When Will Muschamp was hired to replace Urban Meyer, his first initiative was to create a tougher, more physical roster.
Toward the end of Meyer’s time in Gainesville, the Florida Gators became far more finesse than physical. They lost the ability to punch an opponent in the mouth or take a shot to their own.
Muschamp looked to change that and bring in players who were willing to play his style of football. Perhaps the epitome of that mindset is sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer.
Joyer, a 5-foot-10, 249-pound ball of muscle, has paved the way for running back Mike Gillislee to run for more than 1,000 yards this season. In high school, Joyer himself was a running back, but since coming to Florida, his focus has shifted toward springing other backs with punishing blocks.
“[Joyer] has really taken the next step,” Muschamp said earlier this season. “He’s answered the call.”
The physicality that endears him to Muschamp, Joyer said, is something he learned from his older brother, Kamran, who is a redshirt junior offensive lineman for Louisville.
When the Gators and Cardinals meet Wednesday night in the Sugar Bowl, Hunter and Kamran will be compete against one another, something the two are used to doing since childhood.
“Everyday we would have some type of competition,” Hunter said. “He just made me a great competitor and who I am.”
Similar to most sets of brothers who are only two years apart in age, Hunter and Kamran spent their afternoons playing one-on-one football, basketball and even competed in an occasional push-up contest.
Hunter remembers Kamran having an advantage because he was two years older but made clear he won a few of his own battles.
“I won a good share,” Hunter said. “We were probably about even.”
Though the two brothers were sometimes hostile once the adrenaline started pumping, Hunter said it was Kamran who had as big an impact as any on him playing college football. Early on, Kamran realized the potential Hunter had and pushed him to excel in sports.
Years later, that has paid off for each, as both have become important parts in respective BCS teams.
“I don’t think I’d be here if it wasn’t for him,” Hunter said. “He’s the one who got me into training and working out. I gibe him and my dad all the credit.”
Hunter remembers one scare when he was about 12 years old. The two boys were wrestling on their parents’ bed when Kamran got the upper hand and was on top of Hunter. As Hunter struggled, Kamran lost his balance and fell on top of Hunter’s head.
Immediately, Hunter feared the worst.
“I thought I broke my neck,” Hunter said. “I thought I was paralyzed or something.”
Turns out, he was okay. And as the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
In Hunter’s case, growing up with an older brother that constantly pushed and motivated him, he became strong enough to help the Gators power through the Southeastern Conference this season.