Notebook: Youngblood likes UF style
Published: Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 11:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 11:52 p.m.
At his core, Jack Youngblood is a story-teller.
He's a football legend, a Gator great, a member of both the college and pro football halls of fame. Saturday, the former defensive end whose name is one of five in Florida's ring of honor returned to Gainesville for two book-signing events ... and to tell some stories.
Youngblood also took in the Florida-Alabama game.
He has not had a chance to meet new Florida coach Will Muschamp, though they talked on the phone when Muschamp called two days after he was hired.
"I love his enthusiasm and passion," Youngblood said. "He loves the game. He loves to play it the way I envision it to be played."
What brought Youngblood back to UF is a new authorized biography, "Because it was Sunday: The Legend of Jack Youngblood." In it, he tells the stories of his life.
"This book has allowed me to look at those significant dates that changed my life totally," he said. "So this kind of highlights those events that came along that you don't recognize at the moment."
One of those events, Youngblood says, is when then University of Florida baseball coach, Dave Fuller, came to his high school to recruit for Gator football coach Ray Graves. He had one scholarship to offer and several schools to visit.
"I had not been recruited," Youngblood recounts. "I think I had one letter from like Troy. I had not met the man, didn't know him from Adam. A gentleman grabs me by the elbow and says, 'Jack, how would you like to play football for the University of Florida.' I said, 'Let me think about it. Yessir.' A life-changing moment. I was going to North Florida Junior College because we couldn't afford to go to Tallahassee."
Despite going to high school in Monticello, just a short drive from Florida State, Youngblood didn't get a sniff from the Seminoles. The reason was Bill Parcells, who had basically dismissed Youngblood as a prospect.
"Bill was still at Army, but he was recruiting and had a bunch of buddies at Florida State," Youngblood remembers. "He went back and told coach (Bill) Peterson there were some kids at Monticello that could play. Coach Peterson said, 'What about that tall, skinny kid?' Bill said, 'Coach, he'll never play college football.' And to this day, when we're at a social event he has to stop what he's doing and has to come tell the story. It's classic. He'll say, 'Yeah, that shows what kind of eye I had!' "
Another event Youngblood recalls was sitting in The Gainesville Sun's downtown office in 1971 and watching his name come across the teletype machine as a first-round NFL Draft pick. He had just gotten a call from the Los Angeles Rams but was sure it was his teammates pulling a prank.
"It was a total surprise," he said. "I was not prepared for that. To think about being the 20th player chosen of all the players in college football, that's pretty good for the tall, skinny kid coming out of Jefferson County."
In 1988, Youngblood produced his autobiography, "Blood." This new book, he says, has more perspective.
"We did (the autobiography) two years after I got out of the game," he said. "The passion hadn't eased up, and I think I was a little too close to the fire to really look back and reflect and think about what had transpired over the course of 14, 15 years and what were some of the lessons that I learned, some of the fundamentals of life."
Youngblood will return for the homecoming game against Vanderbilt in early November and again for the season's final home game against Florida State. The book is available for purchase at Youngbloodbook.com.
Florida senior quarterback John Brantley suffered an apparent right leg injury just before halftime. Brantley's leg folded awkwardly underneath him when he was sacked by Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw. Unable to put any weight on his leg, Brantley had to be helped off to the locker room. Muschamp did not provide an update when asked following the game. But did say it was a "lower leg" injury.
Sophomore Dominique Easley played despite suffering an injury in practice Tuesday when a teammate accidentally stomped on his left ankle after Easley made a tackle. Easley played with his ankle taped.
Florida redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose returned after missing the Kentucky game with ankle injuries. Florida cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) missed his fifth straight game.
The south end zone bleachers were a veritable who's who of nationwide recruiting Saturday.
The nation's No. 1 high school running back took an official visit to watch Florida-Alabama. Raleigh, N.C., Milbrook five-star prospect Keith Marshall flew to Florida on Saturday morning fresh off a big performance the night before. Marshall had 289 yards and five touchdowns in a 43-27 win in which he scored on three of his first six carries. The other official visitor was five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humprhies, a Florida commitment.
Several big-name prospects took unofficial visits to watch the big game. Among them were five-star defensive end/linebacker Jordan Jenkins, five-star receiver Nelson Agholor, the nation's No. 1 tight end prospect Kent Taylor, five-star defensive end/linebacker Dante Fowler (an FSU commitment), five-star linebacker Noor Davis (a Stanford commit), four-star defensive tackle Carlos Watkins and four-star defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who also took an unofficial visit for Florida's last home game against Tennessee.
Several of Florida's commitments for the Class of 2012 were in attendance, as were many of the top prospects for the Class of 2013.
Honorees and visitors
Of all the night's honorees, perhaps the biggest cheers were for a guy who wasn't supposed to be there.
Joakim Noah stood among a few former Gator basketball players, including teammates Al Horford, and Lee Humphrey. The three won back-to-back national championships at Florida and were joined by former UF star Mike Miller, who stood with his two sons, Mason and Mavrick. Noah, Horford and Miller, all NBA players, were able to catch an October game for the first time because their league is in the midst of a lockout that is threatening the entire 2011-12 season.
Gator great Carlos Alvarez, a wide receiver from 1969-71, was honored by The National Football Foundation with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute during the first timeout of the first quarter. Alvarez, who was doing a raucous flurry of Gator chomps, appeared on the field with his former Gator quarterback, John Reeves. Former Gator swimmer Ryan Lochte, a gold medal and world championship winner, was honored later in the first quarter.
The Florida lacrosse team was honored for winning the American Lacrosse Conference championship in its second season of existence this past spring.
Former Florida quarterback Chris Leak, who won a national championship in 2006, was also in attendance.
Florida's starter at free safety, true freshman De'Ante "Pop" Saunders did not dress because he was suspended for violating team rules, according to coach Will Muschamp. ... Florida's captains were Jaye Howard, Williams Green, Deonte Thompson and Xavier Nixon. ... Former Florida safety Will Hill signed with the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League on Wednesday.
Contact Jeff Barlis at (352) 374-5066 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow at http://Twitter.com/JeffBarlis.