Spikes says first round would be hard to turn down
January, 3, 2009
By ESPN.com staff | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Several of the Florida defensive players, along with defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, met with the media Saturday morning at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.
Some of the highlights:
- Junior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes said he's yet to decide if he'll enter the NFL draft, but he acknowledged that it would be difficult not to come out if he hears from the NFL draft advisory committee that he's a first-round selection. Spikes said he's still waiting on his grade from the NFL. ESPN's Todd McShay has Spikes going 26th overall in the first round to the Miami Dolphins in his latest mock draft.
- There had been some speculation that junior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham might consider leaving early, but Cunningham said Saturday he's staying put. "I'll be back next year for sure," Cunningham said.
- Sophomore cornerback Joe Haden showed up with a new mohawk haircut. He had his No. 5 and a picture of a star shaved into one side of his head and "BCS 1" on the other side. He said Florida coach Urban Meyer laughed and shook his head when he first saw Haden's new cut. "It's just something I wanted to do, coming here to my first BCS bowl," Haden said. Asked who did the trimming, Haden said, "A dude named Tony."
- Spikes is impressed with the Oklahoma running game and the Sooners' running backs, but not that impressed. Asked if they matched up with SEC running backs, Spikes smiled and said, "A little bit, but not too much." He then made it clear that the SEC running backs the Gators have faced this season were better. "By far," Spikes said with emphasis. Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray is injured and won't play in the game, but Chris Brown was the Sooners' leading rusher with 1,110 yards and 20 touchdowns.
- The Florida defenders, particularly safety Ahmad Black, remarked about how clean Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford's pants always look after games. "I mean, they're white," Black said. "Nobody's hit him all year." The Sooners have allowed just 20 sacks in the last two seasons. The Gators were second in the SEC this season with 31 sacks. "Their offensive line doesn't really let too many people hit him," Spikes said. "We've got dynamic pass-rushers, though, so I'm pretty sure we'll get to him a few times."
- Oklahoma's offensive line is huge, especially on the left side where 6-5 guard Duke Robinson goes 335 pounds and 6-8 tackle Phil Loadholt goes 337 pounds. The Gators, though, said they've faced big offensive lines before. "LSU had a big offensive line," Cunningham said. "They put their pants on just like we do." Florida routed LSU 51-21 this season.
- Strong certainly didn't downplay the importance of getting to Bradford and getting him out of his rhythm. "It's going to be critical for us. Can we get pressure on him? Can we rush the quarterback and get pressure?" Strong said.
- Haden said the toughest thing about covering Oklahoma senior receiver Juaquin Iglesias is that he never gives up on a play and is always coming back to help his quarterback. "It doesn't matter where he is or where Bradford is, (Iglesias) is always a threat to catch the football anywhere on the field. You've got to stick with him," Haden said.