Wednesday February 27, 2013NFL veteran, former Gators LB Siler reconnects with program as he prepares for law school
Updated: 3:43pm, February 27
Updated: 3:43pm, February 27
Former Gators LB Brandon Siler, No. 52, is back at UF working toward his degree (Getty Images).
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Former Gators linebacker Brandon Siler knew it then but not as well as he knows it now as a six-year NFL veteran.
The 2006 Gators national championship team wasn’t your average team.
“Our team was special in a lot of ways,’’ he said. “We had guys behind guys, guys on first-, second- and third-string who were the best in the country. We felt that any time you put that many guys together in the same place, you are going to do something special.”
The Gators answered the challenge by winning the program’s second national title and first in a decade. Siler was a starting linebacker drafted in the seventh round by San Diego a few months after Florida defeated Ohio State for the national title.
In the years since his final season at Florida, Siler has not been back to campus very often. He’s been busy establishing himself in the NFL, spending his first four seasons with the Chargers and the last two with Kansas City.
Siler is set to become an unrestricted free agent when his contract expires in late March. While he is anticipating a new opportunity with a new team next season, Siler is also working toward his post-football life.
Siler (photo at left during college) is taking 16 credit hours at UF this spring toward finish his undergraduate degree. He needs 29 credits to graduate and plans to return next spring to complete his degree, and then start preparing for law school.
A fellow UF alum and good friend of Siler’s sparked his interest in going to law school. But it’s not a coach or former teammate.
“I want to be a personal injury lawyer,’’ he said. “I’ve been trying to decide what I want to do after the game. A big influence on me is John Morgan.”
Unless you haven’t watched TV the last 25 years or so, you probably know who Morgan is. He runs the Orlando-based law firm Morgan & Morgan and has appeared in commercials regularly for more than two decades.
Siler lives in Orlando with his wife and young son. Since January they have split their time between an apartment in Gainesville on weekdays and their home on weekends.
Siler didn’t know Gators coach Will Muschamp prior to returning to school this spring, but Muschamp welcomed him back into the program quickly. Siler works out in the Gators’ weight room and has gotten to know Florida’s coaches and players while reconnecting with the program.
“The guy has a great work ethic. He is trying to extend his career,’’ Muschamp said. “We always embrace the former players to come back. They understand what it takes to be a Gator, and certainly Brandon did it at a high level.
“He was a guy who was a physical, tough, hard-nosed player and played the game the right way. He is a great example for all of our players, especially our young linebackers for his work ethic and the time and effort that he is putting in.”
Siler isn’t sure what’s next for him in the NFL. He played in 16 games last year for Kansas City after missing the 2011 season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. He moved into the starting lineup the last four games following the death of teammate Javon Belcher.
Siler has also developed into a presence on special teams in his NFL career, which adds to his market value.
“I’ll test the market to see where I’ll be,’’ he said. “I’ve got a lot of things I want to do before I leave the league. I want to be one of the premiere linebackers and I want to be an every down linebacker and I want to win a Super Bowl. Those were the goals that I set out to achieve and that I’m still working on.”
For now Siler is focused on finishing out the semester and being back in familiar surroundings. From what he has seen the Gators are on track for some special moments in the future to add to those from the past.
“I’m enjoying myself. I think we have a good group of guys and they are pushing each other,’’ he said. “It’s nice being back around. I think we’ve got something good going on around here and I’m enjoying it. I think they can take us to where we want to be, which is putting more rings on our fingers.
“We had something special [in 2006] – that’s something you can never take away from us. When you step away from it, you kind of see what it means. Florida has been around for a long time and Florida has only three national championships, and I was part of one of them. That’s how I always look at it.”