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Florida WR Chris Rainey prayed in the end zone after his second-quarter touchdown. (Photo by Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel)
Throughout the season, Florida center Mike Pouncey has said WR Chris Rainey is the best player on the Gators’ offense.
Of course, Pouncey is a little biased. Teammates since high school, Pouncey and Rainey have known each other for years.
But Rainey was at least the best player in Saturday’s 34-31 win over Georgia.
In his return from a five-game suspension for his September arrest, Rainey had 241 all-purpose yards. He gave the Gators’ a big-play threat they had lacked while RB Jeff Demps has been out with a sprained foot.
“[Rainey and Demps] are unbelievable.,” said Trey Burton, who himself had a career-high 110 yards rushing. “Those are real special guys and we missed them a lot the last three games.”
Rainey’s performance will be hard for some to swallow.
The redshirt junior from Lakeland texted his on-again, off-again girlfriend “Time to Die (expletive)” and was charged with felony aggravated stalking. Although Rainey agreed to a reduced charge of misdemeanor stalking on Sept. 27, something the victim supported, Meyer has been criticized for not kicking him off the team.
Pouncey said after the game, Rainey was thankful for the opportunity to return.
“Rainey stood up after the game and thanked God for giving him a second chance. He’s taking full advantage of it,” Pouncey said. “He thanked the whole administration — (athletic director) Jeremy Foley and the president — and he thanked God as well. He thanked everyone for giving him a second chance because without Jeremy Foley and President Machen, it wouldn’t be possible for him to play right now.”
Many will say that this type of output – 84 rushing yards, nine receiving and 148 kick0ff return yards – is why Meyer allowed Rainey back, that winning trumped his core values. Only Meyer knows that, and ultimately, he’s the one who has to live with it.
Following the game, Rainey did not speak to the media. Instead, Pouncey spoke for him.
“I love Chris like a brother,” he said. “He’s been living with me since high school, and we have a special relationship. I felt his pain those weeks he was out. He loves football. He’s a great person, and I know that was one of the happiest moments of his life just to be out there with us playing.”