GAINESVILLE -- Brandon Spikes wears No.51 for one reason. He wants to play football like NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, who wore the same number during his playing days.
Spikes, a finalist for the Nagurski Award, started watching films of his favorite linebackers -- Butkus and Mike Singletary -- when he was in high school. He learned from the best.
"There's one thing I noticed about guys like that," Spikes said. "They're really violent, so I try to mold my game after guys like that."
How violent of a hitter does Spikes consider himself? Here's his description of what it feels like to make a perfect tackle.
"You really can't explain it," Spikes said. "It's just something a linebacker dreams about: Put a guy out and let the ambulance come and get him off the field."
Spikes has made some pretty big hits this season (see Moreno, Knowshon) but he says his biggest hit is still bottled up inside, waiting to be unleashed.
"[Moreno] was a good hit but I want to knock a guy out of the game," Spikes said. "It was a great lick. I kind of wanted to get revenge from the year before."
Spikes will get his chance to KO a few D-II players this weekend. Something tells me he'll be saving his best for FSU and Alabama. As for Saturday's game against The Citadel, Spikes said on Wednesday that he wants to play a great game for "the seniors, the guys who are never going to play here again."
But what about Spikes? Might Saturday's final home game of the season be his last game in The Swamp? Will he turn pro after this season?
"It's a decision I have to make in the future but right now I'm focused on beating The Citadel," Spikes said.
That said, Spikes did reflect on his time at Florida on Wednesday. He mentioned how "it's going fast."
"It's a great place to play -- in The Swamp," Spikes said. "I come out here ... I used to take it for granted when I was younger but now it's going fast, so I just want to come out and play hard every game."
STRONG FOCUSING ON THE CITADEL
Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is no stranger to his name being shuffled around by the media as a possible head-coaching candidate. Perhaps there was a time earlier in his career when he might have gotten caught up in the speculation. Not anymore.
"My name has been out there for so many years," Strong said. "I have a great job here and I don't even listen to it anymore because, you know what, if you let yourself get consumed with it then it will take away from what you're doing now. And my job now is to work at the University of Florida and get this team prepared to play The Citadel and that's all I'm concerned about."