Rainey Knows His Time is Now

Chris Rainey knew he had to change. As the only member remaining on the team from the Lakeland seven that signed with Florida in 2007, the redshirt senior knew his chances to play in a Florida uniform were running thin. The seven produced a first round NFL pick, likely a second first round pick in this year's draft, and one of the best safeties in Florida history.

Rainey knows it's his time to produce.

"I grew up a lot," Chris Rainey said about the past few months. "I did a lot of thinking and looked towards the future."

The future was clouded when Urban Meyer stepped down and a new offense was brought in. Charlie Weis' pro style offense has thoughts of big running backs, tall wide receivers and drop back quarterbacks running through the collective mind of the Florida fan base.

Rainey isn't any of those.

He was thought to be a perfect fit for the spread offense, but with the change in scheme before his final season at Florida, he says there isn't anything to worry about. He ran out of the I-formation in high school and is up to 186 pounds, but his eyes lit up when talking about how much easier it was to see the holes develop.

"It's way better," Rainey said. "You've seen high school for me. It's just like that."

Learning the new system hasn't been a problem, either. Rainey claims he is a fast learner. He is the only healthy running back to get reps in the backfield, so there have been plenty of chances for Rainey to get accustomed to the new offense. It happened fast, and now he gets to help his teammates learn it, too.

"It's new for everybody," Rainey said. "Everybody is taught different, learns different and it's a new system. Some people learn fast, some people learn slower, and other people need a lot of help. It's a new system, but it's real easy out there. It's basically like the NFL."

Asked whether his size might be a factor running from the I-formation, Rainey hesitated to answer and calmly responded that he would be okay. He went back to his high school performance as proof for his ability to handle the pro-style offense.

"I'm comfortable in the system, and all the other years it's just been quarterback runs," Rainey said. "It'll be a little different for everybody."

No one knows exactly what the Florida offense will look like. Weis' offense threw the ball vertically at Notre Dame, and he led the NFL in rushing last season with the Kansas City Chiefs. Weis can adapt his offensive system to the players.

He made it evident in his first meeting with the players that he wasn't sure exactly what this group's specialty was, but there was one overwhelming characteristic that Weis couldn't ignore.

"The first thing he said when he got here is that it was the most athletes he'd ever been around," Rainey said. "We felt good about that one."

With Jeff Demps missing spring football because of the track season, Rainey and Demps have made a point to spend some time together off the field. Rainey has showed Demps some of the formations they have learned, and he's doing anything he can to make the transition easier when Demps rejoins the team.

"We meet up sometimes to talk about motions," Rainey said. "It's basically easy because most of the plays are the same thing, just in different formations. We always work on formations and all the motions."

Whether on or off the field, Rainey feels different about this spring. There are reasons for optimism all over, and while his role in the offense is yet to be determined, Rainey is optimistic about his final season as a Gator.

"New team, new me, new system," Rainey said with a grin.


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