For about three weeks, the mustache ruled. John Brantley's pencil-thin, old-school look began as a tribute to his dad, John III, and his former high school coach in Ocala, Kerwin Bell. Both are former Florida quarterbacks who sported similar looks during their playing days. Actually, Brantley's uncle Scot also had one during his days as a Gator.
Soon, it became the talk of his teammates and a personal accomplishment.
Most teammates thought it was cool, not just because of the unique look. After all, when you're 19, 20 and 21 years old, anything that has to do with the '70s and '80s seems way out there. But some doubted he would keep it, which made him even more determined.
"I don't know yet," he said when first asked whether it was a seasonlong look. "I'm not sure yet. Everyone is doubting me, so I might just do it because of that reason. They say I won't keep it."
For a guy who shies away from attention, the mustache brought a lot of it, from all over the country on the Internet. But it seems some of his coaches weren't enamored with the look. His quarterbacks coach, Scot Loeffler, was asked what he thought about it and responded, "He's going to cut it."
And so last week, after vowing he'd stand strong, Brantley did just that: He shaved it off.
A season of firsts
New leaders will abound in Florida's first few games. Of the Gators' first four opponents, three have new head coaches. The fourth, Miami of Ohio coach Michael Haywood, is beginning his second season at the helm. Haywood was 1-11 last season. Florida faces three consecutive first-year coaches at their schools in Skip Holtz at USF, Derek Dooley at Tennessee and Joker Phillips at Kentucky.
The bonds of a unique friendship
Duke Lemmens, top left, and Justin Trattou arrived in Gainesville four years ago, a completely opposite duo whose friendship seemed unlikely. Lemmens is a laid-back, free-spirited California native. Trattou is the quiet, serious guy from New Jersey. Since then, the two opposites have developed a friendship they say will last a lifetime.
"Freshman year we started out at the same position, and we were competing every day and learning the same stuff, grinding and staying in meeting rooms every day," Trattou said. "As time went on, we ended up playing different positions, but we were still on the D-line, and we spent a lot of time together. And when you spend 15 hours a day together, you definitely develop a friendship."
Lately Trattou and Lemmens have been seen riding a motorized scooter on campus — the same scooter. Trattou is 6 feet 4, 255 pounds. Lemmens, 6-3, 250. Again, a testament to their friendship. Lemmens had one stolen; another is broken. They live together. Trattou can't let his boy just walk.
"Obviously it's a chick magnet," Trattou deadpanned. "No, we're just getting from point A to point B."
They aren't worried about their image when seen on the scooter, but in case you're wondering, yes, there are rules for the ride.
"Yeah, definitely no arms (around each other)," Trattou said.
Meyer and the running game
In his nine years as a head coach, Florida's Urban Meyer never has had a 1,000-yard rusher. With a new quarterback in John Brantley who is less of a threat to run, the Gators might get their dominant runner this year. Here's a look at Meyer's top rushers as a head coach:
Year College Players
2001 Bowling Green QB Josh Harris (126-614, 8 TDs); RB Joe Alls (129-553, 3 TDs)
2002 Bowling Green Harris (186-737, 20 TDs); Alls (122-801, 4 TDs)
2003 Utah RB Brandon Warfield (237-976, 11 TDs)
2004 Utah RB Marty Johnson (165-802, 14 TDs); RB Quinto Ganther (109-654, 2 TDs); QB Alex Smith (135-631, 10 TDs)
2005 Florida RB DeShawn Wynn (130-621, 7 TDs)
2006 Florida Wynn (143-699, 6 TDs)
2007 FloridaQB Tim Tebow (210-895, 23 TDs); WR/RB Percy Harvin (83-764, 6 TDs); RB Kestahn Moore (104-580, 6 TDs).
2008 Florida Tebow (176-673, 12 TDs); Harvin (70-660, 10 TDs); RB Chris Rainey (84-652, 4 TDs); RB Jeff Demps (78-605, 7 TDs)
2009 Florida Tebow (217-910, 14 TDs); Demps (99-745, 7 TDs); Rainey (89-575, 5 TDs)