Notebook: Florida pays tribute to Mr. Two Bits

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Kady Fletcher and her younger brother perform their best Mr. Two Bits before the start of the Florida vs. UT-Martin game Saturday in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

As the sun began to set and kickoff approached, the memory of Mr. Two Bits lived on at Florida Field.

Saturday marked the first home game since the passing of George Edmonson, who served as Florida’s Mr. Two Bits for 60 years. After Edmondson retired from the role in 2008, the Gators created “The Honorary Mr. Two Bits” in his honor, with famous faces and Florida graduates alike filling the role admirably in his honor.

Considering the occasion, it was only fitting for the Gators to continue honoring Edmondson. Donned in T-shirts resembling Edmondson’s iconic orange-and-blue tie and yellow long-sleeved dress shirt, Edmondson’s three grandsons and five great-grandchildren served as honorary Mr. Two Bits at midfield prior to kick-off, much to the delight of the Florida faithful.

Gators rule four out

Once again, Gators coach Dan Mullen insinuated the team would wait until a half-hour prior to kickoff to announce any abstainments from Florida’s season opener. And once again, Florida announced four players wouldn’t participate against UT Martin. Safety Brad Stewart remained out for the second game in a row due to a suspension attributed to “not living up to the Gator Standard,” while defensive lineman Luke Ancrum joined him on the sideline for an unknown violation of team rules. Stewart wasn’t the only member of Florida’s safety corps missing Saturday, as sophomore Amari Burney — who plays both Star and linebacker for Florida — didn’t play and veteran safety Jeawon Taylor was held out due to a shoulder injury that plagued him throughout preseason camp. With Stewart and Taylor, Florida’s starting safeties, ruled out, the Gators turned to Donovan Stiner and Shawn Davis.

Wilson likely to join Gators after season

Many have wondered whether 2019 signee Wardrick Wilson would join the Gators this season or not. The 6-foot-4 offensive tackle signed with Florida in February but has yet to enroll due to what Mullen has described as a visa issue that’s “out of our hands.” While there hasn’t been much clarity on the situation, a source close to the situation expects Wilson’s visa issue to be resolved, barring an unforeseen setback, in time for the Bahamian to enroll at UF in January. Not the news Mullen or the program were expecting at the conclusion of the 2019 recruiting cycle, but it appears a resolution regarding Wilson’s eligibility is near.

Huggins finds new program

It didn’t take long for John Huggins to find a landing spot. The Deltona native and former Gators defensive back enrolled at Robert Morris University, according to the university’s athletics website. Huggins missed Florida’s first six preseason practices due to what UF initially labeled a “family issue.” After reports emerged Huggins had been accused of choking a tutor the previous October, the Gators parted ways with the former Mainland standout. Huggins will have to sit out the 2019 season due to NCAA rules.

Johnson decommits

Florida’s 2020 class suffered a departure prior to the home opener, albeit an expected one. Jeremiah Johnson, a 6-foot-7 tight end out of Homerville, Georgia, decommitted from the Gators after both parties moved in other directions.

“I’ve been thinking about this commitment thing and I would love to let y’all know I’m de-committing from the University of Florida as of now my recruitment is open,” Johnson posted on his Twitter account Tuesday. “I would love to hear from more coaches. I have chosen to wait till signing day to choose my school but I will be observing and thinking about which school I should choose to attend. Respect my decision.”

Johnson hadn’t returned to Gainesville since committing to the program in March, leading many to speculate on if his future indeed was in Gainesville.

With Johnson’s exit, the Gators hold commitments from 17 prospects in the 2020 class, which is ranked No. 16 by 247Sports.

Curse of the No.1 jersey?

Florida took a 17-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, but not before first suffering some hits at key positions. Junior wide receiver Kadarius Toney suffered an apparent left wrist injury late in the first quarter, and the unpredictable yet talented pass catcher didn’t return prior to the halftime break. The other came late in the second quarter as UT Martin looked to throw deep. The pass went sailing into quadruple coverage, resulting in junior defensive back CJ Henderson landing awkwardly on his left leg. The starting cornerback would limp off the field with the assistance of Florida’s training staff, although initial impressions seemed to indicate neither player had suffered a serious injury.

Henderson was back on the sideline using crutches and a walking boot on his left foot in the third quarter.