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Florida Freshman Sprains Neck In Practice

Dec. 29, 2000

By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer

NEW ORLEANS – The Florida Gators got quite a scare Thursday whenfreshman offensive lineman Earnest Smith had to be taken off the field on astretcher.

Smith, a 6-foot-3, 320-pound member of the scout team, sprained hisneckwhen he collided with a defensive player during practice at the Superdome,coach Steve Spurrier said. Although Smith still had feeling in his arms andlegs, team doctors placed his neck and back in braces and took him to alocalhospital for tests.

X-rays were negative, Spurrier said. Team officials said Smith wasreleasedfrom the hospital Thursday afternoon.

“I guess he came off (the ball) and butted heads with his head downsomehowand sprained his neck pretty good,” Spurrier said. “He was moving all of hisarms and legs, but he sort of had a bad stinger.”

Smith is redshirting this season.

ON THE MEND: Florida middle linebacker Andra Davis, out since theseasonopener with a knee injury, practiced Wednesday for the first time since theinjury. He said he felt like he was close to fully recovering from the leftknee injury he sustained against Ball State on Sept. 2.

Davis, a junior, would like to play Tuesday night against No. 2 Miamiin theSugar Bowl. But his return is unlikely, especially with the game beingplayedon artificial turf.

“I doubt if he will play,” Spurrier said before quickly recanting hisstatement. “Maybe we can get him in for a couple plays.”

RHODES RECOVERING: Miami defensive end Jevon Rhodes, who started theseasonopener, returned to practice this week for the first time in more than amonthsince a scary injury he suffered against Syracuse.

Davis said Rhodes sustained a kidney malfunction after taking a hit intheback and spent several days in the hospital last month. Doctors have clearedhim to play against Florida.

Rhodes has been limited with ankle and back problems since the opener.