Big day for the Leaks

Like the Civil War, Saturday's Tennessee-Florida football game could pit brother against brother.

Should Vol quarterback Casey Clausen sprain an ankle, backup QB C.J. Leak might find himself dueling little brother Chris, who shares time with Ingle Martin as Florida's signal-caller.

Has C.J. considered the possibility?

''I never considered that, to be honest, because I think Casey's going to be fine,'' he said. ''I hope I get an opportunity to get in the game and compete but right now everything's going good. We're doing good as a team and I'm staying within my role, trying to be prepared in case the opportunity comes.''

Whereas C.J. will play only if Clausen is injured, Chris has been getting nearly half of the snaps for Florida. C.J. figures his chest will swell a bit as he watches his little brother perform.

''I'm going to be proud of him,'' C.J. said. ''Knowing how tough it is, seeing everything he's gone through and watching him grow, I'm definitely proud of him. He's always dreamed of getting to this point -- playing collegiate football and having an opportunity to excel. I think he'll have that opportunity, so I'm proud of him.''

Asked if he has offered his sibling any advice, C.J. replied: ''All I tell him is, 'Chris, go out and play your game every game. Do what you gotta do.' Football's going to take care of itself for Chris. It always has. I don't tell him nothing. He does it on his own. He's always had a grasp of the game. I'm more concerned with helping us get prepared, just like he's getting prepared.''

So, how many tickets he'll need to secure for family and friends hoping to watch the UT-Florida game?

''Probably a boatload,'' C.J. responded. ''I don't know how many to be exact. It'll be a lot of 'em.''

Because the Vol-Gator rivalry is heated, you'd figure there might be some trash talk between the two brothers. Not so, apparently.

''Not really,'' C.J. said. ''Just brotherly talk.''

With Tennessee enjoying an open date last weekend, C.J. travelled to Gainesville and watched Chris help guide the Gators to a 63-3 blowout of Florida A&M. C.J. came away impressed with Florida's personnel.

''They're young, very talented, a lot of speed,'' he said. ''Florida's going to get back to being Florida, just like we're headed back to being Tennessee.''

Like Tennessee, Florida suffered through a disappointing 8-5 season in 2002. Both teams appear on the road to recovery, however.

''We'll recover fast,'' C.J. said. ''A lot of teams had down years last year. Nebraska had one. Florida State has had a couple. Penn State's been down for a while. Big programs like that reload and rebound, come back fast.''

C.J. hasn't played a down through Tennessee's first two games and is unlikely to play Saturday unless Clausen sustains an injury. Still, he knows he has to be prepared ... just in case.

''Obviously, I've got to have that mentality,'' he said. ''Being a starter earlier in my career, I understand how it is. And the (major knee) injury taught a whole lot, as well. You can go at any time. I pray to God, nothing like that happens to Casey. I know he wants to go out his senior year with a big bang, and I hope he does.

''I just want to be prepared, so if the opportunity comes, I'll be ready to go in and lead the football team. You have to prepare like you're the starter.''


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