Wednesday Report

Florida TE Ben Troupe missed out on the Mackey Award to Miami's Kellen Winslow....

In a fight to be named the nation's top tight end, it became quite clear the winner of the prize would come from Florida. But the Gators' representative -- senior TE Ben Troupe -- will have to wait until the big leagues if he is ever going to beat out Miami TE Kellen Winslow.

It was announced Wednesday that Winslow, who had fewer touchdowns and average yards per catch but more receptions and total yards than Troupe this year, won the award. Some say Troupe's breakout may have been too late for the nation to take notice.

"He did get a lot more [publicity], but he earned it by having two great seasons in a row," Troupe said. "But it's just an award. I'm just doing all I can for this team. My coaches thought I was going to win, but I didn't focus on it too much."

It wasn't until last year's Outback Bowl that Troupe exploded onto the national scene. For the first time during a game, Troupe pulled off his trademark hurdle over a defender, a play that graced ESPN SportCenter's top plays. A year later, the spotlight is nothing new.

"Ben has done some great things for us," Coach Ron Zook said. "He has led the team in receiving and is an excellent tight end. When you get into the voting sometimes people vote and they don't really know all about the every candidate. But Ben has been extremely instrumental for us."

While Troupe may have lost out on the Mackey, he may win the fight that really matters -- draft status. On Mel Kiper, Jr.'s latest Big Board, comprised of the analyst's top 25 senior NFL prospects, Troupe is listed at No. 6 in the nation. With a consistently increasing stock, the 6-foot-4, 260 pount tight end is expected to continue his rise during the combines. He likely will be drafted first among any other Gators in this year's Draft.


While some post-season honors hold more merit than others, a vote by all Southeastern Conference coaches tends to stand rather reputably.

So certainly it was no hoax that QB Chris Leak received the top vote as the SEC's Freshman of the Year on 10-of-11 ballots. Leak also was named The Associated Press' SEC Freshman of the Year earlier in the week.

The true freshman finished the season completing 168 or 279 passes for 2,167 yards with 14 TDs and 10 interceptions. He finished second in the nation among freshman in passing efficiency, third in passing yards and fourth in total offensive yards.

"It's a great honor to have and I just have to try and get better week to week," Leak said of the AP honors. "If you do the right things, good things will happen. I just tried to do everything in my power to help the team win."


Somebody give Ciatrick Fason a crystal ball. If the sophomore continues making these kinds of predictions about his teammates, the demand may be too high to handle on his own.

Fason said Tuesday he told teammates at the beginning of the season QB Chris Leak would be the starting quarterback after the fourth game. While they laughed then, Fason is the only one laughing now.

Now, he's offering up more.

"I also think he'll be gone after his junior season," Fason said. "I always told people he might not be here past then. If he keeps it up, trust me. He won't be."

That same morning, Fason was asked where he thought his high school teammate Kyle Jackson, a four-start defensive back, would likely commit.

"That's a secret," Fason, seemingly giving away the answer with his smile. "You'll find out." Less than 12 hours later, Jackson gave his verbal commitment to Florida during a local news broadcast.


CB Keiwan Ratliff will be in Orlando tonight for ESPN's 2003 College Football Awards. The senior, among three finalists for the Thorpe Award, will find out whether he has been named the nation's top defensive back.

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