Not many players in college football can lean on their experiences to know what will happen on Senior Day. Jake McGee can. Three times.
Florida’s tight end has been through this before. He went through a Senior Day at Virginia in 2013, and after moving to Gainesville as a post-graduate transfer, McGee broke his leg in Florida’s season opener last year. He didn’t think it would be likely to get an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA, so McGee went through Senior Day ceremonies in The Swamp last year.
After getting the extra year of eligibility, Saturday will be the final time he goes through Senior Day -- we think.
“You don’t really know where things are going to go,” McGee said. “I didn’t expect to have two senior days here, I didn’t expect to get hurt. As the things come, you’ve got to make the most of it, smile and have a good time with everything.”
McGee has certainly done that at Florida. He left Virginia after the 2013 season with hopes of finding a consistent winner. He came to Gainesville and was supposed to be an integral part of the offense during Will Muschamp’s final year at the helm. The broken leg came in the first half against Eastern Michigan, as McGee was carted off the field in what he thought would be the final game of his collegiate career.
The extra year of eligibility gave McGee a new lease on life. He has been an important part of the Florida offense all season. The sixth-year senior is second on the team with 34 carries, tied for the team lead with four receiving touchdowns and is fourth on the Gators with 304 receiving yards. His impact has been felt, regardless of who is playing quarterback for Florida.
But what he’s most proud of is the state of the Florida program. He was around last season when the coaching staff was fired and the program suffered back-to-back embarrassing seasons. What he’s most proud of is bringing the football program back among the nation’s elite this season.
"There's a lot that can be taken for granted when you're young, and it's something that the guys who have been here from the beginning, (as we) have been through a lot of ups and downs,” McGee said. “Individually, I've had ups and downs and you can't let the good moments get too high and the bad moments get too low. You really just have to embrace each day as it comes and really experience and embrace the good stuff that comes along. This year has been a lot of good stuff. As younger players, you can hold the bar up there, but you can't take these moments for granted and you can't let them slip away."