The announcement that Florida will bring along redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, junior defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. and sophomore Vernon Hargreaves is more than just an announcement of who will accompany Will Muschamp to SEC Media Days.
The announcement shows a change in guard at Florida — this is the first time under Muschamp that the Gators will not take a senior to the annual circus that is SEC Media Days.
It’s also a PR dream team for Florida.
Jeff Driskel made the trip last year and handled himself brilliantly. Muschamp can trust Driskel to say the right things, stay on message and represent Florida in the way the school wants to present itself in front of thousands of reporters from across the country.
Vernon Hargreaves — just the second sophomore to attend Media Days (OT Mike Pearson 2000) — is also a great choice. Hargreaves is Florida’s best player. It doesn’t matter that he is only entering his second season. Florida fans knew him coming in as a high school standout but Hargreaves introduced himself to the world with his play last season and the media will be clamoring to get to know him next week in Birmingham.
Hargreaves may be young but he will handle the crazy media setting with ease. He’s the son of a coach and interviewing Hargreaves is like speaking to a coach. He’s not going to say anything controversial or outlandish. Florida is, however, bringing a player who may do just that.
Fowler is vicious on the football field. He’s fast, athletic and powerful; a player that strikes fear in the hearts of the opponent. Off the field, he’s a kid trapped inside the body of an All-SEC defensive lineman.
Fowler is a veteran with the Florida media. He’s soft spoken, comical and good-natured. Last year, the national media fell in love with Dominique Easley, who spoke about watching cartoons and responded to a question about Bear Bryant by asking “is that a cartoon character?”
That playful ignorance is found in Fowler as well and he will shine on the first day of what will be a long week filled with all things SEC football.
The decision to bring these three players is also a changing of the guard. These are all — other than Driskel who was always going to go — Muschamp guys. Fowler and Hargreaves are members of Muschamp’s first two recruiting classes and the two best players on the team.
Florida could have gone with a safe choice, bringing Driskel, Max Garcia and another senior like Mike Taylor but they didn’t.
The lights shine bright — brighter than they will all offseason, and the safe route would have been to bring experienced, veteran players. Muschamp scoffed at that notion and brought the best three players on his team.
Credit to Florida for bringing a star-studded group and not sticking to old habits by bringing safe seniors.
The faces of the franchise will be on display this Monday in Birmingham and Florida will benefit from displaying these three student-athletes and great ambassadors to the university on the grandest stage of the offseason.
2014 SEC FOOTBALL MEDIA DAYS PARTICIPATING STUDENT-ATHLETES
Landon Collins, Safety
Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver
Christion Jones, Wide Receiver
Brey Cook, Offensive Guard
Trey Flowers, Defensive End
Alan Turner, Safety
Nick Marshall, Quarterback
Reese Dismukes, Center
Gabe Wright, Defensive Linemen
Jeff Driskel , Quarterback
Dante Fowler, Defensive End
Vernon Hargreaves III, Cornerback
Chris Conley, Flanker
Todd Gurley, Tailback
Ramik Wilson, Linebacker
Bud Dupree, Defensive End
Jordan Swindle, Offensive Tackle
Za’Darius Smith, Defensive End
La’el Collins, Offensive Tackle
Terrence Magee, Running Back
D.J. Welter, Linebacker
CJ Johnson, Defensive End
Cody Prewitt, Safety
Bo Wallace, Quarterback
Jay Hughes, Safety
Benardrick McKinney, Linebacker
Dak Prescott, Quarterback
Evan Boehm, Center
Markus Golden, Defensive End
Maty Mauk, Quarterback
A.J. Cann, Offensive Guard
J.T. Surratt, Defensive Tackle
Dylan Thompson, Quarterback
Mack Crowder, Offensive Line
AJ Johnson, Linebacker
Curt Maggitt, Defensive End
Deshazor Everett, Defensive Back
Drew Kaser, Punter
Cedric Ogbuehi, Offensive Tackle
Adam Butler, Defensive Line
Steven Scheu, Tight End
Andrew Williamson, Safety