UF's spring sensations


Christopher Scott runs the ball during at the Gator's practice on Monday afternoon.

Special photo by Carlos Baez
Published: Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 12:05 a.m.

Scott and Burgess.

Doesn’t have much of a ring to it, does it? Not like, say, Kiick and Csonka, or Blanchard and Davis, or Sayers and Piccolo, or any other famous running back combinations that have found their place in football history.

But there’s just something about Scott and Burgess this spring on the Florida practice field. The combination has become one of the most popular story lines of spring practice.

Christopher Scott, the junior walk-on tailback from Englewood via Sante Fe College.

Rick Burgess, the senior walk-on fullback from Jupiter via Southern Illinois.

Their names keep popping up together this spring, because these two unlikely unknowns keep making things happen when the ball is in their hands. They seem to make plays in every practice, every scrimmage.

Certainly, this Scott-Burgess phenomenon will go away in the fall, when Jeff Demps returns from the track team, Emmanuel Moody is 100-percent healthy again and the Gators are fully loaded with scholarship talent in their backfield.

Then, again, maybe it won’t.

“They both make plays, they’re both hard-nosed and they both like football,” offensive coordinator Steve Adazzio said. “Scott has been a great surprise. He’s going to help us somewhere. He’s going to help us on offense a little bit and on special teams. Burgess, the same thing, he’s going to help us.

“Those guys have shown a lot of improvement. They’ve gotten a lot better.”

Scott, who rushed for 1,152 yards in his senior season at Lemon Bay High School, does not compare to Demps, Moody and Chris Rainey in terms of speed, quickness and elusiveness. Yet, he has been UF’s most consistent running back in terms of day-in and day-out production.

He works hard, he runs hard, and he keeps knocking out those six, 10 and 12-yard runs.

“Scott. ... that’s someone I’m so proud of,” quarterback Tim Tebow said. “He came here and walked on, and he goes out here and works hard every day. He goes harder than a lot of other people. That’s a sign of someone who’s good, and someone who has an opportunity to get a scholarship. I’m proud of guys like that who don’t worry about everything, they just go and do what they’re told and work hard. That’s pretty exciting.”

Scott came off the practice field Wednesday afternoon the same way he has throughout the spring - wearing a big smile on his face.

“It’s been fun getting to come out here and work hard and be around the other guys,” Scott said. “It’s been good, a lot of fun.”

After spending two-and-a-half years out of the game while a student at SFCC, Scott walked on at UF in the spring of 2008. He spent last season working at strong safety on the scout team. With the lack of available tailbacks this spring, he was moved to tailback.

His strong work ethic has led to opportunities, and he seems to be making the most of them.

“I love Scott,” UF coach Urban Meyer said. “He’s going to play for us somewhere. It might be fullback, it might be some running back.”

Meyer said he doesn’t even remember how Scott ended up at Florida.

“I have no idea. He just showed up one day at practice,” Meyer said. “Good recruiting.”

Like Scott, Burgess has a chance to get on the field this fall.

“He’s smart, he’s very intelligent and he has great spacial awareness,” tight ends and fullback coach Brian White said. “At fullback, you have to be able to make quick decisions in tight areas and read defensive alignments to be able to get your block. He does a nice job with it. He anticipates the game really well.

“I really do (think he can help us in the fall).”

Burgess said he grew up dreaming about playing for Florida one day. Now, he’s living his dream.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Burgess said. “It’s always fun to be out there, but more fun when you have a chance to contribute and do a little something with your teammates.”

Will Burgess be around in the fall, actually playing on Florida Field?

Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. The same can be said of Scott.

Maybe this Scott-Burgess thing is just a spring fling, and it will fade in the fall.

Regardless, this running back combination is enjoying its moment in the sun.

“I’ll try to work hard and do the best I can wherever they put me,” Scott said.

Burgess said he’ll take a similar approach.

“Not too many expectations,” he said. “I just want to contribute the best way I can. I want to be the starting fullback. If’ I’m not, I want to contribute any way possible, on special teams or anywhere else.”

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