January 4, 2011

Blakely firm with Florida

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SAN ANTONIO -- When Mike Blakely heard Urban Meyer was stepping down as Florida's coach, it was a difficult time for the four-star running back from Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee, but new coach Will Muschamp wasted little time making sure Blakely was set with the Gators.

Two days after Muschamp's hiring in Gainesville, he had an in-home visit with Blakely and delivered a clear message that Blakely absolutely was needed in Florida's new pro-style offense.

Other schools have reached out, but with Muschamp, new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and running backs coach Stan Drayton in place, Blakely is comfortable enough to stick with his pledge. His meeting with Muschamp played an important role.

"I talked to coach Muschamp, and as soon as he got in, I knew he'd be busy, but two days after he got in, he came to see me. So I automatically got a good feeling for him," Blakely said. "Coach Meyer told me he'd still be around, and that's the guy who really recruited me.

"[Steve] Addazio leaving, that's kind of crazy because that was the guy who originally recruited me. Coach Stan Drayton is still going to be there. He recruited me all along, so I feel pretty good about it."

During Muschamp's in-home visit, Blakely said Florida's new coach expressed the need for his abilities in the Gators' backfield and that he would be a perfect fit for what the new offense is looking for.

It's been a difficult time, though, for Blakely, especially since he planned to play for Meyer and now will have to get situated with many new coaches. Even more difficult is that Blakely plans to be an early enrollee.

Still, after talking with Muschamp and knowing Drayton is staying, that's enough for Blakely to stay committed.

"It's tough because [Meyer is] the person you've been talking to. You've been talking to him through all your recruitment and you know that's where you want to go," Blakely said.

"When they leave, it's crazy and you just have to have faith in wherever you go."

The addition of Weis as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach is something Blakely liked, mainly because Weis is considered one of the best offensive minds in all of football.

Weis is not at Florida yet because he'll coach with the Kansas City Chiefs through the postseason, but Blakely, rated as the sixth-best running back and No. 34 prospect nationally by Rivals.com, is excited to see what the revamped Gators offense will look like.

"That's going to help us, because [Weis] knows what he's doing," Blakely said. "He doesn't have to take over the whole team; he just has to focus on the offense, and that's what he's good at. So I'll be happy with that. I'm happy with my decision."

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