Friday, January 19, 2018
Colleges

Florida's Dunbar shows way out even as he returns to Miami

In Quinton Dunbar's Miami Overtown neighborhood, far more young men and women fail to make it out than those who do.

This summer, two of Dunbar's close friends were murdered by their boyfriends. His Twitter timeline is often filled with pain and sorrow over lost or troubled friends.

So whenever the Florida junior wide receiver gets an opportunity to go back, he makes sure his message to the young people still struggling to survive is that there is hope.

Dunbar is a living example of that.

"Just coming from a community like that, the success rate is low," Dunbar said. "I always just try to tell them whatever you put your mind to you can achieve. Coming from a city like that where there are a lot of drugs and a lot of guns, it's very hard to get out of it. But if you put your mind to it, you can get out of that situation."

But don't call him a role model. He insists he's not that at all. He's just a kid who was blessed to have Twanette Dunbar as his mother — a woman who refused to allow her son to get lost in the streets of Miami.

"It wasn't no temptation for me because my mom is a very great parent," Dunbar said. "She always kept me on point and made sure I didn't do other things that other kids did. When I go back home, a lot of the kids look up to me because I'm doing something that they want to do in the future. I wouldn't say I'm a role model, but I'm just an example that you can come out of a situation like they're in right now."

Dunbar will be back home today when the No. 12 Gators and the Miami Hurricanes meet at noon in Sun Life Stadium. He's expecting about 20 family members and friends to attend. Across the field in Hurricanes uniforms will be friends, former teammates and his cousin, junior linebacker Denzel Perryman.

"I'm just very excited to go back home and play on my home turf," Dunbar said. "Just to play there should be very exciting. (Coach Will) Muschamp always stresses to win the state, so this is a pretty big game for us."

Dunbar is among several Florida players, including cornerback Marcus Roberson and safety Cody Riggs, for whom the game is a homecoming.

Dunbar grew up idolizing former Miami safety Sean Taylor. Riggs and Roberson are Fort Lauderdale natives who attended St. Thomas Aquinas. Both were recruited by Miami, but Riggs grew up a Florida and Florida State fan and has never rooted for the 'Canes. Neither has Roberson.

For most of the Gators, this is just another big game in a long season filled with big games because this rivalry isn't annual. But for the South Florida players, it means much more. The teams haven't met since 2008 and the Gators haven't won in Miami since 1985.

"I've waited a long time to play Miami, so of course it feels like a rivalry," Riggs said. "It's been a long time since we played them so I expect them to be pretty energetic in there."

"It's fun, get to go back and play in front of my family that's not able to come up and watch the games (in Gainesville)," Roberson added. "This is a game that happens every four years or so like that, last time we played them was 2008. It's going to be a good state game."

The familiarity with many Miami players is a reminder that the game will be hard-fought. Some Gators know personally what 'Canes running back Duke Johnson is capable of. He has rushed for 1,133 yards in 13 career games. They are well aware that junior quarterback Stephen Morris has thrown for more than 5,000 yards in his career.

So along with wanting to "win the state" — a theme Muschamp reiterated this week — the Gators also expect to find out a little more about themselves.

"They're a very good team," Dunbar said. "They have explosive players. They have a great defense. It will be a big test. This is our first real test and we want to come out with a bang to show the world what we have."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

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