When the Hurricanes renew their regular season series with Florida in September, there will be a significant absence from the Gators sideline.
The visored-one, Steve Spurrier, will no longer be roaming Florida Field in Gainesville, having departed for the NFL and the Washington Redskins. In his stead will be Ron Zook, a former Gators assistant who was demoted by Spurrier during his tenure.
The Gators, who were this year’s preseason No. 1, will have to try and improve on their 10-2 record with some other notable omissions. Wide receivers Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell decided to try their luck in the NFL as well, and will skip their final seasons of eligibility.
Gaffney, a red-shirt sophomore, ranked 10th nationally in receiving with 74 catches for 1309 yards, while Caldwell ranked 16th nationally with 69 catches for 1106 yards.
Quarterback Rex Grossman and wide receiver Taylor Jacobs did decide to stay at UF and are still a lethal combination.
“My new favorite target is No. 6 [Jacobs], and I’m just glad he’s staying,” Grossman said. “If he was going to leave, there was a good chance I was going to leave, too. Not that the other receivers aren’t going to be good, but my receivers would have been gone, my coach would have been gone. I would have had to learn a whole new system.”
Spurrier’s resignation also shook up more than Gator Country and had a direct affect on the Hurricanes. Quarterback Brock Berlin, who toiled behind Grossman at UF, was already thinking of transferring to Miami when he heard news of Spurrier’s resignation. That made the decision easier for Berlin.
“Obviously, one of the biggest reasons I came to the University of Florida was to play for coach Steve Spurrier,” Berlin said at a news conference in his hometown of Shreveport, La. “It made a difference when the guy I came there for left, but there were other reasons, too.”
Berlin wasted his freshman year behind Grossman and Jesse Palmer, not playing that much once Grossman emerged as Spurrier’s man. But the former No. 1 high school recruit was used enough early in the year to lose his red-shirt, and his chances of getting any significant starting time at UF was dwindling.
Berlin did start in this year’s Orange Bowl against Maryland in place of a suspended Grossman. He threw for 11-for-19 for 196 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Berlin is scheduled to be taking classes at UM this semester in order to participate in spring practice. Then, under NCAA guidelines, the sophomore would have to sit out a year before playing for the ‘Canes.
That sets up the opportunity for Berlin to be the Hurricanes’ next great quarterback, with Dorsey graduating after next season. Berlin would have two years of eligibility left in 2003, and would have to fight off current UM backups Derrick Crudup and Buck Ortega.
Also in the mix is Marc Guillon, a senior at Miramonte High in Orinda, Calif., who has orally committed to Miami. The incoming freshman from Dorsey’s old high school would be a red-shirt freshman in 2003, but would seemingly have two years to start at Quarterback U.
For now, Dorsey is the quarterback of the present and Berlin is happy to possibly succeed him.
“I just wanted to make sure I was making the right choice,” Berlin said. “I felt good about it. I was looking for the best situation for me.”