Crowder hasn't checked his NFL appraisal


Published: Saturday, January 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 1, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.
PEACH BOWL NOTEBOOK ATLANTA - This may have been Channing Crowder's last game in a Florida uniform.
If it was, it wasn't one Crowder will remember or cherish.
Crowder left Friday night's Peach Bowl loss to Miami with speculation surrounding his future at Florida. The second-year sophomore middle linebacker, who made the All-SEC first team as a freshman, is eligible to declare for the NFL Draft by virtue of a year he attended at prep school before enrolling at UF.
Crowder has applied to the NFL to check on his draft status and said he has already received some information back from the league office but hasn't opened it yet.
He says he will receive the rest of his paperwork from the NFL on Monday, then drive to Gainesville with his mom and go to class on Tuesday and talk with coach Charlie Strong on that day or Wednesday before making a decision by Jan. 6.
"I'm still going to make my decision with Coach Strong and my mom," Crowder said. "It's disappointing after a loss and in the heat of the moment you want to come back, but you have to take a look at everything and make the best decision."
Some have projected Crowder as a first-round pick, though questions could still linger about the severely sprained foot he suffered last November against Georgia. The Peach Bowl was his first game since the injury. Crowder didn't start, giving way to emerging freshman Brandon Siler.
"Some guys tell you you're a sure fire first-round pick, then some guys at the mall come up and tell you you won't be picked until the sixth or seventh round," Crowder said. "I know the Gator fans want to come back and see me play and don't want me to leave. But I have to just take everything in and make the best decision for my future."
Crowder entered the game in Florida's third defense series at right linebacker. Siler remained in the middle.
Midway through the second quarter, Crowder made his biggest play of the game, recovering his third fumble of the season. Jarvis Herring forced the fumble by putting his helmet squarely on the ball while tackling Miami tailback Frank Gore.
It was a homecoming game for Crowder, an Atlanta native who went to North Springs High School.
  • SMALL WONDER: Senior receiver O.J. Small closed his Florida career with a catch in each of his last 30 Florida games, the third-longest streak in school history. Ike Hilliard owns the school record with catches in 35 straight games, followed by Cris Collinsworth with catches in 34 straight games.
    Small got the streak out of the way quickly, catching a 2-yard screen pass on Florida's first offensive play.
  • PRO EYES WATCHING: The game garnered attention from some NFL player personnel departments, and for good reason. Since 1983, a combined 68 players from Florida and Miami have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
    Senior Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle is a projected first-round draft pick. Florida junior tailback Ciatrick Fason declared as an underclassmen two weeks ago and may end up going within the first three rounds.
    Close to 20 NFL scouts were credentialed for the game. Most notable in attendance was Atlanta Falcons GM Rich McKay.
  • TO THE WIRE: Fans interested in how the Peach Bowl would turn out were able to get a sneak peak before kickoff.
    Florida beat Miami 23-17 in an EA Sports computer-generated game that came down to the last play. Earl Everett clinched it with a sack of Miami quarterback Brock Berlin after the Hurricanes drove all the way down to the Florida 2-yard line with :02 remaining.
    Of course, the game had its quirks. Somehow, Miami punter Brian Monroe was attempting field goals, even though starting kicker Jon Peattie was presumed healthy for the game. Monroe missed two field goals badly.
    Dallas Baker scored two receiving touchdowns for the Gators. The game was broadcast Thursday night into Friday morning over closed circuit at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, which served as the official hotel for the event.
  • ANOTHER SELLOUT: The Peach Bowl registered its ninth straight sellout, in large part because many Florida fans bought up the remaining allotment of Miami's 15,000 tickets.
    Miami also bought a portion of its remaining allotment and donated tickets to charity.
    n ETC: Florida's entire senior class served as team captains for the game ... Former Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Reeves delivered the pregame invocation ... Anthony Guerrero (coach's decision) started at right tackle ahead of Jonathan Colon, who was not 100 percent ... Buck Ortega made his first career start at tight end for Miami. Ortega is the son of former Florida linebacker Ralph Ortega ... Devin Hester's 78-yard touchdown return of a blocked field goal was the first non-offensive touchdown Florida has allowed this season ... As if there wasn't enough confusion surrounding the Florida coaching staff, former secondary coach Mike Woodford was listed as one of Florida's assistants in the Peach Bowl program. Florida fired Woodford following the 2003 season.
    Florida falls to 14-18 all-time in bowl games and 5-4 against schools from the ACC. ... Florida is now 4-2 all-time in the Georgia Dome. The previous five visits were all for SEC championship games. ... Overall, the Gators are 8-16-4 in Atlanta. All but two of those losses came against Georgia Tech. ... The Hurricanes enjoy six-game winning streaks against both Florida State and Florida.
    You can reach Kevin Brockway by e-mail at brockwk@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5054.
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