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February 16, 2006This is the first in a series in which GatorBait.net will interview the departing seniors and NFL early entrants for a quick look back on their time at Florida as well as what they're up to now and plans for the future.
Jarvis Herring kicks off the series with an in-depth look at his time at Florida, his thoughts on Spurrier, Zook and Meyer, what he sees for the players returning at his position and much more.
GatorBait.net: What have you been up to since the end of the football season?
Jarvis Herring: "Working out and doing my combine training. I'm trying to get in the best condition I can before we go in-front of the NFL scouts."
GatorBait.net: Looking back, in a few words, how would you sum up your time at Florida?
Jarvis Herring: "I guess you could say it was a roller coaster ride. There were so many ups-and-downs."
GatorBait.net: You are in a unique position in that you were at Florida with three different head coaches.
Going over all three of them, first what can you tell us about Steve Spurrier?
Jarvis Herring: "When I came in under coach Spurrier I thought I would win two or three SEC Championships and maybe a National Championship ring. Things changed so fast, I didn't get to know coach Spurrier that much, he was gone before I knew it.
"I never had a problem with him. I thought he was a mastermind."
GatorBait.net: You redshirted the year you both were here.
Jarvis Herring: "Coach Spurrier and coach (Jon) Hoke tried to get me to play that year, but I knew I wasn't going to start so I didn't want to waste a year. I talked to my cousin Andra (Davis) and he said he thought it was better to redshirt and allow my body to develop."
GatorBait.net: What was it like playing for Ron Zook?
Jarvis Herring: "We kind of got off track under coach Zook. The team was separated. I guess that's when we got into most of our trouble. You have to put that on us, we were a bunch of young, irresponsible guys."
GatorBait.net: How do you explain some of the off the field trouble while Zook was here that has seemingly disappeared?
It's still the same players for the most part?
Jarvis Herring: "I don't know because coach Zook stressed going to class and doing the right things.
"I don't want it to seem like I'm talking down on him, but the truth is I guess you could say it was a blessing in disguise that he isn't here because I learned so much from coach Meyer and his coaches."
GatorBait.net: Talk about Urban Meyer.
Jarvis Herring: "Coach Meyer is night and day from the other two. Coach Spurrier didn't have much to say, but you knew where he stood. Coach Zook talked about going to class, being a leader, staying out of trouble. Coach Meyer demands it. He hits on those things all the time. It's not said and in one ear and out the other, it's part of life here.
"It was a whole different atmosphere when he got here. They brought a work ethic with them. I always knew how to compete, but they brought competition and leadership to another level."
GatorBait.net: Some may find it strange to hear you say things like that now because you were perhaps the most outspoken player when Ron Zook was dismissed. What was going through your head then?
Jarvis Herring: "It was me being young and not thinking before I acted. Most of us felt like, 'I came here to win and try to keep the program going in the right direction and then they keep taking things away from us.' It taught me to always think before I open my mouth."
GatorBait.net: You were also upfront about what it was like when Zook was the coach. I believe it was last year when you said that over the summer you and some teammates would start drinking from morning to night. How did things change under Meyer?
Jarvis Herring: "He came in with a different mindset. Everything with him is a competition. Guys like me, we want to win. I hate to lose. I can't stand it. When he made everything a competition, we knew there couldn't be any late nights or messing around.
"We wanted to make sure we got off on the right foot. Sometimes it happens where you might not know it, but you're saying to yourself, 'this is just another coach, here we go again. I only have another year or two before I'm gone' and players go through the motions. You might not think it does, but it happens."
GatorBait.net: What was your initial impression of Urban Meyer?
Jarvis Herring: "(laughing) I can say this now, but when he first came in here, I guess you could say I thought he was a little bit of an @#$hole. The thing is the more I got to know him, I started to see that we are more alike than different.
"He came in with some things, like the circle drill, that I thought were high school. I was like, 'Man this is high school. This isn't going to do anything for us' but after a while I saw what he was trying to do. He does things like that to see who wants it, who is willing to tough it out. Not just physical toughness, who is tough mentally. Things that you can't find out by talking to guys, you have to see who is willing to stand and fight and who isn't.
"The things they were saying, the things they had us doing at first that I thought was crazy, started making sense.
"The two of us?have the same attitude about a lot of the same things. My feeling is, if you have talent, use it. When I see players with it that don't use it, I get mad about that. He's the same way."
GatorBait.net: You were part of the leadership committee last year. What did that involve?
Jarvis Herring: "It was making sure guys were all on the same page. Making sure guys were taking care of their business in class and staying out of trouble. We all need a helping hand sometimes, we needed to make sure we were there for our teammates instead of standing back and saying, 'He's just being stupid again,' get in there and help him. Be accountable to him and make him accountable to the team.
"That's where everything being a competition helped at first. If I'm going against a guy tomorrow who is at home getting his rest, I better not be out on the town or I'm going to get beat. We all want to win and we'll do whatever it takes to do it. That's the bottom line."
GatorBait.net: You've talked several times now about what the coaches have meant to you and mentoring the younger players. Is the coaching profession something that interests you?
Jarvis Herring: "(Laughing) That's funny because the coaches ask me about that a lot. They always talk to me about coming back to coaching. I don't know, I see how many hours these coaches work and I'm still a young guy I don't know if I would want to do that. They say that after I play in the league a couple of years and retire or get out of it, I'll start missing football and I'll want to come back and be around it. I don't know, maybe down the road."
GatorBait.net: Be a coach for a few minutes and talk about the younger players returning at the position, Kyle Jackson, Tony Joiner and Reggie Nelson. What do they need to do to improve?
Jarvis Herring: "Kyle doesn't have to do much to improve. Everyone expected so much out of him because of the way he played as a freshman. People have to realize that he's a young guy. All he needs to do is make sure he stays focused all the time. I think he got caught up in the life of being that elite freshman. Not too many guys come into a place like Florida and play like he did as a freshman. He needs to relax and go hard all the time. Kyle's going to be pretty good.
"Tony is probably the smartest one in knowing his position. He just has to be more consistent."
"Reggie Nelson is an athlete with a nose for the ball. That's the bottom line with him. You don't have to say much about him, because everyone can see it. He's going to be something special."
GatorBait.net: Earlier you spoke of the NFL, what are you hearing?
Jarvis Herring: "My cousin (Andra Davis) told me that the stuff we hear now won't be accurate until after we go to the combine. That's when the GM's and coaches will see us all together for the first time and start sorting through all the information."
GatorBait.net: What would you bring to an NFL team?
Jarvis Herring: "I guess maturity on the field that will always give 100%. I'm an effort player. I know the game and I'm someone they won't have to waste a lot of time on trying to teach the game. I think effort is the biggest part of it. I come to play everyday whether it's practice or the game."
GatorBait.net: You spoke of your cousin, former Gator linebacker, Andra Davis. He has had a storybook career thus far with the Browns. Has he been a mentor to you?
Jarvis Herring: "That's my man there. I talk to him a couple of times a week. Following after him is how I've tried to pattern my life. It's seemed like everything that has happened to him, happened to me later on down the road.
"He's there for me and he makes sure that I stay up on my game."
Up Next: In the next Parting Shots Lance Butler talks about nearly transferring, some of Urban Meyer's motivational ploys, the returning offensive tackles and much more.