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Necessity makes Moss brave pain

Imagine living life without using your back.

Can't do it?

Okay, try this. Imagine having a back that constantly hurts no matter what you do. Then imagine trying to play Division I basketball with that pain.

Welcome to the world of Adrian Moss. The junior forward has back spasms and disc problems. He has missed one game this season and is playing in a limited capacity to try to help a Florida team that is young, injured and struggling. His practices are limited, he's trying to average about 20 minutes and most of all, he's trying his best to help his team.

But that back that pain.

"Your back controls everything," Moss said, carefully trying to describe how he's feeling. "Sometimes I wake up in the morning, it's fine. Sometimes I wake up, it's bad. Sometimes I have trouble tying my shoes. And sometimes it hurts to laugh. Try laughing without your back. It all depends on how I wake up in the morning."

Making things worse for Moss is his game. He's not a finesse player. His forte is banging in the post. Banging with a bad back won't cut it.

"His problem is any time he's posting up and he gets somebody leaning on him, the pain gets pretty severe," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "When he's having to play post defense, any time he has resistance against his body, going to rebound. But that's what Moss does. He's a banger. He just can't do that to the level (he wants). He's going to play, and he's going to give me everything he's got."

GYMNASTICS OPENER: The gymnastics team opens its season at 7 tonight in the annual Super Six Challenge at the O'Connell Center. Every team participating is ranked among the Top 20 in the GymInfo preseason poll: No. 2 Georgia, No. 4 Alabama, No. 6 Florida, No. 13 Arizona, No. 17 Iowa and No. 19 Penn State. This is the season opener for each of the teams, and the Gators will debut a squad that has 11 freshmen and sophomores among its 16 members. The meet is one of the premier events of the season and includes four teams that advanced to the NCAA championships last season.

The meet will be aired tape-delayed at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 16 on ESPN.

NO WORRIES: Linebacker Channing Crowder said Wednesday he's leaving early for the NFL with bittersweet memories but no worries about the Gators next season. They'll be just fine without him, he said.

"(Freshman linebacker Brandon) Siler's going to do it. He's going to be pretty good," Crowder said. " Earl ( Everett) is great, he's always going to play well. They need a couple of more guys, and they are out recruiting right now. Gainesville's a great town; if you can get a guy down here, there's a good chance he'll come. So I think they'll recruit another young guy who'll come in and step in just like me and Siler did our first year. I'm not worried at all."

RECRUITING UPDATE: Merritt Island offensive lineman Eddie Haupt enrolled in school this week and is on campus. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Haupt graduated early. Meanwhile, Florida is still awaiting official word from Palm Bay's Reggie Nelson.

CHANGE OF HEART: Former offensive line coach Joe Wickline and offensive coordinator Larry Fedora are considering new jobs again. The two had been scheduled to join Ron Zook at Illinois and were scheduled to fly to Champaign on the Saturday after the Peach Bowl. Both have been offered jobs at Oklahoma State, where Mike Gundy was hired on Monday. The coaches were on the Baylor staff in the 1990s.

Antonya English covers Florida athletics. She can be reached at (813) 226-3389 or englishsptimes.com.

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