Urban Meyer credits Bill Belichick for college recruiting success

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Darren Hartwell
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How Urban Meyer modeled his recruiting style after Belichick originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and Urban Meyer apparently flattered Bill Belichick plenty during his college coaching years.

The Jacksonville Jaguars head coach is preparing for his first NFL Draft after a successful college coaching career that included national championships at both Florida and Ohio State. And Meyer credits some of that success to the New England Patriots' head coach.

"I actually modeled my recruiting after Coach Belichick," Meyer told NFL Network's James Palmer on Wednesday.

Meyer, who is "very close friends" with Belichick, said he first started adopting Belichick's style of player evaluation around 2005.

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"He had a very certain criteria he looked for. And I actually changed our recruiting," Meyer said. "The amount of mistakes I made -- especially in the last half of my career -- were very few, because I set criteria and I said if they didn't fit that criteria, we didn't recruit them.

"When I was a younger coach, if they ran fast, I took them. So, the more experienced I got the better we got in recruiting."

As our Tom E. Curran recently explained, Belichick and his staff have an incredibly detailed player evaluation system that includes "vertical" and "horizontal" big boards. These boards allow the Patriots to not only rank each draft prospect but also determine whether they're worthy of a certain pick.

For example, New England may view Justin Fields as the third-best quarterback in the draft, but it may also determine Fields isn't worth a top-five pick based on the criteria he does or doesn't meet for the Patriots. (That's just a hypothetical, to be clear.)

How many other secrets Meyer gleaned from Belichick is unclear, but the results are undeniable: Meyer's Florida Gators won national titles in 2006 and 2008, and he won a third championship with Ohio State in 2014.

"There's some people who do it incredible and there's other people who don't. I'd like to learn from the ones that took the deep dive into our players," Meyer added. "From my experience, those are the ones that had the best drafts."

Picking in the NFL Draft is a whole different animal than recruiting, but Meyer won't have a difficult decision this year: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is expected to go to Jacksonville at No. 1 overall.