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OCTOBER 2007— Table of Contents
- VISION QUEST
Brandon Spikes steps it up to lead the Gators’ young defense into the heart of the 2007 season.
It’s first and 10 and Brandon Spikes’ brown eyes are moving. Back and forth. Left to right. Right to left. From sideline to sideline. Everything must be in its proper place. In front of Spikes are four defensive linemen. Two ends and two tackles. On each hip is a linebacker. Together they form the guts of a defense. Before every snap, each defender must be lined up properly and know their assignment.
- A CLASSIC RIVALRY
Auburn vs. Florida has produced some great games through the years.
It was the morning of Oct. 28, 1966, homecoming at the University of Florida, and the seventh-ranked Gators were eating breakfast. A little later in the day they would be squaring off with the Auburn Tigers. The Gators were favored to win, but Auburn always played Florida tough, which is why there were a few raised eyebrows when Steve Spurrier announced to everybody at his table that he had a feeling he would be kicking a field goal that day.
- KING OF THE SWAMP
Former Gator Mike Peterson still wears his school colors with pride
Once a Gator, always a Gator. You hear it over and over. It especially applies to former athletes, though there’s probably any number of Florida graduates who have become lawyers, doctors, judges or maybe car salesmen who could have the tag applied to them. But if ever there were a true Gator, a Gator supporter, a proud UF alumnus, it would be Mike Peterson.
- A HEART OF GOLD
More than a decade after leaving Florida, Lon Kruger is still winning basketball games and friends.
Every time Lon Kruger looks in the mirror, he sees a face of a 55-year-old man who cherishes every day. The scars on his chest remind him of life’s fleeting nature. Two months ago, he had open-heart surgery. After four helpless hours on an operating table with your heart chiseled out of your chest, it’s amazing how you don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.
- MISTER RELIABLE
Former Gator Connor Falkenbach has been clutch most of his minor-league baseball career.
The locker looks like that of any other minor leaguer’s. To the right are pictures of family, a sister and a niece. To the left is a photo of Lil Wayne, the famous rapper from New Orleans. On the floor are half dozen pairs of spikes scattered below assorted game jerseys dangling from hangers. Above is a shelf with a glove and bunch of baseballs—27 to be exact—and on each ball is an inscription, the date and the score. One ball for each save.
- LIVING THE DREAM
Ex-Gator Justin Tordi goes with the flow no matter what pro baseball throws at him.
During the longest and most successful season in University of Florida baseball history, former Florida infielder Justin Tordi suited up and trotted out to shortstop a regular-season record 70 times. He managed the real estate between second and third base like a savvy investor, committing only 10 errors in 365 chances. Two years later, things are much different for Tordi. Oh, the glove is still his weapon of choice, but he has significantly added to his real estate collection. In a given month, Justin Tordi might play four different infield positions.
- MAN WITH A PLAN
Florida basketball recruit Ray Shipman sets high goals and aims to achieve them.
Ray Shipman already envisions a day when he sits down with University of Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan to plan out the next five years of his life. “I like to think we’ll be talking about the upcoming NBA draft and where I fit in,” says Shipman, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound high flyer, who has made the thunder-dunk finish on the end of a fastbreak his signature shot. “We’ll be talking about the choices I have and what my priorities are going to be. I’ll have a college degree from the University of Florida and that means I’ll have options. Maybe I’ll be able to pursue a career in the NBA along with the career the University of Florida has gotten me ready for. Maybe I’ll be able to do them both at the same time. That would be great if that happens.”
- HOLLYWOOD BOB’S TOP FIVE PROSPECTS TO FOLLOW
Every month, Gator Country Recruiting Analyst Bob Redman tells us who the Gators are hot after in football recruiting.
- A GREAT COACH, A BETTER MAN
Buddy Martin’s column
Over the years I’ve had my differences with coaches, applauded some, criticized some—albeit occasionally wrongheaded in my perspective – but overall, tried to walk a line of objectivity in my writing about them, friend or foe. If it ever comes down to a draw with Billy Donovan, I’m going with Billy. I’ve seen enough of his soul to convince me he is even a better person than he is a basketball coach. And he’s a great basketball coach.
- BONUS EXTRA: Pull-out full color poster of Tim Tebow suspended in the air during the WKU game.
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