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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Smith denies speaking to Meyer to help recruit wide receiver Moore

Gymnast Maranda Smith denied Wednesday that she had regular telephone contact with UF football coach Urban Meyer while he was recruiting her boyfriend to play wide receiver.

On Jan. 11, Smith said she had spoken with Meyer "every day" during the recruitment of Carl Moore, a receiver from Sierra (Calif.) College who is now enrolled at UF and will play football in the fall.

"[Meyer] kept asking how Carl was doing, and he wanted me to come to here and do gymnastics," Smith had said. She transferred to Gainesville with Moore to compete for the Gators.

The remarks sparked an investigation by the UF compliance department to see if Meyer committed a violation, as coaches are not allowed to recruit players from other sports.

Smith recanted her earlier statements Wednesday, saying she only had contact with Meyer when he was calling for Moore.

"We never had real phone conversations," she said. "I never even had a conversation with him. I mean, he sounds like a nice guy saying 'hi' and 'bye,' but that's all I really know."

She blamed the misinterpreted quote on her exaggerating how often she talked to Meyer.

Smith was recruited by UF when she was a junior in high school but chose to go to UCLA instead.

She had retired from gymnastics in November 2006 after she needed a titanium rod and three screws to mend a broken shin.

Although Smith had met Moore in her senior year of high school, the couple did not start dating until she returned home after her surgery.

Her injury began a journey that led back to the Gators when she decided to return to the sport in 2007.

"I always had a drive to be a Gator, so when I had quit gymnastics and started up again, I contacted Rhonda back in February 2007," Smith said. "So then I was like, 'I'm getting back in the sport and might be interested in coming to Florida.' She was like, 'Oh well, send me videos and keep me updated on how your training is going.' So I continued to do that all last year while I was getting back my skills from the injury."

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In December, Smith again contacted Faehn about a scholarship she said was available in the spring. She committed to UF later that month.

Smith refuted the idea that she and Moore were a package deal.

"Of course we wanted to come to the same school, but we never decided that we are going to go the same school," she said. "We looked at our own individual lives and careers and had decided."

Initially, Smith committed to competing at Arizona before she felt she was at a high enough level of gymnastics to attend UF.

There was one incident when Faehn and Meyer discussed Smith.

"He did ask me if she was talented, if she was good, and I said absolutely she's good enough for Florida," Faehn said. "We wanted her. We wanted her from the very beginning."

Despite the recent attention, Smith has stayed focused on her gymnastics.

"She's great. She's focused simply on doing her job and training and getting ready," Faehn said. "She is going to be competing in bars for us this weekend and doing floor exhibition again."

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