationship when you have a kid like that.”
Brown was an elite high school player that was being recruited hard all the way through the process. Still, Drayton sees his best football ahead of the young Georgia product.
“He is going to be a dynamic football player for us,” Drayton said. “He is a guy that is built like a running back. He is built low and thick in his legs. He plays with great pad level and plays with great natural instincts as far as vision and cut back ability. People haven't really seen what this kid can really do. He has been hampered with a hamstring issue throughout his career and it is starting to heal now with some rest. I am expecting him to be a guy that can help us in every situation on the field.”
Drayton has been named the recruiting coordinator at Florida. His duties as the coordinator will probably never be fully divulged, but his recruiting areas will change a little bit.
“I have been named the recruiting coordinator here and my areas have changed a bit,” he said. “I had the Hillsborough County and Pinellas County before, I had a history of recruiting of Dade County and a history of recruiting Orlando and Polk County. I am now going to be focused in on recruiting Dade County and the Orlando area, including Polk County. Those have been fertile grounds for us in the past. I am looking forward to establishing some great relationships there and really pull some kids to the university of Florida.”
His time off the Florida staff hasn't diverted his prowess in recruiting the state. He remained a big recruiter in this state for Tennessee and Syracuse when he worked for those programs.
“The one thing that never changed is I still had a piece of Florida.” he said. “I still recruited Florida at the two schools I went to from here. I never had to get reestablished. I always did a fair job by the coaches in this state. I always was straight forward and honest and I think they appreciate that no matter what school I was coming from. That made it easy for me to get back into this state with no issues really.”
The same attitude made it easy to get back to Florida too.