With an event like Friday Night Lights, we tend to highlight the committed players and the highly rated recruits that are visiting campus. While four and five-star prospects are sexy and give fans something to talk about on message boards, there are underrated players who fill out rosters and often become major contributors in college.
Gators fans will remember Kerwin Bell, who began his career as a walk-on before leading the Gators to a 9-1-1 record and an SEC Championship.
More recently, the Gators have enjoyed lesser-rated recruits out of high school like Brandon James, Jon Halapio, Quinton Dunbar, Louis Murphy, Dallas Baker, Ray McDonald, Chas Henry, Caleb Sturgis, Kyle Christy and Trey Burton, who were all rated as 3-star recruits on various recruiting websites.
These lesser known recruits make up the majority of the players in attendance at FNL and one of them stood out last Friday night.
Cortavious Givens is a physically impressive running back and definitely a kid you would have get off the bus first. At 5’10”, 210-pounds, Givens is a powerful running back that would be more highly recruited if not for an ACL tear that cost him most of his junior season. While the injury might have set Givens back on the football field, he wouldn’t change anything about his injury and credits it for helping him mature.
“It helped me a lot. It helped me learn how to bounce back from adversity. If it hadn’t had happen, I wouldn’t know what life without football would be like,” Givens said. “Basically it helped me to focus on my education more because if I don’t have football, than that’s all I’ll have, my education. Once something like that happens, it gives you a new perspective. Everyone’s time is going to run out [playing football] so you need a back up plan.”
That’s the kind of mindset and perspective that is rarely found in a 17-year old athlete.
Givens is fully healed from the ACL injury and eager to prove that he has what it takes to play football at the next level. He camped at Florida earlier in the summer and showed the coaching staff first hand what he can do on his surgically repaired ankle. That performance was good enough to earn him an invitation to FNL and even though the coaching staff told him they didn’t need to see him work out, he used the opportunity to once again show the staff that his knee is 100%.
“No brace or nothing, it’s all good,” Givens said. “My legs are the same size now. At first I was down about the whole situation but there’s no point in getting down, you just have to keep grinding.”
While he didn’t earn that scholarship offer that drives and motivates him, Givens said that Brian White had encouraging words for him and he’ll keep working towards earning a scholarship offer from his dream school.
“He told me that he loved everything I did,” Givens said of his conversation with White. “Basically we’re just waiting on my first game film to make sure I’ve still got everything in me. He said I didn’t really have to come and work out today.”
With a lot riding on the first few games of the season, Givens isn’t putting additional pressure on himself. He told Gator Country that if he stays within himself and plays like he know he can, he’ll take care of business on the field. If White likes what he sees on film and offers Givens, where would Florida stand?
“They would definitely jump up to the top,” Givens said. “They’re probably already on the top actually, even though I don’t have an offer. Like I told Coach White, if I get the offer I’m most likely going to commit.”