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Florida Gators running back Emmanuel Moody 'hobbled'

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer said on Tuesday that Gators junior running back Emmanuel Moody remains limited in practice. Moody sprained an ankle during the Gators' win against South Carolina and did not play last Saturday against FIU.

Meyer said that Moody is still "hobbled" when asked about the running back's status. Meyer said that all other offensive players, including offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey and Carl Johnson, are "100 percent."

Florida outside linebacker A.J. Jones is doubtful for Saturday's game, according to Meyer. Jones injured the medial-collateral ligament in his right knee against FIU. Junior linebacker Brandon Hicks will likely start on Saturday in place of Jones.

-jo-

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More on coach meyer:

This was a train-wreck moment for a coach who is a self-described train wreck the entire week leading up to Senior Day at The Swamp and it was only Monday. Five days before he has to bid farewell to his seniors, Urban Meyer was standing at the podium in the south end zone meeting room, fighting back tears and trying to regain his composure as a stunned media contingent could only watch in silence. This was genuine. This was powerful. This was a moment when Urban Meyer wore a piece of his heart on his sleeve for all the world to see.

It started with a simple question at his Monday media briefing. As a followup to a question I had asked about how tough Senior Days are for him, I asked about that first Senior Day in 2005 when Vernell Brown came out of the tunnel on crutches for his farewell moment.

‘We didn’t have the same bond that maybe we have with this group but ... ,” he replied and his voice trailed off. He looked down at the podium and for 28 seconds he battled his emotions before he tapped the podium twice, almost a signal to himself to get it together or lose it forever. When he finally spoke again the words “no more interviews this week ... it’s going to be a tough week” fell off his tongue. It was a powerful and revealing moment, one that few coaches ever allow anyone other than family, friends and players to see.

I asked that question because I know how much Vernell meant and still means to Urban. From the moment he first arrived in Gainesville, Vernell Brown had Urban Meyer’s back. He was the smallest Gator but he had the biggest heart and whatever Meyer was selling, he bought into starting with the first press conference. If you know anything at all about both Urban Meyer and Vernell Brown, then you have a pretty good idea what loyalty means to both of them and as weeks became months and a first season that was a struggle inched forward, Urban never had to question that #16 would give him his best and somehow find a little bit more to keep going when that tank was on empty.

The only thing Vernell had ever asked was a chance. Meyer gave him the chance to prove himself and with some coaching up from Chuck Heater the Gators had a 5-8, 160-pound pit bull of a corner on their hands. It only took a little faith combined with opportunity and some coaching to transform Vernell Brown from a player who really had no position into an All-SEC type in 2005.

Vernell broke his ankle against Vanderbilt that season but he was such an inspiration to the team that he accompanied them to Columbia the next week where the Gators lost, 30-22. That was the lowest of the low points in Meyer’s first season. When the plane landed in Gainesville on the return trip, Vernell Brown turned a heart-wrenching where do we go from here defeat into a make whatever choice you want but I’m following Urban Meyer moment. Along with fellow seniors Jeremy Mincey and Jarvis Herring, Vernell pretty much told the Gators on that plane that it was time to decide right then and there --- Urban’s way or the highway. There was no gray area and no I’ll sleep on it and give you a decision in the morning. You made your choices right there. Although the Gators had already played 10 games, you could say that the Urban Meyer era began on Saturday, November 12, 2005, on the tarmac at Gainesville Regional Airport.

Two weeks later, Florida State came to town. It was Senior Day and the Gators were in a steel cage, last man standing wins match for the hearts and minds of some of the top recruits in the country, many of whom would decide Florida or Florida State that night. I’ve heard all the stories about how supercharged the locker room was after the Gators left the Seminoles in a bloody 34-7 heap and I know that helped Urban’s recruiting a lot, but I contend to this day that the turning point that day was when Urban Meyer walked from the 20-yard line to meet Vernell coming out of the tunnel. That long bear hug left the Gator portion of that crowd of 90,669 in tears and made a lasting impression on recruits.

Beginning with that weekend, Florida went on an unprecedented recruiting tear. Brandon James was among the recruits that committed on the spot that night in the locker room. Two weeks later, Tim Tebow, who was in the locker room, announced for the Gators and a few days later, Percy Harvin became the next domino to fall. At the US Army All-American game three weeks after that, Brandon Spikes put on a Gator cap.

There in San Antonio at the US Army game, I spent a lot of time with Spikes and developed a good rapport. Outside the locker room following the game, I asked him what was the deciding factor in his choice to be a Gator. He responded, “Urban Meyer ... the way he cares about his players. That’s the kind of coach you want to play for.”

Four years later, Brandon Spikes is an All-American who will be a first rounder in the NFL Draft in April. He is poised to become the first male ever in his family to earn a college degree. Along with Tebow, he set a leadership precedent last January when he elected to pass up NFL millions to come back for a shot at history at the University of Florida.

He wouldn’t have done it, however, if Urban Meyer were not Florida’s coach. Spikes has bonded with Urban in a father-son sort of way, something that happens a lot. Don’t get me started talking about Mike and Maurkice Pouncey becoming Nicki Meyer’s “big brothers” back in the spring of 2007 and how they let potential suitors know that they better have her home on time or else. And I don’t have enough time or space to write about how Urban has become the father that Chris Rainey has never had and how the Meyers are truly his family and how Shelley only has to say the word “cupcake” and Chris is on his way to the Meyer home to wolf down his favorite snack.

I could go on and on.

Since the day he became Florida’s head coach, I have been convinced that Urban Meyer is the right coach in the right place at the right time. I didn’t need two national championships in four years to convince me he was the right coach for this job, but they have convinced me that he might be as good a football coach as I’ve ever had the chance to write about and a few of the coaches I’ve written about are named Bryant, Vaught, Dietzel, Parseghian, Jordan, Royal, Broyles, Bowden, Paterno, Switzer, Osborne and Spurrier. He’s that good and his name belongs in that elite company, particularly if he pulls off his third national championship in five years at Florida.

It is during this run for the third national championship that I have appreciated even more the close personal relationship that Meyer has with his team. How many coaches do you know that openly speak of how much they love the kids on their team? Meyer does it all the time and he’s not just talking about the stars on his team like Tebow and Spikes, although he choked up Monday when Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post asked a question about Tebow, whose Senior Day applause will probably move a Richter Scale on campus.

A little bit after I asked the Vernell question Monday afternoon, Mark McLeod of WMOP/WGGG asked about Michael Guilford, the walk-on from Blountstown that everyone knew as Sunshine before his tragic death in 2007. This would have been Guilford’s Senior Day also, and you have to know that he would have been on scholarship, just like walk-ons Cade Holliday, Joey Sorrentino and Meyer once again had problems holding back the tears.

“We’re going to invite his family down ...he’s a part of this group,” Meyer said after he regained his composure. “Once again, you take Mike out of this process ... it really stung this football team. He’s got a terrific family. We’ll just do the best we can to make that family feel at peace with what he did here. He was a phenomenal young man and a phenomenal member of this team, so he’ll be a part of this Senior Day.”

Senior Day is Saturday, which is all too soon for Meyer who really isn’t ready to say good-bye. Saying good-bye is never easy but it is part of the deal of being a coach. At the Florida football program that Urban Meyer has built with his own blood, sweat and tears it’s a process that starts by taking in wet behind the ears kids, turning them into accountable young men who have a college degree and a few championship rings to show for their Florida football experience and then saying good-bye publicly on Senior Day. Since this is the first senior class made up exclusively of players he recruited, this will be Urban Meyer’s toughest and most emotional Senior Day ever. He’d love to coach these guys one more year but he knows that isn’t possible. At some point, you have to free the hatchlings and send them off to find their own path.

Saturday, while Meyer is hugging away and letting the tears flow like a river as his seniors run out of the tunnel one-by-one for the last time, some five star recruit in the south end zone who doesn’t have a dad will make a decision to be a Gator and another five star recruit, who is there with his parents, will decide he can leave his family at home for the new family he will join in Gainesville.

That’s what happened five years ago at Meyer’s first Senior Day. It’s what will happen this Saturday and for Seniors Days years into the future because Urban isn’t going anywhere for a long, long time and as long as he wears his love on his sleeve for the whole world to see, these days will be treasures for the whole of Gator Nation to hide in their collective hearts.

Not once while reading that did my extremely sensitive BS meter even tick. We're extremely fortunate to have this outstNding leader at the helm of our football ship.

I love that guy man!

Thank you Urban Gator Nation truly loves you.

Did Meyer save his receipt for this guy....what a disappointment.

Good morning Lizards, I was just reading on the herald "sports buzz" that officially you guys want no part of the U....even when we're down your still scare ....

Gator joke of the day....

if you have a car containing a gator WR, a gator DB and a gator LB, who is driving the car?

A COP !

Good one FZB....what are you 8?

Jo-

Thinking about going to the game this weekend...is it true about the ticket prices?

Moody has been such a disappointment. Coming in with all the fanfare, then not cracking the starting lineup and getting hurt (a constant cycle with him) marks this guy a bust. One off injuries just happen, but persistent stuff like he has experienced at the collegiate level (when your body is most resilient) is the mark of a guy that is not in shape or someone not cut-out for big time football. Can we trade him to somebody for another back or a player TBN?

UM FZB Guy,

Dont take it personal. A home game for the Gators makes a net $3 Million. The Canes just aint worth it. The Canes arent all that anymore and the UF AD wont give away a Home game. Business is business. Of course the UM AD wants to play UF..its the only time they will sell out Landshark stadium! You dont understand the power of the Nation! The last NC game at Landshark was THE MOST ATTENDANCE EVER, EVER , EVER FOR A COLLAGE FOOTBALL GAME AT THAT STADIUM!ALMOST 90,000! THE CANES HAVE NEVER, EVER, EVER DONE THAT! THE UM FOOTBALL PROGRAM MAKES NO MONEY. THE UF PROGRAM MADE $73 MILLION LAST YEAR! OUT DONE ONLY BY ALABAMA...NO COINCIDENCE THE TWO BEST PROGRAMS IN THE NATION!

FEEL THE POWER OF THE GATOR NATION BABY!

I find it amusing that all you lizards always say the same thing about UM's support.
Could it be possible the gators will always out-draw the canes because the fan base is ten to 20 times bigger?.....the U is a private university, their enrollment is at best 8 to 10 thousand. the Lizards on the other hand have an enrollment of what 50,000 since the start, and even with that built in advantage the little U has 5 rings ....it took the lizards over 40 years before they won the SEC.

You guys are on top of the mountain now, enjoy it, it won't last, the U will be back soon, and you can't stand it...the gators canceled the series, not us...when the U got real good and we started to kiss your ass every year, you guys said no mas...

losers

11-0 buddy. i can stand that. but we should play miami every year for a true state champion.

FZB said "when the U got real good and we started to kiss your ass every year,""

...and you can continue to kiss our ass.

HAPPY SWAGSGIVING FZB....

Yeah...the gators are afraid to play the 5th place ACC team.....GET REAL.

Let me know when you get your SWAG back...U fans are so delusional. You arent even going to beat USF. INT12 got 4 pics in him and you can't recover against a team tat has atheletes to match yours.

U are good for 5 NCs...no more anytime soon.

Moody may be out with a lower extremity.

Did you see former 'Cane and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly said that his Bills should draft a frachise QB like Tim Tebow?

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