Posted: 10:45 am Friday, October 2nd, 2009
By Jason Lieser
Urban Meyer, do you know where your superstar recruit is?
Well, tomorrow he’s going to be in Knoxville, Tenn.
Dwyer senior Matt Elam, the area’s top college prospect, committed to the Florida Gators last season, but suddenly sounds like a free agent. Elam (6-0, 210, No. 1 on the Big Board) maintains he is committed to UF, but visited West Virginia last month and has official visits planned for Tennessee and Florida State in the next two weeks.
He said he also is considering trips to Southern Cal, Texas and Virginia Tech. He does not plan to make an official visit to Gainesville because he said he has been there enough times to know how he feels about it.
“I still feel I’m committed there,” Elam said of Florida. “That’s where I want to be. I just feel like I have to look around. I’ve never been no other places. I haven’t seen other things. It really opened me up when I went to West Virginia. I still say I’m committed, but I’m looking around.
“I don’t want to de-commit and cause a lot of trouble, so I’m going to stay there, stay committed, but I’m going to look around.”
If Elam was forced to sign right now, where would he land?
“Probably West Virginia,” he said. “It’s crazy, huh? That’s how it is.”
Elam committed to the Gators last October and said at the start of the season he was “locked in” to Florida and would not welcome other offers. He recently reaffirmed that commitment, but has since reconsidered.
The biggest factor weakening his commitment (if it still can be called that) right now is the fact that he is one of four safeties committed to Florida. He also doubts that current safety Major Wright will turn pro at the end of this season.
“There’s a lot of places that I could get a better opportunity than Florida,” Elam said. “I’m not going to run away from Florida because of competition, but I don’t want to wait. I feel I shouldn’t have to wait. I just want to go in and play. I don’t want to have to beat out four or five people. I know I’m going to have to compete wherever I go, but Florida probably has the biggest depth in college football, besides USC.”
He is widely considered one of the top 10-15 seniors in America and is the Gators’ highest rated commitment. Granted, commitments mean nothing until players sign in February, or enroll in January. Elam plans to graduate early, and if he does he will have need to have this decision wrapped up by late December.
It’s important to keep in mind Elam is an 18-year-old kid trying to sort out one of the biggest decisions of his life. He’s clearly confused right now and every program he visits is going to make a pretty strong pitch that he belongs with them. Ultimately, there still is a very good chance he ends up with the Gators.
One influence tying him to Florida, of course, is Meyer. Meyer coached Elam’s older brother Abram at Notre Dame and because of that, Meyer has a longtime relationship with Elam and his family.
“I promised Coach Meyer I was going to his school,” Elam said. “Me and his relationship is very strong. That’s one reason why I won’t leave Florida.”
His high school coach, Jack Daniels (who had some harsh words for Lane Kiffin after he ripped Pahokee earlier this year), said he is staying out of Elam’s recruiting process unless Elam asks him to be involved.
Daniels has fielded some curious phone calls from Gainesville in the past few weeks, however.
“He’s going to visit Tennessee this weekend and I think that one hurts a little bit for the Gators, but it’s Matt’s right to do it,” Daniels said. “Urban Meyer’s going to be fine at the end of the day no matter what Matt does. Matt’s got to take care of himself.”
Daniels believes Elam is a player who “craves the attention of being recruited” and would not be surprised if he ends up taking all five official visits.
While Elam’s commitment is in question, teammate Gerald Christian (6-3, 230, No. 4 on The Big Board) said he is “definitely” still planning to be a Gator. Daniels said Christian is, “a guy that thinks things out and doesn’t make a decision until he knows what he wants to do. He knows he wants to be a Gator. Gerald’s going to stick to that.”
Last May, Pahokee’s Nu’Keese Richardson committed to Florida and said during the 2008 season he remained committed, but changed his mind shortly before national signing day and picked Tennessee. Elam has been asked about that situation many times and always responded by saying he would never do the same thing.
“Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever change my mind,” Elam told the Post in February. “That’s where I want to be at. Nothing could persuade me.
“I won’t change unless the coach changes.”