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Florida Gators seniors proud of accomplishments

GAINESVILLE — When they walk out on Florida Field Saturday night, the Florida seniors won't be getting hailed as the winningest senior class in program history. They will not have played for an SEC title their final two seasons.

And they must beat FSU just to end the regular season above .500.

But don't tell this group it doesn't have value. They have made their mark, they say, regardless of wins and losses.

"I'll just remember what we did around here," senior RB Chris Rainey said. "We gave a lot to the program. It's a good group of seniors."

Rainey has had personal triumphs and mistakes. He missed five games last season after being suspended for sending threatening text messages to a former girlfriend. But he said that, along with the other experiences, helped make him who he is today. And he's better for it.

"All I had to do was keep my head up and stay focused and keep looking ahead," he said. "Everybody has their highs and lows, and all you've got to do is just keep positive."

Rainey will join nine scholarship players who will play their final games at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, all of whom are on schedule to graduate. They anticipate an emotional farewell.

"It's definitely going to be an emotional week for us seniors," QB John Brantley said. "Like I've said, you wouldn't want it any other way because we're going to be as focused as we can be. We know how big this win is. It's not as big as an SEC championship or anything, but just to get a win over a good FSU team like this, it'll be huge for us."

FOR THE RECORD: Okay, let's get this straight once and for all. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher and Florida coach Will Muschamp did not used to vacation together. Yes, the former Auburn and LSU assistants are good friends. And yes, they do own a beach house together in Destin. But that's it, Fisher said Monday.

"We never vacationed together," Fisher said. "We were never there together. We both wanted a place at the beach. Both were coordinators, and we didn't want to spend all that money to get a place. You wanted to be down there, so you divided it and you split your time when you were there. So we were never, ever, ever there, ever. Now Candi (Fisher) and Carol (Muschamp) may have sometimes taken the kids somewhere or something like that.''

Muschamp said the families became close when he and Fisher worked together, but the two men don't talk much these days. But they still co-own the house. And if you want the house, give either of them a call.

"It's still there," Fisher said. "If you want to buy it, it's for sale."

Added Muschamp: "You seen the market up there? You want to buy it? Jimbo'll cut you a heck of a deal."

NATIONAL FINALIST: Junior Caleb Sturgis is one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, presented to the nation's top placekicker. Sturgis is the first Gator finalist for the award since Judd Davis in 1993. Davis is the only UF player to win the Groza. The other finalists are Randy Bullock of Texas A&M and Dustin Hopkins of FSU.

DID YOU KNOW: This is the first time since 1986 that Florida and FSU will meet when neither is ranked in the AP poll.

Antonya English can be reached at aenglish@tampabay.com.

Florida Gators seniors proud of accomplishments 11/21/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 21, 2011 9:56pm]
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