Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF's Karim Must Make Giant Leap

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF's Karim Must Make Giant Leap

Article excerpt

GAINESVILLE -- You want to believe Nafis Karim when he

stares you dead in the eye, flashes a warm, reassuring

smile, and insists he will do whatever is necessary to be

come the University of Florida's next star receiver.

"I feel it's my obligation," Karim said as he walked back

toward the locker room Tuesday from spring practice. "Somebody

has to step up. We're the Gators. We've got to have a big-time

receiver. I can sacrifice going home on weekends [to Marietta,

Ga.], all that stuff, to be that guy."

The look, the tone of voice, the word from coaches that Karim

has been a paragon of dedication in the offseason, suggests he

may follow the 1990s lineage of Willie Jackson, Jack Jackson,

Chris Doering, Reidel Anthony, Ike Hilliard, Jacquez Green. The

signs are there.

Except for one minor credibility problem: Karim's entire

college career has been a broken promise.

So far, the can't-miss receiver -- the one Florida coaches

ranked ahead of Anthony, Hilliard and Green in the 1994

recruiting class -- has dropped the ball continually. Something

is always holding Karim back, namely himself.

"We've always had go-to receivers," coach Steve Spurrier said.

"Nafis has the ability to be a big-time receiver. He needs to

quit screwing around and make a better commitment in the

classroom and in offseason workouts.

"He's always on my list of close to being suspended. But in the

last two months, he has been pretty good. Maybe he's growing

up."

It's certainly long overdue. Karim turned 22 on Sunday. He has

watched Anthony and Hilliard, both first-round NFL draft picks,

cash in on their ability. Green left school early to do the

same.

Karim almost left Florida prematurely, too, but not by his own

choosing. The school suspended him twice last season, once for

violating a team rule before the season opener against Southern

Mississippi and again for the Vanderbilt game in November for

poor classroom attendance.

At 5 feet 11, 190 pounds, with consistent 4.4 times in the 40,

Karim is the Gators' fastest receiver. He has the moves and

physical game to be a great one, but . …

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