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Friday, Dec 19, 2014
Colleges

UF notes: Gators avoiding injury bug


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GAINESVILLE — Florida has so many healthy players heading into the first season, Will Muschamp must be knocking on wood, looking for four-leaf clovers and trying to dodge black cats.

Not really. But he has to feel like after the string of bad luck a year ago, why tempt fate?

“I’ve never seen anything like that last year as far as the things we had to travel through and the adversity we faced,’’ Muschamp said on Wednesday. “But I know this team has jelled and come together in the right way. We have a very good, strong work ethic. This is a very close-knit group that’s been fun to be around.”

DB Marcus Maye has a hamstring injury but Muschamp expects him to “probably get ready to go.’’

That the conversation is about Maye’s hamstring tells you how much different the health of the team is compared with this time last year.

“You started camp, and (QB) Jeff Driskel missed the first 10 or 12 practices. (RB) Matt Jones didn’t practice (with a viral infection) and didn’t play in the first game,’’ Muschamp said. “(OL) Jon Halapio (shoulder) didn’t practice through training camp and missed his first couple of games.

“That’s three of your best offensive players, so extremely difficult heading in.

“(It is) much different from where we were a year ago, but we’re a year older. Offensively, we’ve recruited well. We’re much better at the skill positions than we’ve been, and I think we’re better up front right now offensively.’’

DREAM COME TRUE: Frankie Velez, given a scholarship at the end of preseason camp, is competing for the starting kicking job with Austin Hardin.

“It’s just a dream that I’ve been waiting for ever since I got here. I didn’t think it was going to be possible, but I worked really hard, and being a walk-on, it’s the greatest feeling ever,’’ Velez said. “I mean, I know (coaches) are confident in both of us, we can both do a job out there. We alternated last year, we can do it again this year if that’s what they want.”

Velez, offered scholarships to several smaller schools, almost didn’t go to UF.

“My parents always wanted me to go to a really good academic school, I almost went to Johns Hopkins because of academics, but I didn’t like the football, so it was kind of way too cold up there,’’ he said.

FUTURE JOB?: Gators center Max Garcia was among the players who went to the ticket office to greet students picking up season tickets and thank them for their support.

“I got a job offer. The lady said if I ever need anything, if I don’t have a job, I can definitely come back and sell some tickets,’’ Garcia said.

Would he actually consider it?

“I don’t have a problem working for the University of Florida. It’s an amazing school, and I love everything that we do here,’’ Garcia said.

David Jones, Florida Today

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