GatorZone.com Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The UF football team showed up for a meeting on Thursday afternoon expecting to review Wednesday’s practice and watch film.
The Gators did meet for a few minutes, but as head coach Will Muschamp ribbed them briefly about execution in the one-minute offense, he delivered his punch line.
“You guys want to watch film or go play paintball?’’ Muschamp asked with a straight face.
Paintball won in a rout. As soon as the offer rolled off Muschamp’s lips, Florida coaches and players raced for the exit and three buses waiting to take them to a wooded paintball course in Gainesville.
With 13 spring practices in the books and two sessions remaining – Friday’s previously scheduled practice and Saturday’s Orange and Blue Debut at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – the Gators obviously enjoyed the break.
Once they arrived at the paintball course, they were greeted by a huge smoker and barbecue grills filled with burgers, hotdogs, sausages and barbecue pork. After eating, it was time for some fun in the hot afternoon sun.
The players and coaches were split into eight teams and headed to the wooded course after receiving their paintball guns and a sheet listing the rules.
Pretty soon, the players were racing around the woods as fast as they normally do at practice.
Some had played in a team outing last year. Several had never played.
Sophomore cornerback Cody Riggs came off the course after getting hit showing off a big splash of paint on his right arm to teammates.
“Man, look at this stinger,’’ Riggs said. “I got hit so hard part of the paintball stuck to my arm.’’
The shot in the arm did little to slow Riggs from racing back out for another game.
“Paintballing might become my new hobby,’’ he later tweeted.
Defensive line coach Bryant Young, a former NFL All-Pro who had more than 80 sacks in his career, also showed off battle scar. He was hit in the shoulder.
“That was from Will,’’ Young told a couple of bystanders. “He got me out there.’’
Muschamp originally planned to sit out and watch, but he loaded up his paintball gun like the several other coaches as they tried to get away from football for a day to have fun.
The players appreciated the team outing after four weeks of intense practices under a new coaching staff trying to place its stamp on the program.
“It was real fun,’’ linebacker Jelani Jenkins said. “We got a chance to get away from football and have fun, build some team camaraderie. We needed a team-bonding experience and it went well.’’
Former Gators running back Terry Jackson works now as UF’s director of player and community relations. He participated in Thursday’s outing with the enthusiasm of an 18-year-old.
As he helped round up the players and coaches for a team photo before boarding the buses and heading back to campus, Jackson sensed the Gators got exactly what they needed from the outing.
“It’s a team-building experience,’’ Jackson said. “You’re in the middle of camp, your body is tired and you’re expecting to go do some work, and you get to come out here and have some fun for your teammates. It’s always good for team morale.
“We’ve got a big game coming up this weekend and it’s just a good way for guys to get together outside of football and have a good time with each other.’’