OUTBACK BOWL - Mincey laying the foundation

TAMPA -- When defensive end Jeremy Mincey pulls the striking orange, blue, and white colored jersey over his shoulder pads in the Raymond James Stadium locker room, the thought will cross his mind. The usually confident, composed Mincey was anything but when discussing his last time out as a Florida player.

He had just finished answering another round of questions from the media gathered to interview selected Florida players before the DeBartolo team luncheon in the Tampa Convention Center. He was as relaxed as always. That all changed when I returned to ask him if this was going to be bittersweet.

"Yeah man," Mincey said shaking his head. "It's bittersweet (this being his last game). You know, I told myself that when I got to the University of Florida I hope that I can make an impact to win a championship. That didn't happen. I made an impact, people know who I am and I feel proud on that part. I'm a winner. I don't care if I wasn't known. I want to go out as a winner. But, I'm glad that we're laying a foundation for the other guys."

He was relaxed no more. Mincey sat high in the chair, his voice rose as he spoke glowingly of his Gator pride. He began to send a message speaking of the importance of this game for the future. He spoke briefly of tradition and rebuilding for a new era. He and his senior teammates, the first senior class of the Meyer Era, are hell bent on sending the Gators into spring practice as Outback Bowl champions and a respectable 9-3 record.

"We know what's expected of us and we know what we need to do," he said. "We don't want to end up like we did two years ago. We want to come out here, play a real decent ballgame and hopefully the outcome will be good."

Mincey finished the regular season with 61 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. He also notched seven quarterback hurries. The energy and enthusiasm he brings to the Florida defensive front are rivaled only by his leadership and athleticism.

"(Curfew) it's not an issue," Mincey stated. "It's a business trip. We're all businessmen and we're here to handle business. We've just got to take care of our business on gameday. We have to win this game. We have to. This would be a huge impact for the future, on the uprising Gator Nation. Recruiting. Winning. The best recruits you get in the better chance you have to win. It's like getting back to the old ways. Years from now, I want to sit back watch the Gators play and be proud of it and say- that's my school."

"All of us seniors, we know that laying the foundation is great challenge," he continued. "I felt like I was a part of setting the table for the beginning of that dynasty. You'll never forget it. Emmitt Smith, when he set the table- the tradition kept building. Florida got better and better and better. Even before him, it started way back in the day. I'll always be a Gator. I'll always be a proud Gator."


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