SPRING: Scoop is Missing in Action

The Scoop is loose. The Gator defense is missing that extra beef up front this spring because Marcus Thomas is weighing in at a svelte 290 pounds and his beloved Scoop is M.I.A. -- Missing in Action. For those that remember last season, whenever Thomas would make a big play in the backfield, he would rub his belly, "Scoop." It was Scoop that he said gave him strength.

He was pushing 310 pounds back then and was using his strength and size to make life difficult for interior offensive linemen. He finished just a half of a tackle behind the team leader in tackles for loss with 10.5 in 2005. His ability to clog the middle helped the Gator defense finish in the top ten in rush defense and total defense.

Scoop may be gone, but Thomas' aggressive play has continued. He is about to miss the last part of spring drills to undergo hernia surgery, but Thomas doesn't want Gator fans to fear. He and Scoop will be back.

"It's the off-season look for me and just for conditioning," he said. "I am definitely putting it back on."

He said he wants to get to around 300 pounds which would be about a midpoint of where he is now and where he was when he played last season. It should be enough extra to carry up front and possibly allow him to be a little quicker. Besides his hernia issue, Thomas is having a good spring.

Where the heck did Scoop go?

"I am feeling real good," he said. "The team is clicking the defense is looking real good. Every one is focused and we know what we have to do."

The Florida defensive line returns four seniors that many could possibly be the nucleus of the best line in America. Senior tackles Thomas, Steven Harris, and Joe Cohen combine with senior end Ray McDonald, junior end Jarvis Moss, and sophomore end Derrick Harvey for a deep unit and one with a ton of experience. They expect to carry the Gators so much this year that they have adopted a new nickname.

"Now we have a name for ourselves, last year we had to make a name for ourselves," he said. "We already call ourselves 'The Mules,' because we do all the work."

This will be his senior year and Thomas has started since he was a freshman. He has lived up to his billing as far as a star recruit and given Gator fans and coaches plenty to cheer about. Thomas and Scoop should make another grand appearance on opening day of the 2006 football season.

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