``You just look at him, and he looks like a scary guy,'' said Duke Lemmens, one of the Florida Gators backup defensive ends. ``And I like to think our defense is scary to opponents. I know we feed off of his energy. He punishes anyone who tries to block him, and our whole defense tries to match his level of intensity.''
Spikes' intensity is legendary among teammates. He screams at players and coaches during practice. He berates opponents. He says he doesn't love to win so much as he hates to lose.
``I just feel like it's something deep down in me,'' said Spikes, a consensus All-American in 2008 who finished the season with 93 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions. ``As far as the way I approach the game and the love I have for the game, it's just the intangibles. I think it's something God placed in me -- the winning mentality. I like to win but I hate to lose.''
Off the field, Spikes is a soft-spoken and enjoys bass fishing. Florida coach Urban Meyer said his top defender ``has a heart of gold'' and ``helps a lot of people.'' ...
It begins with Spikes. In 2007, Spikes was young and immature to fully grasp the importance of his role as a leader. As a consequence, the defense lacked an identity, according to UF defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, and UF's poor preparation manifested itself in the form of an embarrassing defeat by Michigan in the Capital One Bowl.
Now compare that outcome to the 2008 BCS title game. Moments before the game, Spikes addressed the defense on the sideline of Land Shark Stadium with a heartfelt speech.
``He gathered up all the linebackers together and he told them, word for word, `I love you guys. I'm going to lay my heart on the line for you guys. I'm going to give everything I can for you guys,' '' redshirt senior receiver David Nelson said. ``Brandon Spikes is not only playing for himself, he's playing for his teammates.''
For opponents, that might be the scariest thing of all.
As much fun as it will be to watch Tebow and the offense, it will hopefully be as exciting to watch this defense shut down offenses like in the title game against Oklahoma.
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