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Past, present Gators share a little Jesuit High history ... decades apart

Also, Lamical Perine makes Auburn regret not considering him a worthy recruit.
Florida running back Malik Davis, left, meets fellow Jesuit alum and former Gator Leonard George on Saturday. [MARI FAIELLO | Special to the Times]
Published Oct. 6
Updated Oct. 6

GAINESVILLE — It has been about three decades since Leonard George last visited Florida Field. He came with his longtime friend, Willie Jackson, to watch a game in the 1990s before going off the grid, leaving many to believe (including the UF Alumni Association) that he had died.

George, a standout at Jesuit High, signed with the Gators in 1968, three days before Sarasota native Jackson. They became the first African-American football players on scholarship at Florida. So it was only fitting that George and Jackson made history together again — some personal history.

The two were honorary captains for the first time on Saturday night as their No. 10 Gators topped seventh-ranked Auburn 24-13.

“Oh, man, it felt so good,” George said. “Let’s revenge that one loss to Auburn in 1969. That’s how I felt.”

RELATED: Florida Gators beat Auburn Tigers 24-13 to stay undefeated

George, who recently moved back to Tampa after a 20-year absence, discovered that most of his high school records had been broken by current Gators running back Malik Davis.

He got the chance to watch the redshirt sophomore live Saturday night, with Davis getting five carries.

The moment he met the fellow Jesuit alum was all the more special.

“I don’t know about meeting the guy who broke my records, that’s the dang thing,” George joked. “But really, it’s a pleasure because I know he came from where I’ve been and he did a lot at that time. Now, with the Gators he’s also doing a lot. It’s like me looking at myself in the (past) and looking at myself forward.”

A measure of revenge

Florida running back Lamical Perine takes off on an 88-yard touchdown run against Auburn during the second half. [JOHN RAOUX | AP]

Lamical Perine put an exclamation point on the game Saturday night, running 88 yards for the fifth-longest touchdown in Florida history. No Gator had that distance since Emmitt Smith scored on a 96-yarder against Mississippi State in 1988.

Oh, and Smith — who joined the College GameDay crew as the ESPN show’s celebrity guest — was in the building for this one. “(Smith) came up to me after the game and told me I did a great job running the ball and getting through adversity,” Perine said.

To make the moment even sweeter, Perine told reporters at media availability earlier in the week that Auburn thought he wasn’t fast enough for their program during his recruitment. Ouch. He ran for 130 yards against the Tigers — the sixth time he has gone over the 100 mark in his collegiate career.

“I knew I had to make these big-time plays for my teammates,” he said. “I just felt like (the Tigers) weren’t very interested in me at the time. I showed them today. It brought tears to my eyes.”

The 12th man

Coach Dan Mullen made multiple comments after Florida’s 38-0 win over Towson — which had the lowest home attendance since 1990 with 79,126 — about needing the Swamp to be at its best, meaning fans in their seats by kickoff, screaming themselves hoarse for the entire game.

Message delivered.

At times Saturday, the sound inside the Swamp was near deafening. Early on, Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix had to tell each lineman individually what the play was because of the noise. At one point, the Tigers were forced to call a timeout as the play clock hit zero on third and 1.

Saturday’s attendance (90,584 strong) was the best of the season and 160 short of 10th best ever.

RELATED: ESPN’s College GameDay headed to Florida vs. LSU

Signs, signs, everywhere signs

There were plenty of signs to go around on the Plaza of the Americas on Saturday morning for College GameDay.

Here are some of the best ones we saw:

And these:


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  1. Florida Gators head coach Mike White, right, takes selfie photos with Gators fan Zev Goodman, 13, during open practice that was available to the public at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on Thursday. Tonight the Nov. 4 Gators take on the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
    Florida State wasn’t ranked but received votes.
  2. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp says he doesn't want to take anything away from Florida, but he doesn't want to keep quiet about the officiating either. MIC SMITH  |  AP
    The South Carolina coach says getting called for unsportsmanlike conduct was "gutless.''
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  8. Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) throws a pass against Auburn on Oct. 5 in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
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  9. Florida Gators running back Lamical Perine runs against Tennessee during the first half of the Sept. 21 football game in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    The Pac-12 has some interesting games this weekend. Too bad no one will be able to watch one of them. Plus: Times staff predictions for week 8.
  10. Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson (12) celebrates his touchdown reception with wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (89) and tight end Kyle Pitts (84) in the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: Times college football writer Matt Baker discusses Florida-South Carolina, USF-Navy, FSU-Wake Forest and the conference already out of the College Football Playoff picture.
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