Hernandez Wants to Finish Season Off Strong

With so many weapons on offense at the University of Florida, the Gators have been able to spread the wealth around getting the ball to a lot of different people. One of the benefactors has been sophomore tight end Aaron Hernandez who has come up big for the Gators in 2008. Hernandez was one of the leading receivers in the SEC Championship Game and looks to keep it going for a national title.

They have a month to go before playing for all the marbles and this edition of the Florida Gators have prided themselves as hard workers to get where they are. Aaron Hernandez and some of his clutch catches are a big part of the success of the Florida Gators and he knows that the preparation for each game has been a big part of all that success as well.

With more than 30 days in between games, staying focused and practicing hard but not overdoing it is something coaches worry about. Hernandez has the trust in the staff to stay on top of it and knows they will have this team prepared to play Oklahoma in a game that will settle who is the best team in college football.

"Coaches will worry about burning us out and stuff like that," Hernandez said moments after it was announced that Florida would be playing in the BCS Championship Game. "I know we are going to practice hard and not take it easy for a whole month, the coaches will worry about that."

The fact that the Gators are heading to Miami for the big game is something that just has not settled in for Hernandez. Only two teams get to claim they are playing for it all.

"I am not going to be able to believe it until I am there," Hernandez said about getting to Miami. "I just can't wait to go to Miami and play in that game."

For Hernandez it was a big adjustment in his season before the season ever started. Starting tight end Cornelius Ingram went down to a knee injury and Hernandez was forced into more responsibility and playing time than he expected. He has come through with flying colors making spectacular catches and blocking like a mad man. On the season Hernandez is third on the team in all three passing categories. He has 29 receptions for 324 yards and five touchdowns.

"Last year all I was really was a fullback and some tight end plays," he said. "This year they tell me I have become a complete player as a fullback and tight end running routes. I just love having the ball in my hands I just try and make plays every time I have a chance. You only get a few chances every game and every time my number is called I just do what I can."

Hernandez certainly appreciates the added attention he is getting in the offense, but missing his mentor Ingram was a tough blow to him and the team early in the year. There is a lot of talk about Ingram being able to play for the Gators in the Bowl game, and Hernandez is all for it and then some.

"CI is one of my best friends and I think the best tight end in the country," Hernandez said. "I don't know if his knee is that great right now, but I hope he can play. He works out with us, if he plays it will make our offense that much better."

From Bristol Connecticut, Hernandez did not grow up in football's best competition pool. It was a huge adjustment for him to get to the University of Florida and catch up with all of the speed and quickness at the SEC level. He has matured to the next level and now is ready to take on the biggest prize of all.

"You just have to adjust because when you first get here the speed of the game is so much faster," he said about the dramatic difference between Connecticut high school football and the SEC. "When you turn around people are right in your face, you have to be ready for it. At first I wasn't ready. Now, I'm just ready to play for a national championship."


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