Thursday, August 27, 2009

In his own words: Why I came back to Florida

Sporting News has the whole story here:

When I think about the reasons I came back to Florida for my last year, I start thinking about all the things I've been able to do that I couldn't have done if I was spending my time with the draft and the Combine and everything else. We had a Charity Week that we put on in May where we did a lot of work with kids who are underprivileged or have some health issues. It was a very rewarding experience, and it's one of my favorite things about being the quarterback at Florida.

One of the days during Charity Week, we wanted to give hope to some local kids in Gainesville. So we partnered up with Disney and spent the day with them, walking around the parks and singing Gators cheers. A lot of them had some pretty crazy stories of things they had gone through. I know some of them were dealing with tragedies involving their parents. We wanted to give them the world, but we tried to at least give them a day where they could have fun and enjoy some things they usually don't get to see.

One of the things I've realized is what a great platform I have at Florida. And giving that up to go to the NFL last year, even though that's a dream of mine, seemed too much to pass up. It seems like the whole campus here has gotten involved with trying to help other people—the fraternities, the student government, the Filipino student organization and lots of others have been very helpful with what we're trying to do.

We're over at Shands hospital a lot, visiting kids, mentoring kids, trying to keep their hopes up. We hosted three of them and their families at the Orange and Blue Game, and I found out one of the girls wanted a Taylor Swift autograph. I used some contacts to get one. The look on her face when we told her what we had done made everything so worthwhile.

The other part of this, of course, is trying to win another championship. Florida has never had an undefeated championship season, and that's a goal for us this year: to be the first team in school history to make that happen. With perfection, as an individual, it's unattainable. Perfection is the goal, but by yourself, you're not going to hit it all the time. Individuals fumble and throw incomplete passes. But as a team, you can overcome that and end up with perfection as a group. That's a big motivator for us this offseason.

We've been close to perfect my freshman year and my junior year. One more play against Auburn in '06, and we've got it. Same with Ole Miss last year. But a lot of the games we've won, it was one play in our favor that got us the win. That's why I love that speech from "Any Given Sunday" about the importance of a few inches. Six inches too far or too short, that's the difference at those crucial times. We've learned that.

It's so difficult to go undefeated. Ever since I've been in college, football has gotten so much more competitive around the country. When you're playing Tennessee, LSU, Georgia, Vanderbilt, teams like that every year, you're not going to dominate the game 14 straight times. You're going to slip and fall. If you can get back up that day and still manage to win, that's the key to perfection.

We're trying to get ready for that now. Our strength coach, Mickey Marotti, has us going through workouts where we're pretty much crawling out of his room every day. The theme is discipline in everything. If you're 1 second late for a workout, you're wearing a 30-pound vest all day. And when we run in groups, everybody's got to make a certain time, not just the leaders.

We're trying to be more together. We've tried to help other people off the field as a group, and we've won championships as a group. All the way around, we want to leave no doubt that the Gators are the best team in the country.

Photo: Gainesville Sun
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