Gators solidly behind Rainey as he returns to the field
Plenty of people have questioned whether Chris Rainey should have been allowed to return to the Florida football team following his arrest last month, but his teammates aren't among them.
Rainey will be on the field for the first time in seven weeks when Florida plays Georgia Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville.
And his teammates said reinstating him is the right thing - for Rainey and the team. They insist he's changed, and has shown a new personal maturity and dedication to the game.
"He's really changed as a person.'' quarterback John Brantley said. "He's changed his attitude toward football. He's working really hard. He just wants to get back out on the field and play, that's all he wants to do.''
"He's more mature,'' senior safety Ahmad Black said. "I like the way he's going about things now and taking care of himself.''
Rainey was arrested on Sept. 14 and charged with sending threatening text messages to a former girlfriend. After settling his legal issues, he was reinstated to the team and given a contract by Florida coach Urban Meyer outlining the rules by which he must abide to be eligible to play. Meyer said this week Rainey has met those obligations.
After moving from running back to wide receiver this season, Rainey will again see time in the backfield on Saturday due to multiple injuries at running back for the Gators. His teammates said having Rainey back is a huge boost for Florida's offense.
"He's very explosive, like a Percy (Harvin)-type and I think he's going to bring a lot,'' senior OL Marcus Gilbert said. "Explosiveness to the offense, pick plays. He's so much mature now in practice, he's ready. I felt bad for him because he loves this game. And for him being suspended, that kind of hurt me, to see him down walking around campus with his hoodie on. He just wanted to be out here and play. I think he's going to take full advantage of this chance.''
"Absolutely, he's a big playmaker for us,'' Brantley said. "He brings depth to our team and he can make plays at any time.''