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Florida Gators walk-on defensive tackle Gary Beemer cherishes first touchdown

Florida walk-on defensive tackle Gary Beemer yells with joy after his 1-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

Associated Press

Florida walk-on defensive tackle Gary Beemer yells with joy after his 1-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

GAINESVILLE — Gary Beemer had never scored a touchdown in his entire career. The Newsome High graduate began playing football in high school, but as an offensive and defensive lineman, he didn't have many scoring opportunities.

Until Saturday afternoon.

In a gesture meant to reward Beemer for his dedication as a walk-on, coach Urban Meyer allowed the defensive tackle to score a touchdown late in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 48-10 win over Appalachian State.

"Gary Beemer is one of my favorite players on our team," Meyer said. "He's a guy that's about as unselfish a guy as you can get. Our players love him because he goes every day. He's a walk-on. He's going to go on to a career in coaching. I grabbed him in the third quarter and said, 'If we get close enough, I'm going to hand you the ball.' It's just as respect for the kid."

After running for 3 yards then no gain, Beemer scored on a 1-yard run with 3:18 remaining. He lost his helmet on the bottom of the pile but kept the game ball, which he gave to his brother and said will most likely end up on the family mantel.

"I grabbed the ball, I lowered my head, closed my eyes and ran, and when I opened them, I had scored a touchdown," Beemer said. "It was overwhelming. When you're a kid, you dream of something like this, and I'm a lineman. If I was a starter here, just scoring touchdowns as a defensive lineman is astronomical in itself. But for (Meyer) to just come up to me with seven minutes left and say, 'Would you like the ball on the goal line?' I'm still trying to process it and make it a reality."

Beemer, a graduate student in exercise science, hopes to become a coach.

No motivation needed: Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin might be new to the staff this season, but he needs no tutorial on the significance of the Florida-Florida State rivalry. Austin has his own reasons for wanting to take down the Seminoles. As defensive backs coach at Wake Forest in 1993, 1994 and 1995, Austin watched the Seminoles have their way with his teams. FSU outscored Wake Forest 182-27 in those seasons (54-0, 56-14 and 72-13). "I don't lack any motivation," Austin said.

Injury updates: If you're wondering why freshman WR Andre Debose didn't get playing time with the other young players, he's still nursing a sore ankle. "Debose, right before the game, he just couldn't go," Meyer said.

Sophomore LB Dee Finley (shoulder) also did not dress, but he and Debose are expected to be ready to play this week, Meyer said. CB Jeremy Brown missed the game with a pulled hamstring he suffered early last week, and CB Janoris Jenkins and DL Earl Okine sustained slight concussions in the game.

Disappointing farewell: Senior WR Carl Moore most likely won't forget his final game at Florida Field, but not for the reasons he had hoped. Moore was ejected about four minutes into the second quarter for fighting with DB Ed Gainey, who was also ejected. There is no carryover to the next game by the NCAA, but SEC commissioner Mike Slive reserves the right to extend the punishment if deemed warranted.

"I have no idea; I didn't see it," Meyer said. "I was very upset. He (the official) said your guy retaliated. But they've only been told now six, seven, 8,000 times that you don't do that. I don't know what the impact is on (this) week."

Thompson's career day: Senior WR Deonte Thompson had six receptions for 100 yards, including a 44-yarder, for the first 100-yard performance of his career.

Florida Gators walk-on defensive tackle Gary Beemer cherishes first touchdown 11/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 20, 2010 9:19pm]
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