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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:


  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.''
  3. After years of complex Internet-to-TV setups and multiple streaming boxes, it seems the tech has finally caught up with the dream of cutting the cable cord, as several companies, such as Roku and TiVo, have begun offering devices specifically geared to cord cutters.
    Live sports without cable TV isn’t as different as you might think. And that can have serious ramifications across college sports.
  4. Florida's James Houston IV (41) and Umstead Sanders (42) jog through the tunnel before the start of the NCAA college football game against South Carolina Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Columbia, SC. (AP Photo/Mic Smith) MIC SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY LLC  |  AP
    There were two shakeups to Matt Baker’s top five this week, too.
  5. Florida's Kyle Trask throws a pass against South Carolina in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Columbia, SC. Florida defeated South Carolina 38-27. MIC SMITH  |  AP
    The quarterback’s three fourth-quarter touchdowns help UF put the Gamecocks away for good.
  6. Illinois head coach Lovie Smith watches as his team plays against Minnesota on Oct. 5 in Minneapolis. BRUCE KLUCKHOHN  |  AP
    Game-day guide: Plus a look at Penn State-Michigan and a game plan that’s crazy enough to (almost) work for the Vols this weekend.
  7. BYU linebacker Max Tooley (31) tackles USF running back Jordan Cronkrite (2) during the second half of last week's game at Raymond James Stadium. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Game-day guide: And Will Muschamp’s South Carolina tenure looks almost exactly like his time with the Florida Gators.
  8. Florida quarterback Emory Jones (5) throws a pass against Auburn on Oct. 5 in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Kyle Trask and Emory Jones are thriving at Florida, while Willie Taggart is being tight-lipped at Florida State.
  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.