Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Colon Passed Tests of Patience

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Colon Passed Tests of Patience

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, Times-Union sports writer

GAINESVILLE -- Jon Colon had given up.

His long-time dream of playing football at the University of Florida was on hold -- for a third time. He had received three qualifying ACT test scores, and each time the NCAA questioned the results. To Colon, that was a pretty strong message that he wasn't meant to be in Gainesville.

So Colon spent his days moping around his Miami home, bags packed and stacked by the front door, just in case.

"I gave up, to tell you the truth," Colon said of the last weeks of August, 2001. "I know I wasn't supposed to, but I went through a lot. I worked hard up there [at a prep school] in Maine, and then for them [the NCAA] to come to me again. . .

"I gave up. I was home, just praying."

Colon's mother Nelda hurt for her son, but there wasn't much she could do. She tried to comfort him, told him to be patient; told him to pray. But in her heart, she was angry at the NCAA and angry at the worst situation a parent can face -- helplessness.

"All you can do is wait," she said.

Most days, Colon waited for the mail, hoping it would include a letter from the NCAA.

"My dogs would be barking, and I'd run outside," he said.

Finally, on Aug. 20, Colon got his answer. Not in the mail, but from a phone call from the NCAA clearinghouse. The third test score was OK.

That afternoon, Colon was heading north.

He's been in Gainesville ever since, and now he's looking forward to taking some of that frustration out on his hometown team when top-ranked Miami (1-0) visits Florida Field on Saturday (5:15 p.m.). Colon will start at right guard for the sixth-ranked Gators (1-0), just more than a year after wondering if he was going to end up detailing cars for the rest of his life.

"Of course I'm going to be excited," Colon said. "I'm going to be probably one of the people on the team that's wants to beat them more than anybody else, including these coaches. …

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