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The Urban NaviGATOR

It started today. Football season is finally here. With Urban providing the Gator State of the Union. His opening statement was worth the price of admission.

It's great to be here.   I brought Chris Leak and Ray McDonald as our two players.   I think you'll enjoy spending time with them.

Extremely excited to get in the hotel with our players a week from Sunday.   Right in the middle of an eight- to nine-day stretch where every night is occupied by speeches, Gator clubs, media days.   As a football coach, I can't express enough that I'm really excited to get in that hotel starting a week from Sunday.

Year two, much clearer picture of the team.   I've been asked that question very often.   We've had some success, which I think is extremely overrated at the previous programs.   Success is player driven.   The fact we've had success is because we've had some experienced players coming back.   This year is no exception.

We have 20 seniors, a roster breakdown of our team.   We are a top-heavy team and a bottom heavy team, meaning we have 20 seniors, projected possibly 15 starters out of those seniors.   However, the junior and sophomore class, there's not very many, it's just sheer numbers in that class.   We have 34 players on our team that have four years of eligibility.   Ideally you'd like to have 20/20/20 right across the board.   We're not in that situation.

The positive is we have a senior-heavy team with a projected 15 starters compared to a year ago I believe we had very few seniors.   Six to seven starters projected a year ago.   That's the positives of having a senior-heavy team.

The teams I've been fortunate enough to be around and have great success are driven by seniors, and I'm anxious to get around these guys and see if they can provide the leadership we expect.

Perception is that we had an excellent recruiting class.   I'll let you know that in three years.   I think that's very important to understand.   The great thing that happened a year ago, we signed 26 young men, and all 26 qualified, all 26 are on campus, and all 26, according to our weight staff, are headed in the right directions.   That's unusual nowadays.   But to sign 26, being ranked as high as they are, they're all on campus ready to go.

However, at the University of Florida, the bar has been set, 1992/'93.   I keep hearing of great recruiting classes.   Our evaluation on this recruiting class will be in about three to four years.   The '92/'93 team walked out of there with five championship rings:   Four SEC and a national championship.   That's a great recruiting class.

All this other stuff is nonsense until you can evaluate that.   I'm not telling you anything I haven't told our freshmen probably six thousand, seven thousand times since I had them on campus.   That's how they're going to be evaluated, on championships won.

Depth remains a major concern, and that is pretty much the issue we had a year ago.   You sign 26 this year, there's a potential of signing 27, 28 this year.   That's not normal.   That's a school that's dealing with a little bit of transition, which we've had.   That's not ideal.

Ideal, you want to have the 15 to 20 scholarships each year and keep building the classes.   That goes hand-in-hand with the negative of having a senior-heavy team.

Because of sheer numbers of that 26 freshmen class, we'll play quite a few.   That's determined on how they perform, how they prepare, how mature they are.   But there will be no predetermined redshirt players.   We plan on playing as many as we can for backup roles as well as starters on special teams, and if they're good enough, get involved in the offense and defense.

Our goal is very simple.   I'll close with this.   If you've listened to me talk or if you followed our program at all, our goal is very simple, and that is to become a great football team.   We're not a great team a year ago.   Great teams have characteristics of extremely unselfish play, accountability to their teammates, and great self-discipline and discipline on the football team.

We were not a great team a year ago.   We were a team near the end of the year I'd put it very close to being a great team.   That team in the locker room after the Outback Bowl was close.   All those characteristics, I believe we had that.   Middle of the year I couldn't say that.   I'm very pleased with the momentum stirred by the Bowl game and our last game of the season.   I'm also realistic in understanding that our goal is very simple:   to be a great team.   The University of Florida at this point needs to have a great team.   University of Florida needs to get back to a championship game at some point.

Last nine years we've been there twice.   It's time to get back there.   Our players know that.   That's what's driving them.   But more importantly than all of that is to become a great football team.