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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Ex-Vol QB won't be much help to Gators
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published September 13, 2005
GAINESVILLE - His playing days are over, but former Tennessee quarterback C.J. Leak is making headlines for this week's Florida-Tennessee game.
Leak is working in an administrative capacity at Florida, trying to get a foot in the door of the coaching profession. He spent two seasons with the Vols as a backup quarterback then moved to defense his final season in 2004.
The Florida players, including younger brother Chris , insist C.J. hasn't divulged any information about the Vols they couldn't get on film.
Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer isn't necessarily buying it.
Fulmer is taking extra precautions, including using multiple signal-callers.
"C.J., I'm sure, knows a lot about our offense, our signals and our system and how we go about things. And that's certainly something we'll have to address," Fulmer said.
"You can do things like a baseball team, where you can put indicators with signals ... have two or three guys signaling. We're fortunate to have two or three guys who can signal now and do it different quarters so nobody gets a beat on what you're doing."
Coach Urban Meyer said in this day of multiple tapes teams use to study opponents, having C.J. on staff isn't as important as some might believe.
"I've had a couple of people ask me, "Is that the reason C.J. is here?"' Meyer said. "That's not the reason he's here. The reason he's here is because he's a high-character, high-quality person, and I kind of like those guys in the coaching profession. How much are we draining him for information on Tennessee? We're asking him about the personnel. He's helped us by telling us, but a lot of that is overrated, too.
"This video equipment is really good, so you can watch how good they are. Nowadays, stealing signals is not a big part of the college game like it used to be. Schematically, there's not a whole lot he can share with us because it is what it is on tape. Players need to execute. That's what's important."
ROCKY (TOP) MEMORIES: It depends on whom you ask, but the memories of Tennessee's last visit to Gainesville are still fresh - and bitter - for many Florida players.
You remember 2003? That's the year quarterback Casey Clausen , immediately after leading his team to a 24-10 upset, jumped into the stands in front of the Vols' section and began directing the band in a rousing rendition of Rocky Top . The Florida players could only watch in humiliation.
"I remember everyone walked into the locker room after the game, and I sat right there at the edge of the tunnel watching," senior linebacker Todd McCullough said.
"Tears were almost coming out of my eyes. It ate me up. It was just like a knot in your stomach watching. I won't ever forget that."
Nobody wants to use the word "revenge," but several players said the memory will serve as strong "motivation" Saturday night.
BIG, NOT THAT BIG: Meyer is well aware of everything that's on the line this weekend: a leg up in the SEC race and rising into the Top 5 in the national polls, to name a few.
But he's not prepared to get carried away when talking about the game's implications. His first season won't be defined by this one game. At least he doesn't believe so.
"Defining moment? Not at all," Meyer said. "This is an opportunity to play against a great football team, and I think this will be scrutinized. I'm not naive. Is this the highest ranked opponent we've coached against? Absolutely. This is probably the best football team I've gone against as a position coach or a head coach.
"But a defining moment, no. I've been a coach for whatever it's been, and there will be many more moments, hopefully."
QUOTABLE: "He's still the same ol' Coach Meyer. He doesn't crack under pressure, and he certainly won't this week."
- defensive end Jeremy Mincey on Meyer's demeanor.
--Antonya English covers Florida sports. She can be reached at 813 226-3389 or firstname.lastname@example.org