All smiles for Leonard and Quinton

Florida guys Quinton Powell and Leonard Williams were surprised at the awards coming their way and they talked about it after Friday's practice.

Quinton Powell had no idea he'd get the call. Neither did Leonard Williams.

The two Florida guys were shocked they'd be singled out for their 2014 seasons at the football banquet Wednesday evening.

"I thought Cody [Kessler] would get it, he had a great year," Leonard said of his MVP award, the second straight for a Florida Trojan as Buck Allen, last year's winner sitting at the same table, congratulated him.

But it was Powell, the slim sophomore outside linebacker, who was truly shocked at being named Special Teams Player of the Year.

"I didn't expect it at all," Powell said after practice Friday. "It was an exciting experience. I think they appreciated my will to do this. Some guys might say it's just special teams. But I wasn't getting playing time on defense so it was what I could do."

With 13 tackles in 12 regular season games, mostly on his coverage duties, Powell somewhat stepped in for last season's special teams star, Soma Vainuku, who was limited much of the season with injuries.

"I did think about that and I know it's just one play at a time, not multiple plays," Powell said. That's for next year.

And that's where Powell is looking. His attitude is that he's coming back to fight for a starting spot -- "either RUSH or SAM," Quinton said. "I'm going to gain a lot of weight," he said, expecting that he'll need to come back at 220 pounds, no less than 215.

"I'm going to eat and lift -- and do it every day," he said, starting right now. "I feel like I can do it."

And do it as a Trojan despite those whispers that after not playing, Quinton would be a candidate to transfer. He's heard it. "I get asked those questions," he said.

"For the most part, I'm staying here," Quinton said, then thought about how that sounded.

"No, I'm staying here. Put it like that."

And so we will.

An upbeat way to start to finish up the season with just two more practices on campus. But not as upbeat as Leonard's finish after three seasons.

The All-American D-lineman has been running around, high-fiving guys, chest- and elbow-bumping teammates and flying around with a big smile on his face, not that that's all that unusual.

Asked if he was having as much fun as it looked like he was: "Definitely," he said. "I love to be out there in college with my teammates grinding every day . . . it's always fun for me being out there."

And not just fun for BLW. "Leonard's an awesome guy to coach," Steve Sarkisian said. "He loves playing the game for all the right reasons. Just that comment that he made . . . " that he didn't think he'd win the MVP award makes that point, Sark said.

"He's a fun guy to coach and a fun guy to be around every day," Sark said.

Lamar on his way back

"I'm out there now," Lamar Dawson says, "I'm getting back. I'm doing everything now, just getting the feel of it."

But it's just a start, the senior linebacker who will return for his redshirt senior season next fall after three seasons as a starter. "Physically I feel good, I just need to get the feel of football again.

"This is like spring football for me now," he said just a little bit more than a year since knee surgery knocked him out of the 2014 season. "I think I'm where I thought I'd be.

But where he thinks he'll be after winter weight work, then spring and summer football, is back in the middle. "I'll be playing Mike," he said. His weight is holding at 230 pounds and he has just three courses to go to get his degree in sociology so he's adding a new minor -- Non-Governmental Organizations.


Trojans will practice Saturday morning, then take off Sunday and Monday, return to practice Tuesday morning before busing to San Diego that afternoon . . . Sark agreed with Delvon Simmons who says he thinks his length and reach as a 6-foot-5 nose tackle -- replacing the injured Antwaun Woods -- can be a plus with his ability to get into the passing lanes and reach through to Nebraska's running quarterback Tommy Armstrong . . . but Simmons also has to "stay low," he said, "and be more stout because you don't know where the blocks are coming from" just that chances are "you're going to get double-teamed" . . . might have been the catch of the year in practice for freshman tight end Bryce Dixon in a seven-on-seven specialty passing drill with his full-body extension and leaving his feet to make a onehanded, lefthanded grab of a ball that seemed well past him . . . the Trojans returned to a rejuvenated Howard Jones/Brian Kennedy Field with the grass having regrown after a few weeks off . . . the place looked great . . . Ajene Harris stil not able to go Friday . . . the Rehab Island crew with Chad Wheeler, Jabari Ruffin, Tre Madden, Kenny Bigelow, Jordan Simmons, Christian Tober, Jordan Austin, Chris Willson and Uchenna Nwosu added sledgehammer tire hitting and medicine ball tosses from prone and sitting positions to the rope pull workouts and bike riding during practice.

For a wrapup of Friday morning's practice, check out FRIDAY HOLIDAY BOWL PRACTICE 9 GHOST NOTES.

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