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Florida Gators safety Ahmad Black should be a starter

GAINESVILLE -- How many people can make this claim? Two national championships in Miami's Land Shark Stadium highlighted by two game-winning defensive plays.

Only one person has accomplished such a feat: Florida Gators safety Ahmad Black. He might be smaller than the prototypical safety and others might be faster, but Black's body of work is proof that, at this point in his career, he is one of the best defensive backs this state has produced when it comes to timing, tackling and big plays on the grand stage. Black did not start in the Gators' season opener last Saturday against AhmadBlack Charleston Southern but that should not be the case this week when UF plays its first Football Bowl Subdivision opponent, the Troy Trojans. UF's coaches can't afford to keep him off the field. Expect Black [PICTURED] to return to his starting position at strong safety this Saturday.  

Now, before you flood this blog post's comments field with insults, let me clarify a portion of that last paragraph. I'm not saying Ahmad Black can be compared to Bennie Blades, Lawrence Wright, Deion Sanders, Reggie Nelson, Louis Oliver, Sean Taylor, Phillip Buchanon, Lito Sheppard, Antonio Cromartie, all the Rolles (Antrel, Myron, Samari) ... That's not what I'm claiming. I'm crazy but not THAT crazy. I'm simply stating a fact: Ahmad Black's football resume -- high school and one season of college football -- can be compared to any of those Florida-born players' accomplishments at that point in their careers. (And, yes, I'm fully aware some of the those players are cornerbacks.)

Consider this when Black starts ahead of UF sophomore Will Hill on Saturday: Since high school, Black has only lost one game in which he was a starter. (Ole Miss 31, Florida 30/2008.) He was a starter for three state championship football teams at Lakeland High School. The Dreadnaughts never lost a game and defeated Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in 2006 at Land Shark Stadium (then Dolphin Stadium) to earn a mythical high school football national championship. It was an epic game, highlighted by Black's game-saving tackle on the goal line in double overtime. Black had 20 interceptions in three years at Lakeland.

As a freshman at UF, Black was a third-string cornerback in 2007 but in 2008 he emerged as one of the most accomplished defensive backs in the nation. He was a co-leader nationally with seven interceptions. It can be argued that his final interception of the season -- in the fourth quarter against a driving Oklahoma Sooners offense -- essentially won the game for the Gators.

Now, as for UF sophomore Will Hill, he is a fine player -- and maybe he'll end up being one of UF's greatest defenders of all time -- but he's just not ready to play safety in the Southeastern Conference. (At least, he's not ready to play safety in the SEC while Black and Major Wright are on the same roster.) I'm not a coach, but I've watched the UF-Charleston Southern game three times and Hill played out of position, occasionally looked confused and missed a few tackles. Physically, Hill has a better body than Black but that does not mean Hill is the better football player. Not yet, anyway.

Upon further review, Florida's experiment with rotating safeties should be scrapped. Start Black and Wright at the safety positions and let Hill play nickelback. If Black makes mistakes and becomes a liability, then give Hill another shot. Until then, go with the proven winner. 

-jo-

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Agreed

Couldn't agree more - well said, jo.

Tell us how you really feel Jo. It appears to me that you may have left out a few details which may have led to Ahmad losing is starting role. It appears his grades are not in order and other media outlets are noting that he may not have reported to camp in the proper shape. Based on recent history UM does not take kindly to those on the team that don't take care of their business. This may be a wake up call to Ahmad.

Him not starting the first game was the wake-up call. Since he reported in bad shape, he's shaped-up. Don't know about the grades. cmhgator makes good points as to the main reasons UM did not put him in the starting line-up week one...but week two SHOULD be different.

Great points, cmhgator. Ahmad injured his back this summer while working out and he later injured a groin muscle during camp. Will Hill did not miss any time this preseason and was rewarded with the start in the season opener. Will is going to be a great player, but Ahmad should be the starter. Just one man's opinion after watching the game film several times. As for Ahmad's grades, Meyer did mention something about that at the beginning of camp but he never said that was the reason why Hill got the start on Saturday. Meyer said that Hill earned the right to start after a good week of practice. Meyer refers to the three safeties all as starters. Of course, only two people can actually start at safety. Hill might indeed start on Saturday against Troy, but I think it will be at nickelback.

-jo-

Another issue seems to be pass coverage. Wright, it is often said is not very good in pass coverage. If Black were able to play free saftey it seems that it would free up Wright to be the strong saftey but that has not happened. It may be that Hill is better in pass coverage and Wright and Black will rotate in the strong saftey position or both play in nickel coverage.

What this issue highlights is a problem. Both Black and Hill are very qualified for the position, as is Wright. The coaches really want Hill on the field, but can't discount the talents of the other three safeties.

What an awesome problem to have, huh?

You cannot use Ahmad Black's W/L record as a starter to bolster your argument, as the inference that he is directly responsible for those wins or losses is ridiculous. Yes, he is a fine player, but so are the other guys that play that position (and others) for the Gators. It's a UNIT, and the key is to PLAY that way. Lobbying for one player or another to start is a waste of your time and my eyesight.

Lobbying? Not quite. Just talking about football.

-jo-

Can't U feel the tide turning, ESPN does! They already want us for next year opening game!

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking-news/story/1226762.html?mi_pluck_action=comment_submitted&qwxq=427531#Comments_Container

1) Congratulations for playing in a meaningful game for the first time in years.
2) It was a very good game.
3) It was the only game on TV.

Congrats to Miami. Now go get that defense in order...

-jo-

here here jo!

How can you not play Ahmad...I haven't seen the guy make one mistake...EVER. He always makes the right play. Forget the 40 and the bench press...the guy is, at this point, a better football player than the Thrill.

Ahmad didn't have any problem with his grades or coming to camp out shape. That is not true,because the Gators don't have no time to get out shape.My Son did help Lakeland Win and For myself believe that he have save lakeland a Few Games they would have lose without him be there to help them to win. I see you alway talking about Tebow won games for the Gators, That is not true without the rest of the players help, It's should be again Florida Gators , Not Tebow and The Florida Gators.

What is up with the emotional guy above not thinking Bad Boy Black's historical play is not relevant? If the past cannot help predict the future, what would be better:)?

Just wondering, do you Gator fans think the spread would work in the NFL? UM does.

http://www.fannation.com/truth_and_rumors/view/118153-meyer-nfl-coaches-afraid-of-spread-offense?eref=fromSI

why are these "#1" Gators playing these paddy cake teams you come off a national title and you start your season against some weak teams. I cant respect the gators, I dont want to hear nothing about you got to work out the kinks so does everybody else either your team gon be ready or not......What are they gonna do after the Tebo Era nothing but as for the HURRICANES WE'RE BACK!!!!!!!!TELL THEM GATORS TO COME LINE IT UP NOW BET THEY DONT WANT IT WITH US

Well-said. I'm sure Will Hill will be a super football player in his own right one day, but you are 100% correct. Couldn't agree more.

And, Bruce, I understand that you are very passionate, but calm down. . . and take a spelling course. . . . and maybe a grammer course too. Ahmad's a super player and I think he made the play of the game, an historical play, against Oklahoma. I'm not sure we win without that play. O.K.? All better now?

Black should be the starter; I'm so tired of hearing readers quote coach Meyer I could throw up! The only way you would think Black was out of shape was because Meyer mentioned his weight loss. Don't get used, Meyer needs to get "Will the Thrill" in the line-up, and benching Major Wright (whom I love but can't cover a bed) would cause a controvery with South Florida recruiting!

Congrats to Miami. Now go get that defense in order...

-jo-

Posted by: Goody | September 10, 2009 at 01:28 PM

Do you mean by scheduling pickup games to start the year off to bolster your stats?
We could always have a team ask about a home and home series like I dont know lets say Utah and then tell them no, not unless they play both games here.
Paving the way for another directional school to bolster those D and O numbers
Its ok to be a homer, heck thats what all fans are. I am for Miami and I sure want these fans to be that way for UF. Take off your Gator glasses for a second and realize anything can happen in a rivalry game or a conference game for that matter. I never thought Ole Miss would of won in the Swamp but they did, thats life. So much for an unbiased writer, at least Manny is open about his opinions about Miami and isnt writing things to just please the fans but tells us as a real reporter

For the young UM chaps:

In 2008, Florida won the national championship while facing the nation’s second-toughest schedule, according to NCAA statistics. In the school’s previous national championship seasons (1996 and 2006), the Gators faced the nation’s most difficult schedule.

Not to downplay your NCs but you also lost in those years as well
I could care less about cupcake teams on schedules. All I asked is whats the reason for not leaving the state for an out of conference game and im not taking a dig. I just see other teams in the SEC doing it.
As I said before I dont mind taking hits from the Gator fans, thats what fans do.
No need for a writer of a blog to make digs at Miami. Just put up the article and let fans discuss it. Write about the team and present facts but leave it at that

C4L,

Relax, my man. If you don't think UM's defense needs work, then you're just blinded by fandom.

-jo-

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