Purifoy: A hands-on type of guy

Outside of the day-to-day happenings of people’s lives, namely work or school or family or religion, most folks try to maintain some sort of hobby. Whether the hobby becomes a major time commitment or remains simply a fun distraction is obviously up to the individual, but most of the time the activities are simply a means of escaping the pressures and constraints of those day-to-day necessities. After all, one cannot spend all of his or her time worrying about a job or bills or grades or groceries or whatever else.

For example, a computer technician might have a wood working shop in his garage, or a dentist might go to a pottery class one a week. Insurance salespeople might get themselves a cookbook or an airline pilot might keep himself grounded with a toy train set.

Loucheiz Purifoy, a starting cornerback for the Florida Gators football team, is hoping to get working with his hands, too, heading into Saturday’s home game against kentucky, which kicks off at 12:21 p.m.

His average, everyday life involves blanketing receivers, deflecting passes and making tackles. Not quite the same as setting up a wireless network like a computer tech or a dentist checking someone’s back molars, but it is a time-consuming lifestyle nonetheless.

Thus, like most folks, Purifoy has been looking at adding something of a hobby to complement his full-time duties as a defensive back.

He is already an extremely hands-on type of athlete, exemplified by his desire to play a bump-and-run style of defense against any and all receivers. That is, when the receiver jogs himself up to the line of scrimmage, Purifoy wants to be as close to the offensive player as possible. As soon as the football is snapped, he wants to push the receiver off of his route.

“I want to put my hands on people, I want to press, disrupt timing,” he said.

Sometimes, the best opportunity some people get to use their hands is with their hobby of choice, and while Purifoy does not have that problem, it still aggravates him when he has to play off of receivers.

When asked how he felt in the Gators’ win at Tennessee, in which the team’s defensive schematics called for him and fellow cornerback Marcus Roberson to play off of the line, away from the Volunteers receivers, Purifoy did not mince words. He was not complaining, either: “Yeah, it was kind of frustrating, but, I mean, that’s just part of the game, you got to play what they call.”

We all just try to keep our sanity every day, whether it be by playing basketball in our free time, or building model airplanes. Purifoy, utilizing that same mindset, has been seeking out another means by which his hands can remain active.

He also has been taking practice repetitions at receiver, where his speed and hands could give the Gators a downfield threat.

Whether that means going back to the offensive side of the ball entirely, remaining entrenched in his starting role at cornerback for the Gators or even mixing up a little bit of both, Purifoy is willing to do whatever it takes to not only get his hands dirty, but to win football games.

That is how this all got started.

“Mainly, coach Muschamp came up to me one day, and he was just like, ‘We’re going to try to get the ball in your hands on offense, so go work with coach Pease’,” Purifoy said. “And coach Pease, I mean, he was kidding around with me at first, saying he needed me just to help out a little bit. I was like, ‘I’m all in, anything you need’.”

Wide receiver, especially before the 2012 season got underway, had been perceived by both fans and coaches alike as a position of weakness for the coach Muschamp’s Gators. Fifth year senior and team leader, Frankie Hammond Jr., only had three career touchdowns to his name going into Week 1 against Bowling Green and the previous season’s receiving leader, Andre Debose, had yet to find the type of consistency required of a potential superstar. So dire was the team’s receiving situation looking before the season began, freshman Latroy Pittman was given early playing time over both of the far more experiences players. After snagging two balls in that opening win over the Falcons, however, Pittman has yet to catch another pass.

True sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, coming off a Tennessee performance that earned him SEC Player of the Week honors, has emerged as a passer, but has been forced to look more towards his tight ends, Jordan Reed and Trey Burton, while also benefitting from two explosive plays – 50-yard and 75-yard touchdown receptions – out of Frankie Hammond.

In order to succeed as the Florida Gators move into the brunt of their in-conference schedule, with such powerhouse programs as LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State all still yet to come, Purifoy is excited at the opportunity to potentially expand his skill set.

“Coming from high school, that’s what I played, offense, so, it’s still there … I barely played defense, all I played was offense. So, if I can get the chance to get the ball in my hands and help the team in any way possible … Like riding a bike.”

Playing wide receiver is always fun, but bicycling makes for a pretty lively hobby as well, Loucheiz.