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An Appreciation: LB Brandon Spikes

Seventh in a series on seniors leaving the SEC.

When you see the name "Brandon Spikes," what do you think about?

QB Jonathan Crompton (Tennessee)
RB Anthony Dixon (Mississippi State)
WR Brandon LaFell (LSU)
RB/WR Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss)
LB Eric Norwood (South Carolina)
RB Charles Scott (LSU) and RB Michael Smith (Arkansas)

For Florida fans, it might be one of Spikes' more than 300 tackles or one of his four interceptions returned for a touchdown in the last two years. But, for the fans of other SEC teams, his name will likely always be associated with something else.

It was during Florida's rout of Georgia that Spikes reached his hand into the facemask of Washaun Ealey. Some saw an attempt by Spikes to gouge Ealey's eyes -- though even Ealey said Spikes "really didn't gouge my eyes." But the YouTube and instant replays of the incident caused an uproar. Spikes was suspended for the first half of the Vanderbilt game by head coach Urban Meyer; when critics said that wasn't enough time, Spikes suspended himself for the second half.

It's not always fair that a career can be defined in a moment, but it can. Ask Bill Buckner, who batted better than .300 in seven seasons in which he appeared in more than 100 games and collected 2,715 hits in his major league career -- but will always be remembered for an error that "cost" the Red Sox a World Series.

One hopes that doesn't happen to Spikes. Because more than 300 tackles, more than 30 of those for loss, deserve to be remembered in their own right. In one respect, Spikes has an opportunity Buckner never had -- he can change the public's perception in the NFL, where he's likely to do well, while Buckner's career was in its last few seasons in 1986.

But part of making sure that Spikes isn't remembered that way is also our job. Because Brandon Spikes was a great football player one who made a mistake. Maybe a half-game suspension wasn't enough, but a lifetime grudge is far too much.

Brandon Spikes, 2006-09
47 307 178 31.5 6.5