Tough Ending For Brandon James

The most successful senior class in Gator history will try to write a fitting final chapter to their Gator careers in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. One senior however will be watching from the sidelines on crutches knowing he played a major role in helping this group post 47 wins and win two BCS National Championships.

Brandon James' Gator career ends this week when he underwent surgery to repair a worsening stress fracture in his foot. The injury which apparently had bothered James for several weeks got worse in the Alabama game and required surgical intervention to solve the problem.

James will go down as perhaps the greatest return man in Florida Football history. He returned 112 kicks for 2,718 yards and a single TD. He also brought back 117 punts for 1,371 yards and four more scores. Despite those five TD returns, James often talked about the four other times he had returns for TD that were called back due to penalty.

James was on occasional runner for the Gators, carrying the ball for 302 yards and two TD. This season he expanded his role in the offense and is Florida's third leading receiver with 24 catches.

If you add together all his yards, James gained 4,770 all purpose yards. That's second in school history behind Errict Rhett who piled up 5,393 yards on his four seasons, rushing for 4,163 and catching passes for another 1,230.

James started his Gator career with a bang, earning Freshman All-American honors in 2006 for 746 return yards including a punt return TD against Western Carolina. He returned punts for TD against Tennessee in both his sophomore and junior seasons and this year finally got a kickoff return to count when he went the distance against Charleston Southern opening day.

The thing I'll remember most about James' career is his fearless approach to the game. James treated every punt and kickoff as a potential TD and took plenty of punishment trying to make things happen. Not a bad career for a guy who is generously listed at 5-7. The St. Augustine High School product was being ignored by the major schools due to his diminutive stature, but his team kept beating Nease High School and Tim Tebow and eventually someone convinced Urban Meyer to give the little guy a scholarship.

And the rest, they say is history.

It's a tough break for James to have to sit out the final game of his Gator career, but don't bet against him playing at the next level.

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