Linebacker to sit out Vandy game

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 6:48 PM
Last updated 8:03 PM
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – With all the negative attention "weighing heavy on his heart," Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes asked to serve a full-game suspension for apparently trying to gouge the eyes of a Georgia running back.

University of Florida line backer Brandon Spikes reaches inside the helmet of Georgia's Washaun Ealey during an NCAA college football game in Jacksonville, Fla.  AP
AP
University of Florida line backer Brandon Spikes reaches inside the helmet of Georgia's Washaun Ealey during an NCAA college football game in Jacksonville, Fla.

Coach Urban Meyer obliged, saying Wednesday that it was in the top-ranked Gators' best interest that Spikes sit out Saturday's game against Vanderbilt.

"I really don't want to be a distraction to the team," Spikes said after practice. "I want the guys to prepare without any negative things going on, and I feel like if I would play, it would be a big thing going on. I'm just trying to stay out of the way and just motivate the guys."

Meyer had faced some criticism for only suspending his star defender for the first half of the Vandy game. The Southeastern Conference accepted the original punishment.

Spikes stuck his hand into the facemask of Georgia's Washaun Ealey during Florida 41-17 victory against the Bulldogs. There was no penalty called at the time, but after talk about the play spread, Meyer reviewed it and decided to punish Spikes.

Meyer, Spikes and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong agreed to increase the punishment.

"A lot of the negative things out there really weighing heavy on his heart right now and so we thought that, as a group, we decided the best interest just for the team to not play him Saturday," Meyer said. "It was a group decision and we're doing it out of respect to our team so we can focus on trying to win our ninth game.

"We think it's the right thing to do. We support Brandon fully and we look forward to get back and finish the season the right way."

Spikes is fourth on the team with 42 tackles and has three sacks.

He considered entering the NFL draft in January, but decided to return for his senior season in hopes of helping Florida win a third national title in four years.

But he's battled injuries all season. He missed time early in the season because of an Achilles' tendon injury, and sat out most of two games because of a strained groin. He played only a series against Arkansas on Oct. 17 and sat out the entire game the following week.

He returned against Georgia and finished with a team-high 10 tackles. He also intercepted a pass and returned it 5 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

What he did to Ealey, though, overshadowed one of his best games of the season. Meyer said Spikes was retaliating for things that happened earlier in the game.

Ealey defended Spikes on Tuesday, saying he didn't believe he should have been suspended. Ealey also said he was surprised the play drew so much attention.

Fifth-year senior Ryan Stamper is expected to replace Spikes in the starting lineup.

"I'm pretty sure that Stamper got my back, and my teammates really support this decision" Spikes said.

Comments (12) Add comment
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storiesihaveread
369
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storiesihaveread 11/04/09 - 07:10 pm
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Nip it in the bud now

Nip it in the bud now

SayNoMore
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SayNoMore 11/04/09 - 07:13 pm
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Unfortunately we can't undo

Unfortunately we can't undo the incident, but I'm proud of Coach Meyer's response, especially in light of the remarks by the victim saying he shouldn't be suspended at all. I give props to Washaun Ealey for coming to his defense and understanding the passion of an SEC rivalry game.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 11/04/09 - 07:18 pm
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Well, obviously he only

Well, obviously he only increased the suspension because of heavy pressure from sportswriters/press. Even I was surprised with all the negative stories about Meyer and Florida being written. I'm not too sure if Spikes isn't really just a footnote in all this now. One of the most interesting points a sportswriter had written was this question: Had this eye-gouging incident occured to Tim Tebow instead, what sort of response would Urban Meyer and the Gator team have had?? Of course, if you're honest, I think it would've been a much louder, harsher, and more critical uproar by Meyer and his team. Oh well..time to get this behind us and move on.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/04/09 - 07:32 pm
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Criminal charges should BE

Criminal charges should BE brought against Spikes.

APiratesLife4Me
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APiratesLife4Me 11/04/09 - 07:49 pm
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I agree Riverman. He should

I agree Riverman. He should banned from any college sport immediately.

nofrills
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nofrills 11/04/09 - 07:50 pm
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lets whip him to!

lets whip him to!

SayNoMore
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SayNoMore 11/04/09 - 08:20 pm
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Spikes' eye looks pretty bad

Spikes' eye looks pretty bad too. It doesn't make it right, but I can understand why he was [filtered word].

LCC0256
827
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LCC0256 11/04/09 - 08:34 pm
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What a croc...no pun

What a croc...no pun intended...

Boogaloo
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Boogaloo 11/04/09 - 08:59 pm
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Wow, this is so harsh! The #1

Wow, this is so harsh! The #1 team is suspending a star player against the powerhouse of Vandy! Egad, don't they want to win by 40 points? Now I guess it will be by 30 points. What implications for the National Championship! Now if Alabama was the next opponent instead of Vandy, I wonder what "harsh" punishment would be meted out. I know, no Gatorade for Spikes! I hope he becomes a Falcon though.

SayNoMore
0
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SayNoMore 11/04/09 - 09:03 pm
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Boogaloo - I was about to

Boogaloo - I was about to unload on ya until I read the last line. Now I'm laughing - nicely done.

Boogaloo
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Boogaloo 11/04/09 - 09:21 pm
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I like aggressive and dirty

I like aggressive and dirty football. I played high school football and know what goes on in the pile. It's part of the game.

YellowHammer
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YellowHammer 11/04/09 - 09:54 pm
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I've been on the bottom of

I've been on the bottom of the pile and had my fingers, ankles, and feet twisted and contorted. It does happen. Difference is, that's the bottom of the pile. Not out where the whole world can see what's going on. It is amazing; what a huge loss for the Gators to be without him for Vandy. They'll really struggle now, huh?

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