GatorZone.com Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gary Beemer was editor-in-chief of his school newspaper and president of the National Honor Society as a senior at Tampa’s Newsome High.
Now a graduate student studying exercise physiology at Florida, Beemer uses words like progenitor and already has a job lined up as an assistant strength-and-conditioning coach at UF after the season. But before starting the next chapter of his life, Gators coach Urban Meyer on Saturday provided Beemer a thrill on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Beemer, a 5-foot-11, 263-pound walk-on offensive lineman who moved to defensive tackle for his final season, scored a rushing touchdown in Florida’s 48-10 win over Appalachian State.
When was the last time Beemer scored a touchdown?
“My last touchdown was never ago,’’ he said.
With the Gators leading 42-10, quarterback Jordan Reed’s 20-yard run gave Florida a first-and-goal at Appalachian State’s 4-yard line. That’s when Beemer entered the game and carried three consecutive times, his last carry a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:18 left in the game.
Beemer never played peewee football and was an offensive lineman all throughout high school, so getting an opportunity to score a touchdown in his final game at the Swamp was an opportunity he never expected.
“I have a great memory to cherish for the rest of my life,’’ Beemer said. “I grabbed the ball and I lowered my head and I ran and closed my eyes. When I opened them, I had scored a touchdown.
“I don’t know who the progenitor is for that one. It was just overwhelming. When you are a kid, you dream of something like this. I’m still trying to process it and make it a reality.’’
On Beemer’s touchdown run, Reed appeared to give him a final push over the goal line.
“That was all him,’’ Reed said. “I just gave him the ball. That was his touchdown.’’
Beemer lost his helmet in the pile in the end zone after scoring. He popped up from the pile with his long blond hair flying around in the wind and raced toward the sideline, hugging several players along the way. He eventually made his way to Meyer for a hug.
“Gary Beemer is one of my favorite players on our team,’’ Meyer said. “He’s a guy that is about as unselfish a guy as you [have]. Our players love him because he goes every day. I grabbed him in the third quarter and said, ‘If we get close enough, I’d like to hand you the ball.’ It’s just out of respect.’’
Beemer’s touchdown not only had him pumped, but the rest of the team.
Senior center Mike Pouncey was one of the players to congratulate Beemer when he came to the sideline.
“He works harder than anybody on this team,’’ Pouncey said. “He gave his life to this program, too. He doesn’t get all the fame and all the glory. He is just one of those guys who work hard. He is a special guy to us. We love him like a brother.’’
In his first visit to the postgame media session, Beemer still didn’t know where his helmet was. When he came off the field without it – Beemer was only worried about holding onto the football -- Reed brought his helmet over to him. However, Beemer had already misplaced it again after the game.
But he knew where the football was. Beemer gave the ball to his brother for safe keeping. He knows exactly where the ball is headed.
“It’s probably going to go home and stay on our family mantle and probably stay there forever,’’ he said.