For a while he stood just behind the designated “snapper” — the guy who would hand Trevor Lawrence the ball so the Clemson quarterback and presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft could uncork some jaw-dropping bit of football ability.
Urban Meyer wasn’t going to miss a thing at Lawrence’s pro day Friday morning.
He was going to get as close of a look as possible in an effort to find any flaw, any reason at all that might dissuade him from using that top pick to bring Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It’s unlikely there were any. Lawrence looked incredible.
There was more to it than that, though. At least if you know Meyer. This wasn’t just about seeing Lawrence from the ideal position, it was about the rest of the NFL seeing Meyer on the scene, Meyer asserting control, Meyer trying to push the envelope, even in the smallest of manners.
Urban Meyer was the only NFL coach or scout who got out on the field inside the Clemson practice facility and got that view of Lawrence.
Part of that was because he has the No. 1 pick. Part of it is his friendship dating back to his college days with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who stood next to Meyer chatting for much of the 90-minute session.
And part of it is just Meyer. Why wouldn’t he position himself there? Why would he stand on the sidelines, where most scouts and coaches and executives stand? Why not take any advantage possible?
Why not see and be seen?
It’s a new day in Jacksonville. Meyer is here. Whether it works when it comes to winning games or not is unknown. Maybe Meyer fails like so many college coaches before him. Maybe he rewrites the standards, building the kind of culture that won him national championships at Ohio State and Florida.
Either way, the Jags aren’t going to be this second-tier franchise under Meyer, this happy-to-be-here, small-market expansion franchise (even a quarter century-plus later) with one foot out the door to London.
Front and center, impossible to ignore, this is Urban Meyer’s franchise now.
Part of drawing him out of retirement was a commitment by owner Shahid Khan to pour money into facilities, staff and other items so that the Jags can boast the most state-of-the-art environment in the NFL. What it can’t sell in championship history or big city skyline, he’ll make up for by bringing the college game's opulence and overload to the pros.
"People who work for me, with me, they all hear a statement of 'Is this the best of the best?'" Meyer said last month at his introductory news conference. "If it's not, then the question is, 'Well, why?'
“That's the same thing that I'm doing every time I walk through everywhere,” Meyer said. “We did that at Ohio State. We did that at Florida. 'Is this the very best?' … If it's not the very best, let's have a chat and do what's very best.”
It’s not that a fancier locker room will win you a game all on its own. It’s not that more weight gets pushed or pulled because the weight room is something that would fit in the Taj Mahal. It’s not that one more offensive analyst will guarantee anything.
It’s the mentality. It’s the culture. It’s the attitude.
If Meyer is going to demand everything from the players (and he will), then he also wants to provide everything to them that he can.
“Does a big hot tub have that much of a difference?” Meyer said. “I didn't say that, but I just want to make sure it's the best of the best.”
That it’s. That’s everything.
Best of the best. In Jacksonville.
It’s in part why Meyer didn’t hesitate to hire Chris Doyle this week as the team’s new director of sports performance. Doyle previously worked at the University of Iowa, where as the strength and conditioning coach he was accused by former players of bullying, intimidation and even racism.
To Meyer, that stuff is overridden by his belief that Doyle is the best in the country at what he does. That may be a tragically bad call; dealing with grown professionals is a lot different than college kids. Dictatorships tend to fail in the NFL. We’ll see.
To Meyer though, it didn’t matter, because he personally had “vetted it” (whatever that entailed). In the end, the results will justify the means. Always. He’s myopic like that.
“The one thing I’m very confident in is that I would imagine within a year or two we’ll have the best sports performance team in the National Football League,” Meyer said.
In other words, Doyle will deliver and nothing — not even past charges by former players — will get in the way of Urban Meyer getting the guy he believes will deliver. It’s the same with every coach, every staff member, every everything.
“The Jacksonville players are going to get pushed,” Meyer said. “In return, we give them the very best, that includes the coaching staff. Number one, the coaching staff."
The entire Jacksonville organization will be aggressive. Every decision will be made with a single purpose: winning. Prior procedures, traditional standards, outside opinions? None of it matters.
If the old way was a good way, the Jags wouldn’t have needed to hire Meyer. At least that’s how he will look at it.
That’s why Urban Meyer wasn’t just at Trevor Lawrence’s pro day, he was basically in it.
It was the new coach of the Jags getting the best look at his future young starter and the rest of the NFL getting a good look at the new coach, and the new mentality, of the Jags.
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