NEW ORLEANS Most of them lurked in the shadows three years ago when the Gators were last here for the Sugar Bowl. They were on the team but it wasn't their team.
The 2009 Florida squad which trampled Cincinnati to cap a 13-1 season belonged to a group of upperclassmen led by seniors Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes. Florida's starting lineup that night featured 16 players on current NFL rosters.
Freshmen such as Frankie Hammond, Jon Bostic and Omarius Hines played in the game but didn't start. Hammond had four tackles on special teams. Running back Mike Gillislee highlighted Florida's freshmen playing in their first bowl game, rushing for a game-high 78 yards on five carries, while kicker Caleb Sturgis made six extra-points and had a field goal and Josh Evans finished with a tackle.
Overall, 10 current Florida seniors played in the victory over Cincinnati. Offensive lineman Xavier Nixon, then a true freshman, was the only one in the starting lineup at left tackle.
They returned to ...