It got to the point where some Florida Gators fans had come to the conclusion that he was neither worth their time nor stress nor aggravation. They felt that five-star safety Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL) should stick by his commitment regardless of what was going on with the program and, more specifically, head coach Urban Meyer. If not – they said – good riddance.
Elam’s decision to bolt for the Florida State Seminoles just before the new year (albeit temporarily) appeared to be the last straw in some fans’ minds. “Enjoy FSU you little media whore,” wrote one OGGOA commenter. “Piss off Elam. You were so worried about having to earn a spot on the team anyhow. Makes me wonder if you are as good as you think,” wrote another. “All I will say is after all of his wavering and ultra cocky attitude of ‘Me, me, me’…he deserves to be a Seminole,” opined a third.
While Elam appeared to be toying with fans, the media and some on the Florida football staff, the freshman Gators safety claims that was never his intention.
“I was very confused. I really didn’t know what to do,” Elam told a group of reporters on Monday. “People think I was playing around, but I really wasn’t. I wanted to do what was best for me, and [to] try to make people happy.”
Now, he looks back on his short commitment to FSU as a mistake, one that he wishes was not captured in photographic form for a spread by the Palm Beach Post.
“I look at [that picture] now, and I start to get sick to my stomach,” he said. “I felt kind of bad – very bad. I should have never turned my back on a commitment, so that’s why I felt bad when I did that, especially to a rival.”
After a conversation with Meyer in which the coach “told me to have trust, to have trust in him,” Elam decommitted from the Seminoles and opened up his options again. It would be less than two weeks from the time he made the switch that Elam would recommit to Florida (along with two other five-star recruits) at the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“That’s one reason why I committed back, because I saw all these great [defensive] linemen coming in,” Elam said. “Defensive linemen are the reason why safeties and defensive backs get the spotlight. We talk about – all the time – how good we’re going to be. How we’re going be the best defense in the nation and stuff like that, how we’re going to win national championships. We always talk about it.”
As for what he learned from this experience?
“I’m glad it’s over, and I’m glad I’m on campus here and I’m competing and playing,” Elam said with a wide grin. “It was difficult, trying to make people happy. It was very difficult. I’m glad it’s over with. […] I learned that I just have to take care of my own and not worry about what other people [think].”
Photo Credits: OGGOA, Palm Beach Post