Instead, Dee Finley will be heading to upstate New York for a semester after just falling short of the necessary requirements to enroll at the University of Florida. Finley will attend Milford Prep in New Berlin, N.Y. beginning on July 18, and if all goes well, should be able to fully enroll at Florida in January.
"I wasn't far off at all," Finley said. "So as soon as I get my grades, I will enroll to UF."
Finley is only missing a few classes, but he plans to retake more than that.
"Really I only need one or two maths," he said. "But I would like to take all of my core classes again."
Maybe the toughest thing for Finley was breaking the news to his fellow members of the recruiting class.
"I have talked to Will [Hill]; he's pretty supportive," Finley said. "But I feel like I let the guys down a little, so I will apologiize for that. But mostly I'm going to wish them luck this season because I know they're all ballers, and they are going to play. This class is pretty tight so they'll understand."
Just a few weeks ago, Finley said he had made it into the class, but the UF staff learned otherwise late last week. Co-defensive coordinator Chuck Heater personally drove up to Auburn, Ala. to deliver the news to Finley.
"Coach Heater is a special person," Finley said. "He's really not been a coach throughout all this ... more like a father. For somebody to put so much into helping an individual speaks wonders for this program. They are so passionate about the person not the football player. I realized that when I meet them all for the first time. The are really special people."
Finley will try to follow in the footsteps of a former Gator safety that didn't qualify his first time around. Reggie Nelson had to go to community college for two seasons before becoming a part of the Gators' national championship team and a first round draft pick.
"As far as academics, this is the wake up call I needed," Finley said. "I'm really tough on myself about this. I let grades beat me. It's great motivation."
One of the reasons Finley chose Florida was the proximity to home. Now he'll be going to New York where he has no family and he'll have to deal with the cold and snow. But he'll have a busy schedule to keep his mind off of it.
"I hate the cold," Finley said. "I will be playing a 13 game schedule."
But Finley is hoping this is just part of a big learning process.
"It's really taught me a lot of responsibility," Finley said. "And how to be accountable."
As long as Finley does what he needs to do, he will work out with the team next spring and should run out onto Florida Field at The Swamp for the first time during the 2009 Orange and Blue Game.
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Jason Higdon
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski
Finley Heading North
Fightin Gators Top Stories
Swamp Scoop: Jan. 20 Official Visitors ArriveFlorida is hosting its second group of official visitors this month. How are the visitors faring? Are the Florida pledges working hard on a certain uncommitted targets?
Fightin Gators8:17 AM
GAME THREAD: Vanderbilt at FloridaGAINESVILLE, Fla.-- Florida hopes to bounce back at home on Saturday, as the Gators welcome Vanderbilt to the Exactech Arena. Follow along and join the discussion with…
Fightin Gators7:45 AM
Gators looking for baskets vs VanderbiltThe defensive intensity was there for nearly the full forty minutes, but when it came time to put the ball in the basket against South Carolina on Wednesday, the Florida Gators had…
Fightin Gators5:32 AM
Gator Blitz: Visitors Flock to GainesvilleFlorida is set to welcome a number of recruits this weekend. FightinGators.com previews the official visitors and breaks down some other key officials happening this weekend around…
Fightin GatorsYesterday at 4:16 PM