… because I might change my mind.

NaBloPoMo 2010 Day 21 — UF’s Rudy … sort of

Yesterday was the last regular season home game for the Florida Gators. So it was senior day. All of the fourth- and fifth-year seniors were honored before the game started with a short ceremony as they ran out of the tunnel. This happened at a number of schools this weekend and more will happen next weekend as well. It’s another one of those things that makes college football better than NFL football.

Many of you have seen the movie Rudy — the story of the walk-on and undersized defensive tackle who sold his soul to dress for one football game at Notre Dame. The movie exaggerates the story, but he did actually get in the game and did record of sack. It’s a great scene — even if you hate anything Notre Dame.
During yesterday’s win over Appalachian State, a four-year walk-on defensive tackle — not particularly undersized — but not the most gifted athletically — lived his own scene from Rudy. Gary Beemer is a senior at UF. He’s been a glorified tackling dummy for four years on the football team. But he gives 100% and has become a favorite of UF coach Urban Meyer. That must be the case or what happened yesterday would never have happened.
With UF winning by a healthy margin, Meyer approached Beemer on the sidelines and asked if he’d be interested in running the ball in a goal-line situation if UF was able to get the ball down that close. Stunned, Beemer told the coach that he was ready and willing.
Then late in the fourth quarter, the Gators did actually get the ball close — inside the 10 yard line. And Beemer was told to run out to the huddle for the first down play. Here’s what happened:
If that doesn’t give you chills, you may be reading this from six feet under.
You can hear the fans cheering for Beemer as he runs out, and they yell louder when he actually gets the ball on first down. You can see his teammates — many of them starters — screaming for him and waving towels. That’s a kid who’s left an impression on his team.
But when he doesn’t score on first down, Meyer doesn’t abandon him. He calls the play for him a second time. He gets stopped short of the end zone again. But he gets a third shot, and he buries himself into the line and emerges on the other side of the end line clutching the ball all the way back to the sidelines.
But he’s not just clutching a football. He’s holding tightly to four years of blood, sweat and tears. And pain. And laughs. And shared meals. And a memory that will never leave the front of his mind. Oh, that more of us had opportunities to make moments we would hold so dearly.
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