Sunday Bowl Report

As Florida linebacker Channing Crowder concludes his first year, he says he has grown as a person as well as a player....

As if you haven't already noticed, LB Channing Crowder may be just as crazy off the field as he is on the field. But after a season of learned lessons, the true freshman said he has become a more responsible person in his first year with the Gators.

With one game remaining in an unprecedented first season at linebacker for Florida, the new standout reflected Sunday on his past several months.

Before the season's start, Crowder was charged with battery as a result of a fight at the Gainesville nightclub. The incident cost him a one-game suspension.

Since the melee, though, Crowder said he has learned to channel his outlandish attitude into more positive outlets. And his friendly demeanor with the media and fans has proven so.

"Before, I was just known as a guy who gets in trouble," he said. "I made some dumb mistakes, but now I'm focused on football and grades."

But don't get it wrong. He's still crazy. And he wouldn't have it any other way.

"You've got to have a crazy guy on the team," Crowder said. "Everybody needs someone like that. That way, they'll know if it's 4th and one to win the game, I'm going to knock someone's helmet off. Every team needs that."

As he concludes his first season at Florida, Crowder said he hopes to have dropped any preconceived stereotypes.

"I just want to be looked at like a great linebacker and a good guy," said Crowder, who was named First-Team All-SEC as a true freshman. "I want everybody to be able to just say hello and say what's up – treat me like just a down-to-earth, cool guy."

Despite missing two games, Crowder is the team's second-leading tackler with 98 total tackles.

HOME SWEET HOME

After returning to the same bowl for the second consecutive year, most of Florida's players may already have a grasp on Tampa's social environment. But they've got nothing on two other Gators.

For OG Shannon Snell and WR Andre Caldwell, the week has served as a homecoming of sorts. Snell, of Hillsborough High, and Caldwell, of Tampa Jefferson High, said they've enjoyed playing the host to their teammates for the week.

"It's great to be home," Caldwell said. "I'm showing them how I live – how we do it down here in Tampa. I've been taking some people out with my friends around town."

BRIEFLY

All players remain academically eligible for the bowl game….The Gators spent Sunday at Busch Gardens and will participate in a Beach Day at Clearwater Beach today. The festivities include tug-of-war and a key lime pie eating contest…While they are yet to join the squad, incoming junior college transfers Jeremy Mincey and Markell Thompson may still have the chance to practice before the week's end. Coach Ron Zook said the pair must first finalize a class schedule before they can officially workout… He doesn't rest often, but Florida coach Ron Zook will be a little more comfortable in his office next semester. Zook said he snagged a vibrating seat back from his wife for Christmas. "Not that I sit in my chair a lot," he joked. "But I'm anxious to try it."


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