Tuesday Report

Florida cornerback Keiwan Ratliff was named a Thorpe Award finalist Tuesday. He also garnered some All-American honors....

He set the school record for interceptions in a single season. He ranks second nationally in the category. And he has snagged eight of his nine picks in the past five games.

You think it's been a good two months for Florida CB Keiwan Ratliff? It just got better.

The senior was named one of three finalists for the Thorpe Award on Tuesday, presented nationally to the best defensive back in college football.

Ratliff becomes the fourth Gator in the program's history to be named a finalist. FS Louis Oliver (1988) and SS Lawrence Wright (1996) both won the award, while CB Fred Weary was named a finalist in 1997.

The announcement came the same day Ratliff was named to the Football Writers Association of America All-America Team, comprised of the nation's 25 best players.

The winner of the Thorpe Award will be announced Dec. 11. Formal presentation of the award will be in Oklahoma City on February 9, 2004.

SAY WHAT?

Last July, when the state's coaches met for their annual media day in Orlando, Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said he had his doubts about the potential impact a true freshman could have at quarterback for any team.

"I don't think the kid is out there," Bowden then said. "You'd have to keep it very simple."

Asked if he thought it would be a formula for disaster to start a true freshman, Bowden said, "Yeah, I think so."

Those who have witnessed QB Chris Leak this season may disagree. But then again, who can blame Bowden for his preseason comments? Surely, he wasn't the only one who had their reservations. He's just one of the few who said it.

"I never heard of him saying it, so I don't know," Leak said. "I just keep playing every week trying to get better."

GAMEDAY ON ITS WAY

Florida's short divergence out of the national spotlight appears to be over. The country, once again, will be brought back to Gainesville via ESPN's GameDay on Saturday.

The popular college football preview will make its weekly road trip to the UF campus for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

It will be the 19th time the show has aired from a Gators' game, the most of any school in the show's history.

Six weeks ago, few in Gainesville expected this national exposure – unless it was a joke, of course.

"It was bleak around here to say the least after the Ole Miss game," Zook said. "But that's the point where we came together and became a football team."

BRIEFLY

Senior tight end Ben Troupe has been named to the Southern Football Weekly All-America Team. Troupe leads the team with 35 catches for a team-high 517 yards. Miami TE Kellen Winslow did not make the list….Should Florida wind up playing in the Peach Bowl, which appears to be the likely fit at this point in the season, it will face off against Clemson in Atlanta on Jan. 2. The Tigers formally accepted their invitation as the ACC representative Tuesday.


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