Monday, April 23, 2018
Colleges

Gators' Andre Debose aims to score return record

Andre Debose (above) wouldn't be human if he didn't allow himself to think about it every now and then. The thoughts come more often as the season gets closer.

Debose, a sixth-year senior, needs one touchdown on a kickoff return to take sole possession of the SEC career record. Debose currently has four — joining Brandon Boykin (Georgia), Felix Jones (Arkansas) and Willie Gault (Tennessee).

"I mean, it's definitely something that comes across my mind, but it's not something that I'm thinking about every day, like 'I must get another return,' " Debose said.

Debose might already have had the record had he not missed all of last season with a torn ACL suffered in fall camp. He's back on the kick return team this year, and he hopes that if the record comes, it comes quickly.

"I'm trying to score every time I get the ball, so I definitely hope it happens fast — early in the season — so I can get that out of the way," Debose said.

To surpass such former SEC greats would make a tough Gators career more than worth it, he said.

"Oh, it would mean a lot," Debose said. "It'll mean a lot to me being I made history and I can brag and say I'm the best in the SEC to do it. It's something that I'm looking forward to and I hope I accomplish it."

Scooter madness

If coach Will Muschamp had his way, scooters would go away forever. The Gators have had more than their share of injuries over the past couple of years due to scooter accidents, including OL Tyler Moore, who broke his elbow and missed the final four games of last season. This month, S Keanu Neal injured his finger in a fall on his scooter. But Muschamp isn't going with an all-out ban.

"I've talked to them a lot about it," Muschamp said. "It's hard sometimes. A young man can't afford a car, only can afford a scooter. Needs transportation. Many a night I've thought about trying to ban them, but I don't know if it's the right thing. It's kind of like Twitter, social media, and you tell a guy you can't do it. Just be smart. Let's be responsible. No texting, no scootering at the same time. We have that rule. … It's something we emphasize with our players. We tell them about it. They've got to understand being careful. They can't live in a glass bubble. That's just something that can't be done."

Final eight

The 2014 roster includes eight players left from the final two signing classes of former coach Urban Meyer: Gideon Ajagbe, Neiron Ball, Mack Brown, Debose, Quinton Dunbar, Chaz Green, Leon Orr and Michael Taylor.

They have seen their share of ups and downs, including the resignation — then return — of Meyer, then his final departure. They have played with three different offensive coordinators and a multitude of assistants. And last season, they were part of the worst Florida team since 1979.

The players insist they chose the Gators for more than Meyer, and have no regrets. But you can bet each is hoping to go out with a much better season than last year. Muschamp wants that for them, too.

"All of those guys I've got great respect for," Muschamp said. "Coming in and competing, going through some change philosophically and some things with the way they've gone about things and handled things. Quinton Dunbar, Andre. Who else is there? Gideon. All those guys have been through tough times, anytime you're in a program for five years."

By Antonya English, Times staff writer

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