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The latest on college sports in Florida

With future secured, Riley Cooper joins Gators in opening practice



Tebowcooper Florida wide receiver Riley Cooper was back on the football field with his Florida Gators teammates for the first time since the January BCS National Championship game Thursday morning, and Cooper seemed to get right back in the mix of things with quarterback Tim Tebow.

"It was good, it was really good,'' Cooper said. "I thought I was going to be more out of shape than I am out there.''

Cooper, a Clearwater native, skipped spring football to play baseball for the Gators, then spent the summer playing baseball. He was drafted in the 25 round by the Texas Rangers, and signed a contract with the organization earlier this week.

"I'm here and I'm going to make the best of it,'' said Cooper, who has signed his contract with the Texas Rangers. It's a special team, and I'm real excited to get back with the team. I missed everybody. I'm excited to get back with the '06 class and get it going.''

About 500 fans showed up to watch Florida's returning players open fall camp at 6 a.m. Thursday morning. They gave the Gators a standing ovation when practice ended.

Senior linebacker Brandon Spikes said the team expected a good turnout, despite the early start, and said the players appreciated the support. He said Florida has has its best offseason since he's been with the program and is ready to get the season started.

"We know the target is on our backs and we're ready,'' Spikes said.

Also on Thursday, junior OL Maurkice Pouncey said he expects to be ready to play opening day, although he's still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Pouncey said he's had numerous conversations with the coaching staff, who have told him if he's not ready they are prepared to hold him out, but that he fully intends on playing on Sept.5.

[PHOTO: Associated Press]

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 1:09pm]


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