Like at most schools, Florida football players are an interesting bunch. Through the years, I have seen some very unique kids matriculate through campus.
In the early 1990s, All-American defensive tackle Ellis Johnson was terrified of flying. Last I heard, after retiring from the NFL, Johnson owned a plane.
Former defensive end Thaddeus Bullard has gone from student body president to aspiring WWE superstar Titus O'Neil.
And there are no shortage of stories on the 2011 team. Here are five:
1. Linebacker Jelani Jenkins is the son of two karate black belts and received a second-degree brown belt at age nine. He was awarded that only because he was too young to be given a black belt. He eventually gave up karate to focus on football. However, he probably could kick your butt and mine.
2. Defensive lineman Earl Okine was a member of the Gainesville (Fla.) High School basketball team, where he contributed as a defense- and rebound-minded center off the bench. He missed out on playing in the state's Class 5A final four as a senior because he decided to enroll at UF in January of his senior year. His prep basketball coach was Tony Wise, the brother of Gator basketball commentator Mark Wise and the brother-in-law of Florida volleyball coach, Mary Wise. In a funny note, while his on-court effort was never questioned, Okine is one of the worst foul shooters I have ever seen.
3. Safety Josh Evans helped lead Irvington (NJ) High School to a share of the Group 3 state championship as a senior. He participated in the hurdles, high jump and in relays. He also has flowing locks reminiscent of Pittsburgh Steelers' All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu.
4. Linebacker Scott Peek's sister, Ali, has covered the team for many years as a broadcaster and writer. The Peek siblings are third generation Gators. Ali's husband (and thus, Scott's brother-in-law) is former Florida punter Eric Wilbur.
5. Running back/receiver Chris Rainey has a fun history of unplanned races. First, as a prep senior at Lakeland (Fla.) High School, he got a call saying fellow in-state tailback Noel Devine was at the local Wal-Mart and was wanting to run a 40 against Rainey. Sure enough, when Rainey arrived at the store, there was Devine, eventually a West Virginia player, and an area marked off for a race. Rainey won. Also, when All-American sprinter Jeff Demps arrived at UF, Rainey challenged him to a race. They went against each other multiple times, and Rainey even won at least once (though legend has it Demps won the majority of the sprints).
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