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Gillislee is a reluctant star for No. 4 Florida

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Gillislee is a reluctant star for No. 4 Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida's Mike Gillislee avoids interviews as well as he does defenders, says little in the locker room and talks even less in the huddle.

His play, though, speaks volumes for the fourth-ranked Gators.

Gillislee has rushed for 548 yards and seven touchdowns this season, emerging as the key cog in Florida's grind-it-out offense. The senior from DeLand leads the Southeastern Conference with nearly 110 yards a game on the ground and has been at his best against ranked teams.

He had a career-high 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns in Saturday's 14-6 win against LSU, earning him the SEC's offensive player of the week award Monday.

``He just moves the chains over and over again,'' said coach Will Muschamp, whose team plays at Vanderbilt on Saturday. ``You get kind of tired of tackling him. The fourth quarter, that's where he starts wearing on people.''

Gillislee's second-half success is fairly fitting since he was such a late bloomer in college.

Gillislee showed glimpses of talent during his first three years in Gainesville, getting on the field mostly in mop-up duty while playing behind speedsters Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. He ran for 930 yards and 10 touchdowns his first three seasons, averaging an eye-popping 6.3 yards a carry.

But because of his position on the depth chart, his inability to pick up blocking schemes and a nagging ankle injury, Gillislee spent most of his career watching and waiting from the sideline.

He got his chance in spring practice and was impressive enough that Muschamp penciled him as the starter. But by moving tight end Omarius Hines to running back, hyping up highly touted freshman Matt Jones and giving fullbacks Trey Burton and Hunter Joyer plenty of carries, the Gators never seemed settled at the position.

Now, though, Gillislee has been the main reason Florida (5-0, 4-0 SEC) has been able to successfully transition from a perimeter running team to a power attack in Muschamp's second season.

``He's just a one-cut guy,'' Muschamp said. ``He's going to stick his foot in the ground and he's going to get north and south. ... He hits a crease. He may not hit the big one every time, but in our league it's hard to hit big ones. You're going to get run down. A 5-yard run is a great run, and that's what sometimes younger players don't understand. They want to hit the big run, and in our league that's difficult.''

Maybe the most telling stat for Gillislee is negative yardage. He has lost just nine yards in 103 carries. He didn't lose any ground in his 34 attempts against the Tigers.

``I don't know how they get all those guys, but they are super fast,'' Vanderbilt defensive tackle Rob Lohr said.

Gillislee joined former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and former Arkansas star Darren McFadden as the only recent players to run for 140 yards and two scores against LSU's vaunted defense. Newton and McFadden both ended up in New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation, with Newton winning in 2010 and McFadden finishing second in 2006 and 2007.

What about Gillislee possibly being in the Heisman hunt?

``We're in the fifth game of the year,'' Muschamp said. ``Next question.''

Gillislee probably would be even more reluctant to entertain thoughts about college football's premier award. After all, he rarely does interviews - he has spoken to the media twice since fall practice began - and barely talks to teammates and coaches.

``He's definitely a quiet guy,'' quarterback Jeff Driskel said. ``He keeps to himself. When he has something to say, it's important, so you're going to listen when he starts to talk. He doesn't like talking to the media, but he's a guy we kind of rally around him. He can be funny at times, but he kind of keeps to himself.''

Florida is fine with that, especially if Gillislee keep talking like has been on the field.

``Mike Gillislee is a great running back,'' center Jon Harrison said. ``He has a lot of heart, a lot of drive. ... He's going to give it his all, even if it's sacrificing his body. The best thing about him is he that he just kept working.

``He just kept working and giving it his all every day, day in, day out, practice, weight room, whatever it takes, and that's what we respect so much about him.''

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Big money John Carlson isn't going anywhere

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Former Kentucky star Aaron Harrison to join Wizards' Summer League team

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Former Kentucky star Aaron Harrison to join Wizards' Summer League team

The Wizards' 2018 Summer League roster will feature a familiar name, as former Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison is expected to join the team in Las Vegas, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Harrison joins a growing list of players on the Wizards' Summer League roster, including first round pick Troy Brown, Jr., second round pick Issuf Sanon and Devin Robinson, who is entering the second year on his two-way contract with the Wizards. 

Carrick Felix, who was on the team's roster briefly last season, will also particpate, according to Truth About It. There is also Florida guard Chris Chiozza, who GatorSports.com first reported would be joining the Wizards.

Former Wake Forest center Doral Moore and former Wyoming power forward Alan Herndon will also be on the roster, NBC Sports Washington has learned. Both players worked out for the Wizards in the pre-draft process and Moore had two visits.

The Wizards will be evaluating their Summer League players for potential spots on their upcoming G-League team, the Capital City Go-Go, which gets underway this fall. They also have a second two-way spot to fill.

Harrison, 23, played nine games last season for the Dallas Mavericks after spending the first two years of his career with the Hornets. He was a top-10 recruit coming out of high school, but went undrafted in 2015. A 6-foot-6 guard, Harrison has averaged 2.3 points through 35 NBA games in his career.

Harrison was a big name in college as one of the best players on Kentucky from 2013 through 2015. He played on two Final Four teams and in the national title game in 2014.

Harrison played alongside his twin brother Andrew in college. Andrew currently plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Aaron will join the Wizards after he's done with Team USA basketball. They are holding a training camp in Houston this week to determine a roster of players to compete in a qualifying tournament for the World Cup.

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