spurrier plant

Winner of the Florida memorabilia, Jessica Finkel, poses with former UF coach Steve Spurrier after being chosen to receive a piece of turf from The Swamp.

Former UF football coach Steve Spurrier interrupted a lecture about photosynthesis Thursday to give away a piece of The Swamp.

The Collegiate Plant Initiative, a student-run nonprofit that gives away plants to UF students and advocates for agriculture education, brought Spurrier into a Turlington lecture hall filled with about 300 students to give away its 50,000th plant. The plant was Bermuda grass from the north end zone of the student side of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The class Spurrier interrupted was Plants, Gardening and You, an introductory plants course  which created the nonprofit, said Abbie Clark, the public relations director spokesperson for the initiative.

Before handing out the grass, Spurrier told students a brief history lesson about The Swamp. When he arrived as a coach in 1990, he changed the field’s AstroTurf to natural grass to help prevent player injuries.

All of the students present at the lecture hall wrote their names on index cards and, to chose the winner of the turf, Spurrier randomly pulled one out. The lucky winner was Jessica Finkel, a 20-year-old UF public relations junior and member of the UF Fightin' Gator Marching Band.

As her name was called, her face flushed as she stood up from the front row to claim her prize.

“I’m a third-generation Gator, and I’m the first member of my family to march in The Swamp and be on the field,” she said.

Finkel and Spurrier took a photo together with the turf, which Spurrier said helped him obtain his home field record of 68-5 as a coach.

“First thing I did is tell the athletic director we need natural grass back in the Florida Field,” Spurrier said. “And here I am to give one of you a piece.”