Ahmad Black Leaves Florida a Winner After Big Play in Outback Bowl

Mikey HendersonContributor IJanuary 1, 2011

Ahmad Black brings down AJ Green
Ahmad Black brings down AJ GreenSam Greenwood/Getty Images

As unbelievable as the game was for Head Coach Urban Meyer, it's every bit, if not more, special for Ahmad Black.

The little safety from Lakeland, Florida has a truly special story to tell.

He was told as a freshman by Charlie Strong in 2007 that he was too small and too slow to be a contributor at Florida. In fact, not only could he not play at UF, he was told, but he probably would not be able to play anywhere in FBS.

Charlie Strong is a great guy, and a genius.

This may have been the only truly moronic thing he's ever said in his life.

However, Strong did redeem himself by granting Black a chance to contribute for Florida.

The supposedly slow Black relied on his instincts to snag seven picks as a sophomore in 2008, including a No. 6 top-10 play of the year in 2009 (it was January 8, 2009) when he was the safety near Juaquin Iglesias in the BCS title game. Iglesias made a nice catch on the ball, only to have Ahmad Black come in from nowhere and simply take it away. Tim Tebow then led the game-winning drive to knock off Oklahoma, 24-14, on a jump pass. Black also had 59 tackles, and he returned his seven picks for an incredible 191 yards.

His junior season in 2009 wasn't quite as good, but he still was third in FBS in tackles. He also made a key interception on Jonathan Crompton to end the Tennessee game with 1:43 to go.

Then came the senior season.

He snagged five picks, for 171 return yards, with 103 tackles.

But no stat was more telling than the final stat he would ever accumulate as a Gator.

He intercepted Matt McGloin and took it 80 yards to the house, and he was so "slow" that he appeared out of thin air to take it away from a wide-open Derek Moye. Then, Mr. Mini-Me-Slowpoke turned on the jets, leaving everybody in the dust. 80 yards later, he crossed the goal line.

A lot of Gator fans are so busy criticizing Steve Addazio and focusing on the offense that they don't appreciate the defense and the star players on Teryl Austin's squad, ranked seventh in the nation. Believe me, I know Addazio is pretty damned stupid (in fact, I'll have another article ready later tonight bashing him one more time for the amazing offensive performance today), but Ahmad Black, I appreciate you.

Everybody on this defense, I appreciate y'all, too. You did a great job this year, and if not for you, UF would have been blown out in every game they played.

Thank you, Ahmad Black. I see you, buddy. I hope you read this and recognize that I appreciate all you've ever done for UF (though this isn't my real name; it's Neil Shulman).

And, Ahmad, if anybody tells you that you are too small or too slow, go get your game ball and hit the person right in the nose. If they ask why you're showing them the ball, just tell him or her, "This was the ball that I intercepted and returned 80 yards for a TD to beat Penn State after Derek Moye was supposedly wide-open and I came out of nowhere and took it to the house."

Good luck wherever life takes you, Ahmad.