A ton of rumors have been flying since 2-star punter Johnny Townsend failed to sign with Ohio State and was then rumored to be signing with Alabama for the better part of National Signing Day 2013. Of course in the end, Townsend wound up instead electing to sign with the Florida Gators, becoming the 29th commit of the Gators' 2013 class (they back counted 8 early enrollees as permissible under NCAA and SEC roster management guidelines). The rumors since basically either begin and end with either Ohio State having asked Townsend to grayshirt, or Ohio State having been asking him to grayshirt all along. Or there's always *insert other conspiracy theory here*.
As per usual, the simplest explanation winds up being the correct one. Townsend admitted to the Orlando Sentinel that things changed for him earlier this week when Florida finally offered him a full ride. The punter also stated that Florida was the school he grew up rooting for and going to their games his whole life. He also stated that when push came to shove, after carefully looking at all the details and making phone calls for several days straight, based on his desire to live and work in Florida after graduation, he decided UF was the school for him.
He also stated that he's still very close with both Urban Meyer and Kerry Coombs. So unless you're still subscribing to the conspiracy theory that both Townsend and his father would go to extraordinary lengths to cover up a more nefarious intended plan after someone they'd trusted pulled a fast one on them — for the sake of doing right by the ex-coach of the school both will have attended when everything's said and done — well, good on you.
As far as those that continue name-checking a hard roster ceiling of 82, they pretty much without exception also have failed to mention that it doesn't go into effect until summer practices begin. While it's not any more on the up and up than grayshirting someone or pulling a scholarship at the last minute, in the last 14 months, if Urban Meyer's done one thing well, he's proved more than capable of finding creative ways to generate roster flexibility. Convincing another young person that their best opportunity may lie elsewhere or having them decide that for him is far from out of the question.
Regardless, it's hard to feel bad for Townsend given his desire to stay close to home during college and beyond. Best of luck to him during his time at Florida.