Siler The Crooner: Not Ready For Prime Time

Dealing out pain is part of the job description for Brandon Siler. He's a big, fast middle linebacker and middle linebackers are supposed to give that achy, breaky feeling to their opponents. Siler's Florida teammates have felt the pain when he brings a load of hurt with one of his typically hard tackles at practice but Saturday night they learned that the big sophomore from Orlando is a pain merchant of another kind.

It was after the game and in the locker room that Coach Urban Meyer continued his quest to add some new traditions to the Gator football experience. He had the team sing the Florida fight song and after the group effort, he called on Siler to go solo. What happened next, says senior safety Jarvis Herring, was painful to the ears.

"Let's just say he's not ready for prime time and leave it at that," said Herring with a wince. "It was really bad … maybe the worst on the team. He's a defensive guy though and none of the defensive guys can sing except Julian Riley. Now you want to hear someone who can flat out sing, you listen to Julian. Brandon? Uh … let's just say I've heard better, okay?"

Herring was one of Siler's kinder critics.

"He needs to stick to football," said sophomore safety Kyle Jackson. "He's got a future in football."

Junior wide receiver Bubba Caldwell was a little less generous.

"He's a horrible singer," said Caldwell. "I can't sing but he's bad. He's really bad."

Senior linebacker Todd McCullough said Siler "thinks he's Reuben (American Idol winner) but he sounds like Oscar the Grouch."

Senior guard Tavares Washington gave Siler credit for knowing all the words.

"He had to have some help with the tune part of it," said Washington, "and once he got part-way into it, we kinda all pitched in to help him out --- he really needed it. But give him credit. He knew the words. He knew all of them."

Siler admits that the record companies aren't exactly lining up to sign him to a long term contract, but he says a change of venue would have helped enormously.

"If you could hear me in the shower I can really get down," he said. "In the shower I sound like Reuben. If they'd let me sing the song in the shower they'd think I'm a lot better."

If he does have a musical future, he says it will have to be as a rap artist.

"All you have to do is say the words, you don't have to sing them … no vocal talent required," he said. "I can say the words. I can do that just fine."

The way he plays middle linebacker is just fine, too. He's the leader of a defense that is playing with a brand of energy and determination that hasn't been seen at Ben Hill Griffin in a long time. Last Saturday against Wyoming, he had a sack among his six tackles as the Gators held the Cowboys to a mere 222 yards.

Siler made freshman All-America last year but he's not resting on last year's laurels. He's one of the hardest workers each day in practice and at game time he brings it on every play. Last year, Florida's defense had its big play moments, but he admits that there were times when players relaxed. That's usually when bad things happened to the Gators.

"The moment you let your guard down, that's when you give up a big play," he said. "That's not going to happen again."

What pleased him the most in the win over Wyoming was the way his teammates played hard on every play.

"We got after it on every play," he said. "We made some mistakes and we'll get them corrected but to me, what was most important was the way everybody played hard until the last play of the game. If we can just correct the mistakes that we make then we can really be a good defense."

The Gators have endured 15 losses in the past three years. If you are looking for the source of motivation for all the defensive players, that's it right there.

"Everybody's tired of losing," he said. "We've done too much of that. Too many losses around here and that's got to change. We're motivated because we want to win. We're all tired of losing."

GOOD WEDNESDAY PRACTICE: As the Gators get ready for their second game of the season Saturday in The Swamp against Louisiana Tech, Coach Urban Meyer is pleased with the efforts he's seen on the practice field the first three days of the week.

"I'm really looking forward to this week (Louisiana Tech) because our players have one week under our belt as far as preparation," he said. "I thought it went well and I anticipate this one will be excellent as far as our Thursday, Friday, Saturday preparation."

Meyer liked the way the defense picked things up on Wednesday although the offense had a few struggles.

"I'd give the defense a minus on Tuesday and a plus-plus today," he said. "We're playing a defense that's all over the place … sometimes there's 10 guys standing up so sometimes that makes you look bad. Yesterday the offense looked terrific but today we struggled. We just have to clean it up tomorrow but intensity- wise I'm very pleased with them."

On offense, he is hoping that Chris Leak becomes more assertive as a runner. Leak spent his first two years at Florida as a pure drop back passer that ran only in emergencies. Now he's required to run by design so it's taking some getting used to on his part.

"He was tentative and you can't be tentative at that position," Meyer said. "I thought he ran tentative on Saturday. I'm hoping for a much better game from him running the ball."

Meyer understands that quarterbacks are vulnerable to big hits but he feels there are fewer big hits when the quarterbacks are running than when they get hit in the pocket.

"Our quarterbacks are much more vulnerable in the drop back pass," he said. "That's when you really worry about a guy being vulnerable to getting whacked and injured … at least when you're running you're able to protect yourself. It's the blind shots usually when you lose a quarterback."

WYNN WILL PLAY: Junior tailback DeShawn Wynn will be seeing his first action of the season against Louisiana Tech. Wynn missed game one due to a one-game suspension from something that happened months ago. .

"Yeah, he'll play," said Meyer. "We probably won't name a starter [at tailback] just because no one has taken it and that's not fair, but yes, DeShawn will play."

YOU CAN CALL ME COACH: When asked about freshman quarterback Josh Portis calling him "Urb" in a story published in the Gainesville Sun on Wednesday, Meyer laughed and said, "Someone told me that and I'm going to handle that when I get in the locker room."

Meyer said that players are to address all their coaches as "coach" but he added "If he scores five or six touchdowns in a game he can call me anything he wants. Until then it's coach."

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