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Illinois' Fayson retains lessons from Florida

8/11/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

RANTOUL, Ill. -- When most college football players transfer from a program, they never look back.

They close the book on the past and look for a fresh start elsewhere. Some send a few parting shots toward their former coaches or teammates.

Then there's a guy like Illinois wide receiver Jarred Fayson.

The junior wide receiver transferred to Illinois from Florida, where he won a national championship in 2006. A lack of playing time prompted Fayson's decision, as well as the chance to reunite with the man who recruited him to Gainesville -- Illinois head coach Ron Zook.

Fayson has seamlessly blended with his new team and earned a starting job in a loaded Illini receiving corps. But he doesn't forget his time at Florida and the positive things he gained from the experience.

"I'll never forget," he said. "It was not all a bad experience. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life. I'm thankful I learned the type of things that I learned under coach [Urban] Meyer, under coach [Billy] Gonzales. I don't regret being there at all. I'm thankful I was able to be a part of his staff."

Fayson has played an instrumental role as Illinois tries to improve its team chemistry in 2009. He witnessed a Florida team that had player-driven leadership reach college football's peak, and knows the same must take place in Champaign this fall.

"When it's player-driven, the coaches don't have to say as much to the team," Fayson said. "The coaches shouldn't have to worry about disciplining guys. We should make sure everybody's living right on and off the field. That's what we're trying to do."