Meyer Made Saturday About Someone Else

While everyone around the football program wanted Saturday's Outback Bowl to be about Urban Meyer, the Florida head coach had other ideas. He could have taken the spotlight. He could have talked about his successful tenure at Florida. Instead, he made it about someone else.

Ian Lockwood is a senior at Navarre High School. He played football before a battle with brain cancer cut his career short.

Urban Meyer got word of tragedy. He heard about Lockwood's heart and the fight in him. He heard stories about his passion for football, and Meyer wanted to help.

This season, Lockwood was on the sideline for almost every home game the Gators played, sporting his No. 10 jersey in the process.

When Meyer went to the podium for the final press conference as the coach of the Gators, he immediately mentioned Lockwood.

Lockwood gave the Gators a pep talk before they left the hotel on Saturday morning. When the team took the field, everyone imagined their goal was simple. They were expected to send Meyer out with a victory. Instead, Meyer preached for his team to win the game for another reason.

He wanted to present Lockwood with a game ball.

"His love and passion for football is second to none," Meyer said. "I asked our team to do whatever we possibly could do to get a game to him. That meant we had to go four quarters as hard as we possibly can to brighten someone's day."

Lockwood has been around the team a lot this year. After serving as the main source of motivation for his Navarre High School team, they went on to a recording-breaking 11-2 season. Lockwood scored two rushing touchdowns on October 8 before he underwent treatment that ended his career.

The Florida players have noticed the pain Lockwood has gone through emotionally from not being around the game.

"He just wants to play," senior linebacker Brandon Hicks said. "He just wants one snap to put on a helmet and go. It's a heartbreaker. He's a great kid with his heart in the right place."

Spending the season close to the Gators has made things easier, but it won't ease the pain of no longer being able to play football.

"I got to finish it out with these guys, so that's pretty good," Lockwood said about the Gators.

He has spent time with multiple players, including the hero of Saturday's game. Ahmad Black and Lockwood have spent time together, and Black knows the inspiration he has been on the team.

"I met Ian right when coach did, so he means just as much to me as he does to coach," Black said after Saturday's Outback Bowl. "The goal and objective was to win this game for Ian."

Black has been one of the players that has gravitated towards Lockwood. They have spent time together off the field, and the relationship has been beneficial for both sides.

"He was always there from the beginning," Lockwood said. "Football is definitely life to me. It's nice to have an organization there to support you whenever you need it."

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