Bowl SvoNotebook: The Interesting Gators

Want to know more about the Florida Gators that will line up across from the Buckeyes on Monday in the Gator Bowl? Then you're in the right place. BSB went through the team's bowl media guide to find out about the Gators as people rather than players. In addition, there are notes about Florida's toughness (or lack thereof) and OSU's junior captain.

Florida's team was only 6-6 during the regular season, but that doesn't mean the Gators aren't an interesting group.

The team's sports information department went well out of its way to make that clear in its Gator Bowl media guide. There is a section in the team's inch-thick bowl media guide listing interesting information about everyone on the roster.

For example, in alphabetical order:

Wideout Stephen Alli, listed as from Andover, N.H., is originally from Canada.

Linebacker Jon Bostic wears plastic inserts in his shoes to correct his flat feet. He also played hockey and skateboarded as a kid.

Cornerback Jeremy Brown suffered a back injury in 2009 and asked teammate Emmanuel Moody to pray for him. Moody did and also took Brown to a Pentecostal church, where the congregation also prayed for Brown. He has been pain-free since.

Utility offensive player Trey Burton scored six touchdowns vs. Kentucky last year, but his mom was missing his game for the first time at UF because she was with Burton's brother, Clay, on a visit to Notre Dame. Clay eventually committed to Florida.

Freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel can dunk a basketball from a standstill in flip-flops, and his hands span nearly 8½ inches from his wrist to the top of his middle finger. But his pinkies are so crooked and turned outwards that his flag football coach thought they were broken.

Defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd's nickname is "The Sheriff."

Long snapper Cody Hampton and his two brothers are Eagle Scouts. Cody's Eagle Scout project was building a helmet rack for a baseball team in St. Petersburg so that their equipment wouldn't get covered in fire ants.

Defensive lineman Omar Hunter's favorite song is "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Linebacker Jelani Jenkins' first name is Swahili for "mighty." He skipped the second grade, and both parents – Maurice and Stephanie – graduated from Howard. Stephanie is a black belt in karate while Maurice is an architect who worked on one of Pervis Ellison's houses.

Punter David Lerner was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in the summer.

Running back Chris Rainey is the younger brother of Rod Smart, known as "He Hate Me" because of the nameplate he wore in the XFL. Rainey has also defeated Gator running back Jeff Demps and former West Virginia RB Noel Devine in footraces, downing the latter in the parking lot of the Lakeland, Fla., Wal-Mart in 2007.

Walk-on fullback Jesse Schmitt plans to enlist in the Marines after college.

Getting Tough
When Florida concluded its regular season with a 21-7 loss to rival Florida State, it's fair to say head coach Will Muschamp was not happy with the state of things.

"I'm extremely disappointed with tonight and the season overall," Muschamp said in his postgame press conference. "We're a soft football team. We're not a physically tough team, and we're not a mentally tough team. I've been called a lot of things in my life, but soft is not one of them. And we are.

"I thought we had a physical training camp. I thought we amped up as physicality as far as practices are concerned, but we need to take it to another level obviously. When you can't convert third-and-1, fourth-and-1, when teams have continually run the ball against you throughout the season, it's very disappointing.''

The result, the Gators have said, is that the team's bowl practices have been as physical as one might have expected given Muschamp's rant.

"I think that would have helped, getting some more physical reps, getting us to being a more physical situation than we practiced," offensive lineman Chaz Green said. "But there's a reason for everything."

Muschamp said he has been pleased with the results.

"I think we've made some progress, and a lot of that has to do with not having to get ready for a game in a game-week situation," the head coach said. "Being able to go back and work on fundamentals, it's a lot like training camp or spring practice to be able to work on a lot of those things.

"When you're pressed to get ready for a game and install a game plan, you get away from some of that – probably too much at times, especially with a young team."

Simon Enjoys Honor
When Ohio State named its 2011 captains at the end of the season rather than before as it had in previous seasons, three of the choices were seniors in Mike Brewster, Andrew Sweat and Dan Herron.

The other is junior defensive lineman Johnny Simon. Called the hardest worker he's ever seen by outgoing OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock, Simon joined an illustrious group of players shy of senior standing to be named a captain at Ohio State.

"I appreciate it to be counted among these three other guys by my teammates," Simon said. "It's a big honor."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories