Stamper's Excellent Adventure

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Florida's 2009 SEC Media Days contingent had been set for months. Tim Tebow was a given as the offensive representative and linebacker Brandon Spikes would do the honors for the defense. Thursday morning, Spikes threw Florida a curve ball by declining to attend the event as had previously been announced.

As a result, his fellow linebacker Ryan Stamper found himself on a plane to Alabama. The senior seemed to get a kick out of his unexpected moment in the spotlight.

"It was very short notice for me. We just found out Spikes wasn't coming, and they told me I had to get ready in like 20 minutes and head to the airport," said Stamper.

"It was real exciting, because I was just watching what Kentucky and Vanderbilt were doing on TV last night."

Stamper had just gotten done taking part in what's called "The Captains Workout" with Tebow, Spikes and Brandon James when he got the word he was on his way to Birmingham. He wound up wearing a shirt and tie to the event, because he didn't have time to go home and get a coat.

As the defense's representative, Stamper sounded very positive about the possibilities for the coming season.

"It's real exciting having the whole defense back knowing how good we were last year," said Stamper. "We just don't want to be complacent. Working hard, that's the only way we can get better."

Most of the athletes at the event have been very judicious in what they've been willing to say about their opponents. Perhaps the lack of lead time to his appearance meant that Stamper didn't get to go over the UF talking points. When asked about Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, Stamper may have tipped UF's thought process regarding this September's game off a bit. He noted the game is always a rivalry regardless of who's coaching, but then added "Don't be surprised if we try to raise the score on them this year."

Stamper's vision for Florida's season is a simple one: win all their games. He notes that the Gators have had to rely on other teams losing to reach both of their recent national championship games.

"The SEC Championship is our goal, but we want to control our own destiny."

Stamper didn't have time before he left for Birmingham to make fun of Spikes having stage fright at the idea of facing so many cameras, but, "I'm going to talk to him when we get back."

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