By ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 7, 2003
GAINESVILLE -- Saying he couldn't pass up the opportunity to fulfill a dream of playing professional football, former Florida quarterback Rex Grossman said Monday that he is walking away from the Gators one year early with no regrets.
"It's been a lifelong dream and I'm excited about the opportunity to play in the NFL," he said. "There are a lot of extremely fond memories here that I'll always have."
Grossman said he has known for some time that he was leaving and decided Friday not to draw it out any longer. He also said with the exception of UF coach Ron Zook and a couple of friends, "pretty much everyone else told me to leave."
The 22-year-old has hired an agent and will spend time working out in Gainesville with Florida strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass and in Tampa training with former NFL quarterback Steve DeBerg before the NFL Combine. Grossman said his training with DeBerg will concentrate on throwing and mechanics.
Grossman said fear of being injured his senior season wasn't the overriding factor in his decision to leave, although it may have been in his "subconscious." Because Grossman did not enroll in spring classes, Florida picked up an additional scholarship for the school year.
He holds Florida's single-season record for attempts and completions previously set by Shane Matthews in 1992. In three seasons, Grossman completed 677 of 1,110 passes for 9,164 yards, with 77 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions. He leaves the Gators with a 23-8 record as a starter.
Grossman said he is about 14 hours and an internship shy of graduation and will return over the next two years to earn his degree.
"I feel like this is my home," he said. "I will miss this place."
MELBOURNE -- Miami tailback Willis McGahee took out a $2.5-million insurance policy two weeks before he was injured in the Fiesta Bowl and can collect after a year if the injury prevents him from returning to football, a Florida newspaper reported.
Insurance agent Keith Lerner of Gainesville told Florida Today that the policy was put into effect before Friday's national championship game, the newspaper said in a story for today's editions.
That last-minute decision could end up securing McGahee's financial future if he is unable to play again. The sophomore rushed for a school-record 1,686 yards and 27 touchdowns this season and was projected to be a top draft pick had he turned pro early.
McGahee sustained the injury to his left knee in the fourth quarter of the 31-24 loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
"I just visited him in the hospital and told him that my hope is, and that everybody's hope is, that you're going to the NFL and make a substantial amount of money," Lerner said. "But if he doesn't, he's got something to fall back on."
IOWA STATE Coach Dan McCarney has received a contract extension through 2010 after leading the Cyclones to three straight bowl appearances.
LSU: Running back LaBrandon Toefield, who had major injuries the past two years, will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Toefield missed four games this season because of a broken arm and tore a ligament in his left knee in the 2001 SEC title game.
MISSISSIPPI: Archie Manning is helping his son Eli make an informed choice about whether to skip his senior season and enter the draft. But the former NFL and Ole Miss star said his role in his son's decision will be "strictly as a father." Eli Manning has petitioned the NFL advisory committee to find out what round he might be selected.
NOTRE DAME: A prosecutor said there is insufficient evidence to launch a formal investigation into claims by safety Chad DeBolt that he received multiple injuries from several Jacksonville police officers days before the Gator Bowl.
RUTGERS: Quarterback Ryan Cubit has left school for unspecified reasons.
-- Information from other news organizations contributed to this report.