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Colquitt likely not passing versus Gators

His second-ever punt as a major college football player — coming under extremely rugged conditions — was a positive catalyst for University of Tennessee freshman Britton Colquitt.

Yet his first-ever forward pass — in that same huge game in “The Swamp” in Gainesville, Fla., before thousands of screaming Gators and millions watching on TV — was the catalyst for media and fan second-guessing in a 16-7 Vol loss to Florida last fall.

The former Bearden High School football and soccer standout was asked to pull off a fake punt pass, but his toss was low and incomplete and resulted in a momentum change.

However, “I don’t think it affected me in a negative way,” said Colquitt earlier this season, as the UT punter and his No. 13-ranked Vols prepare to host the No. 8 Gators in Neyland Stadium at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept 16. “I just know we all need to be on the same page in the future. I still get stuff for it, but it’s all … good-natured. ‘Hey, stick to punting, you’re not a quarterback.’”

But in that same gigantic setting, “I was real proud of that first [punt] in the Florida game, getting it out of the end zone because we were on the goal line, good hang time, not much of a return,” Colquitt said of his 54-yard punt.

“That was good for my season, really, getting me started.”

The deafening roar of the crown actually worked to his advantage. “On my first punt I couldn’t hear anything,” Colquitt said. “It ended up being better [for me] really, because I couldn’t even think so my instincts took over.”

The 6-foot-3, 198-pound redshirt sophomore said, “The Swamp” experience “nails ya, you’ve gotta really be prepared, mentally even more than physically.” Upon first walking onto the field at UF’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, “It was hot, and it really hit me, ‘this is the real deal, this is a big-time game.’”

As for serious feedback from teammates throughout his first UT season, “If you have a good punt they’ll come up and grab you and congratulate you after a game,” Colquitt said. “And really, the same guys, if you have a bad punt, they’ll [say] shake it off, ’cause everybody out here know’s what it’s like to fail, to have bad plays.”

Averaging more than 41 yards per punt as a freshman in 2005, Colquitt said his 2006 goal is 46.

“I think this season will show [that] I’ll look a lot more poised, I feel more like a veteran, and just a lot more confidence in myself and my teammates,” he said.

“I’ve worked a lot harder this summer, to work on the pressure and everything.”


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