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Fastest student will race Harvin for scholarship

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Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2008 12:00 am

Think you can beat Percy Harvin, Deonte Thompson, Louis Murphy and Chris Rainey in the 40-yard dash?

UF coach Urban Meyer will give students a chance to prove it - with a full scholarship on the line.

Meyer announced the first-ever speed challenge on Wednesday. The event will take place during the Orange and Blue Game on April 12. ESPN GameDay will broadcast live from Gainesville and ESPN will televise the game live.

While full details have yet to be worked out, Meyer said that on Thursdays of spring practices, which begin March 19, strength coaches will be out on the practice fields and students will be invited to come out and train. The entrants will be whittled down to one lucky contestant who will face Harvin, Thompson, Murphy and Rainey in front of a packed Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

"I want to give back to our students somehow," Meyer said. "That's going to be a great afternoon. If I'm a recruit and I come out and watch the ESPN GameDay crew in the stadium, watch it on a beautiful afternoon in the spring in Florida, and then you get to see a 40-yard dash in front of 60,000 people, that'd be kind of neat. Maybe that can help us get a couple of fast guys in recruiting."

WILSON WAITING FOR RELEASE: Offensive lineman James Wilson has requested a release from his scholarship to transfer, but Meyer isn't ready to let him go.

Meyer cited four former offensive linemen - Jason Watkins, Jim Tartt, Drew Miller and Steve Rissler - who quit the team but rejoined later. He also said Wilson would not practice this spring due to a left knee sprain.

"Young people go through issues, and we're not going to stop trying to get him to come back," Meyer said. "He has not practiced once at the University of Florida. He's going through a funk like a lot of people do. At the end of the day, I'm going to do what's best for him because he is a good person."

Another lineman, freshman Torrey Davis, has some work to do in the classroom. Meyer said Davis would practice with the team but would miss some practices due to academic obligations.

UNHAPPY WITH NFL: Meyer said he wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the league's process of evaluating college players considering leaving school early. Tight end Cornelius Ingram went through the process in the fall before deciding to return to the Gators for his final year of eligibility.

Meyer wishes the NFL's evaluations were a little more reserved in their projections.

"(Ingram's) papers said third round," Meyer said. "Really, what they should if there's any question is put him fifth round. Make him more conservative. You're playing with kids. You don't play with them. That's lives. Put a price tag on that - your senior year of football and a college degree. To go be a sixth-, seventh-rounder and get cut in a year? That's not fair to those guys."

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