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Living up to the hype

Leak recovers from shaky start, shines in scrimmage

Posted: Sunday August 17, 2003 10:34 AM
Updated: Sunday August 17, 2003 8:22 PM

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Chris Leak recovered from a shaky start Saturday and posted the best statistics of Florida's four quarterbacks in the Gators' second scrimmage of the preseason.

Leak completed 18 of 28 passes for 209 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

His competition -- sophomore Ingle Martin, redshirt freshman Gavin Dickey and true freshman Justin Midgett -- combined for fewer completions (17) and yards (157) than Leak.

Bidding to become the first true freshman starting quarterback on opening day in Gators' history, Leak made his two worst mistakes early.

Linebacker Reid Fleming stripped him as he set up to pass, and cornerback Jermaine McCollum returned the fumble 31 yards for a touchdown.

"That's something that can't happen," Florida coach Ron Zook said. "You can't get sloppy with the ball when you get around traffic. I'm glad that happened in a scrimmage and not in a game." On the next series, Leak's miscommunication with freshman wide receiver Chad Jackson on an audible almost gave the defense another touchdown.

Jackson cut in, Leak threw out and cornerback Reynaldo Hill had an easy interception, returning it 60 yards before being run down. Unfazed, Leak led an 11-play, 95-yard touchdown drive against the first-team defense, going 5 of 7 for 86 yards.

The two loudest ovations at Florida Field came for freshman punter Eric Wilbur, who boomed a 51-yarder and a 46-yarder on his first two attempts.

"I was excited, too," Zook said. "He's got a chance to be a good punter."

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