The mentoring Gators


I did a story in Thursday’s paper about the Florida football team partnering with the African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County to form a mentoring program for at-risk black male middle school students.

Due to space limitations, I did not have an opportunity to name all 15 Florida players who are involved in the program.

I can do that here.

Here are the Gators who are trying to be a positive influence on these young kids by taking on the role of mentors:

Quarterback Cam Newton; outside linebacker Brandon Hicks; outside linebacker Lorenzo Edwards; center Maurkice Pouncey; offensive guard Michael Pouncey; safety Ahmad Black; running back Brandon James; defensive tackle Terron Sanders; tight end Aaron Hernandez; outside linebacker Ryan Stamper; tailback Emmanuel Moody; tailback Chris Rainey; offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert; strong safety Jerimy Finch; and cornerback Joe Haden.

I wanted to make sure to mention all these players because they are doing wonderful work with these young kids who need some guidance during this formative time in their lives.

Watching the kids and players interact on the practice field Wednesday was certainly a feel-good experience. These kids really look up to these players, and the players seem serious about being good role models for the kids, who seem to be enjoying being in the program.

It’s just a positive situation for everyone involved in the program. The Alliance, and former UF player Terry Jackson in particular, should be commended for coming up with the idea. And Urban Meyer and his players should be congratulated for embracing it the way they have and making these kids feel special.

From talking to Jackson, it sounds like the 15 boys will have a chance to watch the Orange and Blue Debut from the sideline and cheer on their mentors.

Jackson said he’s hoping the program will grow over the next few years, and he’s hoping it could become a blueprint for other college towns to follow.

That would be a wonderful thing.