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Saturday September 29, 2012Muschamp Seeks 'Program Guys' when Naming Captains

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- They walked to midfield side by side, the veteran offensive lineman and young quarterback.

Sam Robey and Jeff Driskel had company. Gators junior defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd joined them last Saturday for the coin toss prior to Florida's game against Kentucky.

The ritual takes place prior to every game and often passes without much thought as fans settle into their seats.

But for Robey, the trip to midfield was personal regardless if anyone noticed other than his parents. A fifth-year senior, it was Robey's first time serving as a captain for the Gators.

The last time Robey had walked onto the field for the coin toss was his final game at Trinity High in Louisville, Ky., for the Class 6A state championship game.

When he got to midfield on Saturday, Robey shared the moment with Kentucky offensive lineman Matt Smith, a former workout partner of Robey's and good friend from their days as prep rivals.

"It was exciting,'' Robey said. "I figured if it was ever going to happen it was going to happen for Kentucky. I wasn't expecting it by any means, but I was obviously happily surprised because I know it's definitely a big honor."

The game was also the first time that Driskel served as a Gators captain, the honor coming in just his third career start and first official start at Florida Field.

"When you go back to his performance against Tennessee and you go back to his work habits throughout the week in preparation, it's been outstanding,'' Gators coach Will Muschamp said of Driskel. "I think he was very deserving of the honor. Whether you think it or not, the quarterback position is the leader of your offense.

"I think he has assumed that role very well to this point."

The selection of captains varies from coach to coach and sport to sport. Leadership, character, performance and work ethic are some of the words used most commonly by coaches when describing what they want from their captains.

Muschamp displayed those traits as a former walk-on safety when he played at Georgia in the early 1990s, one of the reasons he was named a team captain his senior season.

At Florida, the season captains of every Florida team are posted on the walls inside the Gators' locker room. While game captains vary are named by the coaches, the team votes on season captains at the end of the year.

Muschamp's philosophy is simple when deciding what players will serve as captains each week.

"First of all, they've got to be a program guy, meaning a guy who puts the program first in everything they do,'' Muschamp said. "The second thing is it needs to be a guy that is playing well. Generally, in most situations a captain is chosen as a program guy, played well in previous game or is playing well as a whole, and has had a good week or preparation or good week of practice.

"Those are qualities that we put in as a staff when we choose them."

At the end of practice each Thursday is when Florida's game captains are revealed. Muschamp gathers the team for his final practice speech of the week. He usually then allows strength-and-conditioning coordinator Jeff Dillman to tell the team who the captains are.

"I always like for the strength coach to do it from the standpoint that he is the guy who is with them all the time,'' Muschamp said. "He's in the weight room with them all the time."

Muschamp also likes to recognize players for certain games. He named senior Omarius Hines one of the captains for Florida's game at Texas A&M. Hines is the only player on the roster from Texas and had a large contingent of family and friends at the game.

Robey, the only Florida player from Kentucky received the honor against the Wildcats. Robey figured that was part of the reason. Still, he was told he earned it.

"Obviously doing everything right on and off the field,'' Robey said. "I've never been a problem in the classroom or anything like that. I just try to lead by example."

Senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter has served as captain "three or four times" during his career, including the season opener against Bowling Green.

He doesn't take the honor lightly.

"I wish I could get it a little more,'' Hunter said. "Anytime you're a captain, especially at the University of Florida with the great captains we have had here, you always take pride in that.

"I don't go out looking to be a captain, but if Coach tells me he wants me to be a captain, I greatly accept that and I run with it."

The next group of Florida captains returns to the field Monday at practice to being preparing for No. 3-rank. They don't know who they are yet, but on Thursday night, they will find out.

Until then, Muschamp and his staff will be paying close attention to who is worthy.

"I'd like for it to be an upperclassmen but it doesn't have to be,'' Muschamp said. "Every game means something different to different people. I think it's important for those guys to have their opportunities. Obviously I know the Kentucky game was important to Sam. I know the A&M game was important to Omarius.

"It's a great honor to be a captain."

 

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