GAINESVILLE -- Quinton Dunbar, a star receiver at Booker T. Washington, grew up gleefully rooting for Miami. He idolized the late Sean Taylor — a UM legend.
He was once orally committed to play for the Hurricanes.
But ultimately, Dunbar fled the Magic City: “[I had] to get out of Miami,” he said. “Start a new life somewhere else.”
For most — including Florida’s redshirt junior receiver — Overtown is a tough Miami neighborhood rich in history, but, now, little else.
Overtown is among the roughest neighborhoods in the nation. The neighborhood’s theoretical urban renewal in the 1960’s actually further decayed an-already unraveling community.
The situation has only worsened.
“The success rate is low,” Dunbar said, shaking his head. “Coming from a city like that where there’s a lot of drugs and a lot of guns, it’s very hard to get out of it. But if you put your mind to it, you can get out of that situation.”
Dunbar rattled off names of friends who were killed in the community, but unlike so many others, he did get out — thanks to guidance from his mother, Twanette.
“It wasn’t no temptation for me because my mom is a very great parent. She always kept me on point,” Dunbar said. “She made sure I didn’t do other things that other kids did.”
When Dunbar came to Florida in 2010, his maturation was hardly complete, but offensive coordinator Brent Pease gushed over the wide receiver’s steady development since arriving in Gainesville.
“I can’t say enough and feel more proud of that kid in how he’s grown up as a kid,” Pease said. “I say kid, I know he’s a grown man and whatever they want to be called, but it’s awesome.”
Dunbar, who called UF “the perfect fit,” said Saturday’s homecoming — No. 12 Florida (1-0) visits Miami (1-0) — will be extra special for a South Florida native who avoided gang violence and drugs in his community.
Florida’s No. 1 wide receiver will have close to 20 family and friends in attendance at Sun Life Stadium and will square off against childhood teammate Duke Johnson — UM’s electric sophomore tailback — and his cousin, Denzel Perryman — a starting linebacker for UM.
“I imagine [Saturday] will be emotional for him,” Pease said. “He wants to do really well. He just has to understand that you can’t press. You have to just go with the flow and compete. That’s what the good ones do. He’ll show up.”