Commentary | Southeast's Brian Poole set to start in nickel package for Florida Gators

adell@bradenton.comAugust 21, 2013 

A little bit of this 'n' that.

Brian Poole is putting up a spirited fight to get playing time that has not been lost on University of Florida head football coach Will Muschamp.

"Right now if we were to start the season, he (Poole) would be the starter at the nickel-back position," Muschamp said after Friday's practice.

Because the Gators use nickel or dime packages about 80 percent of the time, we should see the former Southeast High standout on the field quite a bit.

That is an achievement. Florida has one of the most talented secondaries in the country despite losing first-round NFL pick Matt Elam and Josh Evans, both starting safeties.

Nothing is etched in stone because who starts and gets a lot of playing in the season opener against Toledo might come down to health. So far the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Poole has been healthy.

Muschamp likes Poole's ability to come up and stop the run and cover the slot. He has practiced at punt returner, but right now he is not a starter at that position.

Timmons plays himself

When Brett Timmons went to Tulane after helping Southeast win back-to-back state titles, one of his goals was to get himself into a video game.

He and his Southeast teammate, Alphonso Roundtree, made that happen when they played a key role in Tulane's historic undefeated season in 1998.

Timmons and others in the same situation might be getting financial rewards if the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA and EA Sports turns out in their favor.

"When I look at my number 9 in the video it's close to me," Timmons said. "The height

and weight and number are the same as mine and the same for Roundtree. I also played video games that included (Manatee grads) Tommie Frazier and Shevin Wiggins when they were at Nebraska. They didn't have facial images back then, but you knew who they were.

"It was put out by EA Sports, and the video game was about my undefeated Tulane team. It made money, but I never made money off of it."

Now the head football coach at Out-Of-Door-Academy, Timmons says images and names don't come for free, and the players should get paid. He says Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel should be allowed to play even if the NCAA finds he got money for selling his autograph.

"In any other business venture, one can sell their likeness. The Olympics has changed, but college football is still in the feudal system," Timmons said.

Freeman, Driskel under fire

What do Josh Freeman and Jeff Driskel have in common?

The two might be the most scrutinized quarterbacks in the state and have a substantial list of followers who would prefer to see their backups.

Entering his fifth year with the Tampa Bay Bucs, Freeman has built up some equity. The biggest rap on him is his inconsistency and decision-making.

No one can argue about Driskel's running ability, but his passing was abysmal last year. If he doesn't improve and the Gators don't prevail in some of those must-win games, fans will be calling for his scalp just as they did for John Brantley's not that long ago.

Tarkenton joins chorus

Freeman picked up a new critic when Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton lambasted him. It came just four days after former Buc Ronde Barber stated on national TV that Freeman can't carry the Bucs.

"He just plays godawful. ... Josh Freeman has proven to me that he can't play," Tarkenton told WDAE-AM 620 radio Tuesday. "Freeman is a big question mark and if you put a gun to my head, I would say he is not going to make it."

Bucs head coach Greg Schiano, who was in a surly mood Tuesday, defended Freeman without referring to Tarkenton and praised what he has done in the preseason, though he has barely played in a game.

"The only thing he (Freeman) needs to know is the only people that really matter are his teammates, his coach and his owners and management; those are the people that make the decisions around here," Schiano said.

Tarkenton said the decision to play rookie backup quarterback Mike Glennon the most in the Bucs' two preseason games indicates the coaching staff wants to go in another direction at the position.

"The signs don't lie," the former Vikings signal-caller said.

Allen arrested

The recent arrest of Western Kentucky running back Leon Allen marked the fifth player off the football team who has been arrested since Bobby Petrino took over the program this year.

Those numbers are interesting because last year under Willie Taggart there were no arrests. The former Manatee quarterback great, now head man at USF, is a no-nonsense guy.

Allen, who had to overcame a multitude of problems before he earned a spot on the Manatee High football team, was arrested for disorderly conduct. The problem got worse for the running back when jail officials said they had to use a stun gun on him because he was unruly.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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