Jeff Mitchell's apprenticeship is officially over.
The freshman from Clearwater's Countryside High will start his second straight game at left guard in place of Dean Golden, one of three Florida players suspended for academic reasons, coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday.
Mitchell began the season as Golden's backup, gradually seeing more playing time each week. He replaced Golden as a starter for the Southeastern Conference Championship game and was listed as a co-starter on the latest depth chart.
Backup linebackers Henry Haston and Jason Bartley also will miss the game because of academics.
Spurrier announced that backup running back Tony Davis has left the team and that it is not known whether he will return. Davis, who was questionable with an ankle injury, repeatedly has changed his mind about playing at Florida.
The former All-State tailback from Chipley High wavered on his oral commitment to Florida when he was recruited in the spring of 1992. He left the team for a short time early last season before returning.
Davis, a runner-up for the state's Mr. Basketball award as a prep player, was a walk-on with the basketball team but quit after a month.
Davis has played sparingly in his two seasons with the football team, getting 46 carries for 233 yards.
Peyton Manning, one of the nation's most heralded prep quarterbacks, watched Florida's practice from the Superdome sideline and talked with UF quarterback Danny Wuerffel afterward.
Manning, son of former NFL star Archie Manning, will make official recruiting visits to Florida and Florida State in January. The 6-5 senior at New Orleans' Newman High already has visited Michigan and Notre Dame and will visit Tennessee next month. He also has an unofficial visit planned at Ole Miss, his father's alma mater.
It depends on your perspective, but West Virginia is either fortunate to be 11-0 this season or was unlucky going 5-4-2 in 1992. Either way, players and coaches say there wasn't much difference in the two teams.
"This team was picked fourth or fifth in our league, but they believed they could win," coach Don Nehlen said. "They knew we had an excellent team in "92, one that could have been 11-0 and maybe been at this bowl."
Despite having just five victories in 1992, the Mountaineers actually were 39 points away from a perfect season and 11 points away from a 9-2 record.
_ JOHN ROMANO