Here's a bit of Holiday Cheer:

Discussion in 'The Tiger's Den' started by pensacola, Dec 16, 2004.

  1. pensacola

    pensacola Founding Member

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    Fason opts for NFL

    By Edgar Thompson

    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    Thursday, December 16, 2004

    GAINESVILLE — A wife, two children and nearly 1,200 rushing yards ultimately added up to an easy decision for University of Florida junior running back Ciatrick Fason, who declared himself eligible Wednesday for April's NFL Draft.

    Fason, 22, will enter the Dec. 31 Peach Bowl leading the Southeastern Conference with 1,173 rushing yards. He had six 100-yard games this season, including a career-high 210 yards against Kentucky. He became the first running back at Florida since Fred Taylor in 1997 to rush for 1,000 yards during the regular season.

    Longtime draft analyst Frank Coyle, of Draftinsider.com, projects Fason will be drafted in the second round. A second-round selection would ensure financial security for Fason, his wife, Yolanda, and their two small children.

    "The choice came down to a decision I had to make for my wife and our two children," Fason said. "It was a decision that was on my mind the entire season, but I did not let it become a distraction. Instead, it made me work even harder."

    Fason, who entered the season with 610 rushing yards in two years, went from being a relative unknown outside the SEC to being considered one of the nation's top running backs.

    He became the fourth-fastest to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau at Florida with a 170-yard day Nov. 6 at Vanderbilt. Fason capped the season with a 103-yard rushing performance at Florida State, including the game-winning touchdown run in fourth quarter to give Florida a 20-13 win on national television.

    ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. rates the 6-foot, 215-pound native of Jacksonville Beach the nation's second-best underclassman running back, behind Memphis' DeAngelo Williams.

    Coyle said only Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams of unbeaten Auburn and Texas' Cedric Benson, the nation's fifth-leading rusher, appear to be better prospects than Fason.

    Coyle said Fason's size, versatility and breakaway speed, demonstrated by two 75-yard touchdown runs in '03 and a 55-yarder this season, make him a hot commodity. He added that if Fason runs well at the NFL scouting combine in late February in Indianapolis, he could move into contention for a late first- or early second-round selection.

    Fason is averaging 127 yards of total offense, which ranks second to Williams in the SEC, and has 31 catches for 266 yards this season.

    "He's had some big games," Coyle said. "He's had some breakaway runs. He catches the ball. He's a player."

    Fason's decision leaves Florida with sophomores DeShawn Wynn and Skyler Thornton and freshman Markus Manson as returning backs for incoming coach Urban Meyer.

    Pahokee running back Antone Smith, a highly-touted national recruit, heard Wednesday that Fason was leaving for the NFL but said, "It's not going to influence my decision."

    Smith had 2,814 yards rushing and 44 touchdowns in leading the Blue Devils to the Class 2B state championship and was named Mr. Football as the state's top player. He is scheduled to visit Auburn this weekend, but has not revealed what other schools he plans to visit.

    Wynn, who is 5-11, 228 pounds, rushed for 217 yards on 58 carries after a promising freshman season when he gained 540 yards. Thornton (5-10, 210) gained 210 yards on 47 carries and Manson (6-0, 189) redshirted.

    "I believe the program is in great shape and that Gator fans should be excited about the future," Fason said.

    Meyer met with Fason last week to discuss his future at Florida, said Joe Reynolds, who coached Fason at Fletcher High School. Reynolds said he felt Fason was going to leave school after meeting last Saturday with Fason and his wife, who also went to high school at Fletcher.

    "I'm not surprised he was going to go," Reynolds said, "but I'm surprised he was going to announce it. He was going to do that after the bowl game.

    "I know exactly what it was. It was the kids."

    This season Fason was a CNN/SI All-America honorable-mention selection, an All-SEC first-team (AP) honoree and an All-SEC second-team (Coaches) choice.

    Collegiate underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the NFL Draft and have until Jan. 18 to withdraw their name.





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  2. tirk

    tirk im the lyrical jessie james

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    I was a deangelo fan before he was well-known publically but I surely didn't think he'd rate tops in the draft for RBs. Good for him, he seems like a good kid.

    Glad to see Ciatrick leave....his name makes him destined to be a star in the NFL. He is very impressive.
     
  3. conradj

    conradj Founding Member

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    he should be a good one. They have depth at RB like us too.
     

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