Notebook: Florida recognizes 22 seniors

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Florida defensive end Jonathan Greenard (58) forces Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis (13) to fumble Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Matt Pendleton/Correspondent]

Prior to kick-off, No. 8-ranked Florida took a moment to recognize 22 seniors set to play their final home game with the Gators. In addition to compiling a 32-16 record over the past four seasons, Florida’s 2016 class helped lead UF to a SEC Eastern Division title, a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl victory and 20 wins in conference play. 

“These guys have faced lots of different adversity throughout their career … different head coaches, some ups and downs,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said earlier this week. “We were going to do things a little bit different within our program compared to how they had been done, and the guys bought into it. That’s a big thing for me. I told them right from the beginning that we’ll be successful at some point. The sooner everybody buys in, the sooner we’ll be successful, and those guys bought in and we’ve had some success.”

Facility tease

Florida-Florida State was declared a sell-out prior to kick-off, yet the Gators made an extra effort to fill seats early. UF broadcast a sneak peek over the jumbotron of the future standalone football facility, giving the Florida faithful their most comprehensive look at the highly anticipated $85 million facility. The video included renderings of state-of-the-art weight room, dining areas, game rooms and a pool.

Harvin serves as Mr. Two Bits

After the senior class received its moment of recognition under the bright lights, former Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin took midfield as the latest honorary Mr. Two Bits. A recent inductee into the Florida Athletics Hall of Fame, the 31-year-old Harvin is no stranger to Gainesville and the program as of late, but it was the first time the dynamic athlete had served in the role honoring UF’s most famous fan. 

Senior WRs as captains

Florida’s four senior wide receivers — Tyrie Cleveland, Josh Hammond, Van Jefferson and Freddie Swain — served as the team’s captains for their final home game. 

Game-time decisions

Neither Florida nor Florida State were at full strength for the 2019 iteration of the Sunshine Showdown. Gators defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga missed his final home game with the ankle injury that has limited him for much of the season, while linebacker/STAR Amari Burney was ultimately held out with a knee sprain. Zach Carter started in Zuniga’s place, while Marco Wilson and Trey Dean earned the majority of Burney’s reps. On the opposing sideline, FSU running back Khalan Laborn was suspended for the contest with what the program deemed a violation of team rules. Laborn wasn’t the only ‘Nole who remained in Tallahassee as redshirt junior offensive lineman Jauan Williams didn’t travel with the team due to “personal reasons”. The hits didn’t stop coming after kick-off for the ‘Noles as star safety Hamsah Nasirilideen had to be carted off in the second quarter with a left leg injury that required an inflatable cast. 

Gators host six official visitors

With the early signing period right around the corner, Florida hosted six 2020 prospects on official visits. A trio of wide receivers — Malik Heath KentronPoitier, and Xzavier Henderson — made the trip to Gainesville as official visitors for UF’s final home game, as did highly regarded outside linebacker Phillip Webb. In addition to the four uncommitted targets, UF hosted two prospects currently committed to the Gators in safety Rashad Torrence and offensive lineman Issiah Walker. Both Torrence and Walker intend to sign and enroll early with Florida.