Meyer admits he has gotten himself in trouble in the past with hyping Florida football recruits who were not deserving of it. Well, Meyer was at it again during Wednesday's National Signing Day, but nobody could really blame him. Most recruiting analysts pinned the Gators with the nation's top recruiting class.
This comes a little more than a month after Meyer resigned as the Gators' head football coach, then changed his mind a day later with the plan to take a leave of absence after the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl. Considering the circumstances, UF's recruiting finish borders on amazing.
"I just think in certain areas, it's the best we've ever done," said Meyer, who told The Gainesville Sun that he will begin his leave of absence Thursday. Meyer had previously said on he plans to return from his leave of absence in time to coach spring football, which begins on March 17.
UF signed 28 players, led by the nation's consensus No. 1 player in defensive end Ronald Powell from Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, Calif. The Gators added two other elite prospects in tackles Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley.
"I've gotten myself in trouble in the past by hyping up players who were not yet deserving of it. But I'm not sure I've seen a defensive front as good as this one," Meyer said. "When you look at Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd, Leon Orr, Dominique Easley and Lynden Trail, those are some serious guys."
UF's class is deep at more positions than just the defensive line. The Gators are bringing in five defensive backs ranked in the top 10 nationally at their respective positions. No. 2 safety Matt Elam of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. was an early commitment to UF who briefly switched to Florida State after Meyer's announcement.
"The key to recruiting is a lot like the keys to making a great sale," Meyer said. "The first one is having a great product and we obviously have that here at the University of Florida."
Despite all the uncertainty surrounding Meyer and his health -- and his future at UF -- many wondered if the Gators would be able to hold together their signing class. When Meyer made his stunning retirement announcement on Dec. 26, the Gators had commitments from 20 top prospects.
They not only held it together but built on it.
Meyer stressed he wasn't worried about negative recruiting against UF because of his situation or the coaching turnover in Gainesville, Fla.
"You worry about the things that you can control -- your family, your players, your program and staff," Meyer said.
"If you put your energy and focus on those things, then you'll be good, but you can't worry about the 'stuff' because it will get you down."
In Scout.com's rankings, UF's No. 1 finish in 2010 marks the third time in the last five years the Gators have finished in the top two, also claiming the No. 1 spot in 2007.
UF was anointed the country's top class early Wednesday evening by Rivals.com, but the Gators later fell to second behind USC after the Trojans and coach Lane Kiffin enjoyed a late push to pull ahead.
Nonetheless, Meyer pointed out that a recruiting title doesn't guarantee success during the season.
"Where we finish in rankings doesn't really matter," Meyer said.
"In the big scheme and eagle-eye view, we come in tomorrow morning and people say we have the top recruiting class, that's great for about 24 hours, but then you have to get to work."
Meyer, of course, won't be at work Thursday.
However, if there was an aspect he'd like to see changed in the recruiting process as he recharges his batteries -- he says he has gained 20 pounds and is exercising -- it would involve an early signing period.
"I was opposed to it, but I'm not opposed to it anymore," Meyer said.
"If you put me in charge, I would have more dead periods in the summer so that both the coaches and players can have lives. I can't stand when guys commit, but then they want to take 12 other visits and try 12 different hats on.
"I know the recruiting process -- we went through it with my daughter. Go look around, go try those hats on and then come back. If you want to jump in with both feet forward, we'll take you."