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UF football player, student killed in early-morning car accident

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Posted: Friday, October 12, 2007 12:00 am

A UF football player and one other UF student were killed in an accident at Old Archer Road and SW 23rd Terrace early Friday morning, Gainesville Police Department spokesman Keith Kameg said.

Nineteen-year-old Michael Guilford, better known as "Sunshine" to his teammates, and Ashley E. Slonina, 20, died instantly after Guilford's motorcycle hit a median at about 12:40 a.m.

Early reports show that the motorcycle was traveling at high rates of speed, Kameg said.

Guilford was a walk-on redshirt freshman defensive back who also spent time on the scout team as a quarterback. He was a social and behavorial science major. Slonina was a political science major.

Kameg said any autopsy reports could take several more weeks to determine if alcohol was involved.

BWe are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Michael Guilford," UF coach Urban Meyer said in a statement. "He was an outstanding, quality young man that was loved respected and admired by all of us. His unselfish efforts on helping his teammates getting ready to play every week were only a glimpse of the person he was. We pray that God's blessing be with Michael?s family, friends and teammates during this sad and difficult time.C

Guilford received the nickname of "Sunshine" when he first walked onto the team because his long, blond hair reminded his teammate's of Kip Pardue's character Ronnie Bass in the movie "Remember the Titans."

"He was very competitive," said graduate assistant Sean Cronin, who runs the scout team offense and was close with Guilford. "He had a fire and was the leader. He was the core of that group. He was the heart and soul of our scout team.C

Cronin got a call from safety Curtis Carr at 4:30 in the morning while sleeping, but he didn't call back until 6:30 to find out what happened.

"I went through a whole stream of emotions," Cronin said. "First it was disbelief. Then mad. Then I just broke down in tears. I love that kid."

After holding a banquet Thursday night for the scout team, Cronin said he had one last time to speak to Guilford.

"He thanked me for the highlight video, said thanks for the dinner," Cronin said. "I said, ' No, thank you. I really appreciate everything you do for us.' It just means a lot that I was able to thank him.C

UF spokesman Steve Orlando said crisis sounselors are available for those who need them.

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