Leak soaks it in


Published: Saturday, January 13, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 13, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Before the season, The Sun identified Chris Leak as the face of Florida football. It turned out to be prophetic as Leak finished his career with the Most Valuable Player Award in the BCS National Championship Game. His life has been turned upside down since Monday night, but the Florida quarterback took time for 10 questions with Sun sports columnist Pat Dooley.

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DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun

Q:

How was your appearance on The Tonight Show, where you seemed to loosen up?

A:

It was a great experience. It was really an honor to do a show like that. Jay Leno is a very funny guy.

Q:

Was it more hectic before or has it been more hectic after the championship game?

A:

Kind of both. It has been mixed because it is always exciting before a game, especially a national championship game. But in this case, it has been exciting both before and after the game. I'm just trying to catch my breath right now.

Q:

You were going to play in the Shrine Bowl but the Senior Bowl called and you've decided to play there. Was that a goal of yours to play in that game?

A:

It was. It was something I've always wanted to do. That was a game I always watched on television and I always wanted to play in it. Now, to have a chance to play, is really nice.

Q:

Do you find yourself getting more recognized in airports and in the streets after this game?

A:

I've been here four years and I've always had people show great appreciation the entire time. Quality-wise, yes, it's much greater. But this is a football town, a college town with great fans who know their football. So that's always been there.

Q&A TAGS

Q:

There has been a lot of talk, especially on the Fox broadcast and with the national media, that you received a lot of criticism during your career. How much did that affect you or do you think it was overblown?

A:

I'll be honest, I've never really paid much attention to that. I've always looked for ways to motivate myself, but not with stuff like that. I've just tried to stay hungry, kept my focus on the team.

Q:

Does it feel any different to be a national championship quarterback?

A:

It's mixed emotions, really. I mean, it's overwhelming, but at the same time, it's a relief. You work so hard to get into this position, to have a chance to do something like this. And when it happens, you can't help but feel like it's a big relief to have it off your back.

Q:

One of your goals was to win a national title but another was to play in the NFL. Are you looking forward to that next step in your career?

A:

Absolutely. That's always been another goal of mine. Thousands and thousands of people never get a chance to play in the NFL. They never get to be in this position. I'm looking forward to the opportunity.

Q:

How much are you looking forward to the celebration at The Swamp (today)?

A:

You know, the whole time I have been here, I've heard so many things about the 1996 team and all that they did and all of the celebrations. And one thing I've always heard about was that celebration at the stadium with a big crowd and how much fun it was. So I'm really looking forward to being a part of that myself. I'm going to enjoy it, kind of soak it all in.

Q:

One thing Billy Donovan said this season was that he might not have enjoyed his national title enough. Does that make you want to make sure you do enjoy this one?

A:

I think you always enjoy it more when you come back. After you've gone and achieved even more things in life, you come back and appreciate everything — your coaches and teammates and all of the hard work. You can think about your legacy and know that you had your stamp on your school, that in the great history of the University of Florida, you made your mark.

Q:

I know you carried (graduate assistant) Nick Schiralli's 1996 national championship ring around with you in Arizona. Are you looking forward to helping design your own?

A:

Actually, we already did. We did it at the same time we did the SEC Championship ring. It was just convenient to do both at the same time in case we won. So the design is already done. It's real nice. The seniors — Steve Rissler, Reggie Lewis, Dallas Baker, myself and a few others. I can't really explain what it looks like. I'd have to show you.

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