TAMPA — The Gators had inspiration beyond winning Saturday’s Outback Bowl for themselves and outgoing coach Urban Meyer.
Prior to the game with Penn State, Florida’s players were addressed by Ian Lockwood, a former Navarre High School wide receiver who is now battling brain cancer.
Safety Ahmad Black, center Mike Pouncey and linebacker Brandon Hicks said the speech was touching, as did Meyer. And after the 37-24 victory against Penn State, Meyer and Black awarded Lockwood with the game ball before giving him the podium to speak to the media.
Lockwood spent the final few months of 2010 going back and forth between Navarre, in the panhandle, and getting treatment at Shands in Gainesville.
His final prep game was Oct. 8, and there he scored two touchdowns as the Raiders defeated rival Milton, 49-20.
With Lockwood wearing his No. 10 jersey on the sidelines each Friday night, Navarre finished the season 11-2, losing 34-33 in three overtimes to eventual FHSAA state champion Tallahassee Lincoln on Dec. 3 in the Class 4A, Region 1 final.
Twice after Lockwood’s on-field career ended, the Raiders wore special jerseys in honor of their sick teammate. They went 2-0 in those uniforms, including a 31-21 victory at powerful Pace that propelled NHS into the playoffs.
NO CHANGE: There are Internet reports that Gainesville High School outside linebacker/defensive end Jordan Williams has been contacted by new Florida coach Will Muschamp about potentially being a part of UF’s 2011 recruiting class.
Williams, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound Tennessee commitment, said that isn’t true.
“Muschamp has not called me, and I have not heard about his preferences with my position (supposedly, the Volunteers like him as an end, while UF sees him at outside linebacker),” Williams wrote in an email. “As of now, the only thing I have heard is that he wants to talk to me, but I don’t think anything could sway my commitment as of right now.”
Williams is the son of former Gator football player Keith Williams and the younger brother of former UF and Central Florida outside hitter Janine Williams, meaning he does have Florida ties. However, the Vols have given Jordan a good bit more attention than Urban Meyer and his staff did, and Williams committed to UT on Oct. 13, where he will be joined by GHS teammate Trevarris Saulsberry.
Also a good student, Williams also has scholarship offers from Arkansas, North Carolina State, Vanderbilt, South Florida and Oregon (where he visited the first weekend of October). At this point, the Gators have not offered.
Chaz Henry’s 47-yard field goal late in the third quarter was a career-long. … Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin’s five interceptions tied a one-year-old Outback Bowl record for most picks in the game. Northwestern’s Mike Kafka threw five against Auburn last year.McGloin’s total also was a single-game PSU record. … Solomon Patton’s first-half punt block was the 32nd blocked kick for UF under Meyer. Twenty-one came on punts, eight on field goal attempts and three on extra points. Of the 21 blocked punts, 12 came in the first quarter, seven in the second and one each in the third and fourth. … This was Florida’s fourth game this season with three or more interceptions. … Meyer finished 5-1 in bowl games as UF’s coach. … Nittany Lions’ junior defensive tackle Devon Still finished the contest with a career-best 3.5 tackles-for-loss. Pouncey said PSU’s interior defensive front was among the best he faced all year. … Hicks recorded his first career interception in the game. After the contest, Meyer predicted Hicks would play in the NFL. … Senior cornerback Moses Jenkins corralled the first pick of his career on the game’s final pass play. … Penn State began the game 3-for-3 on third-down conversions and finished 5-for-18 (27.8-percent). … The New Year’s Day bowl was the 25th in Penn State history. The Nittany Lions dropped to 17-8 in those games. … Chris Rainey’s 51-yard run in the third quarter tied the longest against Penn State this season. … The Nittany Lions’ Evan Royster ran for 98 yards on 20 carries to make his career tally 3,932 yards. That is tops in school history. Royster had 1,014 yards on 208 carries this year, making him the first PSU player to ever rush for at least 1,000 yards in three different seasons. … During postgame interviews, a Pennsylvania television reporter asked Pouncey a question, referring to him as “Maurkice.” Mike laughed and told the interviewer that he needed to go to Pittsburgh to talk to the twin he was looking for.