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Michael Guilford

QB

Height
6' 0"
CLASS
FR
Hometown
Quincy, Fla.
Weight
181 lbs.
Experience
HS
School
Blountstown

2007: Did not dress for the Gators’ 49-3 win over Western Kentucky in the season opener.

2006: Played the role of Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith during UF’s preparation for the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game…Nicknamed “Sunshine,” he was featured in a segment on SportsCenter leading up to the title tilt…Was chosen as the Defensive Scout Team Player of the Week in helping the Gators prepare for LSU and Vanderbilt…

PREP: Attended Blountstown High School…Received Best Offense award in baseball...Received Team Leader award in basketball…

Florida Football Coach Urban Meyer

 “We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Michael Guilford.  He was an outstanding, quality young man that was loved, respected and admired by all of us. His unselfish efforts on helping his teammates getting ready to play every week were only a glimpse of the person he was. We pray that God's blessing be with Michael’s family, friends and teammates during this sad and difficult time. Our condolences and blessings also go to the family and friends of Ashley Slonina who also passed away in this sad and tragic accident.”
 
Used with the permission of ESPN.

Call him Sunshine, or 'Mr. Smith':

Blountstown native Michael Guilford is the scout team quarterback for Gators.

Publication: News Herald (Panama City, FL)
Publication Date: 01/07/2007
COPYRIGHT 2007 The News Herald
Byline: Josh Weinfuss

January 7, 2007 - SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.

When the Florida Gators' American Airlines flight landed at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on Tuesday, freshman Michael Guilford let out a yell.

He startled slumbering neighbors by celebrating the safe landing of his first flight.

"I was like We are Marshall just came out, and I'm thinking this is it," Guilford said. "We're not going to make it. Ohio State is going to win because we're not there. Everybody was calming me down."

Since he landed, the Blountstown native better known as "Sunshine" around the Gators' locker room from the movie Remember the Titans, hasn't need any calming. Little did he know that when the team arrived in Arizona, he had arrived as well.

As a walk-on, Guilford has been the scout team quarterback for the majority of this season. Gator coaches used his 4.4 speed to simulate running quarterbacks such as Vanderbilt's Chris Nickson during the SEC season. But his toughest challenge came this week.

"He's trying to be a Heisman Trophy winner," Florida codefensive coordinator Greg Mattison said.

Yes, under the long, blond hair, the 6-foot, 181-pound Guilford donned the No. 10 orange practice jersey and ran Ohio State's offense as Troy Smith.

"He's done a really good job of executing the offense that they run, and I think he's as good of a look as we can possibly ask for to get that done," Mattison said.

Acting as Smith has landed Guilford, a psychology major, on ESPN and in many large newspapers.

Coming out of Blountstown High School, he never thought it'd happen.

"Never in my life," he said. "I wasn't even worried about college. I was trying to win a state championship. ... And now it's here."

At Blountstown, where Guilford's team lost in the 1A state championship as a junior and in the 2B semifinals as a senior, he operated out of a Shotgun offense similar to Ohio State's. Therefore the transition to emulating Smith was relatively easy.

"As far as sitting back in the pocket and throwing zone routes and picking people apart, that's difficult because of how well he throws the ball," Guilford said. "But as far as moving around, I've been able to do that pretty well."

He's impressed coaches with his toughness, work ethic, film study and his ability to manage a different
offense each week. But what's really impressed the Florida staff is Guilford's speed.

Barely recruited out of Blountstown, Guilford and his mother, Janice Watson, already had sent out recruitment videos to South Florida, FIU and UCF when Watson suggested sending a tape to Florida.

They put together "the nicest packet" they could and shipped it off.

One night after a basketball game during Guilford's senior season, Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen left a voicemail asking Guilford to become a walk-on. Without discussing the call with anyone, Guilford phoned Mullen immediately and accepted the invitation.

"He's a great competitor, he takes a hit," Mullen said.

"His national championship is every day out there at practice. He better lay it on the field every single day and he does that for them. And he does a great job."

Mattison said that after he watched Guilford run, he was surprised no one else recruited him. To Mullen, Guilford's running ability and background of being a winner were a perfect fit.

But Guilford almost never made it through training camp.

"During two-a-days there was times I wanted to quit because how you're treated as a walk-on," he said. "You don't get any recognition, any playing time, any chance to be a good player."

His biggest opportunity came in Week 9 leading up to Vandy. It was Guilford's first opportunity to play a scrambling quarterback in Nickson, and he stunned the coaches with his speed.

Mattison was so impressed that he told Florida coach Urban Meyer, and he had the quarterback race another player and Guilford blew him away.

"That was like my debut," Guilford said. "And then from then on out, it's been smooth sailing."

While he's been successful this year, everybody has a different plan for him next year.

Guilford said he's going to be a special teams "maniac," which Mullen agrees with. Mattison thinks he'll stay at scout team quarterback. Guilford said that eventually he might wind up in the secondary.

In the meantime, he's begun to learn how to be a Florida quarterback from one of the best there has been in Gainesville.

"I have a good relationship with Sunshine," Chris Leak said. "We talk as much as we can. Most of the time when I see him he's out there trying to help the defense prepare. And he does a great job of that every week. You see how our defense respects him and respects his effort that he gives them to prepare for games."

Copyright © 2007, The News Herald, Panama City, Fla.

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