For the first time in his Florida football coaching career, Urban Meyer recently announced that he was closing practice to the media for a full season.
That decision led to massive confusion the last 48 hours regarding the status of highly-touted freshman Gator football players Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley after they apparently boycotted practice Tuesday.
Late Wednesday, the GAINESVILLE SUN reported:
Starting quarterback John Brantley was the only UF player made available to the media Wednesday. He said he’d heard the rumor about Powell and Easley (skipping practice) earlier in the morning.
When asked if he knew whether Powell and Easley had practiced Tuesday, Brantley said, “I do not. I’ve heard those rumors from people, but that’s the coaches’ deal. They take care of that behind closed doors.”
So the team’s starting quarterback doesn’t know if two players weren’t at practice the day before?
It took the student INDEPENDENT FLORIDA ALLIGATOR to get to the bottom of what was actually going on, reporting that Powell and Easley boycotted practice on Tuesday to protest their treatment at the hands of Gator coaches:
Hours after senior Mike Pouncey told the media the freshman class needs to “just shut their mouth and come play,” Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley didn’t come to play at all.
According to a source close to the team, the two freshmen were upset with the way the coaches came down on them during special teams practice Monday and didn’t show up for Tuesday’s practice, as a result.
According to the source, both players threatened to transfer, but nothing has come of that so far.
Powell was the top high school football recruit in the nation last season according to Rivals.com and Easley was a highly-prized defensive tackle recruit. The boycott, which Florida coaches, players and public relations staff are still refusing to confirm, was by no means a surprise to Meyer & Co.
At Florida media day recently, Easley compared himself, Powell and fellow freshman defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd to the Miami Heat’s new superstar trio:
“Ronald Powell is Chris Bosh, Sharrif (Floyd) is Dwyane Wade and I’m LeBron (James),”
Meyer also was critical of the UF freshman on Monday in his comments to the media:
“You have 25 young players — or whatever it is — that think they’re going to dominate the way they did in high school, and they have no idea what’s about to hit them.”
In the aftermath of all the confusion and internet rumors, Florida football fan site OnlyGators.com reported:
When Florida closed practice to fans and the media a few weeks ago, the main reason stated was to keep out “bad guys” and ensure that the players were safe. Just as important in the decision making was Meyer’s desire to rid the team of the distractions, speculation and media pressure that it felt trying to defend its title last season.
As our source put it, if you think Meyer was angry about Jeremy Fowler’s alleged misquote of now-redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson in the Orlando Sentinel last March, you have no idea how fuming mad he is about these false reports.
“He wants the person whose responsible’s head on a stick,” our source said.