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Florida Gators draw inspiration from past Gator greats Danny Wuerffel, Emmitt Smith

GAINESVILLE — Florida's pregame and postgame messages over the weekend were delivered by some pretty impressive former Gators.

Former quarterback and 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel spoke to the team on Friday night at its hotel, delivering a powerful message as he recovers from Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare nerve disorder.

"What an amazing man he is," coach Will Muschamp said. "He's a lot better person than he was a football player."

In the postgame locker room, the Gators heard from former All-America RB Emmitt Smith.

"When you have a guy like that that's played and had the success that he's had, when he talks, people listen," Muschamp said. "They will listen to his message. And his message was simple: 'You guys have got a good football team. You play with a tremendous passion and energy. You play with enthusiasm. You play together. You play as a team.'

"And all the things you talk to your team about, he reiterates when he stands up and talks to them. It was a great message."

Smith was in Gainesville on Saturday to promote his new book, Game On: Find Your Purpose Pursue Your Dream. He had a two-hour signing at the University Book Store, then was recognized on the field before the game.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer was among the Gators' biggest cheerleaders from the sideline during the game and later spent time reminiscing with Florida offensive line coach Frank Verducci, who was the offensive line coach at Dallas the season Smith broke the NFL career rushing record.

RECORD DAY: RB Chris Rainey put himself in the Florida record book. His blocked punt early in the second quarter was the fifth of his career, setting a school record. The Lakeland native was tied with Tim Paulk (1987-91), Sam McCorkle (1992-95) and Carlos Dunlap (2007-09).

STURGIS, GOOD: Florida K Caleb Sturgis admits he's a little torn about his current streak.

On the one hand, it means the Gators aren't scoring touchdowns in the red zone. On the other, it means his team has confidence in him — and he's coming through.

Sturgis connected on a career-high four field goals Saturday and is 9-for-9 on the season.

"I'm happy to be back playing again and happy that I'm helping the team," said Sturgis, who missed the final nine games of last season with a back injury. "I'm always cheering for the offense to score, but I'm glad to help the team out if I'm needed."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com. Follow her coverage at gators.tampabay.com.

Florida Gators draw inspiration from past Gator greats Danny Wuerffel, Emmitt Smith 09/17/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 17, 2011 10:43pm]
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