With the Florida Gators hoping to end the 2011 season on a high note with a home victory against the rival Florida State Seminoles, a number of seniors were made available to the media Tuesday to discuss preparations heading into Saturday’s game, which is also Senior Day for a total of 18 players.
DEMPS PLANS TO CONCENTRATE ON FOOTBALL CAREER
Though there were talks that he may not even return this season, senior running back Jeff Demps did just that and has played well on occasion. He may have a long-term future in track, but Demps plans to do whatever he can to succeed as a football player.
He said Tuesday that he is “probably not” going to run track in spring and has not planned on participating in the trials for the 2012 London Olympics. “All my focus is on football,” he said.
Demps hopes to be selected in the 2012 NFL Draft and will be working to that end after the regular season is over.
Saturday’s game against Florida State also has a bit of added significance for him because Demps was a Seminoles fan growing up.
“I wanted to go there. For me to finish out my college career against those guys is definitely [special],” he said. “I grew up watching this game and never thought I would be playing in it. For me to come out with a victory against the childhood team that I love would be pretty nice.”
THOMPSON AND BRANTLEY: “FRIENDS FOREVER”
Classmates when they enrolled five years ago, redshirt seniors quarterback John Brantley and wide receiver Deonte Thompson have always been close. As their careers have progressed and both have struggled under the high expecatations of Gator Nation, they have only gotten closer.
On Tuesday, Thompson said he and Brantley would be “friends forever” and he only wishes that his buddy could have had more success while wearing the orange and blue.
“I admire him to the utmost respect. He’s a tough guy,” Thompson said. “A lot of people may not know but he’s tough as nails. Especially this year, he proved it playing on a hurt ankle. Things ain’t been falling his way, but he always keeps a smile on his face.
“I think he’ll be remembered as one of the good quarterbacks that came through. He did the best with what he had and is a great leader.”
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN LOOKING FORWARD TO SENIOR DAY
[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]For redshirt senior guard/center Dan Wenger, who transferred to Florida this summer, Saturday will be the third Senior Day he has participated in during his college career. That does not make it any less special.
“It’s pretty emotional for me and my family. This is truly going to be it – last time running out of a collegiate tunnel. It’s a pretty emotional week for me,” he said.
Wenger is thankful for the opportunity the Gators gave him this year – to play one more year of college football instead of being forced to retire.
“It’s been amazing to tell you the truth. It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “Regardless of the ups and downs we’ve had, obviously I wish it would have turned out better, but I couldn’t’ be more thankful and blessed for the opportunity I had to play here and play a sixth year of college football. I’m just really, really thankful for Coach [Will] Muschamp, Coach [Frank] Verducci and Coach [Charlie] Weis – as well as the rest of the coaching staff – to have this opportunity and this chance. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love playing for Coach Muschamp. It’s been a lot of fun.”
In a similar situation is senior G James Wilson, who has missed more time with knee injuries than he would care to remember. Saturday also marks the likely end of a career.
“It’s definitely going to be emotional. I had a great time and love my teammates. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, the experience,” he said.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Demps on Brantley-Thompson not being a better playmaking combo: “They do have some pretty good chemistry, it’s just Deonte is not always the first option. He’s got to look to the other receivers.”
» Demps on how the offense would have functioned if Brantley was healthy all year: “It would have been a different season. As you can see, Brantley was coming around. He was real comfortable in the pocket. He was being Brantley-like, the old days like in high school.”
» Demps on his ankle “It’s pretty good. It’s still not 100 percent, but I can play on it and run on it pretty well.”
» Thompson on if the offense in 2011 was better than 2010: “I don’t know. I really don’t.”
» Wenger said that his ankle is fine, and he will return to practice on Tuesday.
» Wenger on if he will stick around as a graduate assistant: “It hasn’t come up but after the season anything is possible. I would obviously have to work some things out and find out where the next chapter of my life is going to take me.”[/EXPAND]