Florida football recruiting: Johnny Townsend turned down Urban Meyer, Nick Saban on Signing Day

Gregory Shamus

Yes, I will take a punter who turns down coaches who won five of the last seven national titles to sign with Will Muschamp.

Johnny Townsend flipped from Ohio State to Florida on Thursday, giving the Gators their 29th signee in a sterling 30-person recruiting class. But on Wednesday, as the Orlando Sentinel reports, Townsend had to call the coaches of the schools he was turning down: Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Alabama's Nick Saban.

And he had to tell them no.

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."

The Sentinel doesn't relate how Townsend's call with Saban went — I'm guessing Saban didn't care all that much, because Townsend wasn't an Alabama commit — but it does include this crazy detail (boldface mine) about his Signing Day experience.

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.

I will never understand Alabama fans.

As for Townsend: Yeah, he's a punter. Yeah, being a punter at Florida is significantly more prestigious (and, frankly, has been more work) than being one at Ohio State or Alabama, thanks to the legacy of Eric Wilbur, Chas Henry, and Kyle Christy. Yeah, Townsend's parents and older brother were both Gators, and he's a local product.

He still told Urban Meyer and Nick Saban no and said yes to Will Muschamp. I'm gonna appreciate that for what it's worth.

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