By DEBI JONES and ALEX ABRAMS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 30, 2001
Quarterbacks Rex Grossman of Florida, Ken Dorsey of Miami and Eric Crouch of Nebraska were named finalists for the Maxwell Award, given to the best all-around player.
The award will be announced Thursday night in Orlando.
Quarterback Drew Brees of Purdue was the 2000 recipient.
GAINESVILLE -- The seniors circled on the 50-yard line of Florida Field on Thursday afternoon -- about the same time they will be playing their last home game Saturday.
It is an annual event for the seniors to address the team before the final home game.
"We do this about once a year and get a little feeling of the Swamp and how special a place it has been for those guys," coach Steve Spurrier said.
Florida's class of seniors is 21-2 at Florida Field in the past four seasons. The losses were against Alabama and Florida State in 1999.
The seniors won a Southeastern Conference title and are in the hunt for another.
MASS MEDIA: Florida's matchup with Tennessee has more media interest than any other game in Gator history.
Assistant athletic director Norm Carlson said Florida turned down about 150 requests and granted about 600.
Carlson said the many requests came in after Nebraska and Oklahoma failed to make the Big 12 Championship Game.
ELLIS HAS SURGERY: Defensive end Kennard Ellis had arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
Ellis was injured Tuesday but ran after practice.
"Some guy fell up against his leg and he thought he was all right," Spurrier said. "Then after practice, they found out he had a bad knee."
Spurrier said Ellis may return for a bowl game.
TALLAHASSEE -- Offensive tackle Brett Williams (sprained right MCL) practiced sparingly and does not expect to play Saturday against Georgia Tech.
"It's feeling a lot better, but it's still not to where I can play yet," said Williams, listed as questionable.
Williams has not been able to participate in a full practice since the injury ligament during a 34-28 loss to North Carolina State on Nov. 10.
Coach Bobby Bowden said there is a possibility that Williams could see limited playing time as a backup.
For the second straight game, junior Todd Williams will start as the split-end tackle, Brett Williams' position, and freshman Ray Willis will start as the tight-end tackle.
RIX HONORED: Quarterback Chris Rix was named ACC rookie of the year. Rix has an ACC-best 22 touchdowns and 2,515 yards. Maryland linebacker E.J. Henderson was player of the year (UNC's Julius Peppers was second) and defensive player of the year. Maryland running back Bruce Perry was offensive player of the year.
SIGNIFICANCE: Even though FSU has accepted a bid to the Gator Bowl, Bowden believes Saturday's game is important.
"When you've lost as many games as we have, another win would mean a whole lot in regard to salvaging something this season," Bowden said.
SIGHTING: ESPN commentator and former Georgia Tech coach Bill Curry attended practice.
INJURY REPORT: Tight end Patrick Hughes (chin) is probable. Linebacker Ray Piquion (knee) and defensive back Anthony Bredwood are out.