"The Players Played and the Coaches Coached"

Terry Jackson had one of the more memorable runs in Florida football history in the 1997 Sugar Bowl with his 42-yard scamper to help seal the fate of Florida State. The Gators went on to win the 1996 National Championship that game over the Seminoles by the score of 52-20. Twelve years later, Jackson talked about a team victory as he celebrated on the field with the newest National Champs.

Jackson currently works for the Gators in the role of Director of Player and Community Relations, and was part of all the festivities leading up to and after the big game. He has been around this team for the entire 2008 season and knows that junior quarterback Tim Tebow and junior linebacker Brandon Spikes and company were a unit that would not be denied in the end.

"It's a great group," Jackson said on the field after the game while fans and players celebrated all around. "It's a group that came together after that loss. Talent wise, they are as good as it gets. You have some great leadership in Tebow and Spikes on defense. It's a great team with not a lot of weaknesses."

That one loss was a dark Saturday in late September when the Gators lost to unranked Ole Miss at home. Jackson saw a team that left that game with much more resolve than when they came into the game. The excuses died that day on Florida field.

"I think the guys just stepped up and the guys just said, let's do our part'," Jackson said. "I think Ole Miss came in ready to play and it happens. This is football and the SEC conference. This team stepped up and said, 'we are going to take it upon our shoulders, each and every man, and win this championship'."

On Thursday night, there were a lot of single plays from a lot of players that made a difference in the outcome. Certainly a couple of offensive players stood out with Tim Tebow and his gaudy stats and Percy Harvin with his huge plays. The defense was well rounded and everyone seemed to make plays. Jackson believes that all of them relied on each other for the big win.

"I think it was a team effort," Jackson said. "That is kind of the motto of the whole team. They don't need MVP's they need everybody to do their job. As a team they came out there and coaches coached and players played, and that's what they got."

Terry Jackson was part of the first National Championship at the University of Florida a dozen years ago. That one was a long time coming. Ten years later, the Gators duplicated that feat in Arizona. Now, just two years removed from their second title, the Gators stand as National Champs for the third time. All three were groups of young men that sacrificed for the team to get where they finished. The tone was set over a decade ago and now it looks like it may be habit forming.


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