With no Tim Tebow to carry
preseason hype, the University of Florida football team is suddenly, and
surprisingly, anonymous. In addition to Tebow other All-Americans who once
dotted the Gators’ roster are absent.
The famous quarterback who
commanded all of the attention is somewhere out west making underwear
commercials. In his place is John Brantley, the projected starter. He was Tebow’s
understudy for three years. A redshirt junior, Brantley was one of the most
highly rated high school quarterback recruits in the country.
Meanwhile the quarterback spotlight
has gone to interstate rivals. The University of Miami has Jacory Harris and
Florida State has its main man Christian Ponder. Florida, with all due respect
to Brantley, has no one to challenge that.
After four years of Tebow and last
season’s coaching fiasco surrounding Urban Meyer, Florida seems to be embracing
the unfamiliar calm. Last year, Florida was ranked number one in the preseason,
but the team couldn’t fulfill the lofty expectations. Florida is ranked number
three this preseason, but so far, it isn’t receiving much attention.
“It’s definitely different than
last year, when we were the top-rated team, but this is a new team and a new
year,” projected starting defensive end Justin Trattou said. “The expectations
around us might be different, but our expectations are the same, and you could
see that by how hard we’ve worked this summer.”
Florida’s 2010 team is filled with
players such as Trattou whom casual fans and the media have never given much
attention, players who have waited three or four years for their time in the
spotlight and who have toiled in anonymity while Tebow’s media vacuum, or that
surrounding Percy Harvin (now a Minnesota Viking) and Brandon Spikes, sucked up
the star power.
Fall camp begun last Thursday for
the Gators. Florida appears to placing a top priority on fostering a
team-oriented atmosphere. This season’s media guide is a collage of players hidden
behind football masks. No one is larger than the rest.
As senior safety Ahmad Black states
these Gators are about being a team on and off the field.
“This whole offseason, we have been
working on accountability for the team,” Black said. “That next move you make,
make sure you’re accountable to your team-mate, accountable to your family member.”