WR Caldwell is grateful to be back on the field
Published: Saturday, April 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
As Andre Caldwell lay on Florida Field, the pain in his upper leg told him the injury was bad. The sound told him just how bad.
"When I tried to get up, I just looked down at my leg and had a feeling it was broken," he said. "When the doctor came out and moved my leg, I heard it crack. I knew it was broken."
Caldwell's promising junior season came to a painful and abrupt end last Sept. 17 when he was injured returning the second half kickoff in Florida's 16-7 victory over Tennessee. In the weeks that followed, Caldwell realized there was a chance the broken leg (femur bone) could be a career-ending injury.
"I had flashes of that," said the junior wide receiver from Tampa. "But my teammates, family and friends kept me up and got me through it. That's why I'm here today."
About a month after doctors put a steel rod in his leg, Caldwell received the good news from the doctors that he would fully recover to play again.
Six weeks later, he put the crutches down and now's he's running routes and catching passes again in spring drills.
The steel rod is still in his leg and he's not participating in any contact work, but he's back and feeling good.
"They're waiting until my leg gets a little stronger before I can have contact," he said. "They don't want to risk anything. I've showed what I can do. My speed is right about where it was before the injury."
Caldwell says he has no fear of that first hit, whenever it comes.
"I'm a football player," he said. "I've been doing this my whole life. Whatever happens happens."
Caldwell said he will not return kickoffs next season.
"I'll probably do some punt returning, though," he said. "It just feels good to be part of this football team again."
At times over the past few months, former two-sport athlete Cornelius Ingram had entertained thoughts of rejoining the basketball team during its magical season. But those thoughts quickly passed, he said, because he's determined to excel at his new football position, tight end.
"(Going back to the basketball team) crossed my mind a couple of times," said the former Hawthorne star. "But I want to focus in on football right now, especially with the new position. I really want to get in and watch film and take my time and really learn the position. I felt I had to do that to get better and that's what I did."
Ingram said the one time he came close to giving Billy Donovan a call was after starting shooting guard Lee Humphrey separated his shoulder in a bicycle accident.
"I really put in my mind maybe I should go back and play basketball," he said. "But I told coach (Urban Meyer) that I was dedicated to the football team and I wanted to ride it out."
Ingram has been studying lots of tape and adding muscle to his 6-foot-4 frame. He's almost up to 240 pounds.
"I feel great," he said. "I want to come out and show everyone I can play another position. Hopefully, in the spring game I'll catch a couple of touchdowns and we'll go from there."
As for the Gators in the Final Four, Ingram is predicting two UF victories and a national championship.
"Big time," he said.
By the numbers
There haven't been any significant position changes this spring, but some players have changed numbers.
Starting strong safety Reggie Nelson has given up his old No. 32 for No. 1, wide receiver Nyan Boateng is now wearing No. 17 after having No. 80 last season and wide receiver Michael McIntosh, who gave his No. 1 to Nelson, is now wearing No. 85.
As for the four true freshmen participating in spring practice, quarterback Tim Tebow is wearing No. 15, running back Chevon Walker No. 28, offensive lineman Carl Johnson No. 57 and offensive lineman Maurice Hurt No. 74.
Robbie Andreu can be reached at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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