Florida landed three players on The Associated Press' All-SEC First Team, which was announced Monday. CB Keiwan Ratliff, who was also named the AP's Defensive Player of the Year, was joined by true freshman LB Channing Crowder and TE Ben Troupe.
QB Chris Leak was named the SEC Freshman of the Year.
Crowder, who was second on the Gators with 98 tackles despite missing two games, was the only true freshman in the SEC to be named to the First Team.
HILL'S STRUGGLES CONTINUE
Florida DT Michael Hill, whose previously undefined health problems caused him to sit out this season, has been plagued by another setback. Only this time, his outlook is far better.
Two weeks ago, Hill underwent surgery to repair loose tendons in his right shoulder, roommate DT Marcus Thomas said Monday. The true freshman decided to go through with the operation so he can return in time for spring workouts.
"After all he's been through, he's going to be really strong mentally next season," Thomas said. "He just figured he might as well get his shoulder fixed so he can be ready for next year."
Considering his preseason problems, a standard shoulder surgery should seem easy to Hill. Thomas said his roommate collapsed on the practice field near the end of his first official summer workout in Gainesville.
The 6-foot-2, 285-pound native of Smiths, Ala., was rushed to the hospital, where he spent three weeks undergoing tests in attempt to diagnose the unknown illness.
"It had something to do with having low potassium," Thomas said. "But for a long time, we really didn't know what was wrong."
Because Thomas already heard about former Gators Eraste Autin, who collapsed and died of heat stroke the summer before, Hill's roommate said his initial fears were of the worst kind.
"We had just been talking about seeing who could lift more," Thomas said. "It was really scary once I found out it was serious."
More than a month after leaving the hospital, Hill began working out again. He was on track to begin practicing with the team, but there was no rush because a medical redshirt was already planned.
Hill's return will be warmly welcomed at a thin defensive line. As a senior, Hill was named to Alabama's 6A All-State team with 52 tackles and two sacks in just seven games.
Now that Florida knows it will be playing Iowa in the Outback Bowl, Florida's player excited to begin actual preparations for the game. Already, CB Keiwan Ratliff said he's preparing for a highly potent running attack, led by Fred Russell.
After the success Florida State had running the ball, the Hawkeyes may look to plan a similar attack. Then again, Ratliff said, they probably would have done that anyway.
"You know they're going to try and outpower you and outmuscle you," Ratliff said. "They're gameplan will be to run the ball regardless, even if Florida State came out and passed for 500 yards."
Russell, Iowa's leading back, already has chalked up 1,205 yards on 261 attempts this season behind an offense that starts nine seniors.