Sunday, April 20, 2003

Reading grad Wynn in running at Florida


Emmitt Smith tells tailback to work hard

By Ryan Ernst
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It's sink-or-swim time for Deshawn Wynn in The Swamp.

Redshirted a year ago as a freshman on the Florida football team, the Reading graduate is contending for starting tailback well before anyone, including himself, anticipated.

"In high school, you really don't think that way," said Wynn, who rushed for 2,283 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior. "I knew I had a chance, but you kind of focus on starting your junior and senior year and go from there."

And he was right on track. After learning the system under seniors Ernest Graham and Robert Gillespie last season, Wynn was expected this year to play backup to senior Ran Carthon. Carthon, however, was sidelined during spring practices with a strained foot.

Wynn, in his first spring drills at Florida, took full advantage of the new opportunity.

Although he still was considered a fourth-string player, the 5-foot-11, 224-pound back began turning heads at the team's weekly scrimmages, moving up the depth chart every Saturday.

"I kept making big plays and getting more confidence in the tempo of the game and the plays," he said. "I just got a chance to show the coaches what I was capable of."

During the last scrimmage of the spring before the Orange-Blue Game at The Swamp, Wynn broke a 40-yard run on the opening play, establishing himself as the top back going into the annual end-of-spring game.

He then went on to lead both squads with 22 rushes for 91 yards in his Orange team's 16-13 win. He also caught a pass for 26 yards. But one of the day's biggest highlights for Wynn came before he stepped onto the field, when he got to meet former Florida back Emmitt Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher.

"It was great, getting to talk to the all-time leading rusher, a guy who had a great career here," Wynn said. "I think he really enjoyed talking to us upcoming running backs. ... He said everybody at this level is talented, it's just who works harder."

The words weren't lost on Wynn, who insisted in the postgame press conference that there was no depth chart at running back. Still, he admits with confidence that he sees himself as the opening-game starter for the Gators.

"We all had the spring to show what we could do," he said. "Now I just have to try to build on that during the summer and try to get that top spot by the time the season starts."

Others

• Northern Kentucky golfer Jim Warken (Holy Cross) shot a 9-over-par 225 and prevailed in a one-hole playoff to win the Great Lakes Valley Conference championship and take GLVC Player of the Year honors.

• Miami right-hander Jason Friedman allowed four hits over seven innings in a 2-1 win over Dayton, winning Mid-American Conference player of the week honors.

• The University of Cincinnati Clermont College is looking for a head coach and assistant coach for men's basketball. Candidates should have a bachelor's degree and coaching experience. Contact Jennifer Radt at 732-5221.

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E-mail rernst@enquirer.com




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