After all he has been through, all the injuries, pain and rehab, nobody would have blamed Florida LG James Wilson if he had decided to hang it up. Most probably expected it.
But today, Wilson begins his sixth and final season with the Gators and is expected to see playing time. Wilson, out of St. Augustine Nease High, redshirted in 2007 after two surgeries for a torn meniscus in his left knee in a span of three months.
He broke bones in both feet as a sophomore. In 2010, he tore the meniscus again, had another surgery and missed the final 10 games. His fourth surgery on the knee came this spring, around the time the NCAA granted him a sixth season of eligibility.
The injuries and conditioning issues landed Wilson on the scout team at the start of last season. But he worked his way back and played in 12 games.
"People ask me why would I come back, but I just couldn't go out (after his problems last season)," Wilson said. "I still feel like I can play, and I have some things to prove. I play in pain, and I'll probably always have some.
"But I just couldn't leave without knowing that I gave it one last shot."
Antonya English, Times staff writer
FSU games to watch
To the casual eye, FSU's schedule sets up for an undefeated, one-loss or — at worst — two-loss season. It starts with I-AA opponents (the second scheduled after West Virginia pulled out of a matchup in February). But potential land mines loom:
Sept. 22, vs. Clemson: The home team has won the past five matchups. Last season, at Clemson, the Seminoles played without starting QB EJ Manuel in a 35-30 loss.
Sept. 29, at USF: The Bulls won the only other meeting, 17-7 in Tallahassee in 2009. Few Seminoles who were part of that team remain; those who do look at the defeat as a point of shame. FSU alumni clubs and its marketing department have ramped up efforts to fill Raymond James Stadium.
Oct. 6 at N.C. State: The Seminoles take their first trip out of state when they travel to Raleigh. The last time there, in 2010, FSU lost a nail-biter 28-24. Manuel and the Wolfpack's Mike Glennon are considered two of the ACC's best quarterbacks.
Nov. 8 at Virginia Tech: Arguably FSU's toughest opponent. The Thursday night contest might be a preview of the conference title game. A win could vault the Seminoles into the national title picture.
Nov. 24 vs. Florida: If the Seminoles are undefeated coming in, a win against their archrival likely moves them one step closer to a berth in the BCS title game. FSU has won the past two matchups by a combined 52-14.
Coley Harvey, Orlando Sentinel
Five freshmen to watch
The Palm Beach Post lists its top newcomers:
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland: The touted recruit chose to stay in-state rather than play for one of the many national powers that wanted him.
Dante Fowler, DE, Florida: The former Lakewood High star showed up to camp a little heavy. But the extra pounds did not hold him back, and he should be a regular this season.
Johnathan Gray, RB, Texas: The Longhorns have several talented running backs, but he figures to get a large share of the carries.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri: The consensus No. 1 recruit in the nation will play right away.
Avery Young, RT Auburn: He was named the starter this week.
Game of the day
No. 8 Michigan has reclaimed its confidence under second-year coach Brady Hoke, something No. 2 Alabama did shortly after Nick Saban arrived. The two meet tonight at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Beating a team that has won two of the past three national titles from a league that has won the past six would be a huge statement for QB Denard Robinson & Co.
"They're just trying to show the world that they can play," Alabama S Robert Lester said of Michigan. "The SEC is such a dominant conference, and I guess just to get any credibility points, you have to go and beat a credible SEC team. They're just trying to prove themselves."
By the numbers
12 Consecutive regular-season nonconference wins for Michigan
65 Consecutive Associated Press polls that have included Alabama, the longest current streak in I-A.
200-plus Notre Dame's traveling party for today's game against Navy in Ireland
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.