Caught between Miami and Florida 

December, 9, 2010

Think you were shocked by the news that Urban Meyer was stepping down again? Imagine being Anthony Chickillo; the 17-year-old blue-chip defensive end recruit has been through a mind-bending 10 days.

In September, Chickillo had announced that he was going to play for Miami, where both his father and grandfather had played. The nation's No. 8-ranked defensive end prospect said it was where his "heart was at" and because he had such a strong relationship with UM coach Randy Shannon. Chickillo told reporters that Shannon has known him "since I was in diapers."

Chickillo picked Miami over Florida, adding that it was tough for him to say no to Gators defensive line coach Dan McCarney.

On Nov. 27, Chickillo had driven down to Sun Life Stadium in Miami to watch the Hurricanes play South Florida. Miami lost 23-20 in overtime. Chickillo was disappointed. It was the latest in what had been a really underwhelming season for his future program. He got back in his car and drove back home to Tampa. At 11:30 p.m. ET, he received a stunning phone call.

"It was my [high school] coach. He said, 'Flip on ESPN. Coach Shannon's just been fired,'" Chickillo recalled.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound defensive end went to bed that night not really sure what might happen next. He posted a message on his Facebook account that just said "wow," which prompted messages from Miami fans and of other programs to post messages trying to make their case of what he should do.

When he woke up Sunday morning and powered on his cell phone, he was startled. "I had 56 missed calls and 43 text messages," he said. "It was crazy."

Many of the calls were from college recruiters. As it turned out, the first coach he ended up actually speaking to that morning was Florida's Urban Meyer.