Channing Crowder has been listed as off limits

ATHENS - Atlanta's Channing Crowder has got a great story to tell - he chases down and wrestles wild boars with fellow Georgian and Gator Brian Crum for fun - and he tells it well by all accounts - he was a National Honor Society member at North Springs High School.

But he won't be telling it this week. Florida coach Ron Zook has decided to make Channing Crowder, who was becoming the team's most eloquent spokesman, off limits to the media indefinitely.

"Channing has a lot of things that he needs to be concerned about rather than spending a lot of time with the media," Zook said. "I want him to focus on school and football."

Zook's decision has nothing to do with Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game between the No. 23 Gators (5-3, 3-2 in SEC) and No. 4 Georgia (7-1, 4-1), he said.

"This was before the Georgia week that I said he doesn't need to be talking anymore," he said. "He needs to concentrate more on football."

(Crowder is the third player this season that Zook has made off limits to the media. The first two were offensive linemen Max Starks, who made comments about Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen, and Shannon Snell, who said he wanted Florida's defense to make Miami quarterback and former Gator Brock Berlin bleed.)

A prep All-American, Crowder signed with the Gators in 2002 but didn't enroll until January of 2003 due to a knee injury. He spent the fall of 2002 in Gainesville, Fla., washing cars at a dealership and then joined the team for bowl practices last year.

Despite missing two games, he is the team's third-leading tackler with 48 stops.

"He's a great looking guy," said Georgia coach Mark Richt, who recruited Crowder. "He's got great size and speed, and he's got a mentality about him. You can just see he likes to hit, boy. He doesn't play like a freshman."

Crowder missed the first game of the season after being suspended following a downtown incident that resulted in a simple battery charge. He then missed the Mississippi game, Florida's only loss in more than a month, due to arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

He has recorded 19 tackles and a sack in the two games since returning to the lineup, but Zook is unwilling to attribute the Gators' brief winning streak to Crowder's return.

"Channing is playing well, but he still plays like a freshmen," Zook said. "By no means is he the reason the defense is playing the way they're playing. He's one of the reasons."

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