Florida Gators fans in Broward County got the chance to hear head coach Will Muschamp speak for the first time since 2011 when he stopped by the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for his second Gator Gathering of the spring.
Muschamp touched on a number of topics during his hour-long appearance behind the podium on May 1 and stuck around afterward to sign autographs for all of the nearly 250 fans in attendance.
Below is a recap of some of the most newsworthy and interesting subjects that Muschamp discussed both in front of the public and in his pre-event media availability, which was attended on behalf of InsidetheGators.com.
» Muschamp said he has definitely learned some lessons through his first three seasons on the job: “Keep your quarterback healthy. Number one through five. I think every year you go back and look at the growth stages from being a coordinator through now being a head coach. I don’t know that I was a much different coach than I was when we won 11 games. Keep your quarterback healthy. Anticipating issues that come up, maybe, after being through an experience like that. I’ve never been through an experience as an assistant coach. I’ve had head coaches that have been coaching for a long time call me and say, ‘I had no idea the amount of things that happened and occurred.’ You live and you learn. I never want to experience it again, I can assure you of that. But I think as much as anything anticipation of things that come up.”
1 » Four-star wide receiver singee Alvin Bailey (Seffner, FL) may not be on campus yet, but he is still receiving Florida Gators-caliber training this offseason. Bailey has been working with former Florida pass catcher Reidel Anthony (career totals of 2,274 yards and 26 touchdowns) over the last year to improve his game and get ready for the next level. The Gainesville Suncaught up with Bailey and Anthony recently to see how the arrangement is working out. “It’s great to have a mentor like Reidel to put me in the receiver mentality,” he said. “He has a lot to teach me and there’s so much stuff he knows that I don’t. I’m just taking it all in.” Anthony, who compared Bailey to a young Ike Hilliard because of his size and athleticism, is equally excited for the opportunity to play the role of teacher. “He’s really enjoying what we’re doing with him,” he said. “He’s soaking it up. He takes everything in and he’s willing to learn. He will go out and do whatever we ask him to do.” Bailey should be enrolled at Florida in June and will join the football team for summer practices.
2 » The Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings are currently taking place in Destin, FL, and as usual the annual event is being dominated by one topic in particular. This year, the focus is on the SEC’s schedule and whether the league will (a) adopt a nine-game conference schedule, (b) move to a 6-2 format instead of the current 6-1-1 format, or (c) keep the status quo in either or both areas. While a nine-game league slate is unlikely to be approved at this time (as is a switch to a 6-2 format with two opposite-division games rotating each year), the latter has been a more notable topic as it pertains to the Gators. LSU head coach Les Miles continues to pine for the change to 6-2, passionately explaining that he has to play Florida every year while Alabama (for example) gets an easier annual opponent in Tennessee.
Despite Miles’s continued protests, votes will likely be cast to keep the permanent rivalries (if a vote is even held in the first place) with UF still unfazed about facing LSU on a yearly basis. “We’re fine with it,” Gators athletic director Jeremy Foleytold CBSSports.com. “I understand where Les Miles is coming [from] and I appreciate LSU’s point of view. But we think it’s a great game for us and a great game for college football. Yeah, it’s a tough game but we’ve got a lot of tough games in the SEC.”
Growing up watching his father play professional football, Ran Carthon found a passion for the game and knew he wanted to follow in his dad’s profession but blaze his own path to glory. So when his family moved from Osceola, AR to Key West, FL and he began playing high school football, Carthon hoped to be recognized for his efforts on the field rather than his father’s famous last name.
He received that recognition from the Florida Gators and committed to wear orange and blue throughout his college career. After working hard to earn time on the field and being given a second chance to shine under head coach Ron Zook, Carthon led Florida in rushing in 2003 with 595 yards and six touchdowns (he also caught 21 balls for 185 yards and another score).
He played in 48 games with 11 starts over his career, running for over 1,300 yards on 270 carries and scoring 12 total touchdowns.
Now a professional scout with the Atlanta Falcons, “The Mayor” (a nickname he was given in college for knowing everyone in Gainesville, FL) is not only still involved in football but also constantly working on ways to give back to the community.
Carthon sat down with OGGOA last week for a 45-minute exclusive interview that touches on his life growing up, advice for recent Gators commits, time at Florida, playing in the NFL and the newest charitable venture he is involved in, the Florida Players Network.
ADAM SILVERSTEIN:What was it like playing high school football in Key West? Did you find it was hard to get recognized? RAN CARTHON: “Living in Key West was awesome and amazing; we had a lot of community support. Kind of like most football stories you hear, it was a small town community that really rallies around their high school sports. In terms of being recognized, honestly it was something we never thought about. We played a lot of Miami schools – and those schools had talented players – so we knew if we wanted to get on scholarship that we had to dominate those guys in order to get our recognition.”
AS:Did you feel any added pressure either living your life as the son of a well-known NFL player (New York Giants and Super Bowl-winning fullback Maurice Carthon)? RC: “For me it was always like I wanted to create my own identity. Earlier on I fought against everything you read about – ‘son of former Giants player’ – and I wanted to establish myself and let people know that I can play this game. That was the initial thing. As I got older, I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. My dad is who he is and my talents would be recognized because of him because of the gene pool. After a few years, I gave up on that fight.”
AS:Florida has Bryan Cox, Jr. committed for 2012 and just earned a verbal pledge from Kelvin Taylor. Do you have any advice for those guys on how to live and play in the “shadow” of their respective fathers? RC: “I would just say be who you are. The player that you are has gotten you to this point, gotten you recognized by elite schools. I’ve been following Kelvin since his eighth grade year as a senior at Glades Day. I’m very familiar with him and that’s just more so because of how much of a fan I was of Fred [Taylor]. Fred and Terry Jackson were probably two of the main reasons why I selected to go to UF. I thought under [Steve] Spurrier they were allowed to show everything they could do as backs. I had offers from schools that were predominately running the ball, but I felt like I was more versatile than that. For those guys – Bryan Cox, Jr. and Kelvin Taylor – those guys need to embrace who their father is but at the same time continue to do what got them to where they are.”
Eighteen years after his father first donned an orange and blue uniform and ran out onto Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, four-star running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL) announced that he would follow in his dad’s footsteps by committing to play football for the Florida Gators in 2013.
The son of University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame running back Fred Taylor, he has been around both football and the Gators his entire life. And like his father, his immensely successful high school football career earned him a scholarship offer from Florida, which he chose over Alabama on Saturday.
Kelvin Taylor (5’10” 205 lbs.) actually began playing as an eighth grader, starting for the Glades Day High School varsity team and running for 1,692 yards and 27 touchdowns. He followed that up by amassing 2,691 yards and 47 touchdowns as a freshman, breaking former Gators running back Emmitt Smith’s career Florida high school record of 8,804 yards two years later at the end of his junior season in 2011.
With 9,698 career yards to his credit (only 8,114 of which count nationally), he has an opportunity to break the all-time record of 11,232 yards, which was set back in 1953. He has also produced 148 touchdowns in four years of playing high school football.
Taylor undoubtedly has his sights set on the NFL and can only hope to be as successful as his father, the No. 9 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fred Taylor rushed for 11,695 yards and 66 touchdowns (adding 2,384 receiving yards and eight receiving scores) over 13 seasons as a professional.
His name can also be found throughout Florida’s record books as he still holds the Gators’ single-season record for yards per carry (6.0 in 1997), led the team in rushing in both 1994 and 1997, has the sixth-most attempts in school history (537) and is fourth in both career (3,075) and single-season (1,292) rushing yardage.
Even with a strong love for the Gators, Fred Taylor never pushed his son to commit to Florida and said that he just wanted him to be happy no matter which school he chose.
And just because he will be playing for the Gators, do not expect Kelvin Taylor to think the starting job or anything else for that matter will be handed to him.
Reidel Anthony, a former teammate of his father’s and the offensive coordinator at Glades Central, told ESPNU that Taylor is a hard worker who makes his own way.
“Kelvin plays hungry and there’s no sense of entitlement there,” he said. “He doesn’t expect to just walk in and dominate because he’s Fred Taylor’s son. He wants to be a player that earns what he gets.
“And he’s just a humble young man, real quiet like Fred was. He’s not going to tell you that he’s going to run for 350 yards on you, he’s just going to do it. He has the respect of his teammates, his coaches, other coaches and his opposition because of the way he plays the game.”
Florida wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, also a former teammate of Fred Taylor’s and still a close friend of the family, was Kelvin Taylor’s primary recruiter with the Gators throughout the entire process.
With his commitment now out of the way, the younger Taylor no longer has to endure the rigors of recruiting and can instead concentrate on the things that matter the most.
“I’m gonna keep my grades up, work very hard, run track, lift weights and just focus my mind on high school football and trying to get another state title,” he said earlier in the week, according to The Gainesville Sun.
The No. 111 ranked player nationally according to Rivals and a five-star recruit listed as one of ESPNU’s top 100 prospects in 2013, Taylor gives Florida their second big-time running back commitment in the 2013 class. He joins four-star Adam Lane (Winter Haven, FL) as two of the Gators’ five pledges as of press time.
He is currently attending Florida’s second Junior Day this weekend in Gainesville, FL and intends to enroll at UF in January (as does Lane).
Taylor’s commitment was first reported by Andrew Spivey of Gator Country.
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