Reggie Nelson helps defy physics


Published: Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 9:39 p.m.

Reggie Nelson already owns one of the spots in the top plays of 2006, and that one was honorary.

But letís face it: Nelson deserves more.

As the most decorated member of the 2006 Gator defense, Nelson has been the difference-maker, the ying to Percy Harvinís yang.

Where opposing defenses were in constant fear of Harvinís speed and gamebreaking abilities, opposing receivers were in constant fear of ďThe Eraser.Ē

So yeah, Nelsonís received a lot of props here in the last week. But he deserves it, and today will be the last time, we promise.

One of Nelsonís most memorable hits sealed the game against LSU. A hard fought battle, Florida took a large lead into the fourth quarter, but LSU was able to move the ball quickly and with ease.

Although quarterback JaMarcus Russell and the LSU passing game had the Tigers on the move for most of the remainder of the game, the Gators came up with two big interceptions to seal the win - one by Ryan Smith and the game-clincher by strong safety Tony Joiner in the end zone with 3:17 left to play in the game.

Smithís interception was caused by Nelsonís hit, the kind of catastrophic hit that almost always finds its way best hits highlight reels. Russell seemed to have completed his pass when Nelson drilled the intended receiver like a missile.

Generally when defensive back hits a receiver, he may jar the ball loose, causing it to spit out and fall to the ground. But Nelson hit with such force that the football managed to defy all football physics, shooting straight into the air. From there, the ball hung in the air until Smith was in position to accept it and the Gator win.

"We made mistakes in a number of spots," LSU coach Les Miles said. "We're a good football team, but we didn't play like it today and we're all disappointed."

There was no disappointment in the Florida locker room, where the Gators were celebrating their team victory.

"This was a very special and emotional moment for us seniors," said Chris Leak, who completed 17 of 26 passes for 155 yards. "We're going to remember this for the rest of our lives. It is special being a Gator. To beat a great team like LSU means a lot."

And that crucial SEC win couldnít have happened without Nelson.

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