Rushing To Erase Painful Memory

Frank Gore is trying hard to forget. So naturally, he winces as if somebody had squirted a lemon in his face at the mention of the words ‘knee' and ‘injury'. Gore would rather not even know that they still make up part of the American dictionary.

"I try not to think about it," says Gore. "To tell you the truth it's in the past and I don't think of anything anymore but going all out. That's the only way I know how to play."

It was a year ago today that the Hurricanes talented tailback cradled in pain on the grass at Greentree Field after being hit by teammate Sean Taylor. The play proved to be costly for Gore who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that resulted in him missing the remainder of spring practice and the entire 2002 season. All this only days removed from entering camp as the frontrunner to start at tailback for the Hurricanes.

"It was tough when it happened but it's done with," says Gore, who averaged 9.1 yards a carry as a freshman reserve behind Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee in 2001. "It's been so long it's like it never even happened."

But after two-spring practice sessions Gore apparently is showing little effects from that dark day last March.

Despite not being able to start running until October and being reduced to the scout team, Gore is already making the moves and showing the breakaway speed that made him one of the nation's heavily recruited and highly regarded players coming out of Coral Gables High. On Tuesday, the first day of spring practice, Gore turned plenty of heads by coming out and putting together four runs of 10 yards or more. He followed that up with another strong performance this afternoon.

"I know what I can do," said Gore. "I'm not surprised at all."

A very interested observer doesn't expect any problems either.

"Frank is just picking up where we expected him to," said UM coach Larry Coker. "I didn't even know that today was a year (from the time of the injury) until you brought it up. There are a lot of things that I'm worried about on this football team. But I guarantee you Frank isn't one of them."

Gore, who set a Dade County record for rushing yardage as a senior at Gables High with 2,953, said that the only time he thinks about the knee injury is when he is asked to talk about it that he avoids at all cost.

"There isn't much more top say about it," says Gore who finished with 562 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman

Gore feels secure with his current status as the Hurricanes starting tailback despite hearing about the possibility of having to fend off incoming freshman Tyrone Moss in the fall. Moss has already declared through the press that he is coming into camp to challenge Gore for the position.

Gore isn't phased.

"I'm not worried about that stuff," Gore said. "I've worked hard to get back in this position. It's going to be hard for anybody to come in and just take it away."

The 5-10, 196-pounder would not even reply to what would happen if he weren't the Hurricanes starting tailback come Aug. 30 against Louisiana Tech. And he offered little as well in response to rapid speculation that he would opt for the NFL draft next season if he has a successful season.

"I haven't really though about it," Gore said.

And although he has not experienced any problems making cuts and hitting the holes early on Gore did issue a warning. With just two practices under his belt- and in shorts- Gore is holding out on a complete progress report until he takes the first hit from the defense.

"I can't really say that I'm 100 percent back until I start taking contact," Gore said. "If I'm alright after a take the first hit then you all will know everything is cool."

So far, so good.

ON THE DEFENSIVE SIDE: Coker said that most of the Hurricanes interior linemen on defense, including Vince Wilfork and Orien Harris, showed ‘great intensity' considering it's only the second day of camp. Coker added that Talib Humphrey and Jason Geathers also stood out. Coker said that junior tight end David Williams had knee surgery during the off-season and will probably miss the entire spring. Sophomore receiver Akieem Jolla (quad) is expected to miss the remainder of practice this week, according to Coker. Receiver Kevin Beard, recovering from a knee injury, continued to do light drills. Gore, Jarrett Payton and Jason Geathers are expected to handle kick-returning duties for the Hurricanes.

Tony Tella, who opened camp as the back-up behind Vernon Carey at right tackle, saw some work at guard, while sophomore Alex Pou, projected as a reserve left guard, got some reps at center.

"We haven't done anything major besides move (Eric) Winston from tight end to tackle," said Coker.

DAY 2 AT QB: Before spring practice opened the Hurricanes coaching staff agreed on making just one quarterback available to the media after practice. And Wednesday was junior Brock Berlin's turn to face the microphones.

Berlin was upbeat despite being behind junior Derrick Crudup in the competition for the Hurricanes starting quarterback position.

"I'm just excited to be here," said Berlin, who transferred from the University of Florida after the 2001-02 season. "I think I'm learning a whole lot and feel good with the progress that I'm making."

Coker said that none of the quarterbacks looked especially sharp today after praising Crudup on Tuesday.

"Nobody was really spectacular today," Coker said. "But we were a little thin at wide receiver."

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