TWO BITS: Meyer still working, Christian Green

1 » Though a leave of absence is looming in his near future, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer is still very much involved in the program at this point in time. Recruiting is one of Meyer’s passions and staying off the road (at least right now) is surely frustrating him, but he is still making an impact with high school players over the phone. He is simultaneously trying to fill out the remainder of his coaching staff. The Gators have lost four assistants (and a graduate assistant) since the 2009 SEC Championship, but Meyer has already filled in three staff spots with only one more to go. Once his staff is complete and National Signing Day passes on Feb. 3, Meyer will take a step back from the program – hopefully temporarily but potentially permanently.

2 » Florida may have landed a commitment from four-star wide receiver Chris Dunkley (Pahokee, FL) at the Under Armour All-American Game, but the team is still looking for more pass catchers to fill out its 2010 recruiting class. Enter four-star WR Christian Green (Tampa, FL). Though Green is seemingly favoring the Florida State Seminoles (he is a lifelong fan of the team and much of his family went to FSU), he is also considering the Georgia Bulldogs and Gators. “I like the Florida program,” Green told Gerry Hamilton of Scouts, Inc. “I feel like Coach Meyer and those guys motivate players to win and they are going to make you better as a player. That and they win national championships. I think that’s important to go to a school that is going to win national championships, and they have proven they can.”

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SIX BITS: Dunlap’s future, QB offered, DT Floyd, Big Board, Smith and Holliday, Lewis

1 » Though juniors cornerback Joe Haden and tight end Aaron Hernandez have declared for the 2010 NFL Draft, the decision is not an easy one for defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Once considered a top-five talent, Dunlap’s arrest and subsequent suspension for DUI prior to the 2009 SEC Championship had him fall down draft boards. “The feedback that he’s gotten is that he will go late in the first round or early in the second round,” Dunlap’s father told Rivals on Tuesday. “Staying to get a degree isn’t going to be an issue because he’s on track to graduate in December. He’s close enough to getting his degree that he can do it anytime. So does he want to come back to finish up his education and maybe be the top overall draft choice next year or does he want to come out right now and start working on his NFL career?” Dunlap’s father will also consult former Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong for advice. “We value Charlie’s opinion. We value Charlie’s evaluation. We value Charlie’s leadership. So if Charlie tells us this is how he thinks it should be, I trust he is going to tell us what is best for Carlos based on the evaluations and feedback he has received.”

2 » JC Shurburtt of ESPN is reporting that Gators quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler has extended an offer to five-star 2011 QB recruit Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL). “I was real excited about the offer,” Driskel said. “I have been talking to Coach Loeffler just about once a week, and he told me that he was ready to offer me. When I got it, obviously I was real excited.” He has also received offers from Auburn, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss and Florida International. Driskel also told Shurburtt that while he does currently live in Florida, location won’t factor much in his final decision. “When I was younger, we moved around a lot because my dad was in the Navy,” he said.

Four more BITS including recruiting and NFL Draft news after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Dunlap’s future, QB offered, DT Floyd, Big Board, Smith and Holliday, Lewis

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Elam drops FSU to third, adds UGA, UF leads

A Florida Gators commitment for over a year, he changed his mind and made a pledge to the Florida State Seminoles on New Year’s Eve. Now, less than a week after that change of heart, five-star safety recruit Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL) is back with the Orange and Blue…sort of.

Elam, speaking with Kipp Adams and Anthony Dasher of Rivals by text message, said, “I’m decommitting. Florida is first for me right now, followed by Georgia and Florida State is third.” Wait a minute…the Georgia Bulldogs? “It is very possible,” he said. “I am still talking to Georgia for sure. When I went on my official visit to Georgia, it really felt like home.”

Dwyer High School‘s premier athlete also opened up about his desire to receive significant playing time as a freshman, citing the fact that both Florida and Florida State have eight safeties (give-or-take) on scholarship. The story that never ends will likely have a conclusion Saturday, when Elam is expected to announce his official selection during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, TX.

Catch up on the Elam saga through these previous OGGOA entries:
12/09 – Elam still committed to UF but FSU has a chance
12/13 – Photo shows level of Matt Elam’s commitment
12/27 – Meyer’s decision stuns Gators 2010 recruits
12/31 – Matt Elam drops Gators, commits to Seminoles
01/05 – FSU commit Matt Elam switching back to UF?
01/06 – TWO BITS: New RB offered, another Elam update

Photo Credit: Jim Rassol, Sun-Sentinel

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TWO BITS: New RB offered, another Elam update

1 » Florida has just offered a scholarship to three-star running back recruit Shontrelle Johnson (Deland, FL) according to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m gonna check it out,” said Johnson, who just recently committed to the Iowa State Cyclones. “It kinda shocked me but I don’t really know since it came so late in the season. You gotta check it out, it’s Florida, they got national championship and all that…but there are positives and negatives.” OGGOA believes the Gators’ offer to Johnson is a back-up plan in case four-star RB Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA) decommits.

2 » News broke Tuesday that five-star safety recruit Matt Elam, who was previously committed to Florida for over a year before recently switching to the Florida State Seminoles, was considering recommitting (must-read) to the Gators. Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post got the thoughts of those closest to Elam about his upcoming decision. “I just have to watch the [U.S. Army All-American] game Saturday and see what he’s going to do,” said Robert Clark, Elam’s Dwyer High School teammate and three-star Florida commitment. “He’s tricky. We had a conversation [Tuesday], and he said it’s 50-50 right now.” Elam’s Dwyer head coach Jack Daniels confirmed the indecision. “Now that Coach [Urban] Meyer’s back in the mix, he’s torn again,” Daniels said. “It sounds to me like Matt is still going to go to Florida State, but other people are saying other things. You could say he was doing it for the attention, but now the kid is confused. He likes both schools a lot. He’s having a hard time.”

UPDATE: Scout is reporting that Elam will choose between Florida, Florida State and the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday.

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Is Ronald Powell headed east to Florida?

Five-star defensive end recruit Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA) is reportedly ready to make his commitment official. If he is feeling the same as he did on Dec. 18, then the Florida Gators remain “most definitely at the top” of his list, and all reports coming out of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl practice sessions this week indicate that Powell will be wearing Orange and Blue next season.

Visited by Gators head coach Urban Meyer in California three weeks ago, Powell raved about the meeting. “It hasn’t been anything negative from them for one, anything at all,” Powell told Rivals at the time. “Coach Meyer is a hell-of-a coach. The college is in a college town. The players, the players definitely make you feel at home. I mean just all around, it’s a great school, a great place to be.”

Read the remainder of this story after the jump…
Continue Reading » Is Ronald Powell headed east to Florida?

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SIX BITS: Cooper, Strong, Dorsey, Rivers & more

1 » Following up on a story OGGOA posted on Monday, the Texas Rangers have told MLB.com that they are still expecting Florida Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper to attend spring training in Arizona. “Yes, we do,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said on Tuesday. Though Cooper has said that the Rangers have not been in contact with him – “I must not mean that much to them.” – Daniels begs to differ. “We’ve been in touch with his agents,” Daniels said. “We intentionally gave him space and time while he was preparing for the SEC Championship game and the Sugar Bowl. Everything is still on track for him to report to Arizona. He has a decision to make but the lack of contact was out of respect, not from a lack of disrespect.”

2 » Though Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong cited the fact that he is African-American and married to a Caucasian woman as one of the reasons it was so difficult to break into the head coaching ranks, he does not want the onus of being a minority coach. “What you want to do is never put pressure on yourself to be like, ‘Hey, you have to be a pioneer,” Strong said last Tuesday.

3 » With an outstanding showing at the Under Armour All-American Game last weekend, Florida four-star defensive back commitment Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, FL) took the opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to the Gators. Always being honest and holding that he was 60-80 percent committed to UF throughout the year, Dorsey upped that percentage to 90 after the game. Because of his honesty, Dorsey was previously considered one of the most likely Florida recruits to decommit, but he appears to be as much of a Gator as ever. Even so, he has chosen to visit the Tennessee Volunteers and is considering taking a trip to one of four other schools in order to make sure he covers all of his bases.

Check out the three remaining BITS after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Cooper, Strong, Dorsey, Rivers & more

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FSU commit Matt Elam switching back to UF?

Five-star safety recruit Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL), formerly the prize of the Florida Gators 2010 recruiting class, decommitted and pledged to play for the Florida State Seminoles on New Year’s Eve. Elam, who appeared to waiver about his commitment throughout the entire recruiting process, reaffirmed his decision to play for the Gators numerous times over the last few months but changed his mind after learning about Meyer’s indecision on his future. Elam was flabbergasted.

Ignoring two of Meyer’s phone calls following the Florida coach’s decision to take a leave of absence two Sundays ago, Elam eventually picked up and spoke with Meyer sometime after the 2010 Sugar Bowl. “He tried [to sway me back], but it didn’t work,” Elam said of the phone call. Meyer, apparently, persisted.

Adam Gorney of Rivals spoke with Elam Tuesday and reports that the safety may be having second third fourth fifth sixth seventh thoughts about has commitment. Apparently Meyer and Elam had a “long and emotional conversation” with Elam telling Gorney that he “doesn’t think he can leave Meyer,” though he has yet to decommit.

“I talked to Urban last night,” Elam told Gorney. “We were talking about our relationship basically and he told me to have trust, to have trust in him and he asked me a word that really touched me. He said, ‘Do you know what faith means?’ and he told me the definition. It really touched me a lot. It really touched me so my decision might change. I’ve known him for a while. It’s been tough to leave him so I don’t know if I’ll be able to.”

Upon hearing this story, Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post contacted Elam and asked him point-blank if there was any chance he would spurn FSU for UF. “No,” Elam said. “Other players are probably telling them that.” If Gorney is sourcing Elam and Lieser is as well, someone obviously has the story wrong.

Elam will make his commitment official on Saturday during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. OGGOA will have full coverage of the event.

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Gator Bites for Tuesday, January 5th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» A rumor making its way around the Web over the last few days states that former Florida Gators running backs coach Stan Drayton may return to the program if Kenny Carter bolts for the Louisville Cardinals. This is the same Drayton that left Florida for the Tennessee Volunteers and took this shot at the Gators and head coach Urban Meyer on his way out the door: “If you’re going to be a running backs coach, you want to be part of a system that involves the running back.” Not gonna happen.

» Another option at running backs coach could very well be former Florida RB Terry Jackson. A Gator great who was a member of the 1996 National Championship team and played seven years in the NFL, Jackson was named Director of Player and Community Relations at UF in March 2008. Jackson, whose father Willie Sr. and brother Willie Jr. also played at Florida, has thought about getting into coaching since finishing his pro career. Hiring Jackson could be a very smooth transition for the Gators.

» Speaking of Carter, four-star RB commit Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA) made news last night when he told two reporters that Carter was leaving the program for Louisville. However, Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel also spoke with Brown, who told him that Carter did not say he was leaving and that he “didn’t talk to him about it.” Perhaps Brown said something he wasn’t supposed to and is now being sush-ed about it?

» UPDATE: Brown provided more information about his feelings on Carter’s switch to Rivals Monday night. “I understand he had to do what he had to do,” he said. “I know he has a good relationship with coach Strong and he’s going to have a better position with more money coming in for his family. I’m still committed to Florida. I’m going to wait it out and see what happens. I’m confused. You’re supposed to commit to a school, but you get to know the coaches and they feel like family. All the coaches that I got to know over the last year, that I dealt with over the summer, they’re all leaving. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m going to have to talk about it with my family.”

» Brady Ackerman is reporting that Gators assistant defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Heater turned down an offer from new Marshall Thundering Herd head coach Doc Holliday to be his team’s defensive coordinator. Heater wants the UF job badly. OGGOA continues to project him as the team’s next defensive coordinator.

» Ackerman also confirmed an OGGOA report that assistant head coach and defensive line coach Dan McCarney would only leave Florida if he was offered a head coaching position – presumably with the South Florida Bulls. Jim Leavitt has not been removed from his position there, and McCarney told reporters last week that he is not interested in the Gators’ defensive coordinator position.

» Five-star safety recruit Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL), a former Gators commit who spurned the team for the Florida State Seminoles, ignored two phone calls placed from Meyer last week. However, Elam finally picked up recently and said Meyer attempted to sway him back to UF. “He tried, but it didn’t work,” Elam said. Elam is expected to make his announcement at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday.

» OGGOA has heard a rumor from two very different sources that Meyer was either offered a contract or spoken to by ESPN about working for the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” should he eventually decide not to return to coaching. Not a shocker.

» Think Florida losing to the South Alabama Jaguars last week was a tough pill to swallow? Try being the No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels who fell Monday night to the College of Charleston Cougars.

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