October is Breast Cancer Awareness month
THE INS AND OUTS OF RECRUITING
Abby Wambach Weighs in On World Cup
Football Preview: A Grueling Month Ahead
OFF TO THE RACES
RAINEY LEADS GATORS TO A FAST START
ONJeremi A MISSION Powell Finds Peace on the Field
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WHAT’S INSIDE CEO www.gatorcountry.com Raymond Hines III
COO Bernadette King
CFO Raymond Hines, Jr
PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR Tim Casey
COPY EDITOR Safid Deen
REPORTERS Derek Tyson Thomas Goldkamp Amy Campbell Andrew Spivey Darby Underwood Elizabeth Rhodes Chris Lee
CEO Marc Douglass
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Lauren Douglass
COPY EDITOR Daniel Sutphin
ART DIRECTOR Daniel Tidbury
GRAPHIC DESIGN Daniel Tidbury Lisa Torres Jane Dominguez
CONTENTS On The Field
6 Brian Poole Jr. Excited to be a Gator 10 Football Trivia 12 More Mature Rainey Running Toward Record Books 15 Inside the Recruiting World 20 Powell Finds Peace on the Field 36 October Football Preview
Beyond the Pigskin 18 Kelly Murphy Looks to Lead Gators to First NCAA Title 24 Tailgating Gear 31 Swamp Cocktails 32 Familiar Faces Form New Hoops Staff 41 Douglas Lyon. For the Passionate Fan 42 Abby Wambach:A National Star & a Gators Legend
Amanda Liles Karen Jones Hilah Driggers Kristen Cokas
ACCOUNTING Lynsey Parrish
CIRCULATION Eddy Falla
SPECIAL PROJECTS Lauren Kolansky Daniel Sutphin
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Shane Howell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ADVERTISING & SALES Shane Howell Bryan Porter Angela More
Gator Country Magazine is brought to you by Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. and What’s Happening Publications, Inc. For advertising opportunities, please contact us at 352-371-5881 or email@example.com. Magazine subscriptions are available at www.gatorcountry.com For subsciption related questions or concerns, please call (800) 601-4623 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Connect with us: TheGatorCountry @GatorCountry
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: “The Swamp” ranks as the largest stadium in the state of Florida.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS Florida senior Josh Izewski competed in his final home event during the Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 24 at the Mark Bostick Golf Course. Photo by Rob Foldy You’re originally from Pennsylvania – what made you want to come to Florida? Well, it was between Penn State and Florida. When I came down here for the visit, I just loved it here. And the track team and cross country team were both like top in the country. So to be at a great school like this for academics and to run, I just couldn’t pass it up.
Was the climate and humidity a big change from Pennsylvania?
Q&A with senior Cross Country runner Josh Izewski
By Darby Underwood
Gator Country talked with lone senior of the men’s cross country team, Josh Izewski, about his running career and his final season as a Gator.
Can you still swim now?
When did you start running cross country?
Do you have any pre-meet rituals that you do?
I mean, I can still swim, but I lost a lot of muscle so it’s not as easy anymore.
The humidity wasn’t that bad. I mean, it just seems like a really, really long summer, if anything because the humidity is the same as in July there. It just doesn’t go away. But, it wasn’t too bad to get use to. Just drinking more water and staying hydrated.
Alex is your brother, right? What’s it like running with him? Yeah. When I was a senior in high school, he was a freshman. So, it was fun then, but now that he’s here, it’s a little bit different because we are alone. Like, our parents aren’t here and him on the team is pretty much the same as high school, but our relationship has changed a little bit since we’ve been here because we’re more independent.
What are your plans for after graduation?
Well, I’m majoring in Food and Resource Economics. So, I guess I ran cross country my sophomore I try to basically keep everything depending on how fast I run, I’ll continue on. But I’m also getting year of high school because I tore the same before a workout or a good degree so I can always a muscle in my back. That’s how I something. Maybe we’ll go to do something with that. got into it. And then I ran junior Olive Garden and get pasta, and senior year just because I liked but other than that, there it. My senior year I decided to just aren’t any rituals. Switching gears a little bit, do you focus on running. And I got here. have any other sports you like to
You swam in high school as well, right? When you tore the muscle in your back is that why you picked up running? Yeah, that’s the whole reason I got into running to begin with, because I needed something to stay in shape. Fact: For even more Gator Sports, check out GATORCOUNTRY.COM.
What’s your favorite cross country memory?
Probably last year at the home meet. I won the home meet last year and then we won as a team, and I think it was the fourth year in a row. That’s probably the best memory I have in cross country.
watch or play, or any hobbies?
I like to watch basketball, but they have a lockout now. The Gator games on the weekend, I go to all of those. No real hobbies. I mean, I like to draw.
What do you think is the most interesting thing about yourself? Maybe that I’m goal driven. If I set my sights on something, I usually won’t let anything knock me off of it. So, I guess that would be something. If I wanted to do really good in school, I’d focus on it and do well. If I want to do really good in running, I mean, I always want to do good in both, but if it’s something specific that I need to do, I can crack down and get it done.
Because you’re the only senior on the team, do you consider yourself to be a leader? I think being a senior you’re kind of thrown into being a leader. But I think I just kind of use my experience from all the races that we’ve gone to and all the meets I’ve been to just to help the team and make sure no one’s doing anything wrong that could be detrimental to the team.
What do you think it’s going to be like during your last home meet as a Gator? (Editorial note The meet was on Sept. 24) I’m excited about it because usually we’ve always been held back in the past, and now that we have UNC and Michigan coming, we’re going to have to work for the win. So, we’re going to be able to go all out. It’s the first time I’m going to be able to run the home meet as hard as I can.
What are some of your personal goals this season? For this season, we want to get the team back to NCAA’s for cross country. Cross country is kind of weird to just like set times for because all the courses are different. We’re going back to Wisconsin this year and that’s where my fastest time is from, so hopefully I’ll be in the top 10 in that meet and run under 24 minutes for the 8k.
Gator Country reporter Darby Underwood can be reached at darbyu9@hotmail. What’s your favorite basketball team? com. You can also follow her on Twitter The Bulls. I was born in Chicago. at www.twitter.com/darbyunderwood.
GREAT TO BE A GATOR! By Derek TYson Photo by Tim Casey
Brian Poole JR. EXCITED TO BE A GATOR Talented cornerback looks to make an early impact in college
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
The Florida Gators have done well in recent years when it comes to recruiting top cornerbacks. Joe Haden, a three-year starter at Florida, is now starting for the Cleveland Browns. Janoris Jenkins, also a three-year starter, is a potential NFL draft pick despite being dismissed from the team this summer. This year, Marcus Roberson stepped in as a starter and has shown tremendous cover ability.
Poole became Florida’s 11th verbal commitment in June. Florida fans should feel lucky that Poole will be wearing orange and blue next season and not garnet and gold. Poole’s high school mascot is the Seminole. Southeast is also the school that former FSU stars Peter Warrick and Adrian McPherson attended, and to top it off, Poole’s older sister is attending FSU.
Surprisingly though, Warrick, So who will be the next great McPherson, nor his sister have Florida cornerback? It just might be Bradenton Southeast’s Brian Poole Jr. pushed Poole to attend FSU. Fact: Forbes Magazine ranked Gainesville as one of the most affordable cities in the U.S.
GREAT TO BE A GATOR!
“When I was younger I used to come to a lot of Southeast games and watch Peter Warrick, and I just always wanted to be great in college like him so that was pretty much my role model,” Poole said. “I actually talked to them, but both of them never really pushed Florida State on me like that.”
“He hasn’t had anything negative to say about Florida,” Poole said. “He told me to just enjoy it and to take all my visits. That was his biggest thing, that’s what he thinks he messed up on, he only took one official visit and that was to Florida. He said if he could do it all over he would take all of his visits.”
Poole’s relationships with Florida defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson and head coach Will Muschamp are both reasons he and his family love the Gators.
Poole did learn one lesson from seeing the Dowling situation unfold during Florida’s change at head coach.
“I talk to T-Rob like a couple times a week,” Poole said. “He’s just a great guy. I can relate to him really well. My mom loves him. My dad loves him. And my little cousins that go up there with me love him.” Poole expressed the same sentiment on the “great relationships” his parents have with Muschamp, adding that Gainesville also provides a home feeling for him. “I’m not too far away,” Poole said. “I have the type of family where my whole family will come up to my games. It’s pretty much just right up the road.” Poole likes the fact that his future head coach is defensive-minded, and a former defensive back himself. “He’s a great guy,” Poole said. “He’s a defensive head coach. I play defense, so why I wouldn’t I want to play for a defensive head coach? His name speaks for itself.” Poole, who accounted for 21 touchdowns and three interceptions as a junior, said just because he’s committed to Florida doesn’t mean other schools have stopped contacting him.
“I hear from Alabama, Notre Dame, Georgia, and I hear from LSU,” he said. “Those are pretty much the schools I hear from the most.” Though Poole said he is solid in his commitment to Florida, he plans on taking all five of his official visits. He decided to take the visits, based on the advice of former Southeast and Florida safety Jonathan Dowling, who was kicked off the team during his freshman year and transferred to Western Kentucky.
Poole, who will be participating in the Under Armour All-American game in January, said he doesn’t have any real weaknesses in his games, just areas that he needs to fine tune.
“I don’t really think I have any weaknesses,” he said. “But I’m still working on really just polishing up everything – from technique, to instincts, to anticipation. Everything. Everything can be polished up on.”
“I know going to college, I have to stay focused,” he said. “I know nothing is going to be given to me. I know when I’m committing to a school, I’m committing to a school and not a coach. Whether the coach is there or not, I’m committing to the University of Florida. You really can’t get caught up in all the coaching changes and stuff like that.”
Poole is ranked as the No. 9 corner and the No. 133 player overall according to the ESPNU recruiting rankings. Poole fractured his ankle in the Southeast spring game, but has since made a full recovery for the 2011 football season.
Poole said he carries a 3.0 GPA and is trying to get it worked out with his coach and guidance counselors to enroll at Florida in January.
“I heard it’s the best time of your life, so I’m just going to try and enjoy it,” Poole said. “After college that’s when the real world kicks in, you know, bills and family; stuff like that. I’m just trying to enjoy myself while I’m there. I was blessed enough to get a scholarship so I don’t have to really worry about paying for a whole lot. I’m just trying to enjoy myself and make it to the NFL. That’s my ultimate goal.”
At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Poole has great size for a defensive back. He is physical enough to play safety, but has the cover skills to be a shut-down corner. For Poole, he prefers the challenge of playing corner.
“I want to play corner,” Poole said. “I mean I can play safety, but I want to play corner. I’m physical. I’m fast. And I can cover. That’s pretty much it.”
For him, he’s just excited to get to Florida and enjoy his college experience.
Gator Country football and recruiting analyst Derek Tyson can be reached at Derek@GatorCountry.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @DerekTysonGC.
Poole admits he looked at Florida’s depth chart before committing to the Gators, but said at a school like Florida, you will always have to compete for playing time. “I have looked at the depth chart,” Poole said. “I’m going to come every day. I’m going to work hard. I don’t mind competing and everything like that. I’m not looking for anything to be just given to me. I’m willing to work for it. “Starting is pretty important to me – that is my goal,” Poole continued. “I’m not really trying to go where I will sit and watch. I want to get on the field. I’ll play special teams or whatever, but I want to be on the field.”
Fact: Popular Science Magazine named Gainesville as the most technologically advanced city in Florida.
Poole will switch from being a Seminole to a Gator in college. Photo by Tim Casey GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
SCENES FROM SWAMP
ABOVE: photo by Tim Casey
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: GatorCountry.com is the most popular Gator sports site on the web!.
SCENES FROM SWAMP
ABOVE: photo by Tim Casey
BELOW: photo by Rob Foldy
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Fact: Money Magazine has regarded Gainesville as one of the best places to live and ranks it among Florida’s top cities.
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Trivia By Chris Lee
10 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: UF alumni include three NASA astronauts.
5) Who was the only Gator coach to be 9) Which SEC team was the first named the National Coach of the Decade? to play the Gators?
13) How many former UF coaches are in the College Football Hall of Fame?
A) Steve Spurrier B) Ray Graves C) Bob Woodruff D) Urban Meyer
A) Alabama B) Georgia C) Ole Miss D) South Carolina
A) 1 B) 2 C) 3 D) 4
2) Who was the first coach of the Florida Gators during their first full year of football?
6) Which of the following teams did Will Muschamp not coach for in his career?
10) When was the last time the Georgia Bulldogs beat the Gators?
A) Galen Hall B) S teve Spurrier C) Jack Forsythe D) L t. N. H. Cox
A) LSU Tigers B) Texas Longhorns C) Miami Hurricanes D) Miami Dolphins
) 1972 A B) 1996 C) 2007 D) 2004
14) Which of the following teams submitted a bid to join the SEC conference?
3) Who had the longest tenure as the Gatorsâ€™ head coach?
7) How many different conferences have the Gators played in?
11) When was the last time Florida played Auburn?
A) Charley Pell B) Ray Graves C) Doug Dickey D) R on Zook
) One A B) Two C) Three D) Four
A) 2010 B) 2008 C) 2007 D) 1999
4) Who had the shortest tenure as head coach?
8) What SEC team do the Gators have the 12) In what decade did UF have its last highest winning percentage against? losing season?
) Charlie Strong A B) Urban Meyer C) Steve Spurrier D) Gary Darnell
A) Arkansas B) Vanderbilt C) Kentucky D) Tennessee
A) 1906 B) 1857 C) 1 925 D) 1899
Fact: Famous alum, Carl Hiaasen, is a columnist and novelist.
) 1960s A B) 1970s C) 1990s D) 2000s
A) Texas A&M B) Pittsburgh C) Syracuse D) Texas
15) Which SEC team has Texas A&M never beaten? A) Florida B) Alabama C) Arkansas D) Tennessee
Answer key: 1) D, 2) C, 3) B, 4) A, 5) D, 6) C, 7) D, 8) A, 9) D, 10) C, 11) C, 12) B, 13) C, 14) A, 15)D.
1) When was the football team formed?
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
LEAVING A MARK
More mature Rainey running toward record books By THOMAS GOLDKAMP
Photos by Tim Casey
Florida redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey had his first 100/100-game of his career, more than 100 yards rushing and receiving, against Tennessee. 12 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: On December 16, 1949, plans were drawn to add 11,200 seats to west stands with expansion completed for the 1950 season.
LEAVING A MARK Rainey has always acknowledged his fans during his time in Gainesville.
Before the 2010 football season began, senior center Mike Pouncey said running back Chris Rainey was the best player on the Gators’ offense. But Rainey’s season was derailed by one of the decisions he regrets most. Early in the morning hours on Sept. 14, just days before Florida took on Tennessee in Knoxville, Rainey sent a text to a female friend that included the words “time to die.” He was arrested and charged with aggravated stalking, though the charges were later reduced to a misdemeanor. However, football took a back seat for the star speedster from Lakeland, as coach Urban Meyer suspended him from the team for five games. It’s taken him a long time to prove Pouncey’s words true, but so far in 2011 an older, wiser Chris Rainey has done just that. He’s just glad to be back on the football field.
“Any time you have something taken away from you that’s important to you, you find out a lot about yourself and about how important it is to you,” new head coach Will Muschamp said. The usually outspoken, upbeat running back drew back a little and reflected on his life.
Rainey’s approach to football has changed as he has evolved into the senior you see in between the sidelines on Saturdays. He works harder in practice and takes everything a little more seriously. “I think that when you walk on the practice field, there are certain guys every single day that you see football is really important to them,” Muschamp said. “Football is really important to Chris. You see how he competes, how he handles himself, how he approaches the meetings and how he goes on the field and works in practice.” “You could walk out and not know anything, not know any names and pick out certain guys and pick them by number and understand, hey football is important to this guy. It’s a day-in, day-out deal. It’s not just a one-day deal. He works extremely hard every day.” Muschamp is in his first year as Florida’s head coach so he hasn’t seen Rainey mature over the years like some of the Gators have.
“I look past that. All I can say is it’s all good,” Quarterback John Brantley has been around since Rainey first arrived back in Rainey said. “I matured a lot, did a lot of thinking. I had a lot of support on my side.” 2007. The two redshirted together and grew up as young men together. Now Brantley sees a different player in the The blue and orange blur you see sprinting by defenders and breaking ankles huddle and on the practice field. on the football field on Saturdays is a different person than the one who arrived “He’s taken, I think, maybe a different at Florida as a true freshman thinking he approach this year,” Brantley said. would get on the field and steal the show “He’s grown up, matured a lot. He’s right from the get-go. deserving of all the things that are Last season wasn’t the first time Rainey has had to adjust to life away from the football field at Florida. During his freshman season, a shoulder injury sidelined him, and he took a redshirt season and struggled to adjust.
“I think about that all the time,” he said. “I just want to thank God for that. Could have been gone. I stayed here for one more year, best thing that ever happened to me and to the offense. I’m just glad and happy.” Fact: Since 1953, the UF Football team has won 16 out of 19 bowl games.
happening to him right now.”
Like many players, Rainey’s had a natural growth process in his time at Florida. But some of the hardships he’s endured also helped the 5-foot-9, 174-pound speedster take a good, hard look at his approach to the game. “He’s grown up. We’ve all grown up through the years,” Brantley said. “It definitely shows on the practice field going out there every day working as hard as he can be. Just like all of us from
freshman year, we’ve just matured and grown up so much. I think he’s taken a different approach this year knowing that it’s his last season. He’s just going to end it strong.” And, while the Rainey from a few years ago might have taken all the credit for how well he’s played so far in 2011 for the Gators, the senior version is quick to lavish praise on his teammates. “I’m just doing my job, just trying to score touchdowns for the team,” Rainey said. “I give a lot of credit to the [offensive] line and the receivers. They’ve been doing their job blocking out there.” To say he owes all his success to the offensive line and the receivers isn’t fair. Rainey knows that and admitted he’s got a God-given ability few players are blessed with. He’s got lightning-quick feet and a first cut that often leaves defenders wondering if they ever even had a chance to tackle him to begin with. Rainey honed that cutting ability in the offseason, and the results have been evident through the first month of the 2011 season. Rainey’s been a one-man wrecking crew on offense, scoring in just about every way possible. GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 13
LEAVING A MARK
He’s definitely one of those guys who will pick you up if you’re not having a good day or something.” Older and more mature, Rainey is leaving quite a mark at Florida. His dedication both on and off the field have helped change people’s perception about the guy everyone saw in the papers a year ago, erasing his mugshot from memories and replacing it with his own human highlight reel. But none of that matters to Rainey. No matter what sportswriters, fans or rivals say, Rainey knows he’s a changed man.
“I really don’t care,” Rainey said. “They don’t know me.” Gators fans have embraced Rainey despite his off-field transgression last season. Photo by Tim Casey “I’ve been working on a lot more just trying to cut real fast and run out the cut, not slow down on cuts,” he said. His ability often leaves his teammates in awe, even the ones who have been watching him do it for the past few years.
“Every time you see it, it’s like aw man it’s crazy,” left tackle Xavier Nixon said. “You never get used to somebody cutting like that. He does something new every time he touches the ball.” Rainey’s cutting ability and seemingly effortless change of direction without losing any speed has earned him high praise from teammates and drawn some comparisons to another Florida star. Brantley said he sees a lot of former wide receiver Percy Harvin in Rainey. Harvin’s ability helped him win two national championships at Florida and earn the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2009. “I think they’re very similar. They’re very fast, very quick, very dynamic runners,” Brantley said. “Chris, he’s just special. You can definitely put him on the list of those kind of players. He’s just having a phenomenal year and he just keeps coming to work week in and week out.” 14 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Rainey is quickly cutting his way into the Florida record books, too. He joined Harvin as only the second player in Florida history to account for 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game against Tennessee. With a touchdown rushing, receiving and on a punt block return against Florida Atlantic, Rainey became only the third player in the nation since 1996 to score a touchdown those three ways.
The ones who do know Rainey couldn’t speak more highly of him. From top to bottom, everyone in Florida’s program lights up when speaking about the spark of the Florida offense. “I think he positively affects everybody in the organization,” Muschamp said. “A guy that’s really passionate about what he does. He likes football. He really enjoys playing football and I’m glad he’s a Gator.”
While he has said he prefers breaking tackles to breaking ankles, Rainey has been successful at both this season. / photo by Tim Casey
His ability to avoid defenders is seemingly unparalleled. “His first cut is so explosive,” Nixon said. “His lateral movement and explosiveness out the cut, he stays low. I’ve never seen anybody cut like that.” Rainey adds more than just touchdownscoring ability to the team, too. He’s one of Florida’s most vocal leaders and frequently peppers the team with motivational speeches prior to games. His smile almost never leaves, and he’s the positive presence on the team Brantley said Florida can’t live without. “He’s a little jokester,” Brantley said. “He’s serious when times need to be serious, but he brings that good attitude around. He’s always smiling. He’s never down. Fact: UF opened its doors in Gainesville in 1906 with 102 students.
Inside the Recruiting world
By Andrew Spivey
SCOUTING LINGO Verbal vs. Written scholarship offers
A verbal offer is an unofficial scholarship offer from a school, which is usually issued before a prospect’s senior year of high school for football players. This offer does not become official as written offer cannot be issued before this time. Scholarships are issued on a one-year basis and are usually renewed, but there have been times where they are not renewed.
Official vs. Unofficial visits
The recruitment of high school An official visit is a visit in which a prospect visits a school for a maximum players have become as much of of 48 hours with the school paying for expenses including transportation, college sports as the sport itself. food, and lodging. The NCAA only allows five official visits. An unofficial It is extremely complicated and visit is when a prospect visits a sometimes starts as early as a player’s school, but pays for the visit with the exception of attending games, in which first year of high school. Here are the school allows three free tickets. There are no limits to unofficial visits. some of the most used terms when dealing with the recruiting world. Other widely used terms
National Signing Day for football commitments is Feb. 1, 2012.
Fact: UF alumni include hundreds of athletes on both the professional and amateur level.
The dead period is a time when college coaches cannot have ANY contact with a prospect or its
family, except via phone or written communication. This includes attending the prospect’s games or practices. The quiet period is the same thing as the dead period, except prospects can visit college campuses where the only in-person contact can occur. The evaluation period is the time when a college coach may watch a prospect in practice and in games, but only phone and written communication is allowed, none in-person . And during the contact period, there are no stipulations to any of the activities listed above. Most importantly, a verbal commitment is when a prospect publically commits to a school. Verbal commitments are non-binding until National Signing Day when a National Letter of Intent, the document signed by the prospect and its parents agreeing to attend a school, is signed. Once a prospect signs its LOI, it is bound to the school. If the prospect has a change of heart, it will have to be released from its scholarship and sit out a year before playing for another institution.
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 15
Florida head coach Will Muschamp lets out a yell after the Gators’ 33–23 win against Tennessee. Photo by Andy Gregory 16 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: Famous alumnus, Robert Cade, invented Gatorade.
LEAPS AND BOUNDS!
Florida middle blocker Betsy Smith and the Gators opened the season with six-consecutive wins at home. Photo by Tim Casey
Florida sophomore running back Trey Burton leaves a Tennessee defender grasping at his heels. Photo by Tim Casey Fact: More than 100 UF football players have been selected for All-time SEC Players of the Week.
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
ACE IN THE HOLE
Kelly Murphy Looks to Lead Gators TO first NCAA TITLE
Kelly Murphy will go down in record books as one of the best athletes who ever played on the University of Florida volleyball team. by Elizabeth Rhodes The senior setter and right-side hitter holds many records for the Gators and has earned many awards throughout her career. Getting recognition for her hard work and dedication was nothing new to the elementary education major as the senior from Wilmington, Ill., was one of the most highly recruited high school players in nation. As the Gators battled the Seminoles in the O’Connell Center last year in a five set thriller to move onto the next round of the NCAA finals, Murphy learned how difficult it is to stay in the tournament during these very competitive rounds. She embraced the lessons she’s learned and took that knowledge with her as the Gators moved forward.
percentage. She also has a career high of 43 assists, 8 service aces, 17 digs and 6 blocks. There is no doubt Murphy’s accomplishments will continue during her last year as a Gator. She recently served up her 100th career ace against the Iowa State Cyclones in their first loss of the season on Sept. 5, and earned her 25th career triple double against Mississippi State in the SEC opener as they swept the Bulldogs on Sept. 16. She was named in the preseason All-SEC team and named a candidate for the Lowe’s senior CLASS award. To be selected for the Lowe’s senior award is such a great accomplishment because it represents students who excel on and off the court.
At the end of the day, it’s all “I think we definitely feel about getting past last year’s very grateful that we get early exit in the NCAA Regional a chance to play again,” Murphy said. “We’re going to Semifinals to Purdue. take that, it shows that’s how hard you have to work to get “We know that everything we’ve been doing so far has been to the end. Now we know working towards something,” what it’s going to take.” Murphy said. “We know if we Going into her senior year at the keep our focus and mindset University of Florida, Murphy had that we’ve had from the a career-high of 20 kills and an beginning, we can achieve the incredible career-high .727 hitting goals that we set this season.” 18 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: Gainesville was at one time known as “Hogtown” for the creek that ran through it.
ACE IN THE HOLE
Florida setter/right-side hitter Kelly Murphy has been enjoying her senior season. Photo by Tim Casey
Fact: Money Magazine named Gainesville as Floridaâ€™s most livable city.
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 19
LOVE FOR THE GAME
Powell finds peace on the field By Amy Campbell Photo by Tim Casey
20 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: Famous alumus, John Atanasoff, invented the digital computer.
LOVE FOR THE GAME
Pinellas Park linebacker is verbally committed to play at UF next season Of the 47 players on the Pinellas Park varsity football team, Jeremi Powell stands out.
2012 class. For many scholarship athletes, being able to play football at a university is a dream come true.
At the Patriots’ practice, he never slows down. He chases every ball. He follows through on every play. He is always talking to his teammates, encouraging them and giving pointers on how to improve.
For Powell, it’s a much bigger accomplishment – He’ll be the first in his family to even go to college.
His love for the game is obvious as he brings an extra fire that lights up the field.
“It means so much because when I talk to my mom, she tells me all the stories about how she wants us to do better than she did,” Powell said.
It’s clear to anyone watching – this is a special player. When practice ends, Powell and a few of his teammates do back flips down the field. Powell isn’t the most outspoken, but he seems to be the most respected. He possesses stillness and maturity beyond his 19 years. He’ll tell you it’s because he had to grow up a lot faster than most of his teammates.
“I’ve grown up my entire life without my dad,” he said. “I never met him in my entire life. It’s just me and my mom, my two brothers, and my sister. I have a job. My mom has a job, and I just got my sister a job, so we’re all supporting each other.” The second of four kids, Powell works part time in the kitchen of a nursing home so he can help contribute to his family. When he steps onto the football field, all the stresses of life just melt.
Powell’s mom, Kevra Grimmage, didn’t finish high school. “It’s so sad,” he said. “I feel so bad for my mom, but I can’t feel bad for her because I’m making her proud. You should see how proud my mom is that I’m going to Florida and I’m finishing high school.” It was Powell’s mom who got him started playing football in the first place. It helped keep him out of trouble and give him an outlet for all his anger.
Powell doesn’t flaunt his past, but he knows it’s a huge part of who he is.
“I don’t talk about it,” he said. “I don’t mind people knowing, because look where I am now.” It’s all the struggles Powell has faced in his life that give him an extra drive when it comes to football. He knows he needs to stay busy to stay out of trouble. When football season ends, he plays basketball and runs track, but he doesn’t like them as much because he doesn’t get to hit people. Football is the release he needs. “I’m angry inside,” he said. “I really am. I don’t really talk about it too much, but, I’m hurting. I’m always hurting because I have so much stuff going on. I feel very grateful that God blessed me with this – to play football at Florida.”
“My mom finally decided to put me in football,” he said. “It’s the best thing when you get to hit someone without getting in trouble.” Football was one of the few things in Powell’s life that actually remained constant. Grimmage struggled to make ends meet as a single mom with four kids.
“It’s my time to get away,” he said. “I hate leaving. I hate walking off that field. I just hate it because I know after this, I’m going to have to go deal with everything.”
“I moved around like 50 times, I went to like 50 elementary schools when I was in third or fourth grade,” Powell said. “We were by ourselves. There was a time in our lives when me and my mom and my family didn’t have a place to go. I was homeless.”
“When you play football, you don’t have to worry about anything. I have so much going on in life. When I get to play football, it’s just me (and) my family that’s on the field, and we just get to do something that we all love.”
“My mom is so strong. I don’t know how she did it, because I remember walking along the streets with a briefcase, just rolling it.”
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound linebacker from Largo was the second commit of Florida’s
stabilize for them after meeting a man at a church who really helped them out.
Powell and his family would try and stay with other family around Florida, but that often didn’t work out. Things started to
Fact: The September ’91 construction made Florida Field one of the eight largest on-campus collegiate football stadiums in the nation.
Powell shows off his Gators gloves before the Patriots’ game on Sept. 16. Photo by Tim Casey GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 21
LOVE FOR THE GAME
team be free because what’s football if it ain’t fun? But now I’m taking over. I told them I’m taking over. There’s no I in team, but I’m trying to be there, and I need to step up. I’m stepping up.” The opportunities for Powell at Florida seem endless. He can get a quality education and be in a great football program with the chance to go pro. His eyes light up when he talks about his future, but his excitement has little to do with fame or popularity.
“I want to do this,” he said. “I want to do this for my mom so she can smile. She’ll have something to be happy about because she’s been through so much, and she deserves so much. I’m doing this because I love it and I’m doing it because I want to give my mom nice things.” He paused for a moment, and continued confidently.
“I’m doing this, no matter what.” Powell still has some time before he gets started at the Gator Nation. He knows his unique past has dramatically shaped the player and the person that he is, and he’s thrilled to add that fire to Florida.
Powell will be a linebacker in college, but also plays receiver in high school. Photo by Tim Casey
“Just to get my mind off things and try and make it,” he said. “I just want to take care of my family. That’s what fuels me.” Even with all he has going on in his life, he never takes a second off. He’s always focused on the game, even if it’s just running through plays in his mind.
“I’m going bring some heart,” he said. “I bring a lot of heart. I love what I do. You have no idea. No idea. I’m so blessed to be here right now.”
“I don’t stop. I hate stopping. When I stop and I miss a tackle, I’m so mad at myself. If I’m not yelling, I’m beating myself up in my head. I’m going to forget about it, and I’m going to do it right the next time.” Every loss is excruciating for Powell, especially when his teammates don’t take it as seriously as he does.
He spends the week counting down the moments until Friday night, when he gets to “I know they love it, but they don’t love it the way I love it,” he said. face his next opponent under the lights. “I’m always thinking of how I’m going to beat this person,” he said. “I strategize. I watch film. When I see that person in front of me and watch what he’s doing wrong, I’m going to take advantage of it.” 22 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
He carries that attitude into his role as team captain. “I’ve been the captain, but I was just sitting back and lying low, letting the Fact: More than 330,000 UF alumni are located throughout the world.
Benefiting the Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Florida
Saturday, October 22, 2011
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TAILGATE GEAR By Daniel Sutphin
THE PARTY STARTS HERE EZ Grill
When you’re standing around at a tailgate party, it’s always difficult to balance everything – there’s food, utensils and, of course, your well-guarded beverage. Often times, the food or the beverage end up getting sacrificed. With the Snack Palette, you don’t have to choose between them. The Snack Palette is a disposable/recyclable plate that lets you hold a plate, cup, fork and napkin in one hand while keeping your other hand free. Lookout buffet line!
You don’t have to own the biggest grill and have the largest spread to enjoy tailgating; sometimes, as they say, less is more. With EZ Grill, you get an all-in-one complete BBQ that is perfect for tailgating. The no-mess grill uses environmentally friendly charcoal and is made with 100 percent recycled materials. It cooks up to one and a half hours and the charcoal lights instantly. It’s also disposable, so when you’re done cooking, all you have to do is throw it away and you’re off to the game! www.ezgrill.com $9.99
For the more adventurous drinkers tailgating this season, the Party Bomber is destroying all the hassle in taking bombs. The device holds four shot and four pint glasses, allowing for easy mobility so you don’t have to break out those remedial waiter skills you had picked up in college. Simply load the glasses with your favorite pick of poison, press the button and BOOM – four bombs ready to be chugged! www.thepartybomber.com $119.95
24 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: On October 27, 1930, construction was completed on original Florida Field.
When tailgating, lugging coolers around all day can be a major headache. It’s hot and half the time you have to walk a mile or more to get where you want to go. The TrackPack makes tailgating way more convenient. The backpack is a cooler with a dispenser flap on the side. All you have to do is fill the TrackPack dispenser with drinks and then slide in the gel-pack freezers. This way, while your trekking to the party, you have a drink dispenser right there on your back! www.trackpackcoolers.com $39.99
Even in Florida the winter months can get pretty cold, especially when you’re outdoors tailgating all day. The Seat Heater provides that extra bit of warmth that you’re clothes may be lacking. It folds into a bag for easy transport. Charge the battery in an A/C outlet, plug it into the pocket on the side of the chair and you have a heat! There are also extra pockets for accessories so the only time you have to leave the chair is to go to the bathroom! www.theseatheater.com $99.99
Defede: Licensed Gator Handbag
By now, you probably have acquired most of your tailgate equipment, so what about your apparel? If you’re already decked out in your best orange and blue, you might as well go that extra mile. Defede’s new licensed gator handbag
is a perfect match for all you Lady Gators out there. The blue and orange bag has opened and zippered pockets inside, as well as a rear zipper pocket. The bag zips closed and is fashioned from polyester canvas. It’s lightweight and convenient, making it a great addition to your game day attire.
Playing games and drinking beer go hand in hand at a tailgate party. This combination, however, can often result in one major problem – remembering the score. The new Scorzie solves that dilemma with red and blue score keeping rings embedded into its body. The stainless steel koozie is lined with high quality foam to keep your beverage nice and cold for the entire game!
There is so much stuff you have to remember to bring when tailgating that more often than not, the little things tend to get left behind, like the bottle opener! Where there are alternatives to using an opener, instead of scratching a table or cutting your hand, why not let your sunglasses open it (that’s right, we live in a world in which this is actually a reality). The polarized Fact: On October 13, 1934, Florida Field dedicated to memory of servicemen who died in World War I.
lenses provide 100 percent protection from UV rays. The bottle opening shades boast a polycarbonate frame and Airplane Grade anodized aluminum. And best of all, instead of the ends rounding out like normal, boring frames, these are fashioned into bottle openers. May we never go thirsty again! www.brewees.com $39.99
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 25
Carol Muschamp did the chomp to celebrate her husband’s first SEC win as a head coach. Photo by Rob Foldy Emmitt Smith was the Gators’ honorary captain against Tennessee. Photo by Andy Gregory
26 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: In 2010, UF ranked seventh in Princeton Review’s top party schools; UGA took first.
GATOR NATION Florida players run onto the field carrying American flags before the Gators’ 39–0 win against UAB on Sept. 10. Photo by Tim Casey
Above: Florida sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley has been carrying a Chucky doll before every game. Photo by Tim Casey
The 2011 UF women’s tennis team was honored during the Tennessee game for winning the NCAA National Championship last season. Photo by Tim Casey Fact: There are University of Florida graduates in all 50 states and in more than 135 countries.
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 27
Above: Florida sophomore setter Chanel Brown points to Kelly Murphy during the Gators’ 3–0 win against Florida State. Photo by Tim Casey
28 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Florida redshirt sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins flies in to assist on a tackle. Photo by Andy Gregory
Fact: Famous alumnus, Michael Connelly, went on to become a best-selling mystery novelist.
Lerentee McCray, Dominique Easley and Xavier Nixon carried American flags onto the field on Sept. 10. Photo by Rob Foldy
Fact: In 2008, UF was ranked as the nationâ€™s top party school, according to the Princeton Review.
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 29
BRINGIN’ THEM DOWN!!
Will Muschamp protests a penalty during the Gators’ win against FAU. Photo by Tim Casey
Florida senior receiver Deonte Thompson leaps to make a catch against Tennessee. Photo by Andy Gregory
Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd lost his helmet but didn’t stop chasing down Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray. Photo by Tim Casey 30 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: Famous alumnus Forrest Sawyer is a national broadcast journalist.
By Daniel Sutphin
Swamp Cocktails Partida Tequila
Anyone who’s ever chugged an Irish Car Bomb before should be familiar with this practice. For those of you who haven’t, fill a shot glass with liquor, in this case Vodka and Blue Curacao, drop it into a rocks glass of Sunkist or Orange Fanta, and proceed to chug!
Gator Bomb (a.k.a Swamp Bomb)
When you think Margaritas, the first image that comes to mind is a hot, breezy day at the beach, not the burgeoning cold of winter. With Partida’s new Reposado tequila, the margarita has been transformed into a fall cocktail. With hints of chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut and almonds, it mixes perfectly with pumpkin. It rated higher than any other tequila brand in a taste test conducted by The Academy of Tequila and stands to be a great addition to the fall holidays!
• 2 oz. Partida Reposado Tequila • 1 oz. Fresh lime/lemon juice mix • Splash of pumpkin puree • Sesame seeds • Lime wedge Rim a cocktail glass with limejuice and sesame seeds. Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
In the shot glass… • 2oz UV Raspberry Vodka (any Vodka will suffice) • 2oz Blue Curacao In the rocks glass… Rocks glass of Sunkist (no rocks)
Fact: UF opened its doors in Gainesville in 1906 with 102 students.
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 31
HOOPS AND HOPES!
Familiar faces form new hoops staff By THOMAS GOLDKAMP
John Pelphrey watches from the bench while coaching against the Gators last season. Photo by Tim Casey 32 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: Head Coach Steve Spurrier tagged Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field “The Swamp”.
HOOPS AND HOPES!
After falling just short of a return to the Final Four in 2011 for the first time since winning back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007, the Florida Gators basketball team lost all three assistant coaches after the season ended. Head coach Billy Donovan was returning one of the most talented backcourts in the country and a former McDonald’s All-American at center, but all of a sudden, he had to replace his entire assistant coaching staff.
“One of the things I felt like I needed was familiarity,” Donovan said. “Bringing some familiarity and someone back here that knows me, knows Florida, understands the SEC (and) understands the program is important.”
With guys who have worked as head coaches, some may wonder about the cohesiveness of Donovan’s staff, as each has had the chance to have complete control over his team. But Donovan’s not worried about any sort of clash of egos at all.
“You’ve got to have guys that are willing to create that level of chemistry,” he said. “I think both John and Norm are incredibly unselfish and are excited to be here. They know that working together with others is going to be Donovan certainly wasn’t shy about bringing important. John knows me well enough being with me for nine years. in a couple of big-name guys most of the college basketball world will be familiar with. Norm will get to know (me).” On April 12, he announced he had hired John Pelphrey and Norm Roberts. Pelphrey was most recently a head coach at Arkansas and had worked with Donovan before at both Florida and Marshall. Roberts coached at St. John’s until 2010, when he spent a year working as a college basketball TV analyst. Both coaches have outstanding track records on the recruiting trail, giving Donovan 15 years of combined head coaching experience between the two of them. Donovan also reached out to former assistant Matt McCall, who worked with him at Florida from 2001 to 2007 in various roles before moving on to Florida Atlantic. McCall now rejoins Donovan’s staff as the team’s third assistant coach.
Matt McCall cuts down the net after the Gators advanced to the 2007 Final Four. Photo by Tim Casey Fact: Since 1938, a total of 312 Gators have been drafted in the NFL.
Pelphrey, who played at Kentucky while Donovan was an assistant coach for the Wildcats then worked as an assistant coach under Donvan from 1995-2002, couldn’t be happier to return to Gainesville. “This is a special place, there’s no question about that for me and my family,” Pelphrey said. “The lasting impression, the things we have, this is one of the best places we’ve ever lived.” The chance to reunite with Donovan, one of his former mentors was an opportunity that appealed to the former head coach of Arkansas and South Alabama. Pelphrey said he didn’t see himself taking a job as an assistant anywhere else. “It’s certainly a blessing to have a chance to be with (him again),” Pelphrey said.“He played such a big part of my life. That guy does so much for me. The patience he has, I am embarrassed to say there’s probably no way I could have that for somebody else. What he did for me, just with basically teaching me everything about being a coach, I’m eternally grateful.” Like Donovan, Pelphrey doesn’t foresee any type of clash on the coaching staff simply because there are now two former head coaches on the assistant coaching staff.
That may be a problem for Pelphrey and Roberts if they were working under a coach who had a big ego, but Pelphrey has never seen Donovan as that type of person. “He’s a normal guy,” Pelphrey said. “He has no idea he’s a Hall of Fame coach. He does not know that. That’s pretty cool, because in life – especially our profession – success changes people. It doesn’t for Billy. When you get a chance to spend time with him, you start to see that. You see that’s real, you see that’s genuine because you see that every single day.” Pelphrey’s ties to Donovan and the Florida program from his time spent there certainly played a large factor in Donovan’s decision to rehire his former assistant.
“You want to have guys that bleed Orange and Blue,” Donovan said. “I think even though John was at South Alabama, he was at Arkansas, he is, in a lot of ways, I think he’ll tell you, a Gator.” Roberts is equally as excited for the opportunity to be working with Donovan, though he admits he felt he did a better job at St. John’s than he ultimately got credit for when he was fired. While Roberts’ roots are in the Northeast, he’s done a good job of integrating into the Gainesville culture. He said Pelphrey and McCall have helped ease that transition. “I think when you’re working with really good people, and they make you feel comfortable, you get more and more comfortable all the time,” he said. “It’s really exciting to be working with Pel and Matt, those are both really, really good guys. All the guys at the office have been great.” Like Pelphrey, Roberts sees his experience working as a head coach as a huge bonus for the Florida staff. Both Pelphrey and Roberts can sell their former experiences on the recruiting trail. GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 33
HOOPS AND HOPES!
freshmen and sophomores Florida may recruit down the road. He helps lay the early groundwork with those guys, so Donovan and the rest of the staff can focus on the more immediate recruiting classes.
“I know what [Donovan’s] looking for in a player,” McCall said. “I know the makeup, the mindset, the things that he’s looking for in a player.” McCall’s perfectly content with that role, building the early foundation for Donovan and the rest of the staff. He understands that recruiting is the lifeblood of the program and it must be done. He works late into the night to make sure Florida is already in great shape when the Gators really start to recruit a player when he enters his junior year in high school.
“We’re all working together, because recruiting is such a big part of this job,” McCall said. “The relationships with the families, the relationships with the AAU coaches, the relationships with high school coaches, it’s such a tedious and a timeconsuming job that we all got to work together to make sure we’re getting the right kid.” For McCall, the opportunity to return to Gainesville to coach and learn under Donovan was simply too great to pass up. Like Pelphrey, McCall jumped on the opportunity to work with his former boss again.
Norm Roberts talks to a player while coaching at St. John’s in 2008. Photo courtesy of St. John’s
In addition, what they’ve learned already as head coaches should make it less of a burden for Donovan in helping his team adjust to new coaches. The Florida head coach won’t have to explain to Pelphrey and Roberts how to do things all that often. “I think what it does, me and Pel coming in as head coaches, you understand the urgency, you understand the importance, you understand the importance of little things, how important those things
34 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
are,” Roberts said. “The same things that coach Donovan’s going to be preaching to us at a given time, we have already preached to our assistants, understanding that these are things that have to be done – getting on the phones, talking to people, building relationships.” McCall adds a young, energetic presence to the coaching staff who works tirelessly on the recruiting trail, particularly making early contact with the high school
“It’s unbelievable to be able to say Matt McCall, assistant coach at the University of Florida,” he said. “I bleed Orange and Blue, like coach Donovan told you. I grew up here coming to games, always wanted to be a ball-boy when I was little. For me, it’s more than the University of Florida. It’s coach Donovan, one of the best coaches in the game. To be here with him again and be able to learn from him again, and be able to be with great coaches like coach Roberts and coach Pelphrey, it’s unbelievable. It’s exciting. We’re ready to go to work.”
Fact: Prior to 2003 Season construction was completed on a two-year, $50 million stadium expansion/renovation
SCENES FROM THE STANDS
ABOVE: photo by Rob Foldy
BELOW: photo by Tim Casey
BELOW: photo by Rob Foldy
Fact: UF alumni include at least nine prior governors of the state of Florida.
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 35
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36 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: The original stadium consisted of the first 32 rows on the west, east and north sides of the current stadium.
OCTOBER PREVIEW Alabama running back Trent Richardson, a Pensacola native, nearly signed with Florida out of high school. Photo by Tim Casey
Gators face grueling month that can make or break 2011 season Oct. 1 – Alabama
2010 Record: 10–3 (5–3) Returning Starters: 6 offense, 9 defense Key Returning Players: RB Trent Richardson, OL Barrett Jones, LB Dont’a Hightower, S Mark Barron, S Robert Lester 2010 Recap: Alabama began the season 5–0 with huge expectations, but stumbled on the road at South Carolina. A close loss to LSU and a heartbreaking collapse against Auburn kept the Crimson Tide from enjoying a 10–3 year. The Crimson Tide featured an extremely balanced offense that finished in the Top 30 nationally in both rushing and passing and 22nd nationally in total offense. The Alabama defense finished in the Top 10 in virtually every category, ranking 3rd nationally in scoring defense. Overview: The Crimson Tide lost a number of key playmakers on offense, including quarterback Greg McElroy, Heisman-winning running back Mark Ingram and first-round NFL Draft pick Julio Jones. Replacing those players hasn’t been easy, as McElroy provided steady veteran leadership and Jones was a mismatch against just about every team in the country. Returning Trent Richardson means Alabama hasn’t seen much of a drop-off in the running game, particularly Fact: On June 30, 1990, natural grass replaced artificial turf at Florida Field.
with four of five starters returning on the offensive line. Quarterback A.J. McCarron won the starting job early in the season for the Crimson Tide and looks poised and confident for Alabama, much like McElroy and John Parker Wilson did before him. The Crimson Tide would still like more receivers to step up, but Marquis Maze has emerged as a quality playmaker with great athleticism. Defensively, Alabama once again fields one of the nation’s best units. The only real concern is at defensive line, where the Crimson Tide lost both of its starting defensive ends. Josh Chapman anchors the interior of the line and has been a force for the Crimson Tide, but Alabama is still looking for players to step up at the ends. The entire starting back eight returns intact for Alabama, which spells trouble for the rest of the league. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower anchors the heart of a linebacker corps that can run all over the field and tackles extremely well. Meanwhile, the secondary features arguably the best safety tandem in the nation in Mark Barron and Robert Lester.
The duo leads a secondary that also returns two talented cornerbacks in Dre Kirkpatrick and Dee Milliner. Key Matchup: Florida’s linebackers vs. Alabama’s running backs – Florida might have stayed in the game with Alabama last year except for its inability to stop the Crimson Tide on third down. The Crimson Tide running backs ran roughshod over Florida’s linebackers. With Alabama’s defense as good as it is, Florida can’t afford to give up long, sustained drives to Alabama and hope to win. The Gators must tackle better or they will be looking at a similar result to 2010. What to Expect: It’s tough to pick Florida in this one with all the talent and experience Alabama has returning, compared to a still relatively unproven group for the Gators. The Crimson Tide steamrolled the Gators by imposing their will on Florida, and the Gators need a true statement game in the Will Muschamp era to prove that type of pounding won’t happen again.
If the Florida offense plays like its capable, the Gators are certainly capable of making it a game with Alabama at home in the Lester finished 2010 with Swamp. Forcing a few eight interceptions, which was good enough for second Alabama turnovers will be a real key in this game against nationally. Barron is a head-hunting safety who can a Crimson Tide defense that figures to force a few itself. also make plays in the air. GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 37
The Tigers will be counting on a handful of young players to step up and provide the same type of pass rush that helped the Tigers rank 17th nationally in sacks in 2010.
LSU head coach Les Miles has a history of finding unconventional ways to win games. Photo by Tim Casey
At linebacker, seniors Karnell Hatcher and Ryan Baker return to lead a unit that is very solid, even if it’s devoid of the star power LSU frequently has at the position. The secondary is easily the biggest strength of the 2011 LSU squad, with a bevy of talented playmakers returning. Cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu should form one of the top cornerback duos in the SEC, if not the country. Mathieu is a budding superstar at the position and a terrific all-around weapon for the Tigers Safeties Brandon Taylor and Eric Reid are also both talented playmakers, with Taylor returning as one of the veteran leaders of the entire defense.
Oct. 8 – at Louisiana State
2010 Record: 11–2 (6–2) Returning Starters: 8 offense, 6 defense Key Returning Players: RB Spencer Ware, WR Rueben Randle, CB Morris Claiborne, CB Tyrann Mathieu, S Brandon Taylor 2010 Recap: LSU began the 2010 season 10–1 with the lone loss to Auburn in a one-score game before Arkansas ended LSU’s regular season with a loss, effectively taking a BCS bowl away from the Tigers. The Tigers went 11–2 despite a passing offense that ranked just 107th nationally, thanks in large part to a strong rushing game that ranked 28th nationally and a defense that finished just outside the Top 10 in most categories. Overview: LSU’s passing game wasn’t exactly fun to watch last year, as Jordan Jefferson continued to struggle throwing the ball, despite having a fairly talented receiving corps. Jefferson’s arrest just prior to the season threw the starting quarterback job back up in the air again, allowing Jarrett Lee to return as the starter. 38 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
But how much LSU’s passing game improves in 2011 will determine just how far the Tigers can advance in the 2011 season, and all indications are LSU hasn’t missed Jefferson much. The receiving corps will have to replace Terrance Toliver, which will be no easy task. Last year’s starting running back, Stevan Ridley, is also gone for LSU. The good news for the Tigers is that sophomore Spencer Ware is fast emerging as a star at running back for LSU in 2011. However, the receiver position has struggled somewhat with only Randle truly emerging as a legitimate big-play threat, raising more questions about a passing attack that wasn’t very good a year ago. Still, with four of five starters returning on the offensive line and a veteran quarterback at the helm, LSU’s offense should be capable enough of winning just about every game given how good the defense is expected to be. On defense, the main concern for LSU is along the defensive line, where the Tigers have few returning playmakers.
Key Matchup: Florida secondary vs. LSU passing attack – The LSU passing game is one of the major question marks for the Tigers in the 2011 season. Likewise, the secondary for Florida is also one of the biggest question marks. Whoever wins that battle will have a big leg up on the opponent, and the secondary is an area Florida will have to get some big plays from if it hopes to sneak out a tough road win against a ferocious LSU defense. What to Expect: As good as LSU is, this matchup doesn’t set up terribly for the Gators. With a strong running game against a somewhat unproven LSU defensive line, Florida could very well control the tempo of the game, much like it did in its win in Baton Rouge in 2009. Points will be at a premium, though, which means the Gators have got to make positive progress on offense, particularly in the red zone, before its first true road test. If Florida can move the ball effectively and capitalize better in the red zone by the time this game rolls around, and the secondary holds up and creates a big play or two against the Tigers, this is a game in which Florida is capable of springing an upset..
Fact: In December, 1965, construction started on the east-side for a 10,000-seat addition.
OCTOBER PREVIEW Auburn running back Michael Dyer. Photo by Hays Collins, Icon SMI Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley both competed for the starting quarterback job in spring football practice, with Trotter ultimately winning out and taking the reins. Trotter has a nice stable of running backs to work with. Michael Dyer and Onterrio McCaleb provide the Tigers with one of the best one-two punches in the league, but they’re running behind an offensive line replacing four of five starters, which could make for some tough outings against SEC competition. Phillip Lutzenkirchen returns to provide a nice receiving option at tight end, while Emory Blake and De’Angelo Benton form a solid duo at wide receiver.
The Tigers need a smart decision-maker who can also make plays on pure athletic ability to be successful at quarterback, and Trotter isn’t nearly as good at that as Newton was. Without that player, Auburn won’t be able to blow teams out, given the huge losses on the offensive line and on defense. Assuming Florida doesn’t shoot itself in the foot offensively, the Gators should be able to control the game with its defense. Of Florida’s four road games, only Kentucky looks like a better bet for a win, especially with Auburn traveling to Arkansas the week before.
Auburn linebacker Daren Bates. Photo by Jim Rinaldi, Icon SMI
Defensively, the Tigers have just as much to replace as on offense, starting with the defensive line, which lost star defensive tackle Nick Fairley and three of four starters. The linebacker corps replaced two starters, but Auburn has some talent returning at the position. Daren Bates leads a group that has a good mix of experience and talent.
Oct. 15 – at Auburn
Meanwhile, the secondary also had to replace three of four starters after losing starting safety Michael McNeil to dismissal following an armed robbery just before spring practice began.
2010 Record: 14–0 (8–0) Returning Starters: 3 offense, 3 defense Key Returning Players: RB Michael Dyer, TE Phillip Lutzenkirchen, RT Brandon Neiko Thorpe is the leader in the secondary after moving from cornerback to safety to help Mosley, LB Daren Bates, S Neiko Thorpe with the numbers in the defensive backfield. 2010 Recap: The Tigers stunned everyone Key Matchup: Florida defensive line vs. in 2010 by rolling to an undefeated season Auburn running backs – Auburn’s running and a national championship behind the leadership and playmaking ability of former backs pose the only great threat to Florida offensively, as the Tigers have a solid but Florida quarterback Cameron Newton. unspectacular passing attack. Auburn rode Newton, who was 15th in the The Tigers relied heavily on their running nation in rushing and second in passing efficiency, to the title, ranking 7th nationally game in 2010 and will likely do so again this season. If Florida can shut down Dyer and in scoring and total offense. McCaleb, there’s no reason to think the Gators can’t win at Auburn, even given their Overview: No SEC team in 2011 faced recent struggles against the Tigers. more turnover on the roster, after the Tigers lost 14 of 22 starters from its What to Expect: Auburn replaced so national championship squad. much in the offseason, that the Tigers simply aren’t the same team that rolled to Auburn still has plenty of talent at the a national title a year ago. They have the skill positions on offense, but replacing talent to compete in just about every ball Newton has been no easy task, as his game, but mental mistakes will cost the athletic ability helped mask several Tigers throughout the year. offensive deficiencies last season. Fact: In April, 1971, artificial surface was installed.
Auburn cornerback Neiko Thorpe. Photo by Todd Kirkland, Icon SMI
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 39
The Bulldogs return DeAngelo Tyson as the leader on the defensive line. He has moved to defensive end after spending last season at defensive tackle. The Bulldogs are counting on a productive year from him. The linebacker corps is relatively young after losing three of four starters, and Georgia has had a little trouble finding guys to step up there. The secondary, however, is far and away one of the top units on the team. All four starters return there. When healthy, the unit is as talented as any in the SEC. If they can stay healthy, cornerbacks Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith can form the one of the best cornerback duos in the league. Safeties Baccari Rambo and Jakar Hamilton are also a solid pair.
Oct. 29 – Georgia (in Jacksonville)
2010 Record: 6–7 (3–5) Returning Starters: 5 offense, 7 defense Key Returning Players: QB Aaron Murray, TE Orson Charles, C Ben Jones, CB Brandon Boykin, CB Branden Smith 2010 Recap: After beginning the season 1–4, Georgia very nearly won five straight games, with their lone loss in the next five games being a crushing overtime loss to Florida. The Bulldogs finished 6–7, capped by a humbling loss to UCF in the bowl game. Georgia’s running game was lackluster all season long, finishing at 73rd nationally. However, the Bulldogs boasted one of the nation’s best pass defenses, finishing 17th in the nation. Overview: Georgia seems to have another capable starter at quarterback, the first since Matthew Stafford bolted for the NFL. Aaron Murray really emerged as a leader for the Bulldogs late last year and in the spring, and Georgia is still counting on him to do big things in 2011. However, Murray doesn’t have as much to work with as he did last season after losing one of the best receivers in school history in A.J. Green. 40 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Several players have the talent to step up at wide receiver, including Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, but the unit hasn’t been the most reliable, frequently struggling with drops and creating separation. In fact, Georgia’s best receiver is arguably tight end Orson Charles, who is one of the league’s top receiving threats at tight end. The running game for the Bulldogs is still a big concern after starting running back Washaun Ealey opted to transfer from the program in the offseason. Georgia is relying on true freshman running back Isaiah Crowell, who has terrific talent, along with a few older players who have had little impact so far in their careers. They’re running behind an offensive line that replaced three starters after tackle Trinton Sturdivant tore his ACL during spring practice. Senior center Ben Jones anchors the line and is one of the SEC’s best. Defensively, Georgia is in better shape than it was in 2010. The defense has now had a full year to transition to the 3–4 defensive coordinator Todd Grantham runs, and Grantham has more size on the interior of the defensive line this season.
Orson Charles. Photo by Tim Casey
Tampa native Aaron Murray had his hands full with the Florida defense last year in Jacksonville. Photo by Tim Casey
Key Matchup: Florida’s secondary vs. Georgia’s wide receivers – Georgia isn’t deep or experienced at the running back position, but Murray showed great development as a passer in 2010. Georgia has talented but somewhat unproven wide receivers. If they step up against a young Florida secondary, Georgia can make a game out of it with Florida. If they can’t there’s no reason to think the Gators’ dominance over the Bulldogs will end in 2011.
What to Expect: Georgia’s defense is much improved in 2011 from a strictly talent standpoint, which could make this game lower-scoring than it has been over the past five years or so. The real questions for Georgia are the running game and the offensive line, which can’t seem to stay healthy. If Murray develops a few reliable targets in the passing game before Georgia gets to late October, the Bulldogs certainly have the talent to stay in the game with Florida. Still, it’s hard to pick against Florida in a series that has been so lopsided, especially when Georgia’s questions are as big as they are.
Fact: On September 23, 1950, the first night game was played at Florida Field versus The Citadel.
Often times, quality gets forgotten in the production of fan gear. The shirts are usually thin and made with poor material, not to mention the fact that you are wearing it outside at a stadium where there are tons of people (hazards) being crammed into small spaces. Introducing the blue ‘Elusive Gator.” Crafted from the ﬁ nest silk for the passionate Florida fan. A limited edition of only 300 are now available. Visit PassionateFan.com or call 512.482.8115. Douglas Lyon is bringing quality back to being a fan. Made for the more passionate supporters, these new button-down, polo-style shirts are comfortable and meticulously designed from the finest silk and fabrics.
Every stitch and every detail is customized for each school. He currently has NCAA officially licensed designs for ASU, UF, LSU, UNC, Texas, and the newest addition, Alabama.
Get yours at www.passionatefan.com Fact: Former coach Steve Spurrier coined the phrase, “The ‘Mighty’ Gators” after struggling to beat a team we were expected to crush.
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 41
ABBY WAMBACH Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts got into the jaws of a giant Gator before Florida’s win against Texas Tech on Sept. 2. Photo by Tim Casey Twelve years later, it would be Wambach swarmed by teammates wearing the red, white and blue, screaming in utter jubilation after one of the most incredible moments in American sports history. The U.S. had earned the right to play Brazil in the World Cup semifinals, and after getting out to an early 1–0 lead, the U.S. fell behind 2–1 in overtime. As the seconds ticked down, the U.S. was down to its last gasp. The clock read 121:14, already well into added time in the second overtime period, with elimination a near certainty for the Americans. Megan Rapinoe took the ball up the left sideline uncontested and streaked forward as Wambach flew in toward the back post. For a moment, fans across the U.S. held their breath in anticipation as Rapinoe swung in a cross toward Wambach. The seconds turned into hours for Wambach as she waited on the ball, slowly slicing through the air toward her and curling in past the keeper. Four words raced through her mind, over and over again.
“Put ball in net.”
By THOMAS GOLDKAMP
Abby Wambach: A national star & a Gators legend
On July 10, 1999, 19-year-old Florida soccer star Abby Wambach sat in Gainesville, eyes glued to the TV, heart pounding.
As the Brazilian keeper lunged out to try to punch it away, Wambach lined up her shot. The ball cleared the keeper and the last defender, and time stopped. “Truthfully, I just kept thinking if it goes over her hands and it goes over her head, meaning keeper, defender, it’s going in,” Wambach said. “Those moments come rare.” And then it happened in a flash. Wambach’s head guided the ball just inside the right post, like a heat-seeking missile destroying its target, the latest goal scored in women’s World Cup history.
The United States were deadlocked in a shootout after a 0–0 match and two overtimes against China. Wambach’s heart nearly stopped as Brandi Chastain stepped to the line to take the last penalty kick with a chance to win the World Cup.
sank to her knees, fists clenched in triumph as her teammates swarmed her, tears of joy running down their faces. The U.S. were world champions and the women’s national team had instantly become national heroes.
Wambach sprinted to the corner flag and slid down, grinning ear to ear as her teammates raced over to congratulate her and fans roared in approval at the miracle goal that rescued the U.S. from the brink of elimination, a strike seared into the souls of the women playing for their country.
Chastain fired her shot into the right corner of the net past the goalkeeper and 90,185 fans in the Rose Bowl erupted. Chastain
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would have a moment similar to that,” Wambach said.
“I kept saying the whole game it just took one chance,” Wambach said. “One chance is what it took.”
42 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: Temporary bleachers were moved to the south end zone for a total capacity of 62,800 during 1966 season
While the U.S. ultimately fell to Japan in the World Cup final in a shootout, Wambach and the rest of the women’s World Cup team, which also included former Florida national champion Heather Mitts, arrived home as heroes.
“Quite honestly, maybe the most proud feeling I’ve ever felt about being an American without having won anything,” Wambach said. “It was almost as if we did win. We won over the hearts of millions of Americans.” For Wambach, the miraculous goal she scored against Brazil and another late goal against Japan, which gave the U.S. a 2–1 lead in overtime changed her life. Now, everywhere the former Florida soccer star goes, people recognize her. She gets stopped for autographs and pictures almost every time she goes out in public. It’s been an adjustment for the former three-time All-American at Florida.
“This whole thing has just been wild. It’s been a transition, to be quite honest,” she said. “It is true, the more famous you are, it does become more of a, not a hindrance, but it becomes a part of your life. You get interrupted and you have to be patient with parents who don’t know how to work cell phone cameras. It’s been awesome. I’m not going to complain. You want success, but then you don’t want what comes with it. That’s not who I am, so I accept everything that’s happened with open arms and hopefully it can continue and we can keep the momentum going.” Wambach even had one 15-year-old boy come up to her after she got back to the U.S. and tell her he wanted to be a women’s professional soccer player. Suddenly, thanks to Wambach and other recognizable U.S. soccer stars like Hope Solo and Alex Morgan, women’s soccer is gaining popularity once again. Fans have flocked to Women’s Professional Soccer matches, where stars like Wambach
and Mitts ply their trade in the years between each World Cup and the Olympics. Wambach considers herself extremely lucky to have had the type of impact on the sport she had this summer with her dramatic goals and breathtaking finishes. “It’s a bittersweet feeling,” she said. “Of course, it’s humbling. It’s great that people are rallying around the sport. I’m proud to not only hail from Gainesville and be a Gator, but also be able to continue to make the Gator Nation proud through the ventures that I continue to do.” After winning a national championship at Florida in 1998 in the soccer program’s fourth year of existence, Wambach went on to have a terrific career with the Gators. She is still the career leader for Florida in goals, assists, points, hat tricks and game-winning goals. The U.S. superstar loved every minute of her career at Florida and attributes much of her professional success to the development she underwent while playing for the Gators.
Abby Wambach celebrates after scoring a goal against Japan in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final on July 17 at WWC Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo by Revierfoto/imago, Icon SMI
Fact: The September ’91 north end zone addition cost $17 million, but involved no state funding.
GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 43
ABBY WAMBACH Abby Wambach was honored during the Gators’ opening weekend. Photo by Tim Casey She and Mitts were honored at halftime of the Florida soccer team’s 3–0 win over Texas Tech on Sept. 2 and again the next day at Florida’s football game against Florida Atlantic, where the crowd at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium rang out in a chorus of “U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!.” Both Wambach and Mitts hope their World Cup success can help the Florida soccer program down the road. Both have exceedingly fond memories of the Gators and always speak glowingly as they recall their days in Gainesville. “We, as a national team, hope that it transcends all the way down the ladder,” Wambach said. “We want people talking about women’s soccer, because truthfully it’s not nearly as popular in this country as we think it could be. We did something special in Germany that got people talking about it, that got people excited about it. Obviously winning in the dramatic fashion [against] Brazil changed the lives of many of the players on our team, and hopefully inspired some of these kids even on this field [in Gainesville] to maybe foresee themselves doing that in the future.” While Wambach is happy to be a national icon, she doesn’t want people to try to be like her. In fact, she offers some advice to the hundreds of thousands of girls and young women aspiring to be like her.
“I’ve told people this throughout my entire career: Coming to school here literally was preparing me to become a professional athlete,” Wambach said. “Obviously the academics are great, and we all know how storied history the sports are here, but people don’t understand that what this sport and what this school did for me was that it literally prepared me to become a professional athlete. The best stadiums, the best coaches, the best travel. It was, by far, probably one of the biggest, most impactful things about me having success down in my professional life.” Wambach won the 2011 World Cup Bronze Boot award for her four goals and one assist in Germany. Her game-tying goal against Brazil in the final seconds won this year’s ESPY for Best Play. She made numerous 44 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
appearances on ESPN and national TV talk shows after the terrific run the U.S. made in the World Cup. But the one thing that stands out more than any of the accolades she received after the World Cup wasn’t a goal or an award.
“The best part about my experiences last summer was every single stadium we played in, there was a Gator flag waving,” Wambach said. “I don’t know if it was the same person every time, either way, it was something that made me really feel proud of the time that I spent [in Gainesville].” Needless to say, when Wambach had a break in her schedule to return to Gainesville, she jumped all over the opportunity.
Abby Wambach does the Gator chomp during Florida’s win against Texas Tech on Sept. 2. Photo by Tim Casey
Fact: Shands is affiliated with more than 80 UF physician outpatient practices located throughout north central and northeast Florida.
Later that year, Florida would top North Carolina 1–0 for its first and only soccer national championship in school history. It’s one of Mitts’ fondest memories, though she has several. “Being that I came in here when it had first started and to be able to win a national championship in a short time,” Mitts said of her best Florida memory. “My second memory is just that we were such a tight-knit group. Obviously we had great coaching. Just all the things that come along with this University, you’re going to get results. It was a lot of fun, and obviously we both are excited to be back. Memories that will last a lifetime.” Wambach echoed Mitts’ sentiments about the relationships she had with her teammates at Florida.
“I really had so much fun,” Wambach said. “The girls made the experience what it was for me: the team, the camaraderie, the teammanship.” Heather Mitts does the Gator chomp during Florida’s win against Texas Tech on Sept. 2. Photo by Tim Casey “So often I hear people say I want to be like you and I want to be able to be as good of a soccer player as you are. The thing that I always tell them is don’t be like me,” Wambach said. “Try to be better than me. Truthfully, that’s how I created the player and the person that I am. I never wanted to be like Mia Hamm, I wanted to be better than her. I wanted to be different. You’ve got to find your own way. Don’t try to emulate everything that I did, try to find your own way and do it in your own way.” Still, aspiring to be like Wambach can only be a positive thing for young athletes. Her success both on and off the field speaks for itself. What she was able to accomplish at Florida helped set the bar for future generations of Gators. Florida has finished first in the SEC eight times since Wambach and Mitts helped guide Florida to a national championship in 1998. The program has established itself as one of the elite in the country thanks,
in large part, to the hard work the pair put in and the national recognition they helped the program earn. Knowing that they were a part of building the Florida program from the ground up means a lot to both, especially Mitts, who was a freshman in the program’s second year of existence.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s kind of weird to think that I’ve been out of college as long as I have,” Mitts said. “To be able to come back here and to say that we are Florida Gators and we were here from the very beginning and to kind of [help] keep it going. Keep the momentum going, keep the history going and be proud of the fact that you’re a Gator.” What Mitts and Wambach did at Florida will be tough to duplicate. Florida has had some quality teams under head coach Becky Burleigh, but what the Gators did in 1998 was remarkable. The team went 26–1 that year with its lone loss coming to North Carolina in overtime.
Fact: In September 1991, construction was completed on a new north end zone with capacity now at 83,000.
Make no mistake about it, the memories that will last a lifetime aren’t just for Wambach and Mitts to enjoy. While neither will ever forget Wambach’s game-tying goal against Brazil, the thousands of Florida fans and Americans around the country who cheered her on will always carry that proud memory with them. That goal and Wambach’s accomplishments are forever sealed into the lore of Florida soccer. It’s something head coach Becky Burleigh treasures and uses on the recruiting trail often when she meets prospects. Wambach and Mitts are just glad to be a part of it all. The pair have just one piece of advice they give to the current Florida soccer players. “I think Abby and I both kind of just said savor the moment,” Mitts said. “When you’re in college, you just look forward to finally being done and being out there in the real world. I think for us, it’s like, this is such a rare opportunity to not only play college sports, but to be a Gator and to put on this jersey, just all the memories that we both have. Just cherish the moment, more than anything.” GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011 45
ORANGE AND BLUE BABY!
photoS by Tim Casey
46 GATOR COUNTRY | OCT/2011
Fact: UF alumni include two Nobel Prize winners.
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Fact: It opened its doors in Gainesville in 1906 with 102 students.