GAINESVILLE — Florida will open the season at No. 1 in the football coaches poll, sparking little reaction from coach Urban Meyer while his players acknowledged the proverbial bull's-eye on their backs and said they believe they have the type of team that can handle it.
The challenge is appreciating the ranking's significance without getting caught up in it.
"It's an honor to be preseason No. 1, but we're not really buying into it," RB Brandon James said. "We worked hard all summer, and our main goal is just to get to Atlanta (for the SEC title game). We don't worry about getting to the Rose Bowl (site of this season's BCS title game) or undefeated season or anything like that. We just take it one practice at a time, one day at a time."
The Gators, who received 53 of 59 first-place votes, were followed by Texas, Oklahoma, USC and Alabama. Florida has been a preseason No. 1 twice before, in 1994 (Associated Press) and 2001 (coaches and AP).
UPDATES: QB Tim Tebow is on the Walter Camp player of the year watch list. … RB Emmanuel Moody spent practice time riding the stationery bike. He is nursing an ankle sprain and could be back next week. … Meyer said he hopes DB Ahmad Black (back) will also return.
USF: Fast linebacker impresses Leavitt
TAMPA — USF's second practice brought more praise for junior LB Jacquian Williams, with coach Jim Leavitt saying he'd be in the top rotation of four linebackers right now.
"In 30 years I've never had a faster linebacker," Leavitt said. "I've had some fast ones. … I don't know how good a player he is. That's a different thing. Do I think he's good? We've got about four guys … he'll rotate right in there with them."
NOT COMING: A second signee could be headed to Louisville. Dixie Hollins TE Gerard Atkins was denied admission by USF's academic committee and might opt to play for the Bulls' Big East rival, his high school coach said.
Mike Morey said Atkins was told that if he took junior college classes this fall and maintained a C average or higher, he could be considered for January enrollment at USF. Morey said he has been contacted by Louisville, which has indicated it has a scholarship available and can get Atkins into school this fall.
Louisville already has signed Wesley Chapel OL Kamran Joyer, who signed with the Bulls but was granted a release after academic issues put his admission in jeopardy.
THIS AND THAT: RB Mike Ford missed practice because of a class conflict, but Leavitt said he should be back with the team today. … DE George Selvie graduates today with a degree in communications.
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
UM: No weight on shoulders of 'Canes
CORAL GABLES — When Miami opens training camp today, a slew of challenges will greet the Hurricanes.
Living up to lofty expectations won't be among them.
Widely picked to finish in the lower half of the ACC Coastal Division, the Hurricanes almost certainly will begin the season unranked in the Associated Press poll for the third straight year. The last time that happened was 1981, when UM coach Randy Shannon was entering his sophomore year of high school.
"If we want to change that, then it's up to us," QB Jacory Harris said.