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Seniors reflect on trying season

GAINESVILLE -- Jon Halapio never imagined his senior season spiraling out of control.

Florida’s gritty right guard -- a four-year regular with 42 career starts -- admitted he’s “ready to move forward with life,” but the fifth-year senior said he's also proud of what he accomplished at UF and “wouldn’t want to play on any other team.”

“I had a wonderful opportunity to play at, still in my opinion, the best school education-wise, and I wouldn’t want to play on any other team,” said Halapio, who's played through a painful torn pectoral muscle all season. “It’s hard to say that with the stuff that we’ve been going through, but I still feel the same way. I wouldn’t want to be on any other team.”

When Florida hosts Florida State on Saturday (noon, ESPN) -- as a four-touchdown underdog -- 18 seniors will wear the orange and blue for the final time.

FSU is UF’s bowl game this season.

The Gators, 4-7 and mired in a six-game losing streak, will honor Halapio, Trey Burton, Jeremy Brown, Dominique Easley, Jon Harrison, Damien Jacobs, Darrin Kitchens, Kyle Koehne, Solomon Patton, Jaylen Watkins, Tim Clark and six walk-ons in a pregame ceremony.

Throughout the week, several seniors reflected on a trying season, their careers and an upcoming emotional day.

RG Jon Halapio 

*** “I never thought that my senior season would go like this, especially with four wins at this point. I just experienced a lot here at this program and it’s just gonna make me as an individual stronger.”

*** “There’s a little sense of excitement moving forward with our lives and for this week. It’s FSU week, it’s a rivalry week. I sense a little bit of excitement, yeah, just to move on with our life.”

*** “Man, I just hope I don’t cry. Everybody else has been saying. .. it’s going to be very emotional coming out of the tunnel one last time. I’m very excited, but sad at the same time.”

*** "This is by far the worst season since I've been here."

OL Kyle Koehne

*** “It’s a huge day, you know, last game in The Swamp. I’ve been thinking about this since senior year. It’s hard to believe that the day has actually come but I’m super excited. It’s gonna be awesome to have my family out there on the field with me. It’s been an awesome experience here.”

*** “It’s definitely not how I pictured my senior year. I live and die for this place. Everything we do we do as a team, we do it together. If we’re having a good year, as long as we stick together, we’ll be ok.”

WR Trey Burton

*** “Lot of mixed emotions, really happy for my time here I wouldn't wanna take anything back. The challenges, all that type of stuff has helped me mature as a man and I'm really happy with the way things have gone.”

*** “You never really think about that, you think about and you imagine, picture winning championships and stuff like that.”

*** “Well, I know everything happens for a reason. Obviously we don't know the reason for this right now, but I truly believe that and going through this will help me later in life somehow and that's how I look at it.”

DT Damien Jacobs

*** “It’s bittersweet. Not even just for the simple fact that it’s been a bad season, but mostly because I’m ready to move on to the next part of my life. That’s why it’s bittersweet.”

*** “There’s always something to play for – pride and respect, not just myself, but this school.”

DB Jaylen Watkins

*** “It’s going to be very emotional for all of us. We’ve been here four years, some five. We have some who have been here six years. It’s a new chapter for most of us to after football and actually graduating. Some of us are graduating next month. It’s going to be very exciting for both us and our families.” 

*** “This is our last game we’ll ever play in The Swamp in an orange and blue jersey, so all of the seniors I know are going to go out and give everything they’ve got.”

*** “The injuries, just to see my teammates, the ones that are injured on the sideline knowing they can't help. That's the toughest thing for me. I'm pretty sure if we had all our guys this season it would be different. I'm not making any excuses, but it's tough to see everyone else play through that. We've got younger guys having to step up, but I'm pretty sure that'll be good experience for them in the future.”

*** "This has been a rough year for all of us. I'd like for all of us to go out and compete this last game and show the Gator Nation we still are here and that we're going to keep playing no matter what."

VIDEO: Halapio talks “the last one,” the chance to “resolve the whole season,” Florida’s infamous blocking gaffe and more.

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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