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UF’s Debose prepares for one more shot to star

— In the spring of 2009, then Florida coach Urban Meyer declared Andre Debose would be the next Percy Harvin. At his signing day in Sanford, Debose quickly said he’s not Harvin, he’s the first Debose.

In so many ways on the high school field, Debose was a Harvin lookalike. In high school. Then he arrived in Gainesville and it’s been almost a nonstop flow of injuries and disappointments. And after the 2010 season, the Harvin offense also left town, coach Will Muschamp wanting ball control and more downhill running.

Debose hit the low point last year when he tore an ACL in preseason camp. Awarded a sixth season, he’s hoping to finish with a splash. Debose showed talent, setting the Florida record — and tying the SEC mark — with four kickoff returns for touchdowns. But the injuries and just 29 catches in his career made Debose almost a nonfactor in the offense.

But he’s back for one more try and showed how healthy he is at media day by jumping over a table to where he had a seat waiting for interviews.

“It’s been a long time, man,’’ he said. “I’m feeling great, I’m feeling real good.”

Debose said there was no debate whether to try to play one final season. He wanted to finish school and graduate — which he will next weekend.

“It feels amazing,’’ he said. “I started something and I finally finished it so it’s definitely something I’m proud of for my parents and the family.’’

MUSCHAMP EXCITED: Muschamp has had his share of restless nights during his time at Florida. But Sunday night was one of those good moments — with practice starting Monday.

Muschamp went to bed at midnight and was up at 3:35 a.m. He called it a good kind of restlessness. Football is back.

Monday was a long day for the Florida football program, with practices in both the morning and evening. The night workout was delayed with lightning.

But this was a different kind of storm start than what he endured a year ago. QB Jeff Driskel had an emergency appendectomy before throwing a pass. Top RB Matt Jones had a viral infection and missed most of preseason.

Muschamp said the feeling this time at the start of camp is “drastically different.’’

“I think we’ve improved ourselves at the receiver position, at the running back position,’’ Muschamp said. “When they are all healthy that’s a good group out there. There’s no question it was a rough fall (last year).”

The excitement level was obvious this time around. It’s a good feeling for coaches, unlike what he had last August.

“I didn’t sleep a whole lot last night,’’ Muschamp said. “I was excited about getting back on the field and coaching and that’s what you get hired to do and it’s what I enjoy doing, all the other stuff not so much. But the coaching part of it I really enjoy.’’

David Jones, Florida Today

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UF’s Debose prepares for one more shot to star