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September 11, 2012
When Palm Bay (Fla.) Bayside 2014 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine pledged to Florida in late July, there was reason to doubt how long his commitment would last. After all he had already committed to and then decommitted from Louisville and then immediately indicated that both Alabama and Florida State were leaders for his services, before then pulling the trigger for the Gators.
That is a lot of switching around for a junior-to-be.
However, it's been a drama free six weeks since his commitment to Florida.
"I'm getting mail and I've got a few more offers and I got an offer that's supposed to be coming my way from Washington [Valentine later posted on Facebook that the Huskies did indeed offer] and USC coaches want me to call them soon," Valentine said of the recruiting process. "I'm happy to get the offers and the mail and talk to the coaches, but I'm committed to Florida. That ain't going to change."
Since committing to Florida on July, 29 the 6-foot-3, 285-pounder hasn't had a chance to make it back to campus. That will change over the next 30 days as he says he plans on making the LSU game for sure, and perhaps the Kentucky game.
While things may be going great off the field - that isn't quite the case on it.
Bayside has lost their first two games of the season - being beaten each time by a Jacksonville powerhouse.
In the season opener, Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles beat the Bears 21-14. Then, this past Friday night, Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast pulled away at the end to beat Bayside 17-3.
The Bears defense kept the Buccaneers in check most of the night, but their offense couldn't get untracked.
"It's not physical," said Valentine after the loss. "We battled them all night. We out-gained them, we just couldn't score. We have to work on the mental side. We as a team have to keep our heads in the game no matter the situation or what the scoreboard says. We have to keep our heads up, keep working hard and be ready to play for a state championship when we get in district."
When it comes to many big men, because of their size they tend to wear down and at times go through the motions late in games - especially games that they have no chance of winning.
That wasn't the case with Valentine, who was still pursuing plays sideline to sideline as the clock was winding down.
Though they had no chance of winning at that point, Valentine said he still played with great effort for a reason.
"We're still a state championship type of team," explained Valentine. "It didn't go like we wanted it to, but you can't give in. If you quit tonight, it's going to be easier to quit later on. We have too much respect for each other to quit out here. I'm going to go hard until the whistle."
Though no official stats were available, for the game Valentine looked to have a handful of tackles and a couple of pressures. After one almost sack (First Coast was called for holding him on the play) by Valentine, the Buccaneers changed philosophies and instead of trying to double team him, instead started cutting him on almost every play.
That would cause most defensive linemen to lose their cool and become frustrated.
Valentine isn't like most linemen.
"That's the game of football," said Valentine. "They saw they had to do that to stop me. It's legal. If they cut you, you have to jump right up and keep playing hard."