Barry Sanders switches commitment from NFL Hall of Fame to Meyer-led Florida

GAINESVILLE, FL – Florida head coach Urban Meyer notched another victory Saturday when legendary running back Barry Sanders decided to switch his commitment from the NFL Hall of Fame to the defending national champion Gators, marking the eighth time this season a recruit has chosen Florida after a previous agreement with another institution.

sanders

Sanders, center, accepting the MVP award at the Army All-American game in San Antonio, TX. At the time Sanders was firmly committed to the NFL Hall of Fame.

“Coach [Meyer] convinced me the University of Florida is the right place for me. I mean no disrespect to the Hall of Fame, the city of Canton, the state of Ohio or anyone else, but I had to do what was right for me. I couldn’t sleep for a week straight, but when I made my decision I felt completely at ease with myself. I talked to my family and they said that I needed to do what was best for me,” Sanders said in a press conference aired on CSTV. The 38 year old member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team couldn’t suppress a smile when he put on an orange and blue Florida hat.

Meyer and the Gators are riding high on the momentum from their Jan. 8 41-14 domination of Ohio State in the BCS title game, and that success has spilled over into the recruiting wars that make the month following bowl season a period of vicious cloak and dagger battles. The Gators – led by freshman All-America quarterback Tim Tebow and fellow frosh sensation Percy Harvin – seem to be a unanimous pre-season top five pick for the 2007 season and blue chip recruits are flocking to the Swamp… even if it means they have to leave behind old promises to do so. Sanders joins recent high-profile players like offensive lineman James Wilson (Augustine High, FL) and defensive end Justin Trattou (Don Bosco Prep, NJ) who de-committed from USC and Notre Dame, respectively.

“Meyer and Florida have really capitalized on the shine of the national championship. Poaching Trattou from [New Jersey born Notre Dame head coach] Charlie Weis’ backyard is pretty amazing, but Sanders leaving Canton? What Urban is doing right now can only be described as logistically impossible, but those scholarships are flying off the Florida panhandle like hotcakes off of a griddle-like metaphor,” Rivals.com recruiting analyst Jeremy Crabtree said.

The 5’8″ 203 lbs. Sanders retired in July of 1999 after rushing for 15,269 yards in ten years with the Detroit Lions, who selected the 1988 Heisman Trophy winner out of Oklahoma State. He was named to the Pro Bowl in all ten of his seasons. His retirement came as a shock as many considered Sanders still in his athletic prime and certainly within striking distance of Walter Payton’s since broken career rushing record.

“Like any recruit who takes time off from football, sure there are questions about Barry. Kids go on missions, they play baseball, they choose other things than football all the time, but a guy with Barry’s potential makes the payoff higher than the risk. A lot of recruiting services project him as an all-around athlete and even as a true cover corner, but we think he’s got running back written all over him. I believe the departure of [Florida tailback] DeShawn Wynn really convinced Barry he could earn some early playing time with Florida, and Meyer sold it well,” Crabtree said.

According to Sanders, Meyer’s other selling points included the possibility of helping to lead the Gators to another national championship, the chance to play “against the best athletes in America in the SEC” and Gainesville’s location.

Though normally not a selling point compared to places like South Beach or Los Angeles, Sanders was convinced when Florida recruiting coordinator Chuck Heater showed the NCAA single season touchdown (39) and rushing (2,628 yards) leader a large custom poster with a picture of Gainesville next to a picture of Detroit.

Sanders, a Motor City resident for more than eighteen years, got the point: “Coach Meyer and Coach Heater made it clear that I had to get out of there. My family was really big on the distance factor, and I agreed. The more miles between us and Detroit the better.”

Though Sanders’ NCAA eligibility was exhausted when he turned pro in 1989, he will nonetheless have four years to play three seasons for the Gators.

Meyer expressed excitement for his new recruit, praising Sanders repeatedly and stressing that the Wichita-born tailback would get an equal shot at the starting position in August.

“We got a bunch of guys who rushed the ball for us pretty well returning from last season, plus two great running back recruits already. Then there’s Tebow. He’ll occasionally run the ball too. No one is handing Barry that starting job just yet,” the second year head coach said.

“But [Sanders] did juke [NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time defensive back] Rod Woodson so badly he ruptured the guy’s knee, so I like Barry’s chances of getting some carries next year,” Meyer added.

Though most recruiting analysts believe Florida’s latest pick-up will help vault the Gators’ class to the top, some caution that a late push by rivals Miami and Florida State could very well make the race a photo finish.

“There’s been a lot of buzz about Jim Brown de-commiting from Canton and heading to the Sunshine State. He’s been out of the game a bit longer than Sanders, but there’s no doubt in my mind that both the Seminoles and ‘Canes could use [the 70 year old] Brown,” Crabtree said. “Then again, Urban is well known for his medical plan explanations and he’s got an in-home visit scheduled with Jim this weekend.”

Meyer refused to comment on any ill will between him and the NFL Hall of Fame after Sanders’ de-commitment, choosing instead to stare northward for a quarter of an hour in intensely silent focus.

47 Comments

Filed under Fake news, Notre Dame, Recruiting, SEC, USC

47 responses to “Barry Sanders switches commitment from NFL Hall of Fame to Meyer-led Florida

  1. Your Friend William

    Is Sanders standing next to that poof Mark Sanchez? Is it any wonder he looks uncomfortable?

  2. No, that is not Sanchez. It is this guy:

  3. Once again, the Onion would be proud.

  4. Even if there hadn’t been that ridiculously messed up “case” against him, poor Mark would still be getting made fun of simply because his last name went so well with a roster full of Bootys, Hancocks and Bushes.

  5. myglobalhustle

    Do you think barry could still make a comeback?

  6. Or “Matt Sacks” from Rivals

  7. I keep forgetting to use that guy.

  8. vinny

    Florida beat Ohio State 41-14.

  9. Chris Leak can’t spell C-A-T even if you spot him the C and the A.

    I posted the podcast of his ESPN Interview this morning. I almost, notice I said almost, feel sorry for him.

  10. SD Gator

    Chris Leak is a very smart, very well-spoken young man. He is quiet in public and can be a little uncomfortable in interviews, although he is getting better with all the practice he has had since proving he is a National Championship QB.

    You, on the other hand, are a loser with or without socks…and one who steals his material from Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson. Get a life.

    Great article on Barry Sanders. Didn’t he go to the NFL as a junior? Maybe he still has a year left. :)

    He was the greatest mismatch I’ve ever seen in college. Nobody could touch him.

  11. Well considering that Chris Leak overcame the LBCLGOTB offense and led his team to the MNC, I think he deserves a wee bit of credit.

  12. Leak should thank Jim Tressell for not blitzing. SDGator did you boo this well-spoken young man when he replaced the Bow during games?

  13. SD Gator

    I did not boo period. But, the people who did boo were not booing Leak (as the media has reported). Tebow had taken the team down the field and then was replaced by Leak deep in Kentucky territory. The “booers” wanted tebow to finish the drive. They were booing the decision, not the player.

    I correctly posted on our message board that Meyer was practicing this strategy (of switching QB’s) to force defenses to deal with either QB on the fly. Worked pretty well all year.

    And true, in hindsight, OSU should have blitzed. But then Harvin, Caldwell, Baker etc. would have been running free in their defensive backfield. choose your poison.

  14. “The “booers” wanted tebow to finish the drive. They were booing the decision, not the player.”

    Oh really? How would one know this fact? I thought that booing was a Gator Nation form of salute to excellence

  15. I, for one, think that Leak will make a great CFL quarterback.

  16. SD Gator

    “The “booers” wanted tebow to finish the drive. They were booing the decision, not the player.”

    “Oh really? How would one know this fact? I thought that booing was a Gator Nation form of salute to excellence”

    If you saw the game, you’d know. And I have spoken to enough of them. It was a minority, mostly young and dumb like yourself. The veterans straightened them out. Do you have a college affiliation?

    Booing can’t be a Gator Nation salute to excellence because we save it for the other team. I’m glad to hear no other fans in the country ever boo anyone.

    Chris was not booed by us.

    But you feel free to demean his intelligence. The kid has been nothing but class his whole career; he graduated early and with a high GPA. I have never heard anyone but you claim he isn’t intelligent.

    So fill us in. I know you didn’t actually graduate from an accredited university, but which one do you boo for?

  17. SDGator, don’t get so excited. Emotional displays like that allow you to be owned in public forums. A public forum like Leak was soundly booed by the proud Gator Nation. It was bad enough that the commentators made mention of it.

  18. SD Gator

    Ok, since you wouldn’t own up to it yourself, I went on that self-flatulating excuse for a site you promote only to discover you’re a Vol. With buddies like Lloyd Braun who was sent home crying from our message board.

    I’m not excited…and certainly not owned by the likes of you. A Vol making judgments about intelligence? The collective IQ inside a full Neyland stadium doesn’t equal Leak’s jersey number.

    You talk about Leak going to the CFL. Maybe. He’s just under 6 feet. Tough to make it that way. How is Tee Martin’s NFL career? Or Pickle Boy’s? And Heath Shuler’s? Talk about intelligence!!

    Fat Phil, that genius, sniffing any SEC titles lately? He turns out a lot of pro talent, but just can’t seem to get it done. If the Arkansas QB doesn’t lay it on the turf for no reason or we don’t give you five gifts, he wouldn’t even have his claim to fame.

    But, Leak WAS smart enough to direct that 4th Qtr drive to take you out again at home. 21-20. And you’re a head slap and bad call away from it being 4 straight.

    And by the way, despite what your website claims…you’re not funny.

    That is owned.

  19. KampGator

    Loserwithsocks, hush.
    It’s true, there were boos when Leak walked out on the field, but I can vouch for SDGator: They were to let Tebow finish the drive he’d been running so beautifully. The coaches’ decision, not the QB that’d represented the Gator Nation for four years, was being booed.
    I’m sure they boo people in Tennessee, but no one can hear it over that nauseating cacophony you call “Rocky Top.” Anyway, good luck against us in two years, when we play you over in Tennessee again. Don’t even think of anything like winning in the Swamp.

  20. Plenty of USC fans booed Carson Palmer for four years and anyone who says it didn’t happen is either lying or never showed up from 1998-2001. I’ll bet everyone who booed him talks about how they knew he’d be special from day one, too.

  21. gatorfan4life

    Clearly loserwithsocks knows what he is talking about. He was obviously at the game right? Well since I was… I can most definitely let you know that booing Chris was not what majority of true fans of the Gator Nation were doing, though the media may have skewed outsiders perceptions.

    I think Leak has handled himself quite well in the lime light especially with his appearance on Jay Leno. As a fellow class mate of Leak I’m pretty sure he can spell “Cat” since I have been paired with him on some projects. Though public speaking is not his forte, I quite confident that his intelligence supersedes a good amount of football players, quarterbacks included.

    The Gator Nation is Everywhere!

  22. Rush Propst

    Geightor4Life, when Leak joins the CFL, then the Geightor Nation will then be everywhere. Good Luck Chris on the National Spelling Bee!!!

    Seize the Moment !!!!Hoover Rules!!!!

  23. gatorfan4life

    What a comedian… really! It’s good to know you have a sense of humor. And the funny thing is I was talking more about scholarly feats and personal feats than athletic ones so your feeble attack really means nothing. If Chris makes it in the CFL good for him. Maybe he can be like a former UF great… win a national championship, attempt NFL, and if that doesn’t work out then he will move on to great things, much like our beloved Wuerffel. I don’t think he’ll be pulling a Clarett anytime soon.
    Creative spelling with the Geightor Nation. But at least you could be as creative as UT and FSU and hit us with GAY-tor Nation. Even with their low SAT scores they can think that one up.
    Hoover may have beaten Tebow’s high school team, but I do believe his NC has an upper hand right now. But then again, I may just be a girl that doesn’t know anything at all.

  24. KampGator

    almost forgot. As for Leak being dumb… Finalist for the Draddy Trophy. Has anyone from vol-land even seen one?

  25. Juan Garcia Abrego, A Springdale Chicken Farmer

    The Daddy Trophy? Curtis Leak and Bob Tebow are the finalists? Didn’t they get into a scrape before the season? Leak filed attempted rape charges against Tebow?

  26. Juan Garcia Abrego, A Springdale Chicken Farmer

    hey Geightor4Life,

    Are you the girl with Tebow in the pic that is circulating around the internet? If so, I will cut you some slack.

    BTW, where does the florida defense score their weed?

  27. Leak has a great hook slide.

    Too bad that the sidelines in the CFL are further away. It’ll take that 4.5 speed he boasts to get safely out of bounds.

    SDGAtor, I wouldn’t bring luck into the argument with regards of winning a MNC. If it wasn’t for Herban’s marijuana suspension algorithm, the Gators lose to South Carolina.

  28. Juan Garcia Abrego, A Springdale Chicken Farmer

    The marijuana adversely impacted the Geightors at the Barn. Marcus was clearly focused on munchies and fatties.

    I watched that game as I was killing a goat for dinner. Thomas was tired and the Barners just kicked his blunt toking ass.

  29. Juan Garcia Abrego, A Springdale Chicken Farmer

    Wuerffel, Jesse Palmer and Shane Mathews. I know that I forgot one or two more stalwarts.

    Leak better come up with 4.5 40 speed. Anyone want to take bets on his wonderlic score?

    Rex Grossman should be in this group with his passing, but the Bears Defense bailed him out.

  30. SD Gator

    Irishjihad

    Marcus Thomas had been kicked off the team before the South Carolina game…no luck involved. Btw, name me one other coach who kicks a first round draft pick off the team while they are in the National Championship hunt when he isn’t forced to do so? I’ll be waiting a long time for that one.

    And you shouldn’t discuss luck. Slowtre Dame wouldn’t be in those BCS Bowls on merit alone. The last time you guys won a bowl game Lou Holtz was helping Noah load animals on the ark.

    Speaking of Ark…Springdale chicken farmer? I assume an Arkansas fan. You can talk about bad parents? Leak and Tebow caused us no problems. You guys are in the midst of a full scale parental mutiny. Mrs. Mustain is your new Offensive Coordinator.

    Yes, Marcus smoked…and was booted off the team for not complying with Meyer’s rules for reinstatement. And I hear we’re kicking another player who looked like a starter next year for disciplinary reasons as we speak. But those problems will disappear as these kids understand Urban won’t put up with it. So you guys keep sweeping your problems under the rug. We’ll keep doing it the right way…and still winning the NC.

    Don’t you have chickens to tend to??

  31. SD Gator

    Chicken Farmer….you know nothing. Rex will be fine…he is inexperienced. Shane Matthews had a long career. Not a star, but a good back up for most of it. Jesse did ok too.

    Is Leak 4.5? I don’t know. But he has some speed. Just ask Alabama…not a slow team by any means…while Leak ripped off a 45 yard run against them. He has enough speed.

    How fast is Casey Dick? I guess it doesn’t matter. he can’t throw anyway.

  32. Juan Garcia Abrego, A Springdale Chicken Farmer

    I am Mike Price’s recruiting emissary. Sent to Springdale to steal Mustain to UTEP.

    You forgot jesse Palmer was on the Bachelor!!

  33. Juan Garcia Abrego, A Springdale Chicken Farmer

    “If the Arkansas QB doesn’t lay it on the turf for no reason or we don’t give you five gifts, he wouldn’t even have his claim to fame.”

    OMG, I can’t believe anybody from Florida is flaming about gifts from Arkansas….

  34. SD,
    I was referring to Jarvis ‘Mota’ Moss, of course. And Meyer was forced to kick Thomas off the team. Sounds like Florida is turning into UT.

    And I am not an Irish supporter.

  35. Buh har Buh Ryant

    Irishjihad is a homo bama fan. He posts (hypocritically of course) across the Rivals networks hating on other teams while his team is the biggest joke in the college football world at the moment.

    Chris Leak blows. Welcome to the Arena League.

  36. Buh har Buh Ryant reads Cosmo and Elle while dropping a deuce. The Arena League has way to much violence for Chris Leak. But, on the plus side, it allow the Leaker to use that 4.5 40 speed.

    Indeed Jarvis Moss is only latest in a proud legacy of Ganja kings

  37. Rush Propst's Linebacker Coach

    Irishjihad: I wouldn’t let you be on the Hoover cheerleading team. Run a lap, buddy.

  38. Rush Propst's Ass Doctor

    Irishjihad: If I found you in Rush’s poop I would take him to the hospital.

  39. The new cheerleaders look kinda hawt

  40. Mike the fat defensive end with the hot girlfriend

    I am way too ugly and fat to date that dope piece of ass, Brittany.

    Poo on me.

  41. I think what Barry Sanders did was smart

  42. TJ

    “Leak better come up with 4.5 40 speed. Anyone want to take bets on his wonderlic score?”

    Wonderlic scores aren’t made available by the NFL and can’t even be verified.

  43. BeauDemon

    Mike the fat defensive end with the hot girlfriend
    January 31st, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    “I am way too ugly and fat to date that dope piece of ass, Brittany.

    Poo on me.”

    I just sharted and had an aneurysm at the same time.
    Either way discussing MTv shows about high school kids is pretty sad, even for a gator fan.

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