It's All Slowing Down for Halapio

During his recruitment, we always heard that Jon Halapio was one of the more physical linemen in the class of 2009. The thought was always that he was the most physically ready lineman the Gators signed and that he had a chance of playing on opening day. Saturday it became reality. Halapio played in his first game in The Swamp as a true freshman and it was a great experience for the young man.

From tiny St. Pete Catholic HS, Jon Halapio has been in a whole different football world since arriving on the Florida campus in June.

"It felt great, it was way different than I expected, I was speechless when coach told me to go in the game," Halapio said. "It was fast coming from a small high school playing football. It was Charleston Southern and it was fast for me, faster than what I was used to.

"Camp was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. In high school everybody was so small, it was easy for me. Coming here it was going against someone bigger than me, faster, or stronger. I just got used to it. After camp, we had one practice a day it started getting easier and I started getting better."

In the third quarter and into the fourth, the Gators played a lot of ball with five freshmen offensive linemen on the field. To a man, it seemed as if they played their position perfectly and the common fan could see no breakdowns from a unit that Urban Meyer says is the hardest position to play in college.

Halapio enjoys his fellow freshmen linemen and thinks they can be special down the line.

"We are real close," he said of the group. "We go every where together and do everything together. I just pictured how good we would be when we are seniors. We just hang out, play games. Sometimes we just ride our scooters. Wee don't ride anywhere, we just ride."

It has been an easy transition for Halapio and his fellow freshmen because the older linemen are big into taking care of their own. Now, they actually all hang out together and do things together regardless of class.

"You would think that the older guys would just bully you around and stuff when we got in," he said. "When we got in they told us about the program and how serious everything is."

The Florida offense has been working on speeding things up and trying to make life difficult for defenses. They have installed an up-tempo theme to their play calling much like Oklahoma used against the Gators in the BCS Championship game in January.

Halapio was going so fast in practice in the Banzai mode that once in the game Saturday, it seemed like slow motion.

"The Banzai offense is probably the hardest thing," Halapio said. "Running up to the line of scrimmage and trying to get down in your stance and go full speed 4-6 seconds like Coach Meyer wants. When we first started I couldn't even breathe. I was cramping up because they ended practice with Banzai...when you are already tired and can't breathe. It benefited us in the game though."

Jon Halapio is easy to spot because of the big hair that flows from the back of his helmet. He is also the guy that will usually be on top of the defensive lineman before the play is done.

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