New era begins in Gainesville

Parker Fox, Staff Writer

            Two national titles.  A Heisman Trophy.  A Sugar Bowl Victory.  Florida fans have enjoyed every second of it. 

            Tim Tebow was a 5-star recruit out of Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida, and had over fifty offers from Division I schools.  He chose Florida and new Coach Urban Meyer over the University of Alabama, which would become Tebow’s biggest rival in his four years at Florida.  He had a specialized role in his freshman year, serving as the backup for senior Chris Leak while helping the team to a national championship.  He won the Heisman Trophy his sophomore year, another national championship his third, and a BCS game his final year to become the most celebrated player to ever wear a Gator jersey.  

            Despite Tebow’s absence, Florida was still ranked number 4 in this year’s pre-season AP poll.  Urban Meyer is one of the best recruiters in the game and the team is loaded with blue-chip guys from all over the country.  The defense lost their leader in LB Brandon Spikes along with other key players like CB Joe Haden.  Florida fans and critics, however, will have their eye on one man this season.  The future of Florida football sits on the arm of QB John Brantley.

            Brantley shattered all of the FHSAA records previously set by Tebow.  He is considered more of an NFL style QB than Tebow was and the Gators will be expected to throw it a little more this season.  Rivals.com had Brantley rated the third best pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of Trinity Catholic in Ocala.  He enjoys fishing and prefers to keep to himself, as opposed to Tebow’s rah-rah cheerleader style.  He received limited playing time in blowouts last season late in games.  Brantley had originally committed to the University of Texas before deciding to stay at home and play for Florida. 

            Discipline is another issue for this Gator football team. Since the beginning of the Meyer regime, Florida football players have been arrested a total of 30 times with crimes ranging from grand theft auto to DUI to sleeping at the wheel while intoxicated.  Last week RB Chris Rainey was arrested for aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony.    Despite these numbers, Coach Meyer claims that the team is still “a pretty good group”.  In the same time slot, in-state rival Miami has had a total of one arrest. 

            Brantley struggled in UF’s first three games against Miami (OH), USF, and Tennessee.  The Gators were able to escape with victories in each game but not with the style points we have become accustomed to seeing in the Tebow-era.  East Lake sophomore and hardcore Gator fan Drake Rowland said, “Tebow was the sickest player to ever play college football.  He will be missed and I’m not so sure about Brantley.”

            Florida football has more than a few questions to be answered for the 2010 season and the future in general.  But their response to losing what some say is the best player to ever play college football will be vital to the team’s success.  Brantley must make an identity for himself as a quarterback or Florida’s success in college football will be short-lived.