UF seniors reminisce on good and bad

Florida senior running back Mark Thompson walks out of the tunnel to thank Gators interim head coach Randy Shannon as the Gators seniors are recognized at the start of the Sunshine Showdown rivalry game against Florida State at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]


Florida running back Mark Thompson will be the first to tell you his collegiate career hasn’t gone the way he envisioned.

From being in a reserve role during a 9-win season in 2016, to the multitude of letdowns in 2017, Thompson has gripes about the way things panned out, but he’s not about to let it hinder his future. In Thompson’s eyes, each setback has prepared him for whatever lies ahead.

“A lot of things that didn’t go my way while I was here, a lot of things that didn’t go my way I’m going to take that to the next level and if I start seeing that same pattern, I know how to approach it. I know how to handle it, because I handled it here and went through it here,” Thompson said.

“It’s been a long road. Like you said, going from junior college, going to Kansas and coming all the way back to the East Coast. It’s been a long ride, that’s really how I sum it up.Good times, bad times, ups-and-downs, but at the end of the day, I made it to the finish line.”

Redshirt senior punter Johnny Townsend echoed Thompson’s sentiments, saying he’ll remember all aspects of his UF career rather than simply focusing on the high points. Without the memories of the lowest moments, Townsend said, Florida’s peaks over the past four years would lack perspective.

“I could write a book about (my time at Florida). The experience has been unreal,” Townsend said. “It’s truly been a roller-coaster ride for me and this team. We’ve been on top of the world and we’ve also been slapped in the face by adversity a billion times.

“That’s I think what brings us close as a team, as a family is having to deal with those different experiences and coming together emotionally and fighting the tough times and celebrating the good times.”

Gators interim coach Randy Shannon reinforced that when it comes to progressing on the field and in the future, players have to learn from the both the good and the bad.

“When you’re a coach or you’re an athlete or a player, you thrive on being the best that you can be at that point in time. And that’s all these guys wanted to be. They wanted to be the best that they could be at that point in time,” Shannon said. “That’s the only thing you can do.”