University of Florida

UF’s Michael McNeely goes from walk-on to folk hero

Florida's Michael McNeely runs for a touchdown past Georgia safety Quincy Mauger (20) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014.
Florida's Michael McNeely runs for a touchdown past Georgia safety Quincy Mauger (20) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. AP

Michael McNeely became a Florida Gators folk hero after racing 21 yards untouched on a fake field goal, igniting an upset over heated rival Georgia.

The 5-8, 175-pound wideout – a former walk-on and current Publix bagger/cashier – is suddenly a campus celebrity, the Gators’ very own “Rudy.”

“I don’t know how else to describe it. It really has been the best few months of my life. It’s been unbelievable,” said McNeely, who earned a scholarship in August and was just accepted into UF’s medical school last week.

“I think one of the more unique things is having people who I don’t know recognize me. That certainly has never happened before in my life.”

The senior’s touchdown was the No. 9 highlight on SportsCenter Top 10 plays Saturday, and the next day he went from anonymity to the spotlight, signing autographs and posing for pictures while working at the supermarket.

“It was the most interesting [work] shift that I’ve had,” he said, smiling. “I’m just trying to soak it all in. … People were taking pictures with me. They had me sign a couple receipt tapes for them. I thought that was kind of funny. Some guys took some selfies with me so it was fun.”

THIS & THAT

Former starting quarterback Jeff Driskel “could” be used as a duel-threat option in a short-yardage Wildcat package, per offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. Driskel has been hampered by a bad back since LSU and didn’t play against Georgia. … Coach Will Muschamp reiterated Wednesday that safety Keanu Neal (high-ankle sprain) and offensive guard Trenton Brown (knee bruise) would miss Saturday’s game. Both starters were injured in the win over UGA. The Gators will play more “regular” defense against the Commodores, but Muschamp isn’t sure who will replace Neal in the lineup.

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