By CAREY FREEMAN, EMILY NIPPS, MIKE READLING and GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 5, 2002
News of Steve Spurrier's surprising decision to step down at Florida hit home Friday afternoon for area recruits who now have one less reason to consider the University of Florida as part of their future.
"It would definitely affect my decision whether or not to go there," said Jefferson linebacker Jeremy Burnett, who also is considering South Florida, Purdue and Miami. "They've got to start up a whole new program so I would probably pick another Florida school. I'm a big Florida fan but I can't really say yet whether this would keep me from going there."
For Chamberlain defensive end Brodrick Bunkley, the Times co-Player of the Year in Hillsborough County, Friday's news marked the second time a coach has left a school he is considering in the recruiting process. Though Spurrier's absence is significant, Bunkley said it won't make a major impact on his decision.
"It's not really going to affect me; I'm still going to take my visit and keep them in consideration," Bunkley said. "The same thing happened with the University of South Carolina. Buddy Pough was one of their assistants who was recruiting me but he took the head job at South Carolina State and I haven't heard from them since. That was early enough that I could change."
Bunkley said he will take his visit to Gainesville on Jan. 18 and also is considering Florida State, Miami and Alabama, among others.
"This doesn't affect me much," he said. "It's a little too close to be changing my position now. Usually, once I get on a path I stay on that path."
Crystal River's Clayton Trenary, a standout quarterback and defensive back being recruited by the Gators but not yet offered a scholarship, also was surprised by Spurrier's decision.
"I was playing golf when I heard, and I just like "Wow,' especially with him saying it so quick after the bowls," Trenary said. "I would still like to play there any day. Everything's nice at UF. (Spurrier) was just like a bonus."