Like a lot of young players playing the game today, senior Florida linebacker Cristian Garcia is concerned about concussions, especially after the news broke last week that former Gator and NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez, who killed himself in jail, had CTE.
“Yeah it makes me nervous, but our coaches definitely do teach us a good job of tackling with our head up and not trying to make helmet to helmet contact,” Garcia said. “We teach to tackle with our chest, keep our eyes up and I think now with the technology that’s coming out with new helmets, I think you’re going to see a lot less CTE. Definitely, with all the rules that are enforced like targeting.
“I think it’s not something that’s going be prevented, but I think it’s something that’s going to be in the past once all this new technology starts getting on the younger kids. When Aaron Hernandez was playing in Pop Warner and high school, he was playing with Styrofoam helmets so I definitely think you’re going to see a lot more improvement on that.”
Note: Garcia is this week’s highlighted nominee for the Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, as the Football Writers of America announced Wednesday.
In the summer of 2016, Garcia was credited by the Gainesville Police Department for stopping a sexual assault while his was working at a local restaurant.
After the preventing the assault, he was featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and met then-Vice President Joe Bide, who honored Garcia with one of the administration’s inaugural “It’s On Us” courage awards.
The Miami native has played in 17 games for the Gators, recording 13 tackles. He recorded a career-high five tackles against Iowa in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2, 2017 and notched four tackles in his latest game against Kentucky.
The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.
The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.