After one of the most disappointing seasons since 1979, the Florida Gators saw a lot of things they never want to see again – empty stands after third quarter, a team plagued by injury after injury, finishing 4-8, and even an embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern at home.
After months of hearing chatter and fans dwelling on last season it’s no surprise a lot of the players are fired up and looking forward to a big comeback season. There’s a long list of Gators who are ready to prove everyone wrong and silence the critics – Junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. is at the top of that list.
Prior to his career at Florida, the St. Petersburg native was a five-star prospect ranked No. 3 weakside defensive end and No. 28 recruit overall by Rivals.com who headlined UF’s impressive 2012 class. Fowler began his career with the Gators in 2012, appearing in 13 games, totaling 30 tackles, eight for loss, 2.5 sacks, and becoming the second leading tackler among freshmen.
During his sophomore campaign, 277 pound Fowler became one of the most explosive players on Florida’s roster, leading the team with 10.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks as well as being named to the All-SEC 2nd Team, College Football News All-Sophomore Team and learning from one of the very best – former Gator standout and current New England Patriot, Dominique Easley.
Throughout spring Fowler was one of the most encouraging and enthusiastic teammates, better known for his relentless attitude, quickness, and “can’t stop won’t stop” mentality – showcasing his talents both on and off the field, carrying the famous chucky doll every step of the way. “Chucky” was a gift from Easley and accompanied the team to all the bus rides, plane rides, and games. Easley may now be pursuing his NFL career, but his trademark chucky doll lives on. After all, the doll symbolizes Fowler filling the void that’s left when Easley’s gone. Who knows the doll may even be a good luck charm this year.
Here’s what Fowler had to say about the upcoming season.
“We are going to be the team to beat this year because I feel like we know we have that bad taste and that bad season last year nobody really expected. Just having the feeling to succeed after all the barriers we had to cross and all the adversity that we fought last year. Those guys know the pain and I know nobody on the team wants to go back to that. We came to UF to win championships and we have to get back to that in the off season”
Florida’s season opener against Idaho isn’t until August 30th, but something tells me great things are in store this year for Fowler and the Gators and it will be well worth the wait.
— Dante fowler (@TheDanteFowler6) January 8, 2014
Here’s Fowler and the famous Chucky Doll: