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Once he decided, the hard part wasn’t quite finished. He had a pair of phone calls to make that he wasn’t exactly looking forward to. The first one was to Meyer:
“It went really bad . . . sad and it was tough to tell him I wouldn’t be coming up there,” Johnny said. “He wanted to know why I was making that choice, and I just told him I had a change of heart and had to do what was best for me and my family. It was tough calling Coach Meyer. He has been so great all along the whole process.” "
Boone punter Johnny Townsend signs with Florida over Ohio State, Alabama
By Chris Hays | Orlando Sentinel
9:39 p.m. EST, February 7, 201
Somewhere on his way to National Signing Day, Johnny Townsend got lost.
His intended path led to Ohio State, where he planned to go kick for head coach Urban Meyer, who had hand-picked the Orlando Boone High punter this past summer. He committed to the Buckeyes in August.
On Monday, two more members of college football’s coaching royalty jumped in his path. When Alabama’s Nick Saban or Florida’s Will Muschamp calls, high school football players listen.
After weighing all of his options, however, Townsend had to tell Meyer and Saban, no thanks. He chose to stay close to home and signed with the Florida Gators Thursday.
“I was in complete shock,” Townsend said of what transpired on Monday. “I was sitting down with family, saying some prayers and wondering out loud if all of this was happening for a reason. Like, what if this was just something that was meant to be. So I just started to weigh my options and trying to figure out where my heart was.”
In the end, his heart was at the University of Florida, where his brother, Clay, is a sophomore. It’s the same place where both his father, Clay Sr., and mother, Susan, attended college.
“Susan and I were Gators but we didn't push him in any direction,” Clay Townsend Sr. said of his son. “If he wanted to be a Buckeye, then we were in full support of him going to Ohio State. This was an extremely difficult decision for a young man to make.”
So difficult that on Wednesday during National Signing Day, Johnny was not ready to make his decision at the same time friend and teammate A.J. Turman signed with Georgia. He rescheduled for noon Wednesday. That never happened, either.
“I even thought I had made up my mind, but then in the car on the ride over I just broke down,” Johnny Townsend said.
He still went on to the school, where he found an Alabama hat waiting for him. Word was out that he might be flipping to Alabama instead of Ohio State. An anonymous person claiming to be Johnny’s mother dropped off the Crimson Tide lid at the Boone front office.
“We have no idea where it came from,” said Johnny Townsend, who told the crowd gathered at the high school be patient with him while he pondered a decision. “I still had no idea what I wanted to do and it wasn’t until night time that I had finally come to a decision on it
He decided his heart was in Gainesville, which is where he will also take his 43.6-yards-per-kick right leg.
Once he decided, the hard part wasn’t quite finished. He had a pair of phone calls to make that he wasn’t exactly looking forward to. The first one was to Meyer.
“It went really bad . . . sad and it was tough to tell him I wouldn’t be coming up there,” Johnny said. “He wanted to know why I was making that choice, and I just told him I had a change of heart and had to do what was best for me and my family. It was tough calling Coach Meyer. He has been so great all along the whole process.”
Then he had to call Saban. Not many people can say they turned down scholarships from Urban Meyer and Nick Saban on the same day. Johnny Townsend, the Eagle Scout, the Army All-American, the Doc Blanchard Award winner, and, yes, the Boone High homecoming king, is a special person.
“It has been absolutely unreal,” Townsend said. “I never would have thought my phone would be ringing with Coach Saban and Coach Muschamp both offering me scholarships. It’s just absolutely incredible.”
It doesn’t even bother him that the Gators already have a starting punter in Ray Guy Award finalist Kyle Christy.
He obviously just wants to be a Gator. He said it’s meant to be
There is a video of his explaining it - it's not youtube or I'd post it - available here.
Woody and Archie.................................. Alex being Alex, ....................................and Woody at Dennison
Well that closes the chapter of the most dramatic punter recruitment ever
Ohio State.......our nuts will kill you
True. I can remember few others with that many twists and turns.
Johnny Townsend @johnnytownsend1
S/o to the real #BuckeyeNation you all are the best fans and I hope my decision is respected and understood. #gogators
Well of this is what happened than I respect bin and his decision. I didn't realize his family was alumni of Florida or that his brother was a soph at Florida.
The only thing though is that it stinks he waited until signing day.
So I'll say it....classless move. If Urban truly didnt screw with his scholarship and was the first one to offer so long ago, then it's a bitch move to do that in the 11th hour. I get kids changing their minds, but there's a right and wrong way to change your mind.
I guess this was the reason Urban had to get up and take a phone call during one of the interviews..and this must be the one problem about a kid having 2nd thoughts, that was referenced.
I wonder what percentage of kids ended up being Buckeyes (or another school for that matter, as well) when, after getting cold feet as the day approached, just could not face the coach and tell him "no" .
I try to remind myself, when stuff like this happens, that up to this point the kid's biggest decision in life was probably centered on which party to go to each weekend.
I'm not mad. He got offered at the last moment by two teams that would give anyone pause. His ties were to Florida. It was a dificult decision that he obviously struggled with.We'll be ok.
I don't think a kid having a change of heart over where he wanted to go to school at the last second should be considered a classless move, per se. It's certainly annoying. I just don't feel like a LOI should be a prison sentence. Unfortunately, the NCAA is rigid about wasting an entire year of a student's eligibility just for transferring from one FBS school to another. Also, coaches can refuse to allow you to transfer. Why in the hell should both of those entities have THAT much control over where someone goes to school? The fact of the matter is this kid realized in his heart that he wouldn't be happy at tOSU. His heart was somewhere else. Rather than endure a year or two of misery with no passion for the team just for the sake of honoring a verbal commitment, he made the smart decision and followed his heart. Like I said, it's extremely annoying but I can't hate on the kid for it. And hey, FWIW, it opens up another scholarship for the very limited space we have in 2014, which should be an even better recruting cycle for us.
Respected and Understood?! I don't think so. Respect is earned, not given.. and this kid clearly hasn't earned it...not from us. I don't care about his ties and all that... the kid is a jerk. Yeah I said it. You don't wait until SIGNING DAY to drop a bomb like this on a team you committed to 6 months prior. Kids like this obviously lack character.
Having said that.. he's a punter.. we'll be just fine. And I don't think we'll be punting much anyways. Buchanan had 59 punts last year.. I'd say we'll punt less than 50 times this year.
Prison, misery....those are ridiculous words for a kid who's choice it was to stay commited to a school for 6 months. I don't buy that he would have been miserable here. It was his choice to begin with.
And thank God EZE and Vonn Bell are stupid enough to not follow their heart, since that's apparently the smart decision.
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