The Dream Hit

A lot of Gator seniors will be stepping onto Florida Field for the final time on Saturday afternoon, but middle linebacker Brandon Spikes might be as well. Spikes has been the leader of a defense that has made monumental improvements following last season's performance and he's a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award given to the nation's best defensive player.

It's been the energy and intensity of Brandon Spikes that has been the cornerstone to this year's improving defense. Spikes plays the classic hard-nosed style of football that he modeled after his favorite player growing up, Dick Butkus.

He's a downhill kind of player," Spikes said. "He's so aggressive. The Hall of Fame games and the history of football, they always show the old Chicago Bears. There's one thing that I always noticed about him and it's that he's really violent. I mold my game after guys like that."

Spikes likes to play a violent game and he likes to make the hard hit, but he hasn't had that kind of hit yet by his standards. He would agree that his hardest hit of the season came on the first play of the Florida/Georgia game when he stuck Bulldogs running back Knowshon Moreno.

"It was a good hit, but I want to knock a game out of the game," Spikes said. "I got an opportunity to explode to him and kind of got some revenge from last year. I've seen a lot of crushing blows, but I think it was a pretty good hit."

Even though it was a good hit, and one he had been thinking about making for about a year, it wasn't his dream hit.

"I want to hit a quarterback knock him out cold," he said. "You can't really explain it, it's just something a linebacker dreams of. You want to knock him out and have the ambulance get him off the field."

What the future may hold for Spikes, only time will tell. For now, he's focused on the task at hand and just concentrating on winning football games.

"I'm focusing on winning every game," he said. "It's just fun to play great defense. I like to fly around a lot and the other players feed off of me. I bring a lot of juice to the team and I like watching that. It's a great place to come out and play in The Swamp. Sometimes I used take it for granted when I was younger, but it's going fast, so I just want to come out and play hard."

"He's just become a total leader for this football team," defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. "All the guys feed off of him and what's great is that he's playing at a totally different level from last year and it's what we thought he could do."

Spikes said the biggest difference between this year and last is his work ethic. He's using that wisdom to share with the younger players.

"I get on all of them and tell them that hard work pays off," Spikes said. "I think this season it shows. The whole team has worked so hard and we're beating people by 50."

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