Florida defensive tackle Antonio Valentino is adjusting to life in the SEC
New Florida defensive tackle Antonio Valentino (formerly reported here at Gators Wire under the surname Shelton) didn’t know much about the SEC growing up in Columbus, Ohio. He also couldn’t name any Florida player besides Keiwan Ratliff, who came from Columbus, too. However, as he got older and played his first few seasons at Penn State, the SEC started to dominate the college football landscape. Valentino remembers when Alabama, LSU and the Gators chanting “SEC! SEC! SEC!” when they won their national championships and didn’t understand their love for the conference.
But after enrolling at Florida, he quickly learned.
“I really saw it when we put pads on in the spring, and it was just like, ‘Yo, these dudes is moving, like everybody’s an athlete,” Valentino said, according to GatorsTerritory. “It’s just a superior athlete I guess that you can just find down here. No disrespect to the Big 10 or anything, it’s just one of those things where you just have to see it to understand it. All the SEC bias and everything they talk about in this conference is 100 percent accurate. It’s 110 percent accurate, and I haven’t even played in an SEC game yet.”
He said after playing in environments like the Big House in Michigan, The Horseshoe in Columbus and Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley that he looks forward to visiting Death Valley to play LSU the most.
Valentino also didn’t know there was a school located in Gainesville, Florida until he spoke to defensive line coach David Turner. Valentino said after he entered the NCAA transfer portal a 352 area code popped up on his phone.
“I was like, what’s in Gainesville? I didn’t know where UF was,” he said. “I picked it up and it was Coach T (Turner).”
He made his decision quickly because the message was simple. Florida said it needed a veteran or two on the defensive line.
Valentino and Daquan Newkirk should help the Gators defense be more formidable against the running game this fall.
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