The news hit Ray Drew like tiles falling from the ceiling of his Literature class Wednesday afternoon at Thomas County Central High School.
“That’s just shocking. Wow,” exclaimed the AJC Super 11 defensive end, a 5-star prospect who had the Gators among his finalists. “I never would have thought that. After he came back after that last time I was assuming he’d he there for a while. I don’t know what to think or what to do.”
Drew, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound high school All-American who has fielded as many as 50 scholarship offers, included Florida in the six finalists he named late last month. The others were Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, LSU and Tennessee.
Obviously, Drew is still trying to process this development. But suffice it to say that it does not help the Gators cause.
“I’m somewhat disappointed that it happened this late in the process,” said Drew, who is taking his official visit to UGA this weekend. “I’m not going to say it X’s them out but that’s a problem. That’s a big problem.”
It doesn’t appear Meyer’s resignation will have a profound effect on local recruiting. Like Drew, AJC Super 11 players Damian Swann (CB, Grady) and Jay Rome (TE, Valdosta) and Valdosta defensive back Malcolm Mitchell were also considering Florida.
“I had kind of dropped them from my top schools anyway, so it really doesn’t effect me,” said Rome, who is also making an official visit to Georgia this weekend. “I wasn’t planning on taking an official there or anything. But I was surprised to hear about it.”
As for the Gators’ 17 commitments for the 2011 class, for the first time in a while none came from the state of Georgia. However, a few of Florida’s pledges at one time were considering local teams. Linebacker Clay Burton of Venice, Fla., was seriously considering Georgia Tech. Defensive back Nick Waisome (Groveland, Fla.), WR JaJuan Story (Brooksville, Fla.) and RB Mike Blakely (Bradenton, Fla.) all were heavily recruited by Georgia and considering the Bulldogs. According to a report by 247Sports.com, UGA coaches were in to see Story on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, the Gators, always a major player on the national recruiting scene, were actively recruiting several of the best prospects in the country. In addition to Drew, other five-star rated recruits on Florida’s radar include LB Stephone Anthony, QB Teddy Bridgewater, TE Nick O’Leary and LB Tony Steward.
During his resignation press conference Wednesday evening, Meyer said he is scrambling to help maintain the Gators’ recruiting momentum.
“I talked to a handful of [recruits] already and I’ll talk to a bunch of them tonight and tomorrow,” he told reporters in Gainesville. “Florida is Florida. Florida will always be Florida. Even last year with the other issue we put together a great class. There are great coaches here and I’m sure the new coaching staff will be fantastic. We’ve just got to get moving. Timing’s of the essence.”
News this big this late in the recruiting process undoubtedly will have a domino effect throughout the South. So stay tuned for more developments.
College Recruiting By Chip Towers