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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. A Florida Gator fans yells during the first half of the Nov. 2 game against Georgia in Jacksonville. The Gators travel to Columbia, Mo. for a noon Saturday game against Missouri. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Here are our picks for this week’s top college football games, including Florida-Missouri, USF-Cincinnati and Florida State-Alabama State.
  2. Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck leads him team on the field prior to an Oct. 26 game against Maryland in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 52-10. STACY BENGS  |  AP
    The last time Minnesota started 9-0 was 1904. Another big event that year involved Cy Young.
  3. Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks poses for a photo with Reyce Ramsey, 9, one of the fans who sent him a get-well card. SCOTT RAMSEY  |  Special to the Times
    When the Florida Gators’ quarterback got hurt at Kentucky, cards came from a 9-year-old in Kissimmee and a retiree in Oldsmar.
  4. Florida tight end Kyle Pitts (84) celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a 15-yard pass reception during the second half against Vanderbilt on Nov. 9 in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    The Florida Gators still have a lot to play for, even with a sleepy game in cold Columbia.
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves kneels in the end zone after the Seattle Seahawks defeated his team in overtime in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer) JOHN FROSCHAUER  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: It’s a mailbag episode, with answers on Jameis Winston’s future, Lavonte David’s season, Mike Evans’ plight, Kevin Cash’s third-place finish and Charlie Strong’s job...
  6. Florida quarterback Emory Jones looks for a receiver against Towson during the second half on Sept. 28 in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Emory Jones all have remaining eligibility, which adds an interesting dynamic to next season.
  7. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws a pass in the first half of an NCAA football game against Alabama Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa , Ala. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP
    Two notable teams fell despite 50-plus point wins. That happens sometimes.
  8. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is carried off the field by his teammates after defeating Alabama 46-41 on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP
    The Tigers break an eight-game losing streak to the Tide with a gutty, statement road victory.
  9. Florida linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, here against Tennessee earlier this season, says “I’m proud of myself’’ after leading Florida’s defensive domination vs. Vanderbilt. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Journal: One of Diabate’s sacks is also a turnover that sets up a Gators touchdown.
  10. Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) runs after a reception past Vanderbilt linebacker Kenny Hebert (21) during the first half in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Kyle Trask’s 363 yards were the most by a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow in 2008. But give credit to the guys catching his throws.