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Florida Gators have four players sidelined for Outback Bowl

TAMPA — The Gators said Monday that starting CB Janoris Jenkins (right shoulder), OL Maurice Hurt (right knee) and DTs Lawrence Marsh (right hip) and Terron Sanders (right shoulder) will miss Saturday's Outback Bowl after having recent surgery.

The announcement could signal the end of the collegiate careers of all four; Jenkins is expected to skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft, and the other three are seniors. Only Sanders is even in town this week.

As for the future of QB John Brantley, it's still uncertain. Speaking to reporters after a frigid 21/2-hour workout Monday morning at the University of Tampa, Brantley said he still hasn't decided where he'll spend his final college season.

His options appear limited. A new rule passed by FCS (formerly Division I-AA) schools requires players to have two years of eligibility remaining to transfer. Brantley, who has only one, could remain at Florida and try his luck with incoming Gators coach Will Muschamp.

At his introductory news conference, Muschamp said he'll switch to a pro-style offense that would seem far better suited for a pocket passer such as Brantley.

"I haven't really discussed it with my parents yet," said Brantley, adding he had no definitive timetable for his decision. "I'm just really concentrating on playing this bowl game and playing the best against Penn State as I can."

Meyer fired up over finale: After Monday's practice, several Gators players said outgoing coach Urban Meyer appears bent on exiting UF a winner. Meyer is the only Gators coach in town, though Muschamp is expected later in the week.

"He's more up-tempo, he's getting the practices going, he's more excited, more enthusiasm in practices, everything," RG Jon Halapio said. "He stepped it up."

Players dismiss Paterno rumors: During the Outback Bowl's team-welcome dinner Sunday evening, Penn State's two team captains dismissed online reports indicating 84-year-old coach Joe Paterno will retire after the Outback Bowl.

Paterno has publicly said he wants to return. "There's no truth to these (online) rumors at all. We experience him every day," senior WR Brett Brackett said.

"Nobody understands how hands-on he really is, so we really know what Coach does, and when those rumors go around, they more anger us than anything because we get to experience him every day."

Demps still limited: Gators junior RB Jeff Demps, limited nearly all season by a stress reaction injury in his left foot, practiced in full pads Monday but said he's only about 85 percent.

Look for his role to remain modest Saturday, though he had nine carries for 44 yards in the regular-season finale against FSU. "I'm not 100 (percent), but it's starting to feel better, and I don't know if we're going to take a chance with it or not," Demps said.

Odds and ends: Aside from the four injured players, UF reported no academic/health casualties. … Brantley said he, Jordan Reed and Trey Burton are working at quarterback in practice, adding nothing drastic has changed with the offense. … Paterno has had 26 father-son combinations play for him during his 45 seasons at Penn State.

Quote of the day: "That gentleman from the Outback … he's got a little (Italian) in him. He's all over the place with his arms." — Paterno, referring at Sunday's team-welcome dinner to Outback Bowl CEO Jim McVay. Before Paterno spoke, McVay was fairly animated in expressing his excitement at having the Lions and Gators in town.

.FAST FACTS

Outback Bowl

Who: Florida vs. Penn State

When/where: 1 p.m. Saturday; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

TV/radio: Ch. 28; 620-AM

Florida Gators have four players sidelined for Outback Bowl 12/27/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 2:18pm]
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