As Urban Meyer adjusts to life as a head coach in the NFL, he’s had to willingly take on lessons about cap space and roster control, draft techniques and leading a locker room of professionals.
The newest head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars has readily admitted there are aspects of the league he will have to learn. But to ask Jacksonville’s favorite son, Tim Tebow, he is really only worried about one aspect of the transition for the man now handed the keys to the city’s heart.
“I just wonder if he's going to actually cut his yard or not.”
On a podcast with ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Tebow—who won two National Championships and a Heisman Trophy under Meyer with the Florida Gators—revealed he and Meyer wouldn’t be living too far apart now that his former coach was on the First Coast. Now essentially neighbors, Tebow will have an up-close look at Meyer adapting to the league.
While the former first-round quarterback pick will keep an eye on Meyer’s patch of grass at home, he knows there’s a much more important turf Meyer will be consuming himself with across town. While life will inevitably be different in the NFL for the longtime college coach, Tebow says the basics of Meyer’s philosophy can remain the same. And he knows better than anyone how effective they can be for a team.
“One of the things that he does such a great job of is coaches and player evaluation, and he, I think he's evaluated so many different coaches and he's hired a great staff that's going to help them in the areas that where he's learning and growing because he's in the NFL for the first time," Tebow said.
Meyer himself admitted himself how crucial the staff would be to help him transition when he was first hired in January.
"I think everything this year we’ve got to do—first of all, I’ve got to get a great staff, not a good staff, a great staff…that’s what Jacksonville deserves and that’s what we’re going to have on our staff,” Meyer said at the time.
“The Jacksonville players are going to get pushed. In return, we give them the very best, that includes the coaching staff, number one the coaching staff.”
That staff is now fully assembled. There was turmoil surrounding one hire—Director of Sports Performance, Chris Doyle—over ongoing allegations of bullying and racism. Doyle resigned a day later and order was restored. The rest of the staff has been praised for its balance of longtime NFL experience and championship college coaches.
Now comes drafting players of the same quality. Those are aspects that translate from recruiting and another area Tebow feels Meyer will succeed.
“Just look at all of these players and how many have played in the NFL. He knows how to evaluate talent and who he wants," Tebow said.
Between Utah, Florida and the Ohio State Buckeyes, Meyer recruited and/or developed 108 players that went on to be drafted. And that’s not even including those who were recruited by Meyer and then transferred and drafted out of another school; guys like Cam Newton and Joe Burrow, both No. 1 overall picks, joining Alex Smith as another Meyer product turned No. 1 pick.
Now Meyer will get to experience a No. 1 overall quarterback from the other side. The Jaguars hold the first pick in next month's 2021 NFL Draft. Tebow plays it safe, saying the club still technically has to pull the trigger on the pick, but all indications are the Jags will take Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
“Trevor brings so much to the table. I think he, not only is he a great athlete that has an incredible skill set, but he's also a very mature young man that has been in a lot of big moments. I think that really helps. That helps with the pressure,” opined Tebow.
There has been much national debate over the fairness of a city and franchise like Jacksonville getting a generational talent like Lawrence. Should he be allowed to say no and go to New York with the Jets instead? Is he more fit for a huge market like Los Angeles and the Rams? But Tebow, the guy born and raised and now living back in Jacksonville, knows exactly what sort of supportive community Lawrence is stepping into as the new face of the city.
“Having a chance to possibly come to a place in Jacksonville that will be super excited to have him…as a city, bring him in with open arms. I think that'll be really probably encouraging for a young quarterback.”
Meyer has never been shy about admitting having the No. 1 pick was a huge reason he took the Jaguars job when he did. Now, he has to actually develop Lawrence.
Says the man who won a Heisman under Meyer, “If [Trevor] gets teamed up with Urban, you know, one of the things I love about Urban is…he’s going to put them in a position to where their strengths can flourish. He's always done that and I believe he'll always do that because that's the philosophy he lives by, and I think that really helps a young quarterback.”
Over the past few years, Tebow’s work with SEC Nation and ESPN has allowed him face time with some of the game’s best young stars. He watches their game closely, he gets to know them off the field even better. And all of his knowledge of Trevor Lawrence makes Tebow confident that the rookie quarterback will be fine in whatever NFL locker room he steps in to this fall.
“Trevor is, he's a, he's a really great young man. I think he'll be a leader at a very young age in an NFL locker room, he’ll be able to step in there and have respect because all these guys have also watched him play, and they know the talent but they also, I think they'll get to know the young man," Tebow said.
“And for as little as I've been around him, I know a lot of people that are very close with him, that he's also a very impressive young man and I think that it's going to really help because at the next level it's, you know, if it's a business, but you also want to play with people that inspire you and I think he’ll inspire a lot of people around him.”
Tebow says the same of Urban Meyer. The marriage of the two personalities can be possibly the biggest difference in any upcoming success for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Urban, in my opinion, his best quality is, he’s a leader of men, and he's a believer of men and he makes them believe in themselves and believe in, that they can accomplish something special. And I think that's going to carry and that's going to translate.”
And as for who will cut the yard?
“There's no chance, first of all, you know that he is not cutting his yard. [Meyer’s wife] Mrs. Shelley is the one that keeps all of it in shape because if it goes on on coach, you know he's not gonna think about that for two years.”