UF arrives for game in style


Published: Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Florida Gators arrived in Arizona all duded up for the BCS Championship Game on Tuesday.

All the players stepped off the Gators' charted plane wearing coats and ties. One player made a fashion statement. True freshman linebacker Brandon Spikes was resplendent (and the talk at the airport) in a pink suit that included a pink tie, coat and pants.

The suit was made by his mother, Spikes said.

"When I left for college I told her I had to be dressed up for games," Spikes said Tuesday night after UF's first practice at Scottsdale Community College. "I just had it sitting in the closet so I just figured I'd bring it on out for this event. I got a lot of comments.

"It's the first time I've worn it. They say you've got to be a real man to wear pink. Everyone was saying I looked good. I felt real good."

Three other true freshmen — linebacker Dustin Doe, kick returner Brandon James and linebacker A.J. Jones — also were dressed to the nines.

"A couple of the guys, they've got some nice suits and they're waiting to wear them to the game," Spikes said. "Brandon James, he was pretty sweet today, too."

Wynn catches some grief

Senior tailback and Ohioan DeShawn Wynn said he drew an immediate reaction when he arrived at the airport in Cincinnati during Christmas break wearing a Gator BCS National Championship sweatshirt.

"Being from Ohio, I grew up around a bunch of Buckeye fans," he said. "That's all I hear in Ohio. I had people yelling Buckeyes at me in the airport. Everybody just loves the Buckeyes. You can't blame them. That's the team up in Ohio."

Wynn, who is from Cincinnati and was recruited by the Buckeyes, said he also took some grief from his friends when he was home.

"My best friend's dad is a real Buckeye fan," Wynn said. "He wanted me to go there, but he'll be cheering for me in the game."

As for the game, Wynn said he is in the best shape he's been physically since early in the season. Over the second half of the season, he was slowed by ankle, neck and shoulder injuries.

"I'd say I'm as healthy as I was in the beginning of the year when I had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games," he said. "I think I'm at that point right now. It's just a matter of preparation and conditioning this week. I feel pretty good right now."

Nelson bouncing back

Wide receiver Andre Caldwell said All-America safety Reggie Nelson is still having a hard time coping with his mother's recent passing, but that he'll be ready to play Monday night.

"He's good right now," Caldwell said. "It's hurting him deep down inside, but on game day he's going to be ready, going out there making plays and being the Reggie we've been seeing every Saturday."

Nelson's mother died two weeks ago following a long bout with cancer.

Atkins coming back

Troubled former starting cornerback Avery Atkins is going to try and revive his Florida football career. He's been talking to the coaches and plans to return to UF this semester or in the summer. He will have to sit out a year and pay his own tuition. He also will have to meet numerous demands of the coaching staff and university before he can return to the field in 2008.

Atkins asked for his release from UF last summer after he was involved in a domestic dispute in Daytona with the mother of his child. Atkins attempted to play at Bethune-Cookman College this past season, but left before the start of the season.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com.

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