Chauncey Gardner wasn't on Rat Pak early in the spring but jumped on the squad late and was able to make it out to Bradenton this weekend. The 2016 defensive back quickly became one of the three best players on a squad that was hit by injury and several guys that had to deal with school functions. He played both ways on Saturday.
"I was practicing with Rat Pak for a (little while), we bonded together, so we are pretty good friends," he said before commenting on playing both ways.. "It's like high school. I just have to do what I need to do to help the team."
"It's a great place and atmosphere," he said. " It is nice and lovely. It is a good fit with education and life style, also the playing style fits me perfect. I can play DIME, NICKEL, corner, or safety, I can play anywhere on the field.
The Florida staff convinced him to camp last weekend and earn an offer. He did just that showing the ability to really hassle receivers all over the field.
"I like to get under a guy's skin," he said. If I can, I throw them off of their game. If that doesn't work I change my game up and play smart. I let them know I'm not going anywhere. I'll be under your belt 24/7."
The staff likes the aggressive nature of his play and his size as a defensive back.
"They say I have great ball skills and I am a student of the game," Gardner said. I still have a lot to learn, but as a young guy I know how to use my body and my feet, keep it going, following through and be a good defensive back."
Travaris Robinson is the defensive back assistant and Gardner has a great deal of respect for his future coach.
"He's a great coach. He knows the game like the back of his hand," the young defender said. "He played in the league, played college ball. He has coached some of the best in the nation with Vernon Hargreaves, Brian Poole, Marcus Maye, and Jabari Gorman. He knows what it takes to get to the NFL and to get the best out of all of his players."
Gardner also knows Marcus Maye, the sophomore safety at Florida who came from nearby Melbourne. He says Maye is letting him know some things he needs to do.
"I know him personally, not like on a family member," Gardner said of Maye. "He keeps an eye on me and tells me what is going on. He tells me about my role as a safety, I need to know what others are doing on the field."
As for personal goals as he enters his junior year at Cocoa, Gardner says his personal goals are all team goals.
"I am not a selfish player, I am a team player," he said. "My goal is to win state."