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Troubled Gator DT renewing his focus

By TIMES STAFF WRITERS and TIMES WIRES
Published August 29, 2006


GAINESVILLE - Embattled defensive tackle Steven Harris revealed Monday why he missed spring practices, which Gators coach Urban Meyer described as personal issues.

Harris has three children, including two 4-month-old sons with different mothers. The children have moved away, allowing Harris to focus more on football and his education.

"I think about them all the time," Harris said. "They're not up here with me, but the things I'm doing right now are more for their future down the road than me being with them right now."

Harris is not sure if he'll be allowed to play in the first game Saturday. Such matters are kept in-house, Meyer said. Harris didn't find out he would be able to play this season until the Sunday before fall camp started. Harris is completing his internship now and will graduate in December.

TEAM MVP: Meyer said he may not name a new "Face of Florida Football" until a few games into the season, but he does have a most valuable player.

Meet Jemalle Cornelius, a receiver often overshadowed by Dallas Baker and Andre Caldwell. Cornelius plays on every phase of special teams, one reason Meyer said he's the most valuable overall player.

"So how does he fit in with Dallas and Andre?" Meyer asked. "He is a very fast guy with good hands. He made some big catches on third down against FSU, some game changers. It would be hard to say that he is not the most valuable player on this team right now."

LEAK WATCH: Senior quarterback Chris Leak was named to the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award's preseason watch list Monday. The award is the oldest one given to the nation's best college quarterback.

- IAN FISHER, Times correspondent

USF: Most of depth chart revealed for home opener

TAMPA - The Bulls unveiled their depth chart Monday for the home opener Saturday. At least most of it.

The starting quarterback is still in limbo between redshirt freshman Matt Grothe and senior Pat Julmiste. Coach Jim Leavitt has said both quarterbacks are even, and if that remains that way until Saturday, Julmiste would get the nod because of experience. But the approval from Leavitt will still be last minute: "Right before we take the first snap (is probably when I'll announce the starter)."

Undecided: The position for right guard is still up for grabs because the depth chart has junior Walt Walker and sophomore Matt Huners listed. Senior Thed Watson, who was named to the Outland Trophy's watch list for best interior lineman, is not listed on the depth chart. And senior defensive lineman Tavarious Robinson is not listed. Leavitt said this month the two might redshirt, but he has said he will remain mum on the subject until a few weeks into the season.

Moving up: With the suspensions of wide receiver Jackie Chambers, defensive end Josh Julmiste and running back Ricky Ponton because of team drug violations, the depth chart has many backup players in starting positions.

Junior Treco Bellamy has stepped into Julmiste's role, and senior Walt Smith is listed second behind redshirt freshman Moise Plancher. Chambers is still listed on the depth chart but is behind senior Ean Randolph.

Bulls bits: Running back Keeley Dorsey, who had not been cleared academically, participated in practice. ... Leavitt closed the rest of the practices leading up to the opener.

- MIKE CAMUNAS, Times correspondent

Miami: Impending storm interrupting team plans

CORAL GABLES - Getting ready for a season-opening matchup with No. 12 Florida State is daunting enough for 11th-ranked Miami.

Now the threat of Tropical Storm Ernesto will make that chore tougher.

The Hurricanes will practice again today, long before Ernesto's anticipated arrival, then probably won't resume workouts until at least Thursday - an interruption that Miami coach Larry Coker didn't want to see coming.

- Times wires