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7 November, 2014 at 2:44 am in Computer
Mike McNeely reported for his regular shift bagging groceries at Publix Sunday and was mobbed by grateful Gator fans seeking autographs.
"It's been a situation I've never had before in my life," McNeely said. "It's been really cool."
His contributions to the Florida football team usually don't appear on the final box score and people usually don't pester him for pictures. Entering the 2014 season, the senior was not credited with a single football statistic.
Everything changed Saturday.
With the Gators down 7-0 against then-No. 11 Georgia Saturday, McNeely lined up to attempt a 39-yard field goal on fourth-and-9 in the second quarter. McNeely trotted out to the field as the holder — a first for the wide receiver.
"I just wanted to make sure that I caught the snap," he said.
And when the ball was in his hand, McNeely ran to the right and scampered into the end zone unscathed for a 21-yard touchdown — his first time reaching pay dirt since his Cheap Lebron James 10 Shoes high school All-Star game in 2009.
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His teammates credited the trick play shifting momentum and helping fuel the Gators' 38-20 win over the Bulldogs.
While he may have been a new face to fans, McNeely has quietly toiled for years at UF.
His commitment has been clear no matter what role he has been assigned — whether it's working on kick returns, bagging groceries or studying to get into medical school.
McNeely walked on to the Gators' roster the spring before the 2010 season, one year after setting single-season records in receiving yards and receptions during his senior year at Clearwater Palm Harbor University High.
"He's a goal-setter," Palm Harbor athletic director Larry Lopez said. "When he has something in mind, he's going to go get it and he's not going to let anything deter him."
The Gators spent much of the week leading up the Georgia game preparing to Lebron James 10 Kid Shoes deploy the trick play that featured McNeely.
"Thinking about it the night before, [I] knew we were going to be able to run it," McNeely said. "So I was definitely anxious a little bit but it worked out well."
Lopez was one of the few who recognized McNeely was in an odd position before the snap against Georgia.
"I watched the game live and I said to my wife, 'I've never seen Mike hold before,'" Lopez said. "As soon as the words came out of my mouth, the ball was snapped and he was off running. I was like a proud father just to see a young man who's worked so hard be so successful."
McNeely's teammates know the value he brings to Lebron James 11 Shoes Black the team.
Center Max Garcia choked back tears Monday while talking about McNeely's touchdown.
The two met at a bible study on campus after Garcia transferred to UF from Maryland in 2012 and bonded instantly.
"We're really close," McNeely said of Garcia. "He's a brother to me. We can talk about anything to each other. It's really nice. I love him so much."
Garcia lauded McNeely's work ethic and said the Gators would be national champions if every player embodied the same qualities as McNeely, who earned a UF scholarship shortly before this season.
McNeely has Lebron James 10 for sale been overwhelmed by the praise and was quick to credit his faith and family for his success.
"My parents, they used to tell me that if you don't make As in school, then you can't play sports," McNeely said. "So I was like, 'OK, I guess I'll do that.' I've always had to do the school work and the extracurriculars and stuff on top of the football, so that's not something [new.] ... I didn't want to give football up."
McNeely's football career may be nearing its conclusion, but his future is just starting.
He was accepted into UF's medical school on Oct. 15.
The football pads will soon be replaced with a white lab coat.
And after four years mostly toiling in anonymity with the Gators, McNeely said he does not regret a thing.
"If I could go back again," McNeely said, "I would definitely choose this every single time."