Spikes submits inquiry to NFL

Published: Friday, December 19, 2008 at 11:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 19, 2008 at 11:58 p.m.

Florida junior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes has submitted his paperwork for the NFL draft, coach Urban Meyer confirmed Friday.

Spikes, a first team All-American, joins junior wide receiver Percy Harvin and junior quarterback Tim Tebow as Florida underclassmen who have asked for opinions from the NFL draft advisory board.

The 6-foot-3, 245 pound Spikes has been projected as a mid-to-late first-round draft pick according to numerous NFL draft Web sites. Spikes leads Florida in tackles this season with 87, including eight for loss. He’s also shown improved pass coverage skills this season with four interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns.

Spikes was not made available for comment Friday. Sophomore linebacker Brandon Hicks said he understands that Spikes faces a tough decision.

“Whatever is the best situation for him,” Hicks said. “We’d love him to stay because that’s the heart and soul of our defense right now. If he goes, somebody else has to step in and make the necessary plays.”

Hicks said he feels that Spikes would be successful at the next level,

“He’s the type of person that can change a defense,” Hicks said. “Anytime he steps on the field you feel his presence. You know he’s there. You know he’ll make a play.”

Both Meyer and Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney said they didn’t know if junior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham has sent in his paperwork for the NFL draft. Cunningham, a second-team, All-Southeastern Conference selection, has six sacks and three forced fumbles this season.

“I don’t think he has plans of going to the NFL this year and if he does, I’ll make sure he doesn’t,” McCarney said. “He needs another year. He’s not ready unless he’s going to the arena league. I’m being a little wise, but he’s not ready to be a high draft pick. I want him to be by the end of his career, but he’s not there right now.”

Harvin improving

Meyer said that junior receiver Percy Harvin (sprained ankle) is improving as Florida prepares for its Jan. 8 BCS title game showdown against Oklahoma.

Harvin, who missed the SEC title game against Alabama, has progressed in rehabilitation.

“He looks good,” Meyer said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked. He’s chomping at the bit. Our training staff has done an excellent job. He’s on the trampoline now. They’ve moved him from the pool to the trampoline and then obviously the next is the ground, hard surface.”

Meyer said Harvin is going to stay in town through Christmas to continue rehab, “That’s how dedicated he is,” Meyer said.

In other injury-related news, senior running back Kestahn Moore (ankle) is progressing in rehab and sophomore guard Carl Johnson (knee) is close to practicing. Meyer said receivers Carl Moore (hamstring) and Louis Murphy (knee) should be ready to practice when Florida returns from Christmas break.

Holtz visits

Florida received a pep talk from former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz before Friday’s workout. Holtz, now an ESPN analyst, offered some advice for the Gators heading into their national-title showdown with Oklahoma.

“Basically he told us that there were two excellent teams, and the team that handles this the most professionally will win this game,” Meyer said.

Meyer worked as a receivers coach under Holtz at Notre Dame during the 1996 season.

McCarney staying

McCarney said Friday he has no plans of leaving Florida next season, even though reports have him considering an associate head coaching position under Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.

“I bought a house,” McCarney said. “I’m not living out of a hotel. Unless Urban is trying to get rid of me, I’d sure like to stay.”

McCarney’s name also was brought up as a candidate for the head-coaching position at New Mexico, a job eventually filled by former Florida running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley.

“My wife must be doing a good job throwing my name out there,” McCarney said. “There’s so much stuff out there, names, contacts. Most of the time there’s nothing to it.”


The UF football team graduated 11 players Friday. Graduates included tight end Tate Casey, tight end Cornelius Ingram, receiver Louis Murphy, linebacker Jamaal Deveaux, offensive lineman Kyle Newell, kick holder/quarterback Butch Rowley, left guard Jim Tartt, right tackle Phil Trautwein, kicker Greg Taussig, punter Bobby Kane and offensive lineman Brad Heirs. ... Meyer said players will leave for Christmas break Sunday and will resume practicing Dec. 27.

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