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Valdez Showers brought The Swamp to life Saturday night on the game's opening kickoff. (Photo: Tim Casey).

Monday September 1, 2014If Nothing Else, Showers Will Always Have 'The Play'

Valdez Showers brought The Swamp to life Saturday night on the game's opening kickoff. (Photo: Tim Casey).

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Been surfing the Internet all day and cannot find one mention.

Not one keyboard prophet has Valdez “Rain Man” Showers on his early-season Heisman list. One guy listed late English comedian Benny Hill among his favorites. Maybe it was a typoe, who knows.

Didn’t anyone else watch Florida’s game against Idaho on Saturday night? Sure, there was a long weather delay and the game didn’t start until almost 10 p.m., but once Idaho kicked off the Gators ran every which way over the Vandals.

Idaho appeared helpless as Showers splashed onto the national scene in what is undoubtedly the most dynamic play of the young season for the Gators.

“If you see the replay of it, you see water going everywhere,” Gators head coach Will Muschamp said Monday.

He’s right about that.

Certainly, rain-soaked Florida Field added a unique element to Showers’ impressive 64-yard return on the season’s opening play for the Gators.

But there was more. Much more.

Valdez Showers

“The lightning was everywhere,” Muschamp added. “I’ve never been a part of anything like it.”

In case you missed it, a quick review of what Florida fans now call “The Play.”

Showers took the kickoff near his 22-yard line. For a split second, it looked as if Clay Burton was going to backpedal into Showers’ way. But Burton backed off and allowed the charging Showers to make the catch.

Meanwhile, Burton and other members of the UF’s special-teams unit built a wall around Showers.

Marcell Harris sealed off the edge. Jarrad Davis pancaked some poor Vandal who thought he might have a hit on Showers.

“He made a great block,’’ Muschamp said of Davis. “It was an outstanding job by Marcell Harris sealing the edge, Valdez bouncing it. Andre [Debose] put a devastating block on their kicker, and we were able to get the ball down the sideline. Very well-executed.”

Yes, Debose, normally the Gators’ most dangerous return man, stepped in the way of Idaho’s kicker to help free Showers.

Everyone did their job. Still, it was Showers who made a cut outside and broke down the right sideline to electrify those who remained at The Swamp on a dark and stormy night.

Showers was a standout running back in Michigan during high school – he is the only player on Florida’s roster from Michigan with Eastern Michigan set to visit Saturday -- so the wet conditions hardly fazed him.

"To be honest with you, it was pretty slippery, but I'm from up North, so I played in all type of weather, a lot of snow,” he said. “I was ready for the game regardless.”

No doubt about that.

Now, Showers must wait for the recognition he deserves. Maybe he’ll eventually land on someone’s Heisman list.

Until then, he’ll have to be content with a game Gator fans will remember for a long time.

So will his teammates.

To relive the game, Muschamp gathered the Gators prior to Monday morning’s practice. He put on the game film and kept hitting rewind over and over.

“We started as a team and watched all the plays from Saturday night,” he said.

No way was Showers going to miss the film session. He didn’t have to wait long to see himself on the screen. He liked what he saw.

“I was just trying to get as much yardage as I could,’’ he said.

Gently reminded by a reporter Monday that since it was the game’s only play – and if the game isn’t rescheduled that his memorable kickoff return won’t make it into the official record books – Showers didn’t seem to mind.

“Oh, I know,’’ he responded.

As for the early Heisman snubs, no one asked him about that. Although as Showers left his media session, teammate Bryan Cox Jr. saw him leaving.

“C’mon, man! It was one play,’’ Cox playfully reminded him.

Maybe Showers will eventually get the recognition he deserves.

If not, he’ll always have “The Play.”

Truly the only one anybody will remember on a memorable night at The Swamp. senior writer Chris Harry contributed to this report.


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