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August 16, 2013

Transfers helping transform offensive line



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    Max Garcia called it the greatest decision of his life. Tyler Moore hated the game so much he was ready to give it up.

    Say hello to two of Florida's transfer offensive linemen, both of whom figure to play prominent roles this fall as pieces of UF's revamped front.

    Garcia (Maryland) and Moore (Nebraska) were two highly sought-after transfers who came to Florida under different circumstances, but the former left tackles now find themselves competing together -- albeit in new positions -- as part of Florida's first-team offensive line.

    Moore, a redshirt sophomore, started four games at left tackle as a true freshman (2011) for the Cornhuskers, the first player in school history to do so. The Clearwater native was a Nebraska legacy, as his father, great uncle and cousin all played in Lincoln.

    But the school was simply a poor fit.

    Although Moore refused to discuss detailed specifics, he frustratingly cited playing time as a primary issue.

    "I just had to get out," he said, shaking his head. "I believe I should have gotten more playing time. I was busting my butt all year practicing and trying to get some playing time and still only got a few plays here and there."

    Moore became so irritated with his situation he pondered quitting football and jettisoned home to go to school (St. Petersburg Community College). After some time away from the game, Moore's hunger for football returned.

    Soon afterwards, the 6-foot-5, 315-pound sophomore found his way to Florida.

    In his first fall camp at UF, Moore is mainly playing right guard in the place of injured starter Jon Halapio (torn pectoral). Moore estimated "that 99 percent" of his snaps this fall have been at right guard.

    Earlier this summer, offensive coordinator Brent Pease praised Moore's versatility and intelligence, saying, "The one thing we've found out about Tyler -- and he's very talented -- is he can play almost every position. He provides depth for us everywhere."

    Meanwhile, Garcia simply wanted a change of scenery.

    As a sophomore in 2011, Garcia started all 12 games for the Terrapins and said he got along great with veteran Maryland offensive line coach Tom Brattan. But Florida's redshirt junior was truly discontent -- and playing time wasn't the problem.

    "I think you come to college to be happy personally, athletically and academically, just finding the right fit for you," he explained. "It's all about being happy because as a player you don't really get much more than that."

    Garcia pinpointed the source of his displeasure as a combination of personal, academic and athletic issues, so he left College Park.

    When he met Will Muschamp and position coach Tim Davis, he instantly fell in love with the Gators program and players.

    "I just felt at home coming down here," he said.

    Garcia has struggled with back pain during training camp -- something he calls a "maintenance issue" he'll battle all fall -- but the redshirt junior is ready to conquer a new spot as Florida's starting left guard.

    "It doesn't matter what position I play," he said, regarding the position transition. "Honestly, I just wanted to play at Florida."


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