Weis at UF for long haul

Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has no plans to leave the program in the near future.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 8:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 8:58 p.m.

Charlie Weis is closing in on completing his first season as Florida's offensive coordinator and he made it clear Tuesday evening that he plans on logging a few more years in Gainesville, even with his health concerns.

“I'm going to coach for a long time,” Weis said. “My wife said I can't quit. That's not (an issue). Remember, I've got a kid who's a freshman in college here. Remember the reasons I came here. I'll be here for a while, unless you're trying to get rid of me.”

A bad hip has left the former Notre Dame coach gimpy, but he said his health is not an issue.

“Not to downplay it, but it's not important how I feel,” Weis said. “We're coaches. We're not players. I can do my job fine. I've got as much gas in the tank as I had at the start of the year, not less gas. (The tank) is still running on full.”

Weis, 55, uses a cane to walk to practice, but he maintains that his lack of mobility won't prevent him from coaching.

“Those things are tolerable,” Weis said. “Remember I got wiped pretty bad there a couple years ago (on the sidelines at Notre Dame against Michigan). It couldn't have been hurt any worse than that. I didn't miss any time then. I stood on the sidelines with no ligaments in my left knee and a broken right knee. Maybe I'm a masochist, but it never entered my mind (not to coach). Not once.”

However, Weis did have to leave the sidelines and coach from the press box that season during the Hawaii Bowl.

“The pain was unbearable, so I couldn't stand,” Weis said. “I was the only one in Hawaii. … We won by a hundred and I was miserable. I was probably the only one in the whole program (like that). We had to go to a crummy bowl and go to Hawaii. I could think of a lot worse things. We play great and I'm miserable, because I know four days later, my right knee is going to be replaced.”

A story of perseverance

After five frustrating, injury-plagued seasons, James Wilson's college football career is just about done. The senior from St. Augustine will play his last game in The Swamp on Saturday against FSU.

“It's definitely going to be emotional,” Wilson said. “I had a great time. I love my teammates. I wouldn't trade them for the world. It was a great experience. It's going to be sad.”

A former teammate of Tim Tebow's at Ponte Vedra Beach Nease, Wilson earned U.S. Army All-America honors in 2006, but never fulfilled expectations due to a myriad of knee and foot injuries.

“You can't get down when stuff goes wrong,” Wilson said. “College football is definitely an experience not for the faint of heart. You just have to keep going.”

He started just five games and spent much of his career injured and on the sidelines. Rock bottom came when he had to use a wheel chair as part of his recovery.

“You don't get the perception of handicapped people,” Wilson said. “(You do) when you see a 300-pound lineman scooting down University (Avenue) in his mobile scooter, and people stare and stuff. It's what it is, you know.”

Wilson was part of a 27-member, 2007 UF recruiting class that yielded eight NFL players. Only six remain from the group of signees.

“It is crazy,” Wilson said. “Not many of us are left. We're all still real close. Things happen. You just have to roll with the punches.”

Recruiting realities

Florida football has gotten off to a strong start in recruiting.

UF has bagged 17 commitments, a group that Rivals.com ranks fourth nationally — behind Texas, Florida State and Michigan, an assessment that Muschamp would likely downplay.

“I think you judge a recruiting class after it's been on your campus for three years,” Muschamp said. “Everybody wants to judge them in February (after they sign) and rank them and say this class is great. That's ridiculous, to be able to rank a class in February when these guys haven't even stepped foot on campus yet, been in a spring practice, been in a fall camp. Who knows how some of the guys (will pan out)? I've been around a lot of guys that were two stars who ended up playing in the NFL for a long, long time. They were really good players, and I've been around some five stars who couldn't play. I don't know about this star rating. I know when they show up and we coach them and guys understand what to do, how to do it and have the discipline to do it that way and do have the God-blessed ability, that's obviously part of it.

“There's so many intangibles that weigh into a young man coming into a program. Being mature enough to handle it as a freshman and being mature enough to continue to improve and develop as a player. Putting a number on that would be hard to do. Certainly when you sign a class of 25, if you get 18, 19 players that are playing good football in the SEC, I'd say that's a heck of a job.”

A home game against FSU is typically a big recruiting weekend for Florida, but Muschamp doesn't believe the outcome of the rivalry game will affect who signs and who doesn't.

“I think at the end of the day, young men make the decision based on the opportunity they have at a certain school based on education, football, playing time, coaching, and the position coach,” Muschamp said. “I don't think three hours on Saturday make a decision for young men, and those that do, I'm not sure if you want them in your program. Is it an important game? Sure it is. There is no question. Do I think it's going to sway in recruiting? I really don't think so.”

A freshman of note

The last week of the regular season is usually reserved for the seniors, who will play their last game in The Swamp, but Muschamp took time to compliment Hunter Joyer, a freshman from Tampa, who has made his mark at fullback.

“I think that the year he has had this season has been somewhat unnoticed outside of this building,” Muschamp said. “In this building, he is appreciated on this football team. To do the things that he has done offensively — he's a good football player now, but he has even greater football ahead of him. He's an outstanding young man, an outstanding student-athlete. When he walks into the building, he impresses you.”

Thanksgiving plans

The Gators will practice Thursday morning before being given the rest of the holiday off to celebrate with their families and friends.

“We'll make sure that everybody's eating turkey and having a great day,” Muschamp said. “I told our players to call someone they care about and tell them thank you. Somebody has helped you get here, accomplish the things that you have accomplished in life. I love this time of year from the standpoint of rivalry games.”

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