Berlin's Big Game

Former Gator Brock Berlin found a new home in Miami. Saturday, he'll put his decision to the test...

He was born on the Fourth of July. His middle name is Sterling. And his father is a minister.

Here is Brock Berlin, the golden boy, preparing for his golden moment; waiting for his chance to march onto the same field as the Gators as a starting quarterback.

"I don't think I'm out to prove anything," says Berlin, now garbed in orange and green. "I'm out to play and win. That's the way I approach every game."

But no matter how many times he makes his claim, the words seem harder to believe. This isn't every game. And this isn't any team.

Since that night in January of 2002, this was the showdown worth talking about.

That's the day former Gator Rex Grossman said he'd return to UF for his senior season. It was also the same day, nearly the same hour, Berlin announced his career in Gainesville was done.

But Grossman is gone, and the system has changed. So does the significance remain?

"It's a new coach and a lot of players I don't know," Berlin said. "There's a lot of different things going on at Florida than when I was there."

Plenty, though, remains the same. That's why Darrell Lee said he believes the Gators defense will walk into the Orange Bowl – Berlin's new home – with the edge.

"We can probably force Brock into making some mistakes," Lee said. "I know he's going to be anxious playing the Gators to prove himself and that [transferring] was the best choice for him."

But if you ask Berlin, he says he has no regrets about his decision to transfer. After all, he's now the starting quarterback for the Hurricanes.

At UF, he claims he didn't get the chance to prove his worth, and a jump to a school like Miami would open up that opportunity.

"I was never really given the opportunity to get in there and play a whole lot," Berlin said. "It was here or there. Rex was excellent he really did a great job. He was the guy. I wasn't going to argue with what he did."

Instead of arguing, Berlin packed his bags and headed south. At that point, there seemed to be no reason why the 1999 National High School Gatorade Player of the Year should be sitting on any bench.

Offensive tackle Max Starks, who also remains friends with the Miami transfer, said Berlin did have his chance, but Grossman had the goods.

"Rex just had a more powerful arm and his game awareness was a little bit better," Starks said. "I think that's what Coach Spurrier saw that made him have that edge. By game awareness I mean recognizing the coverages, which receivers are going to be open and the routes, where they see the gaps. You could see Rex felt a little bit. He was more comfortable in the pocket. He always made open throws to those wide-open receivers."

So while every Gator agrees it was in Berlin's best interest to transfer, guard Shannon Snell questions his choice of school. Sure, Miami would offer Berlin a chance at the starting job once he sat out a year and Ken Dorsey had departed. But Snell is convinced of another reason.

"I like Brock, but he shouldn't have gone to Miami," the senior said. "He just wanted to try and show the University of Florida they made a mistake."

Truth be told, he'll have his chance. But Berlin remains the same as he always has been. No matter the situation, he remains humble and uncontroversial with his comments.

No matter how hard it may be to grasp, the former Gator continues to brush aside the notion that he'll treat Saturday differently.

"That's not me," Berlin said. "I'm out to win a ball game and to give my best to my teammates. I don't know what it's going to be like. I just want to go out there and be calm and be relaxed."

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