October 08, 2008

Harvin still limited; UF lands major commitment

GAINESVILLE -- Florida receiver Percy Harvin practiced on Wednesday afternoon for the first time this week but was limited, according to UF coach Urban Meyer. Meyer says he thinks Harvin will be able to play on Saturday against LSU.

Other injury updates to report: Meyer said that redshirt junior linebacker Ryan Stamper and freshman safety Will Hill are both "good to go" for Saturday's game. Stamper missed the Arkansas game with a sprained ankle while Hill played sparingly against Arkansas with a sore hamstring.

--Left guard Jim Tartt (shoulder) and Marcus Gilbert (ankle) both practiced on Wednesday but were limited. Meyer said that redshirt sophomore Carl Johnson will start at left guard on Saturday night.

--Freshman defensive tackle Omar Hunter (ankle) did not make the trip to Arkansas last week and has not practiced this week. (Sounds like a typical medical redshirt situation to me.)

--I watched Harvin and running back Emmanuel Moody walk off the practice field on Wednesday. Harvin appeared healthy but Moody had a considerable limp.

Florida picked up its third commitment for the 2010 recruiting cycle on Wednesday and it was a big one. West Palm Beach Dwyer athlete Matt Elam (6-0, 205) orally committed to attend the University of Florida. Elam is projected to be the top recruit in the state of Florida next season.

Oral commitments are non-binding and Elam won't sign with Florida until February of 2010. According to Rivals.com writer Adam Gorney, Florida is the only program in the country with three commitments for the 2010 recruiting cycle.

Not too long ago, Meyer did not like to receive early commitments. His philosophy is changing slightly, he said on Wednesday. Florida's 2010 oral commitments include Elam, Venice quarterback Trey Burton and Fleming Island lineman Ian Silberman.

"It's risky," Meyer said. "You're talking about taking them off of sophomore tape and they're playing their junior year right now. I'm not a big fan of it but like I said if you already know them, know their families and know what they're all about."

Elam, a two-way star for Dwyer but projected as a safety for UF, first met Meyer 10 years ago when Meyer was an assistant at Notre Dame. Elam's brother, Abram, was recruited by Meyer as a receiver for the Fighting Irish.

"I do remember him then," Elam told Rivals.com. "[Meyer] actually taught me a wide receiver's stance then. After that we didn't talk at all. Then I heard he was at my high school my freshman season to recruit a teammate of mine. So I found him and introduced myself. Coach Meyer remembered me and the rest is history. That's when I really starting liking Florida."

Back in January, former Pompano Beach Blanche Ely cornerback Patrick Peterson (at the time his name was Patrick Johnson) caused a stir when he told reporters that Florida had alerted the NCAA of problems with Peterson's ACT score. Peterson called Florida "cowards" at the time. On Wednesday, Meyer said Florida never contacted the NCAA about Peterson's ACT scores.


September 19, 2008

PREGAME PODCAST: Will Hill starting at strong safety?

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Find out what Gator Clause learned today about late changes to the Gators' secondary before Saturday's game with Tennessee. Also, what exactly does it mean to be a Tennessee Volunteer? Maybe it has something to do with why Knoxville was so upset about UF middle linebacker Brandon Spikes' comments earlier this week. Lastly, Gator Clause takes a look at UF quarterback Tim Tebow's stats this season. Run time is five minutes and 30 seconds.


Produced by Joseph Goodman, The Miami Herald

August 21, 2008

BEING URBAN MEYER: Who gets a redshirt?

I should be in bed right now. It's 1:30 in the morning but I just can't take my eyes off the television. The Olympic race walkers just have that affect on me. So bizarre. Olga of Russia IS A BEAST! I'll have to check the official Olympic media guide, but I'm pretty sure this sport was invented at Bal Harbor (Miami Beach mall) but then later popularized at Sawgrass Mills (suburban Sunrise mall). I haven't seen this many manic Canadian walkers since last I went to Hollywood Beach ...

GAINESVILLE -- So, while I watch the Olympics and wonder how these ladies' hips don't pop out of joint from all the swishing, I'll raise an always-intriguing preseason question: Who gets a redshirt? This is a popular topic for both fans and reporters, so make sure to chime in with your comments. I'm interested to know what you guys think.

Last season, the Gators decided to redshirt nine scholarship freshmen. (Most notably: Chris Rainey, Deonte Thompson, John Brantley, John Brown and James Wilson.) Some people don't agree (one of those Internet guys who tried to convince me last week), but redshirting is still an important part of college football. Meyer likes to say that he doesn't ever plan to redshirt anyone. That's bologna. Especially this season, which features so many underclassmen at UF. Florida's roster includes 60 underclassmen (31 sophomores, nine redshirt freshmen and 20 true freshmen).

Like in 2007, a few talented players need to redshirt this season. If I was Meyer, here are the guys I'd redshirt this season:

--Brendan Beal, LB, An obvious redshirt. This guy recently tore his ACL.
--Jeremy Brown, CB, Battled back spasms throughout fall camp. He's not ready but has big-time potential.
--Adrian Bushell, DB, Didn't practice for the first week of the preseason.
--Earl Okine, DE, Plenty of defensive ends on the depth chart. Give him a year to develop.
--Omarius Hines, WR, One of the three freshmen receivers should redshirt.
--Sam Robey, OL, Plenty of young offensive linemen already on the depth chart.
--David Young, OL, Despite an excellent fall camp, could use a year of development.
--Omar Hunter, DT, John Brown of 2008? Does the addition of Ronnie Wilson make redshirting Hunter a possibility? I say yes.

--Janoris Jenkins, CB, Will play a significant role on special teams. A possibility at nickel and dime.
--Matt Patchan, DT, Give him about three more weeks and he'll be in the mix.
--Caleb Sturgis, K, I don't care what anyone says. This guy should start.
--Jeffrey Demps, ATH, Can't wait to see what he can do.
--William Green, DE, Special teams dynamo.
--Frankie Hammond Jr., WR, Still a redshirt possibility, Hammond Jr. has wowed coaches with his smarts.
--Will Hill, S, One play away from being a starter.
--T.J. Lawrence, WR, Special teams star.
--Lerentee McCray, LB, Special teams.
--T.J. Pridemore, FB, Special teams.


August 06, 2008

Three days down; Three speedsters down

GAINESVILLE -- Florida's three fastest players are injured.

After three days of practice, the most memorable mental image of fall football camp at the University of Florida occured this afternoon when Percy Harvin (jersey No.1), Jeffrey Demps (No.2) and Chris Rainey (No.3) limped side-by-side-by-side to the back of Florida's practice field. (Otherwise known as "The Pit." It's where the injured players go and mill about during practice.

DempsHarvin didn't practice for the second straight day (offseason heel surgery). Rainey pulled a groin muscle on Tuesday and didn't practice today. Jeffrey Demps [PICTURED IN BLACK] fell to the ground after the final play of practice with what appeared to be a left knee injury.

Florida coach Urban Meyer said he did not know the severity of the injury but Demps limped off the practice field with the help of an assistant trainer. At one point during Demps' walk back to the Gators' locker room inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (about 350 yards), a person stopped Demps, put his arms around the football player and appeared to whisper words of encouragement into his ear. (It looked like they were praying but I couldn't tell for sure.) I'm hoping since Demps was allowed to walk all the way back to the locker room under his own power then that means he's OK.

Demps' injury occured on the last play of practice. As the rest of the team huddled, Demps remained on the ground. Trianers immediately converged. Demps, the high school track phenom from Orlando, nearly qualified for the Olympics this summer in the 100 meters. He ran a 10.01 at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and is considered to be the fastest teenager in the nation.

According to some, Demps could have pursued a career in professional track after his showing at the trials but instead chose to report to Florida for college football.


Gilbert--Redshirt sophomore Marcus Gilbert (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas/PICTURED) told me after practice that he is playing first-string left guard as well as second-string tackle while senior Jim Tartt rests an ailing shoulder. Marcus' elbow is completely healthy after a long rehab. He played all last season with a brace. He is brace free right now and looking great physically. He told me about six times that he was excited about this season.

--Sophomore safety Major Wright (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas) told me after practice that the new safeties have "a long way to go" but that he sees potential. Major did say that freshman Will Hill has "the body and the skills" to contribute. Major Wright waited on Ahmad Black to finish interviews today. They walked back together and are apparently really close friends. Fans of high school mega programs Lakeland and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas will get a kick out of that little nugget.


Will Hill: Savior or second-teamer?

GAINESVILLE -- Redshirt freshman Deonte Thompson (Belle Glade) made a great catch on Tuesday and that's when it dawned on me. There's no way Ahmad Black can play safety.

Thompson had no business catching the pass. Black was draped all over Thompson with excellent coverage. Major Wright was closing in, too. All three players went up for the ball and Thompson, somehow, made a remarkable catch. After replaying the sequence over in my brain (that's what sports writers do when they know they're going to write the details of an exciting play and there's no instant replay) I realized there was actually no "somehow" about it. Thompson shouldn't have caught the pass.

WillhillBlack was right there and should have intercepted it or at least knocked it away. He could do neither. His physical limitations simply would not allow him to make the play. Bless his heart, he just wasn't tall enough. Ahmad Black is listed at 5-9 but he's not even that tall. I'm 5-7 1/2 and about eye level with Black.

UF's coaches only have one other option right now for the second safety spot, true freshman Will Hill [PICTURED]. Hill has to start. The way I see it, there's no other choice. (Other than moving Moses Jenkins to the position, which I think needs to happen. Jenkins (Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson) looks great and will definitely be a reliable option in nickel and dime sets this season.)

Smartly, Hill is being low key about the battle at safety. He told reporters on Tuesday that Black was the starter.

"I'm still learning the position but I still have a guy in front of me who knows what he's doing," Black said. "I love the pressure, it's pushing me to be a better player."

Sophomore safety Major Wright is basically serving as Hill's own personal coach during practice. It's proof that Hill's development is Priority No.1 for the Gators during fall camp.

"As soon as I got here [Wright] got on me telling me everything, what to do, how to do it and about the temp mostly," Hill said. "It helps me a lot. He teaches me through his experiences."

Si_coverTim Tebow is on another preseason cover, this time it's Sports Illustrated. Tebow shares the cover with Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes. Oh, no! The SI curse. Me, I don't believe in curses. I do believe one thing, however, Georgia fans will feel slighted. They're the No.1 team in the country (at least in the coaches' poll).


August 04, 2008

Live from practice...Ronnie Wilson looks good; So does Frankie Hammond Jr.; And guess who's a safety now...

Really upset with Krispy Kreme. The doughnuts are not fresh...Here's a link to my story in today's Miami Herald! Gators Hope To Blaze Trail to National Title. Here's a public-service link: Miami Heat dance team tryouts photo gallery! Sorry if the picture quality in this blog post isn't up to snuff. Deal, folks. I used my BlackBerry.

(If you noticed any typos earlier this morning it's because I wrote this blog on the BlackBerry as fast as possible...It has since been edited.)

GAINESVILLE -- The sun isn't up yet and already I've been at practice for 35 minutes. Freshmen and walk-ons are the only players practicing this fine morning. A few quick notes...

-T.J. Lawrence appears to be the Gators' latest safety convert. Lawrence, who was recruited as a receiver, is wearing a white practice jersey (meaning he's a defender; offense is in blue) and learning how to backpedal and defend. Safeties coach Chuck Heater is correcting his mistakes every five seconds. Yep, he's a safety now. Now Urban is actually working one-on-one with Lawrence.

Ronniewilson-Ronnie Wilson [PICTURED] of Pompano Beach Blanche Ely is practicing at defensive tackle. Wilson was kicked off the team last year for firing an assault rifle into the air near a downtown nightclub. Notice how there's no stripe on Ronnie's helmet. Guess that means he's already a part of the team. (For those who don't know what I'm talking about, incoming freshmen at UF have thin stripes on their helmets during preseason camp. When coaches take the stripe off, it signifies that you're officially a member of the team. Major Wright was the first player to be de-striped last season. Percy Harvin had the honor the year before that. I'm calling for Jeffrey Demps to lose his stripe first this season.)

Adrian-Texas cornerback Adrian Bushell [PICTURED] is in street clothes. Guess he hasn't made it through the NCAA Clearinghouse yet. Bushell didn't practice but he was still up early with the rest of the freshman. He was reading a sheet of paper throughout practice and following around cornerback's coach Vance Bedford. Assuming the paper was some kind of practice schedule or tip sheet.

-Jeffrey Demps is a strong freshman. He's bigger than Chris Rainey. (Well, that's not saying much.)

-Omar Hunter is a beast. He doesn't look out of shape to me. This guy is already bigger than John Brown.

-Matt Patchan is participating in drills but D-line coach Dan McCarney is telling him to take it easy. Patchan is looking good.

-John Brown and Brandon Hicks are practicing with the freshmen. Punishment? The probably have to take tests this afternoon, says UF's people. Summer B isn't over yet.

-Staying with the defensive line theme: Hoover, Ala., defensive end William Green is tall and lean. This guy is really fast. He could play linebacker. Speaking of speed, Matt Patchan is pretty fast. He looks to weigh about 250 pounds. Green appears to be about 225 at the most.

-Defensive backs coach Vance Bedford's metaphorical coaching technique: "You're a cat. You're hungry and you want to eat."

Corners Janoris Jenkins and Jeremy Brown are apparently hungry and sleepy.

-Bedford is a crowd pleaser. He just called himself "gangsta.'"

Now he's dancing and talking about "Bullet" Bob Hayes. Hysterical.

Frankie-Hallandale native Frankie Hammond Jr. [PICTURED] appears to have put on some muscle over the offseason. He looks good and just made an impressive diving catch near the sideline. Wow! Another great catch by Frankie Hammond Jr. He is definitely the highlight of the first practice. He caught a pass in traffic and then cut to the outside and blew past three defenders.

-More Bedford, as he walks off the field to fans: "Y'all got no life but you love football." I love this Bedford guy.

OK, that's it. Check back around 5 p.m. for a live blog from today's second practice. Will try to snap a picture or two of Tebow.

RecruithatOh, a final picture to share with y'all. A lot of people have been asking me to post a recent picture of myself up on the blog. I snapped this photo yesterday in the dog park. That's my new hat. (That's Guinness, my dog, behind my head.) I'm wearing the hat every day to practice (and maybe games) this season. (My offering of sarcasm to the ridiculousness of the recruiting craze.) I'm a six-star recruit. I write stories in 4.19 seconds.


August 03, 2008

CAMP COUNTDOWN: Seven strengths in seven days...No.1: Experience, of course

Less than 24 hours until fall camp. Hope everyone enjoyed our CAMP COUNTDOWN. Posted below are individual links to the series...

1: And the No.1 team strength entering fall camp is ... experience.

GAINESVILLE -- Last season was more about learning than it was about winning for the Florida Gators. The team that won a national championship in 2006 and the team that returned for 2007 were entirely different. From Tim Tebow to Urban Meyer, everyone had something to learn. Experience came in different forms.

061201_meyer_hmed_5phmediumFor Meyer, 2007 was the first time he had ever been a third-year head coach with a team. There were signs of inexperience. A number of Gators were arrested in the offseason following the national championship. The experience led to some in-house changes this offseason, including the hiring of full-time player mentor Terry Jackson. Distractions were limited this offseason. (Jamar Hornsby was dismissed from the team but that was addition by subtraction. Just my opinion.)

For Tebow, 2007 was about learning how to lead. He cried after losing to Georgia. The quarterback displayed a much different emotion after the Michigan defeat. He was just plain angry and admitted that his team lacked focus leading up to the bowl game.

Brandon Spikes wasn't in top form last August when the 2007 fall camp began. The experience helped him prepare his body correctly this offseason. Now, UF strength coach Mickey Marotti says Spikes is one of the Gators' most physically fit players.

Ncf_g_haden2_195One of the Gators' starting cornerbacks was a true freshman last season and the other was still learning how to play football. As a result, Florida's secondary was the worst in the Southeastern Conference. Joe Haden [PICTURED] and Wondy Pierre-Louis begin this season as preseason all-SEC defenders.

Those are just a few examples of how the Gators begin fall camp on Monday with the experience needed to vie for a conference and national championship. All told, the Gators return 17 starters. Depth and team speed are two of the Gators' greatest team strengths this season but experience might be the most important.

"With guys leaving early now -- and our championship year we had four guys on defense leave as juniors; last year we lost Derrick Harvey as a junior -- I think the shift of leadership has to go from the young players," Meyer said. "That's a big point of discussion with our group, and already has been, that just because you're a senior, that's not entitlement. We had some issues a year ago that weren't very good for our outfit. (Tony Joiner/Kyle Jackson?) If you're a sophomore, you walk the walk, talk the talk, do everything the right way, then you're a leader."

OK, with the countdown done and fall camp set to begin. Let's have some fun and predict the two-deep depth chart for offense and defense.

LT: Phil Trautwein; Matt Patchan
LG: Jim Tartt; Carl Johnson
C: Maurkice Pouncey; Mike Pouncey
RG: Mike Pouncey; James Wilson
RT: Jason Watkins; Marcus Gilbert
TE: Cornelius Ingram; Aaron Hernandez
WR: Percy Harvin; Deonte Thompson
WR: Louis Murphy; Justin Williams
WR: Carl Moore; David Nelson
RB: Kestahn Moore; Emmanuel Moody
QB: Tim Tebow; Cameron Newton

DE: Jermaine Cunningham; Carlos Dunlap
DT: Javier Estopinan; Torrey Davis
DT: Terron Sanders; John Brown
DE: Justin Trattou; Duke Lemmens
SLB: A.J. Jones; Ryan Stamper
MLB: Brandon Spikes; Lorenzo Edwards
WLB: Dustin Doe; Brandon Hicks
SS: Ahmad Black; Will Hill
FS: Major Wright; Will Hill
CB: Joe Haden; Markihe Anderson
CB: Wondy Pierre-Louis; Jacques Rickerson

K: Caleb Sturgis; Jonathan Phillips
P: Chas Henry; Caleb Sturgis
PR: Brandon James; Chris Rainey
KR: Brandon James; Chris Rainey

FRIENDLY REMINDER: Free doughnuts!!!


July 19, 2008

"The Dark Knight" after Friday Night Lights...

Sometimes on Gator Clause you get more than you asked for...

GAINESVILLE -- In case you didn't know this already, Gator Clause oftentimes doesn't limit itself to writing about football. This is one of those times.

After stopping by The Swamp last night for Urban's recruiting emporium (Friday Night Lights), I went to the movies over on Archer road, watched The Dark Knight and drank Cherry Coke. Scroll down if all you want to do is read about Friday Night Lights. Keep reading if you're interested in my thoughts on the movie. I'm not going to write much about it (because I'm no Rene Rodriguez) but here are a few thoughts you might not have read anywhere else. 

The_dark_knight_outro_poster5. There's a reason why we love Batman. He's human and we can relate. He loves, he hates, he errs and he suffers. People understand the painful feeling of simply being overwhelmed with the problems of the day and that's just one reason why The Dark Knight is such a powerful film. This superhero is flawed just like you and me. Good writing -- in any form -- is hidden in the details. Most people can't relate to a billionaire vigilante but most people can relate to the fear of getting bitten by a dog, losing a loved one and not being liked.

4. The Dark Knight is a story about selflessness and choices. Batman must choose between what's best for Gotham (saving Gotham's District Attorney) or what's best for Batman (saving the girl he loves). Gotham's citizens and convicts must choose between saving themselves or putting the fate of their lives into the hands of total strangers. Rachel Dawes must choose between her promise to Batman or marrying Harvey Dent. And then there's the Joker, who makes no choices. He just does. The polarization of these two ideas (hero and villain/good and bad/human consciousness and animalistic savagery) manifests itself in the form of another character, Dent, who falls and becomes Two Face, a villain who lost everything (His girl, his good looks, his will and then his mind and conscience). The random flip of a coin becomes his moral guide.

3. Did anyone other than me whisper, "That's my bike, punk." just before Zeus delivers his only line of the movie?

2. The Joker was the star of this movie. He was more than a villain. He was pure chaos. There was no motivation behind his evil other than the motivation to be evil. He destroyed order without reason. No one even knows what drove the Joker to madness. It didn't matter. That's why he made up those elaborate stories about his facial scars. Most people are driven to evil because of a dark Dark_knight_18past or daddy issues. Not the Joker. Nothing created this, he explained to the audience. I just am. Again, this movie was well written.

1. The movie left us with two metaphors. Joker was literally left hanging. Was this a nod to Heath Ledger's untimely death? The second metaphor was the white knight/dark knight image of Batman and Dent lying side by side. The Dark Knight gets up and keeps running. You've got to be a little bad to do a lot of good.

DID YOU KNOW? The actress who played Rachel Dawes in Dark Knight (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is the niece of Anders Gyllenhaal, editor of The Miami Herald.

Feel free, folks, to leave your own thoughts on the movie. Now for my take on Friday Night Lights...

OK, let's first get one thing straight. I'm not here to write about all the recruits that were at Friday Night Lights. That's for the weirdoes over at Rivals.com and Scout.com. It's one thing that Urban and his staff want to get a jump on the classes of 2010 and 2011 but it's quite another thing if you think I'm going to write about how some juniors and sophomores in high school performed at a summer camp. No one spit up on their bibs or shoulder pads. There, enough said.

My official report:
There were about 150 high school kids. According to a couple parents, they were invited to this camp by UF's coaching staff in the form of a mailed letter. The price of admission was $35. The speakers inside The Swamp pumped trendy bubble gum hip-hop into everyone's ear canals within a 10-mile radius. (I really hate this new hip-hop. What happened to good rap?) I chatted it up with a couple parents from South Florida who shelled out major bread at the gas pump just to be there.

From Broward, I'll highlight the kids from Deerfield Beach who made the trip. Senior quarterback Denard Robinson looked pretty good. He's got a good arm and can scramble. I spoke with Merilyn Strawbridge, the mother of Deerfield Beach junior running back Cassius McDowell for about 20 minutes. The Bucks are pretty excited about the combination of Robinson and McDowell in the backfield this season. I'm pretty sure Florida's coaching staff will be at some games. Robinson and McDowell are both speedsters. They anchored Deerfield Beach's state championship 4x100 relay.

From Miami-Dade, I spoke with the father of Miami Northwestern junior slot receiver/running back Corvin Lamb. Lamb (5-10, 190 pounds) apparently ran one of the fastest 40-yard dash times of the camp. Here's an interesting story about Lamb. He played at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas his freshman season and guess who gave him a ride to school every day? None other than the Gators' starting free safety Major Wright. (Now that's inside information you won't read anywhere else.) Pretty sure that means Lamb will take a close look at the Gators next season.

RaineySpeaking of Major Wright and St. Thomas Aquinas, I'll finish up this blog with a nice picture I took last night of former Lakeland standout Chris Rainey, who beat Wright's St. Thomas Raiders three straight times in the 5A state championship game. I'm pretty sure Major will never be borrowing this shirt from Rainey. (Rainey has put on some muscle, by the way. He's looking pretty good.)

Oh, one more thing. I spoke with Urban's wife Shelley Meyer on Friday night and asked her about this spinning class I've been hearing about. Meyer teaches a spin class at Gainesville Health & Fitness and guess what? That's right, I'm going to take the class and see if I can hang. Check back on Tuesday or Wednesday for details. Check back tomorrow for my first podcast of the football season. I'll have a top 10 list from the FSWA college football media days, talk about the football team's worst dresser (Will Hill) and also preview what's on the agenda for next week.


June 29, 2008

Top Five Newcomers: No.1 Emmanuel Moody

If you're reading this blog for the first time today, then you've already missed our five-part blog series on the football team's top five newcomers. Don't worry. You can catch up. Just click on the names of the previous "Top Five Newcomers" right here:


GAINESVILLE -- No.1 on our list of top newcomers is USC transfer running back Emmanuel Moody. We here at Gator Clause don't necessarily think Moody is the best addition to the Gators' roster, but we do believe that Moody's potential impact is greater than any newcomer.

Ncf_moody_200Why, exactly? Well, the Gators start and stop with the success and health of Tim Tebow and Moody, if he's productive, might be the guy that keeps Tebow out of the trainer's room this season and on the field. That's right. The more Moody carries the ball the less likely the Gators' superstar quarterback gets injured.

Tebow didn't miss a game last season but that doesn't mean he didn't sustain injury. Tim received shots of a painkiller in his right (none throwing) shoulder for much of the season. He then broke his non-throwing hand against Florida State.

Even more than a better defense, a healthy Tebow is what the Gators need to win a national championship. Moody, the USC transfer who redshirted last season, might be the key. Moody showed glimpses of his potential his freshman season at USC. He had several solid games before being limited by injuries.

A digression here: I'm still scratching my head as to why, exactly, Moody transferred to Florida. He says he left USC to become a featured running back but a featured back is one thing Urban Meyer's and Dan Mullen's offense does not produce. Moody might be the first, who knows? But I doubt it.

0817moody_2Moody probably should have gone to North Carolina if he wanted 20+ carries a game. Why do we mention all of this? We're wondering if Moody will become a distraction if he doesn't get the amount of carries he needs to feel like a major contributor. Moody could have stayed at USC if he wanted a chance to win a national title. He wants to run the ball and the guy isn't afraid to speak his mind, something most UF players do not do.

We'll keep an eye on Moody's morale during preseason practice and two-a-days. If you believe Urban Meyer (which I don't in this case), then the starting running back position isn't even Moody's right now. According to Meyer, Kestahn Moore is still the starter. Meyer swears by Moore. This is strange because if Meyer went back and watched at few game films from last season, then he would be swearing at the fumbles Moore coughed up in close games. Our guess: Meyer is just playing head games with Moody. Meyer got on Moody's case after he fumbled in the end zone during the spring game. It seems like flawed logic that Meyer would berate Moody publicly Si_2007for one fumble in a spring game but still allow Moore to be on the team after the costly fumbles last season. (A side note to this Moody-Moore situation. The two Texans played against each other in little league football.)

OK, digression over. Back on topic...Moody, more than any newcomer, is the key to the Gators' success in 2008. When Moody first showed up last season, all Meyer would say to him when they ran into each other in the football facility was, "I sure hope you're good." There was a reason for that.

[Check out this SI cover from 2007. That's Moody on the left. Instead of splitting time at USC last year, he decided to transfer to UF and sit out a season. Wonder if Moody will make the 2008 SI college football preview cover as a Gator this time around?]


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