Driskel steady despite changes
LAKE BUENA VISTA — Jeff Driskel is living in a rapidly changing world.
The five-star quarterback (ESPNU #1 QB, #12 overall) verbally committed to play for Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators in April. He led Hagerty High School (Oviedo) to its first FHSAA playoff appearance in November.
Things changed on Dec. 8, 2010 when Meyer stepped down at the Florida coach, but Driskel did not change in his verbal commitment to enroll at UF this month despite the turnover of his future coaching staff.
Driskel has been in contact with new Florida head coach Will Muschamp and is continuing to help recruit other players to join him in signing with the Gators on National Signing Day (Feb. 2).
“I’m always trying to pull in more guys,” Driskel said. “You’ve got to have guys around to make plays. The coaching staff will do a good with pulling together some guys.”
Driskel will play in the 2011 Under Armour All-America game on Wednesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg (7 p.m. ET on ESPN) before moving to Gainesville.
Following his team’s practice on Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, Driskel was informed that Florida announced the hiring of assistant coaches Aubrey Hill and Travaris Robinson, that D.J. Durkin, Brian White and Stan Drayton will be retained from Meyer’s coaching staff and that Chiefs head coach Todd Haley confirmed that Charlie Weis will leave Kansas City to become the Gators’ offensive coordinator.
Driskel declined to comment on Weis until UF makes an official announcement.
“The other coaches are great coaches,” Driskel said. “I knew all along that coach Muschamp would put together a great staff. A big-time program like Florida, they’re always going to have big-time players and coaches. Those are some high-profile coaches, so we’re going to be alright.”
Driskel was able to watch part of the Gators’ 37-24 win against Penn State in the Outback Bowl on Saturday after practice.
“I got to see the second half,” Driskel said. “They found a way to pull it out. There were some miscues, but they pulled it out and that’s what you’ve got to do. It was good to see Urban go out with a win.”
Driskel said it was bittersweet to watch Meyer and the Gators celebrate after the game because of the relationship they have built.
“I didn’t want to see (Meyer) leave, but coach Muschamp is going to do a good job,” Driskel said. “He’s going to get the program where he wants it to. Coach Meyer is still going to be around, he’s still going to be a part of the program — I think that’s a key, because he recruited us and he’s a familiar face. I’m looking forward to getting started in Gainesville.”
Driskel struggled at times during practice. He threw several interceptions during 7-on-7 and 1-on-1 drills, largely due to the exceptional talent on the other side of the field.
“Pretty much every defensive player is standing out to me,” Driskel joked. “The defenses are good. Defenders are flying around all over the place. They’re making play after play.”
Driskel’s “Click-Clack” team will be coached by former NFL coach Steve Mariucci and features several highly-rated players, including running back Isaiah Crowell (Columbus, Ga., Carver HS, 5-11/210), overall top-rated player Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill, S.C. South Pointe HS,6-6/240), safety Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix (Orlando, Dr. Phillips HS, 6-2/194, Alabama commit), running back Savon Huggins (Jackson, N.J., St. Peter’s Prep, 5-10/190) and top-rated offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandijo (Beltsville, Md., DeMatha Catholic HS, 6-7/325).
“Guys on the offense, we’re going to get it together, we’re going to be alright,” Driskel said. “We just have to have a few days to gel. At the end, on the goal line plays, we got some touchdowns and we were sticking it in the end zone a little bit.”
Standing in the pocket during the passing drills isn’t the most effective use of Driskel’s skills. He is a talented and powerful runner, but the quarterbacks were not asked to run the ball during Sunday’s practice.
“The coaching staff’s not really letting us free (to run), but in the game I’m looking forward to making some plays,” Driskel said with a smile.
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