Fastest student contest

Published: Saturday, April 12, 2008 at 11:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 12, 2008 at 11:57 p.m.

Decked out in orange and blue dry-fit warmups, 14 University of Florida students looked to do the impossible before the Orange and Blue Debut Saturday.

Could one of these students defeat a UF football player in UF coach Urban Meyer's 40-yard dash competition?

If so, what then?

When Meyer first announced the Fastest Gator Competition, he jokingly said he would give a scholarship to a student who could beat receivers Louis Murphy and Deonte Thompson or running back Chris Rainey.

Meyer can breathe easy. His scholarships are safe, but it wasn't as easy as first thought.

“It was competitive and it was fun,” said Thompson, who first said the players should win by 5 yards when he was approached about running. “I didn't expect them to run it like that, but they were pretty good. There weren't any slow guys like we thought there were going to be.”

Sporting a red and white headband and glasses, Bolaji Agbede, a sophomore anthropology major, boasted a 4.53-second 40 time. It wasn't good enough to beat Murphy in his heat, but it was good enough to claim the student title.

“I didn't think I was going to win,” Agbede said. “Racing people is different than racing by yourself because it doesn't depend on somebody's reaction time.

“I wasn't nervous at all. I didn't even notice (the crowd). I was just trying to win.”

Heading into his preparation, Agbede said he had no idea how to run properly. He didn't know that he had to be in a stance with his hand on the ground.

To get some sort of technique, he said he referred to and studied the moves and technique of former Arkansas running back Darren McFadden.

The thing on everyone's mind in the competition and in the stands was to see Rainey's blazing speed.

It took longer than expected.

After false-starting on his first attempt, Rainey failed to hear ESPN college football analyst Chris Fowler say “Go,” and he was smoked off the line.

Fortunate for Rainey, he was able to race again, but this time against a tired group.

“I ran a 4.43 the first time and then they made us redo it,” said Chris Rodgers, a junior food and resource economics major.

“I just wish he had gone the first time, because that would have been the top time.”

It wouldn't have mattered.

Even with his leg shaking because he was so nervous, Rainey, who ran a 40 alone before the final try, blew past everyone and crossed the line with a time of 4.24 seconds — the fastest time recorded during Meyer's tenure at UF.

“My goal was going for a 4.1,” Rainey said of his time. “I'm still working hard and I'm still trying to get it.”

Rainey might want to improve his time, but his competition was more than impressed with what they saw.

“All I know is we were still running and he had already crossed the line,” said Jeff Mesadieu, a criminology sophomore. “I knew he would smoke everybody. No one is in shape like he is. I was just trying to get through it.”

Meyer said he is planning to take a second look at a couple students to see if they have football scholarship material.

“We give more scholarships to walk-ons than any program in America,” Meyer said. “Every year, I probably give three out. I had a couple guys come up and ask me and we're going to certainly look at them.

“Thank God we didn't lose (a race). I think (Athletic Director) Jeremy (Foley) would have had me in his office shelling out $30,000-$40,000 scholarships to the guy that wins a race.”

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